Reagan Workers Feel Unsafe: 200 Protest Security Measures at Huge Federal Building

By Keary, Jim | The Washington Times (Washington, DC), August 18, 1999 | Go to article overview

Reagan Workers Feel Unsafe: 200 Protest Security Measures at Huge Federal Building


Keary, Jim, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)


About 200 federal employees who work at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center picketed outside the building during their lunch hour yesterday to protest what they call its lax security.

The $720 million building houses about 5,000 federal workers, whose union officials say that a terrorist with a bomb could walk or drive unimpeded into the building.

Carrying signs that read "5,000 feds fear for their lives" and "Ronald Reagan Building, enter at your peril," the pickets complained that the building's underground garage and center portion are open to the public.

"Anyone who pays $210 a month can park in the basement, and they don't need a security background check," said Frank Miller, vice president of the American Foreign Service Association, which represents employees of the U.S. Agency for International Development (AID). "It is a security problem."

But Viki Reath, spokeswoman for the General Services Administration, said that, although the Reagan building appears to be completely open, there are many security measures in place, even in the public areas.

"The bottom line is there will always be some employees who will want to shut out the public from these buildings," said Ms. Reath. "But the fact of the matter is the taxpayers have invested a lot of money in these buildings and they should be able to use them."

The General Services Administration manages and operates the building at 1300 14th St. NW.

Protesters said they constantly worry about their safety and the building's security, noting the 1995 bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City.

"After Oklahoma City, the president directed that minimum security standards be met," said Mr. Miller. "This building does not meet those standards."

He noted that the central part of the 3-million-square-foot building is a vast atrium and that visitors can enter a nearby food court without having to go through a security checkpoint.

Although visitors must go through a checkpoint to get to the federal offices, someone detonating a bomb in the atrium could wreak massive destruction, Mr. Miller said. …

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