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White House cancels holiday tours

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Press Secretary Ari Fleischer said "the White House very much regrets" the decision to cancel holiday tours of the executive mansion, but he defended it as a necessary security measure for a "nation at war."

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"We wish that the arrival of Christmas would mean that the terrorists would take time off, but it doesn't work that way," Fleischer said Tuesday.

Asked how the Bush administration could expect Americans to heed its calls for a normal life amid the holiday cancellations and restrictions, Fleischer said he thought they would understand.

"The public has a widespread recognition that the White House is a unique target," declared Fleischer, calling the building "probably terrorists' number one target."

Fleischer said the Secret Service made the recommendations restricting holiday access to the White House, and the Bush administration accepted them "as a result of the extraordinary wartime circumstances in which we have found ourselves."

"This is an ongoing reflection of events here at the White House since September 11, and part of the new normalcy has been the recognition that as people move ahead and resume their lives, there are some things that have changed," he said.


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