These pictures are from our October 2006 visit to Washington DC. This is the Washington that you don’t see on TV. (You can click on these pictures to see a full-size version.)

As you approach the Capitol building, everything looks normal enough:

Now look at the second picture. There are barricades on each level of steps, an armed guard tower at the top, and machine-gun toting guards standing on the steps. You can only see one in this pic, but there’s another one on the other side.

In the third picture, we see a zoom on the guard with the automatic rifle:

Does it look like you’re welcome in the building that houses your representatives? Would you dare take a walk up these steps?

Doesn’t this look like something you might see in the former Soviet Union? A full five years after the terrorist attacks, and the place is in lockdown. It’s not just the capitol building, all of DC is one giant security zone. This is what a “war on terrorism” looks like on the home front. Stay back, you’re a threat.