WASHINGTON – The Pentagon (search) says it will close its day care center by the fall because it cannot ensure the safety of the 117 children who attend the nearby facility.
Larry Di Rita, chief spokesman for Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld (search), said Wednesday that Congress has provided money to build a new child care center farther from the Pentagon. The existing facility is only 200 feet from the main building.
He said no decisions have been made about an alternative site before a new one opens in about 2007.
Di Rita said the decision to close the small facility, which has angered some parents, was not based on specific information about a terrorist threat. Instead, he said, it was a reflection of prudent planning to minimize risks in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001 attack on the Pentagon.
"The Pentagon is clearly a target in a general sense," Di Rita said. He noted that Virginia Highway 110, which runs between the Pentagon and the parking lot where the child care center stands, has been rerouted farther from the Pentagon.
"We're doing our very best to take account of the fact that we know we've been attacked once in this building that we are now sitting in, and in fact in this very location," Di Rita said.