- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 7, 2001

Have you seen the photos recently, and reluctantly, released by the White House depicting the condition of the offices in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building inherited by the Bush administration in January? If so, then you know what the aftermath of a tornado whirling its way through an Arkansas trailer park looks like.
When President Bush arrived in Washington, as White House officials explained, he came with a desire to "move forward and not live in the past" and to "change the tone in Washington." Thats why, in the first week of the new administration, the White House intentionally declined to document the damage and the vandalism in writing. Until recently, and only after such documentation was demanded by former Clinton administration officials, the White House never actively pursued the reports about the widespread vandalism and the profane and pornographic pranks perpetrated by departing Clinton-Gore staffers.
When the General Accounting Office (GAO), the investigative arm of Congress, issued a three-paragraph letter declaring that it was unable to confirm any damage the reason was the White Houses deliberate decision not to document the damage in writing the Clintonistas pounced. Mustering all the self-righteous indignation one would expect from a former Clinton spokesman, Jake Siewert attacked the media in an op-ed in The Washington Post for failing to give the same prominence to the GAOs report that it gave to the January news reports. Democratic Rep. Anthony Weiner, surrounded by former Clinton-Gore staffers, held a press conference outside the White House last Friday demanding an apology.
Instead of offering an apology, Bush spokesman Ari Fleischer provided The Post with the list of damage. "We tried to be gracious," Mr. Fleischer explained, "but the last administration would not take graciousness." The damage included 10 sliced phone lines; tampering with scores of other phones, including leaving pornographic or obscene messages on 15 phones; obscene grafitti in six offices; 100 inoperable keyboards; two missing historic door knobs; and a 20-inch-wide presidential seal that was ripped off a wall. Offices were left with mounds of garbage and in utter disarray. Virtually all of the damage was done in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, not at the White House, which the General Services Administration found to be structurally intact. Bush spokesman Claire Buchan told the Knight Ridder/Tribune News Service that career executive office employees had witnessed the alleged acts of vandalism.
The GAO has opened a new investigation. By now, the Bush White House must be aware that, in this town, hardball sometimes comes with the territory.

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