DC Shuts Down for Nuke Summit

A huge chunk of downtown DC will be closed for three days to accommodate next week’s Nuclear Security Summit.  A memo went out sometime yesterday and a colleague passed it on late in the afternoon.

dc-lockdownAs Josh Rogin notes, this will be incredibly inconvenient in a city whose infrastructure is already stretched to capacity:

If you are thinking of taking a leisurely drive or even a walk through downtown Washington early next week, think again. Law enforcement is planning a massive security clampdown when 47 world leaders show up for the upcoming nuclear summit.

Roads and sidewalks will be closed for several blocks in every direction surrounding the Washington Convention Center starting Sunday evening and stretching through to Tuesday night, creating a Potemkin Village in the heart of the nation’s capitol, free of cars, busses, pedestrians, and even garbage cans.

Metropolitan police are joining with the Homeland Security Department, the Secret Service, the Coast Guard, the Transportation Department, and the Federal Aviation Administration to coordinate security for the event, which will see the most world leaders in Washington in decades.

Get your car off the road if it’s parked between 7th and 14th Streets in DC’s Northwest quadrant between H and N Streets. 13 bus lines that travel through the area will be affected. And the Mount Vernon station of the Washington subway will be shut down until Wednesday.

If you live or work in the hot zone, you can still get into your home or business, but you’d better have ID proving that you have the right to be there. And for goodness sake, don’t bring any weapons, you will be searched.

While decidedly less-than-thrilled at the prospect of having my commute lengthened, I suppose I understand the increased security.  The scope strikes me as a bit extreme but that’s what happens when the security bureaucracy gets carte blanche.

What I don’t get is:  Why DC?

It’s a really lousy place to house conventions.  It’s expensive.  Hotels and restaurants are scattershot.  Getting around is the pits.

If proximity to the capital is necessary — and I don’t know why it would be for this sort of thing — there are plenty of places nearby that are more logical.  Heck, there’s a brand new convention center at National Harbor that’s begging to be used.  It’s essentially a private island, just a couple miles outside DC.  Plenty of parking, a fabulous hotel, lots of brand new restaurants, and all the rest.  It would be a comparative breeze to provide security.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Brett says:

    What I don’t get is: Why DC?

    It’s a really lousy place to house conventions. It’s expensive. Hotels and restaurants are scattershot. Getting around is the pits.

    Maybe part of the appeal for potential Summit-goers is that they can do tourism when the Summit isn’t on-going.