The tall, nude female statue at the Justice Dept. in Washington is now hidden behind a recently installed $4,000 curtain. Wouldn't a burqa have been cheaper?

Under Attorney General John Ashcroft, there is no room for nudity in the Justice Dept., so he has placed the statue in the Federal Nakedness Protection Program.

One can imagine how nervous the curators must be at Washington's many art galleries — where vigilance against nude art falls under homeland security.

The problem was that, during press conferences, the imposing statue was a distraction, looming in the background behind the attorney general. To many, it was the attorney general lurking in the foreground in front of the statue.