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Justice Dept. hangs drapes in front of partially naked figures
WASHINGTON -- No longer will the attorney general 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 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.
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.
In the past, snagging a photo of the attorney general in front of the statues has been something of a photographers' sport.
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.