The Washington Post is slamming the Secret Service for cutting off public access to a sidewalk by the White House, which offers a "glorious view" of the executive mansion.
"Shut it down and close it up. That seems to be the default reaction of the Secret Service to any problem or failing — including its own — in protecting Washington buildings," the newspaper said in an editorial.
"The bunker mentality has turned the nation’s capital into a place of unsightly bollards, barriers and guard booths. The loss this time is not just of access to a sidewalk that offered a glorious view of the White House but further erosion of the openness that is — or should be — a hallmark of American democracy."
The newspaper said the Secret Service is now barring the public from the sidewalk along the south fence of the White House. Although the restrictions had been in place during night hours since 2015, the public was allowed to use the walkways during the day and evening.
"The vantage point was hardly close to the White House, but it was a favorite spot for thousands of visitors to take a picture and hope for a glimpse of someone famous or powerful on the distinctive portico," the newspaper said.
The Post acknowledged the Secret Service faces a difficult task in protecting the nation’s leaders and historic structures.
"But for all the talk about a careful balancing between openness and security, who speaks for openness each time one of these internal debates takes place?" the Post said. "Fear and convenience seem to win out."
It also pointed out that public access always seems to be restricted following "instances in which the Secret Service is embarrassed by security lapses."
It noted the incident last month in which a man scaled the White House fence.
The Post said it hopes the restrictions would be eased once a new and taller fence for the White House is put up.
"But don't count on that," the newspaper said. "Once put in place, security measures generally stay forever."
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