FBI Cancels Public
Tours Of Headquarters
By James Gordon Meek <>
WASHINGTON ( -The FBI has canceled its popular public tours of the J. Edgar Hoover Building indefinitely, citing unspecified threats against the nation's top investigative force, federal officials said today.
Parking around the downtown headquarters also was restricted today.
An FBI representative said the bureau's actions are precautionary to safeguard employees and visitors.
"Business will be as usual. People are still coming to work," the official told
In a statement, the FBI said it is making "security enhancements" to heighten the safety of both visitors and employees.
The State Department says it has implemented no new precautions at its Washington headquarters or at any embassies for the past several days.
"We're always in a heightened level of security here," the representative said.
Federal buildings victim to attacks
Security in the nation's capital has long been a troubling issue, particularly after several high-profile attacks on federal buildings.
In President Clinton's first term a man crashed a small airplane into the south side of the White House near the first family's private residence.
A few months later an Army veteran opened fire on the West Wing with a Chinese SKS semiautomatic rifle. High-velocity bullets smashed into a wall outside the White House pressroom and through a pane of glass near the press secretary's office.
After the truck bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City, and at the urging of the U.S. Secret Service, Clinton closed several blocks of Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the White House, generating controversy over the ensuing traffic problems.
The United States temporarily closed six embassies in Africa in June after learning they were under surveillance by suspicious individuals. The closings followed indication that Osama bin Laden, an exiled Saudi suspected of leading a terrorist organization, was in the final stages of planning a terrorist attack.
Anniversary of Capitol shooting
Exactly one year ago this Saturday, deranged gunman Russell Weston Jr. charged into the U.S. Capitol building, fatally wounding Capitol Police officers Jacob Chestnut and John Gibson. Gibson was killed in an exchange of gunfire with Weston just inside House Majority Whip Tom DeLay's office.
The FBI has allowed visitors to take a brief tour through the investigative agency's tiny museum since 1937. Until recent years the popular tourist jaunt ended with a special agent demonstrating a gangster's tommy gun, blasting one of the fully automatic weapons inside a firing range on the other side of a glass partition.
The bureau has canceled public tours a few times in past years, including during World War II, during the 1968 riots following the assassination of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and during Operation Desert Storm.
On past April 19 anniversaries of the Oklahoma bombing and the fire at the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas, the FBI has tightened security around the Hoover Building's perimeter.
The FBI building is a large concrete complex -- one of the largest federal buildings in the city. Concrete tree planters intended to prevent a possible truck bomber ring the site. The planters are approximately 20 yards from the building on busy Pennsylvania Avenue. ____________
James Gordon Meek is an staff writer in Washington