Ezra Pound at St. Elizabeth’s
Politicians gloated as ground was broken and a great river of federal dollars began flowing for the construction of the home of yet another massive federal bureaucracy on the 176 acre hilltop site of what used to be Washington, D.C.’s insane asylum.
What could be more appropriate? The next directive requiring the confiscation of pocket combs and cavity searches of blue-haired grannies can be written in the same location that not so long ago used to be a padded cell.
The federal government locked Ezra Pound away in the same asylum in lieu of prosecuting him for treason for siding with Benito Mussolini during WWII. Perhaps the unruly spirit of the modernist poet will continue to preside over Homeland Security’s new cubicles, resulting in the Canto replacing the memorandum and translations from the Chinese or Occitan filling out the press releases.
Councilman Marion Barry was late, and Mayor Adrian Fenty even later, but both arrived in time to grab a golden shovel and turn a little earth on the lush green lawn of St. Elizabeths Hospital. And with that, ground was officially broken for the $3.4 billion headquarters of the Department of Homeland Security, a vast new federal complex that will be built on the quiet hilltop with spectacular views where once stood the city’s main hospital for the mentally ill. …
Barry thanked Sen. Joe Lieberman, the Connecticut independent who helped create the grab-bag department of security-related agencies after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. …
Lieberman hailed the largest federal project built in the region since the Pentagon. And Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said the new campus, which will be home to 14,000 employees when finished in 2016, will help her fledgling agency grow into a more cohesive entity with a unified culture.
Doug Powers puts the cost into perspective.
It wasnâ€™t long ago that the Department of Homeland Security was just a fascist glimmer in George W. Bushâ€™s eye that subsequently went on to become a symbol of one rogue and illegitimate administrationâ€™s gross abuse of civil liberties.
But now a new sheriff is in town, and a new enemy is in the cross-hairs that needs to be aggressively confronted, so itâ€™s worth an even heavier investment of taxpayer dollars.
That and they needed the meeting space.
Assuming Napolitano holds a meeting every single weekday over the next 10 years, this new complex is only costing $1.3 million per meeting. Not bad by government standards â€” but weâ€™ll round that up to $2 million per meeting on the assumption that theyâ€™ll buy bagels.