been on Capitol Hill for NEWSWEEK since September 12, covering the House
and Senate as they work on our new American crisis as well as dealing
with the day to day business of running the government.
For me, Mondays are frequently "off-days" on Capitol Hill.
Members of Congress are traveling back from their home districts and
those who have remained in Washington use the day to catch up on office
work and make phone calls.
to members and their staffs, Monday October 15 was dramatically different.
News quickly spread about a letter containing Anthrax that was opened
in Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle's office in the Hart Building
on Capitol Hill. The HazMat technicians arrived, Hart was closed, staffers
tested and put on Cipro. As planned, I arrived on Monday night in order
to be in place in Daschle's office Tuesday morning. When I got there
on October 16, I was struck by how everything seemed to be operating
as usual. Despite the trauma that everyone had been through, the government
was indeed, functioning just fine.
A day later on the 17th, the word came that close to thirty of Senator
Daschle's staffers had been exposed to Anthrax, as well as two Capitol
Hill police officers and
two staffers from Senator Russell Feingold's office. The morning started
with Daschle and health officials speaking to staffers in the LBJ room
about the anthrax problem and what was being done to take care of it.
The Senator asked that I not shoot anything out of respect for the privacy
of the staffers but welcomed me to stay and listen to what they had
Next stop was to the office of Jeri Thompson, Secretary of the Senate,
to prep for a major news conference outside the Capitol at a place called
The Swamp on the Senate side, where all the TV stand-ups
are done. Senator Daschle, his staff and health officials huddled around
the conference table to plan out who would answer what type of question.
then went over to Speaker Dennis Hasterts office for a meeting
concerning the anti-terrorism bill.
Just before the meeting started with other Members and staff, the leaders
of the Senate and House- Daschle, Lott, Hastert and Gephardt got up
and went into Speaker Hasterts private office without staff to
discuss the potential closing of buildings in the Capitol complex. That
was my photo of the day.
I shot the anti-terrorism bill meeting and then it was back to Jeri
Thompsons office for the second press conference prep of the day.
This would be an update on the earlier news and what was being done
about the anthrax problem.
The Mansfield room was packed but I found a place on the side and made
some snaps of Daschle, Lott and the health officials all answering questions
from a room full of reporters, TV crews and fellow still photographers.
I edited and transmitted until 11pm since I had no time to process the
digital files all day. It was shoot and dump, shoot and dump all day
with no time to look at anything. There was no set schedule and events
were happening fast. I had to be alert and ready to move quickly.
When I finally finished and had a moment to breathe, I realized that
I had just covered a quite amazing day of history on the Hill.