Counter-Terrorism: August 14, 2004

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Federal bureaucrats and the District of Columbias elected government are once again butting heads on how much physical security is too much. DC officials had expected some enhanced protective measures around the World Bank and IMF buildings, but were perturbed to learn,  through television reports rather than by prior notification, about the lockdown of streets around the Capitol building by the Capitol Police. The measures around the Capitol triggered a number of pre-planned but uncoordinated lockdowns by individual federal agencies around the city, with additional security checkpoints going up around the Federal Reserve Building and blocking off a sidewalk along the Treasury building. Trucks and vans are being inspected at a number of checkpoints around the Capitol and financial buildings. 

City officials are frustrated because Congress has the power to unilaterally set or veto city polities around the District with no input from them. DC leaders view some of the actions being taken as an opportunistic encroachment by security officials taking advantage of the current threat warnings. The inspection points and closed streets impact businesses and daily commuters, and to a lesser extent affect tourism. 

The latest complains are part of a long-running battle over access to historic landmarks that started in 1995 when the Secret Service shut down Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the White House after the Oklahoma City truck bombing. The street closing has disrupted traffic patterns so much that the city is studying plans to build a bypass tunnel under the White House grounds to speedup traffic flow. After 9/11, the State Department closed C Street and removed street parking to the chagrin of city officials. They also arent happy that the Bureau of Engraving and Printer regularly puts up No parking signs on meters outside of the Mint. City officials estimate a loss of at least $100,000 per month in parking fees due to the existing road closures. - Doug Mohney

 


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