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Ronald Reagan building prone to attack, study says

Ronald Reagan building prone to attack, study says

March 8, 1999

DAILY BRIEFING

Ronald Reagan building prone to attack, study says

The Ronald Reagan Building in downtown Washington is at high risk for terrorist attack due to its open design and accessibility, The Washington Post reported today.

According to a report by security experts at Sandia National Laboratories obtained by The Post, the General Services Administration has known about the risks since 1995. In 1995 the Oklahoma City bombing instigated scrutiny of public buildings' security risks.

The risks posed by the Reagan building include its large underground public garage and several unrestricted entrances. GSA fears that a strong visible security presence would deter visitors from using the building's public shops, restaurants and convention facilities. These tenants' rents help off-set the cost of the building.

"Currently it appears that the need for revenue generation through tenant occupancy, convention space utilization and parking revenues outweighs the need for implementation of basic security measures," the report says.

More than 90 percent of the building's occupants are federal employees. Visitors may enter the first floor without going through security clearance to attend public functions or to eat at restaurants on the main level. The D.C. Visitor Center is scheduled to open this spring in the building and may attract a million tourists a year.

The report warns the Reagan building is prone to an attack similar to recent embassy bombings in Africa because of weak controls over public access and poor inspection of cars entering the building's underground garage.

GSA has not followed most security recommendations set forth in a Justice Department report following the Oklahoma City bombing. The report called for detection systems to monitor building access and for limitations on parking.