Dept. Covers Statues
NEWTON, Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON (AP) - No longer will the attorney gneral be photographed in front of two partially nude statues in the Great Hall of the Department of Justice.
The department spent $8,000 on blue drapes that hide the two giant, aluminum art deco statues, said spokesman Shane Hix. For aesthetic reasons, he said, the drapes were occasionally hung in front of the statues before formal events. The department used to rent the drapes, but has now purchased them and left them hanging.
The drapes provide a nice background for television cameras, Hix said.
ABC News reported that Attorney General John Ashcroft ordered the statues covered because he didn't like being photographed in front of them.
Since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, Ashcroft has been photographed several times in front of the female statue that represents the Spirit of Justice. The 10- to 12-foot statue has its arms raised and a toga draped over its body, but a single breast is completely exposed.
The other statue, of a man with a cloth covering his midsection, is called the Majesty of Law.
Both statues were installed in the 1930s when the building was finished, according to the Justice Department.
Hix said the Justice Department bought the drapes to avoid having to rent them every time the agency had a formal event. The drapes cost about $2,000 to rent.
He also said Ashcroft was not involved in the decision.
"The attorney general was not even aware of the situation," he said. "Obviously, he has more important things to do."
The Great Hall is an ornate, two-story room that the department uses for ceremonies and special speeches.
In the past, snagging a photo of the attorney general in front of the statues has been something of a sport for photographers.
When former Attorney General Edwin Meese released a report on pornography in the 1980s, photographers dived to the floor to capture the image of him raising the report in the air, with the partially nude female statue behind him.
COVERS 'NUDE' STATUES
Fed up with having his picture taken during events in the Justice Department's Great Hall in front of semi-nude statues, Attorney General John Ashcroft has reportedly ordered massive draperies to conceal the offending figures -- which have been displayed since the 1930s!
The draperies were installed last week at a cost of just over $8,000, reports ABCNEWS.com's Beverley Lumpkin.
At the center of the controversy: two enormous and stylized but largely naked aluminum statues.
The female figure represents the Spirit of Justice; the male on the right is the Majesty of Justice. The male is clad in only a cloth draped over his essential parts; the female wears a sort of toga-style garment, but one breast is entirely exposed.
Last November, during a press conference announcing new challenges of fighting terrorism, Ashcroft was photographed with the naked breast right over his shoulder!
The snap ran in major papers.