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press release
May 26, 2001

Cox Letter Protests DOE Security

WASHINGTON (Saturday, May 26, 2001) -- House Policy Chairman Christopher Cox (R-CA), a Member of the Energy and Commerce Committee with jurisdiction over the Department of Energy, today released a letter to Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham regarding selective, "senseless and often offensive 'security' measures" and the consequential mistreatment of Rep. Wu of during a recent visit to the Department.

The text of the letter appears below:

May 25, 2001

The Honorable Spencer Abraham
Secretary of Energy
U.S. Department of Energy
1000 Independence Ave., SW
Washington, DC 20585

Dear Mr. Secretary:

I know that you have been in office only a few months, and that -- given the slow pace of Senate confirmations of the Administration's appointees -- you have been thus far unable to hire all of the people you need to take full control of the Department of Energy. So it is not in any way intended as criticism of you when I protest the conduct of security personnel at the Department's administrative headquarters in Washington, who reportedly detained Rep. David Wu and twice asked him whether he was an American, even though he presented his congressional identification. The guards also reportedly denied entry to his aide, who like Rep. Wu is an Asian American.

It is not a fair rebuttal for an employee of the Department to attempt to defend the conduct of the security guards by asserting that all visitors are required to confirm whether they are U.S. citizens under a presidential directive to protect classified information. As a recent visitor to the Department's headquarters, I can tell you that I was not asked any questions about my citizenship. I used the same garage entrance that Rep. Wu did.

The petty bureaucratic imposition of senseless and often offensive "security" measures in circumstances such as these actually undermines support for genuine national security protections. Particularly in light of President Bush's initiative to stamp out racial profiling, I urge you to take swift action to professionalize the DOE bureaucracy so that such an embarrassment to the Department never occurs again.


Christopher Cox
U.S. Representative

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