January 15, 2004
Mr. Earl E. Devaney
U.S. Department of the Interior
1849 C Street, NW
Washington, DC 20240
Dear Mr. Devaney:
It is with some concern that I read media coverage of a report by your office concerning security on the National Mall. It is my understanding that due to the sensitive nature of this report it has not been publicly released but instead has been leaked in an unauthorized fashion.
In a story published on January 14, the Washington Times quotes unnamed "Interior Department officials" commenting on whether security problems still remained. In addition, a report from CNN on January 13 on this same subject quoted a written statement prepared by the National Park Service in response to this leaked report.
I am writing you to seek an explanation of how this report was released to the media and which officials are responsible for its release.
Given the timing of what appears to be a selective leak of sensitive security information that directly affects the safety of millions of visitors to the Mall each year, I cannot help but conclude there is a concerted effort to publicly demean and defame U.S. Park Police Chief Chambers by releasing information that is, by law, supposed to be confidential.
It would be beyond ironic if, in a misguided effort to discredit Chief Chambers for truthfully responding to a question legitimately posed by a reporter concerning the adequacy of the department’s resources to carry out its responsibilities, Interior officials are guilty of an error far more serious than the one of which Chief Chambers is accused -- releasing sensitive security arrangements about the Mall to the media and those who would exploit this information to do harm.
In addition, since only a portion of your report has been released and not the response from the Park Service Police, a casual reader might believe that the Mall is unsafe. I note your quote in a January 14 Washington Post story that "It's fair to say they [the Park Police] corrected these deficiencies." It would, however, be useful to know more detail behind your statement so that my constituents and others who visit our National Mall can do so without unnecessary trepidation.
Security breaches of any kind are unacceptable. It is my hope and expectation that you will not delay in investigating this matter.
Thank you and with kindest regards, I am
STENY H. HOYER