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How appropriate!  The Department of Homeland Security is about to choose the location for its headquarters facility, and it has apparently decided on St. Elizabeth's Hospital, which began life over 150 years ago as the Governor Hospital for the Insane and then became the United States Government Hospital for the Insane.  Its most notable resident at the moment is John W. Hinckley, the attempted assassin of Ronald Reagan.

The Washington Post is reporting this morning that:

Federal officials are looking to move some of the Department of Homeland Security offices to the St. Elizabeths Hospital campus in Southeast Washington, a plan that would create a massive federal facility and possibly relocate thousands of regional employees.  Federal agencies could eventually occupy as much as 4.5 million square feet on the west campus of St. Elizabeths, a historic site with breathtaking views of downtown, according to the General Services Administration and city officials involved in the effort. In comparison, the Pentagon has a floor area of 6.5 million square feet.

Okay, so, this doesn't deserve to be on the recommended list, so please don't recommend it, but I think it's worthy of a diary.  I posted it as a downthread comment on an open thread, haven't seen it elsewhere, and think it deserves a bit more exposure.

Without denigrating current and/or former psychiatric patients (a category which includes some of my closest friends), this is not just a psychiatric facility.  It is an old-style "insane asylum."  Throughout the Capital region, people joke with each other "you're acting like you should be in St. Elizabeth's!"  St. Elizabeth's is a euphemism for insanity.

We have a tendency in Washington to refer to Government entities by the areas in which they are located.  So, for instance, the State Department is colloquially referred to as "Foggy Bottom" (which is funny enough by itself).  Congress is colloquially referred to as "Capitol Hill" or simply "the Hill."  People speak of the State Department's actions as coming from Foggy Bottom:  "Foggy Bottom clarified its position on North Korea today."

So how appropriate, then, that we may soon be able to refer to the Department of Homeland Security as "St. Elizabeth's" and to any decisions it makes as coming from St. Elizabeth's, as in:  "St. Elizabeth's announced today that awarding the ports contract to a firm controlled by a country that helped to finance the 9/11 attacks was perfectly reasonable."

Originally posted to DC Pol Sci on Sat Mar 11, 2006 at 10:11 AM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I think they should keep it as an insane asylum (none)
     and move Chertoff and the entire Repug staff in and keep them there.

    James M Joiner or

    by jmsjoin on Sat Mar 11, 2006 at 10:12:41 AM PST

  •  Comes complete with (none)
    it's own goth like dungeon. Restraints and baths for  waterboarding should already be in place also. Frontal lobotomys will be a daily thing to beef up the sinking staff, and make sure that Congress is reminded of it's place.

    -8.63 -7.28 When Bush is in your face, may the wind be at your back.

    by OneCrankyDom on Sat Mar 11, 2006 at 10:17:57 AM PST

    •  Yes. (none)
      A report in, of all places, the Moonie Times details the conditions:

      Staffing and management failures at St. Elizabeths Hospital in Southeast have led to the deaths of several patients and overcrowded and unsanitary living conditions for others, according to a group appointed to oversee the city-run facility ...

      "Patients routinely complain that staff treat them like babies or, worse yet, animals," the complaint filed in U.S. District Court reads. . .

      In April 2004, one patient stomped on another patient's head and face while a nurse was unable to stop the attack, according to the group's complaint. The victim suffered internal bleeding and fell into a coma, the complaint reads.

      That same month, an elderly female patient attacked and killed another female patient in an unsupervised section of the hospital ward, the group said in the complaint.

      In February 2003, the group said, St. Elizabeths discontinued physical therapy for one patient despite a doctor's order to continue the treatment. The patient later died from pulmonary embolism, most likely as a result of blood clots from a lack of physical activity, the complaint indicates. The group said another patient died under similar circumstances last spring. Other patients have been kept in restraints or isolation for weeks at a time, the complaint reads. Hospital staff "inappropriately rely on physical restraints" and chemicals to control patients, the group said in its complaint. . .

      Rats and mice are common, furniture is infested with bugs and elevators frequently break down during use, the complaint reads.

      The last time people listened to a talking bush, they wandered 40 years in the desert.

      by DC Pol Sci on Sat Mar 11, 2006 at 10:23:52 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  It's official. (none)
    Hunter S. Thompson never exaggerated.
  •  In the old Soviet Union... (none)
    ..psychiatrists and mental institutions were widely used to interrogate, punish and "disappear" those showing the slightest bit of independent thinking, on the grounds that anyone with complaints about life in the "workers Paradise" had to deranged.

    When the Higher Father is talking to the Preznint, I wonder how his voice gets though all the others chattering away inside that fetid brain.  Or is it just Karl Rove in the wireless microphone set-up from the 2004 debates?

    "It's not selling out if you don't get paid, okay? We're not whores. When you do it for free, that's just slutty." -Wonkette -6.38/ -4.21

    by wonkydonkey on Sat Mar 11, 2006 at 10:33:59 AM PST

  •  Also once the residence of... (none)
    Ezra Pound:
    Pound was sent to St. Elizabeths Hospital for 12 years, longer than convicted traitors Tokyo Rose and Alger Hiss spent in jail, and it was only with the help of Congressman Burdick that Pound's case was finally taken up (under the commonly held belief that Pound was, in fact, not insane). The generally ornery letters from Pound to Burdick's assistant cast him in a harsh light: From May 12, 1958, Pound writes: "I have always regarded package words as a pest. Notably the idiotic term "anti-Semitism", and repeatedly said it was idiotic to attack Jews while leaving intact an infamous swindle which they understood better than uncorrelated goyim.

    I see no reason why the highly sensitized sephadim [sic] should be held responsible for the brutal savagery of the khazars...I shd/ like some time to list some of the curious acts occurring under the reign of Roosevelt (F.D.) probably to be known to future generations as `THE Calamity.'...Rome Daily American unreliable / reporter probably misunderstood what I said. Without exact date, impossible to determine, if this occurred after I had been put OFF the air, by Italian government. Against which I protested, and got back on. To do what I considered my duty in warning the U.S. against Roosevelt's hysteria."

    'You can't begin to imagine how effective the Big Lie is.' N. Mailer 'TNatD'

    by jorndorff on Sat Mar 11, 2006 at 11:20:15 AM PST

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