White House construction fuels bunker speculation

Laura Rozen
The Envoy

You can't have a construction site open up on the White House compound without a conspiracy theory or two taking root.

Obama administration officials say that the underground construction work now under way concerns a simple a utilities upgrade. But the yawning pit opened up outside the West Wing earlier this month has prompted many overeager observers of the executive branch to speculate that the construction crew is actually laying the foundation for a bunker, the Washington Post's Christian Davenport reports.

The General Services Administration says the White House utilities upgrade project, begun in May 2009, involves routine maintenance upgrades--"replacing aging electrical, cooling, heating and fire alarm equipment," Davenport writes. But the public is skeptical of the official story--and, Davenport notes, "those who work in the White House aren't buying it, either."

"One told the New York Times that the work is 'security-related' and would ultimately create an expanded underground emergency operations center," Davenport writes.

Whatever the purpose of the project, it will soon fade into the background. Once the work is completed, a GSA spokesman explained to Davenport, "the grounds will be restored to their original state." Or, as Davenport adds: "In other words, it will be as if nothing happened."

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