Storming the Barricades in Washington
by Hans von Spakovsky, Heritage Foundation, October 3, 2013
Americans are justifiably angry over the political game being played by the Obama administration to barricade the World War II Memorial in Washington. And they should be. Under federal law, there is no justifiable reason for closing the memorial.
On Tuesday, the National Park Service put up barricades around the open-air memorial that is normally accessible 24 hours a day, seven days a week, even when Park Service personnel are not there. Police threatened to arrest visiting veterans, who came to Washington as part of Honor Flight, a non-profit that gives veterans free transportation so they can see war memorials.
World War II Memorial (Credit: KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images/Newscom)
It is one of the most blatant and shameful political stunts being carried out by the White House, which appears intent on keeping the government shut down to protect Obamacare.
How do we know this is purely political theater? Because under applicable federal law – and the interpretation of that law by both the Justice Department and the Office of Management and Budget — all “law enforcement” operations of the federal government are exempted from being shut down during any funding lapse.
The only possible reason for preventing access to the World War II Memorial would be a concern about security. But because the National Park Police are operating even during the government “slimdown” — that is why they were at the memorial when the veterans were threatened with arrest — this is not a valid concern.
Under intense pressure, the Obama administration began to relent Wednesday, agreeing to “an accommodation for the Honor Flights.” That isn’t good enough. The memorials should be fully open for everyone and anyone.
The White House had an opportunity to prevent this confrontation. Representative Steven Palazzo (R-MS), who helped arrange Tuesday’s Honor Flight visit,says both the White House and the Interior Department rejected his request to allow the veterans to visit the memorial. Judicial Watch has filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the National Park Service, which claimed it was told by the White House to shut down the memorial.
With the help of Representatives Palazzo, Louie Gohmert (R-TX), Steve King (R-IA), and Michele Bachmann (R-MN), and with the same gung-ho spirit that characterized their courageous actions during World War II, the veterans defied the Park Service and pushed through the barriers, just like they did on the beaches of Normandy in 1944.
In an action that defies logic and any appreciation for the deep sacrifices of these veterans, more Park Service employees were dispatched by the Obama administration on Wednesday morning to re-erect the barriers — “two more security officials than the State Department had in Benghazi a year ago on the night of the terrorist attack that killed four, including the U.S. ambassador,” according to the Washington Examiner.
There are no legal or budget reasons whatsoever for the memorial to be barricaded, shut down, and fenced off — other than President Obama’s desire to engage in political theatrics intended to annoy as many members of the public as possible and blame conservatives who are trying to stop the President’s unfair, unaffordable, and unworkable health-care law.
Obama’s decision to prolong the shutdown continues to go against the will of the American people, who are facing higher health care costs, the loss of health insurance, fewer hours at work, and difficulty finding a job. It’s no wonder just 17 percent of Americans believe Obamacare will be a good thing for themselves or their families, according to a new CNN/ORC International survey.
It’s time for the President to face reality. He should be ashamed for engaging in political stunts and trying to deny access to the veterans who paid for the World War II Memorial with their service and sacrifices — and whose comrades-in-arms paid for the memorial with their lives.