On January 27 and 28, 1999, the Department of Interior held a "public forum" on the Comprehensive Design Plan for the White House and Draft Environmental Impact Statement ("CDP"). Public comments will be accepted on the CDP until March 11th. Although change may be the only constant in this world, this particular change, born of fear and nurtured by visions of "dignity," has the potential of maturing into a tremendous threat to freedom.

For just about two hundred years -- or nearly the entire history of this country -- Lafayette Park was open and free. Suddenly, in 1995, the Secret Service ("SS"), in the dead of night, took the revolutionary step of closing Pennsylvania Avenue and barricading Lafayette Park. At that time then-U.S. Senator Rod Grams stood on Pennsylvania Avenue and noted, "There are barricades to the left of us, barricades to the right of us, and yet directly in the middle sits what is supposed to be one of this nation's most enduring symbols of freedom. Surrounded by concrete, and ringed by armed guards, dogs, and patrol vehicles, a roadway that once resonated with freedom now reeks of fear."

At first Senator Grams' opinion was bipartisan, perhaps ... with the exception of the SS ... unanimous. President Clinton was joined by Representative Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) and many others and both sides of the aisle who felt, as then-House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) said, "Keep it open. I mean there are limited risks in a free society."

There are also tremendous risks to a free society. On June 6, 1982 Ronald Wilson Reagan, told a joint session of British Parliament, "Although nuclear weapons mean, if not the end of mankind, at least the end of civilization as we know it, they are necessary to protect against mindless bureaucracy, and totalitarian police-state tactics which combine to stifle individual freedom, and personal excellence."

There is reason to believe that the CDP sets the stage for a mindless bureaucracy, and totalitarian police-state tactics to stifle individual freedom and personal excellence right in Lafayette Park. Moreover the CDP seems at least shortsighted on such practical points as public restrooms.

For those willing to be ruled by a corporation, freedom of thought, expression and assembly are not important concerns. However those freedoms are essential for any democracy, or even for a healthy republic. Without question more First Amendment activity occurs in Lafayette Park than at any other location on earth. Courts in this country have repeatedly referred to Lafayette Park as a premier public forum. History clearly shows that regulations impacting basic human rights and freedoms which originate in Lafayette Park serve as legal precedent for oppressive regulations nationwide.

Public comments were due on March 11, 1998.