The controversial closing of monuments and memorials on the National Mall was ordered by National Park Service Director Jonathan Jarvis, Politico reports
"The monuments and memorials on the National Mall do not take care of themselves," Jarvis told lawmakers on two House committees. "Our rangers are there to prevent vandalism and impact to the monuments and the memorials. All of those rangers have been furloughed."
Jarvis' acknowledgment came after angry protests over the way the closures were handled and negative media coverage, which featured military veterans facing barriers placed along the Mall.
House Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Darrell Issa called the closures "despicable."
Jarvis, who testified under subpoena, said the White House did not plan the way the monuments and memorials would be shut.
Issa and other Republicans accused the Park Service of a pattern of political bias, questioning why the agency had barricaded sites like the Lincoln Memorial that had remained open during the government shutdown in 1995-96, Politico reported.
Issa referred to a Washington Times column that quoted an anonymous park ranger saying, "We’ve been told to make life as difficult for people as we can."
"If true, and I have no reason to doubt the truthfulness of that quote, it is indeed disgusting and despicable that the park service would do this," Issa said at the hearing.
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