Interesting e-mail, though I know I’d want the pages and interns out on the if-it-were-my-kid principle alone:
It is unseemly, especially when the White House staff does it. Part of the job (a responsibility in exchange for all the perks high government service entails) is staying at your post, even when there might be some hazards in doing so.
On April 19, 1995, I was part of the staff of Gov. Frank Keating of Oklahoma. The Murrah truck bomb exploded about a mile from the State Capitol. There were real concerns in those early hours that there might be other targets (as happened on 9/11) and that the Capitol would be a primary one. We stayed right here, doing the job we were paid to do, including getting the ambulances rolling. Yes, there were some nervous glances out the windows from time to time, but the work came first, and I saw some staffers edging away from those windows when trucks appeared. But we did not run away. That’s part of the deal……
I suspect post-9/11 though, the Ok executive staff, etc., could do their jobs from elsewhere, as could any White House/congressional officials who have work to be done at such a time….