Around 1990, when I was a U.S. Attorney, I returned one afternoon from an out-of-town meeting to notice that the federal building where my office was located appeared oddly different. As I got closer, I saw that the windows were broken out, the building stained by smoke, and the whole area cordoned off by police and fire personnel. While I was gone, a fire had broken out. Though the fire itself had been contained, mail chutes in the 1920s-vintage building had acted as chimneys, distributing smoke into every nook and cranny with enthusiastic efficiency. A thick layer of grimy soot covered every piece of paper, every computer, every stick of furniture.
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