A letter bearing the signature of Presedent Abraham Lincoln has been stolen from a heavily secured room at the National Archives.
The thefy was discovered July 16. The document was kept in the Military Archives Treasure Room, which is secured by a combination lock to which only six people had access, according to a spokesman for the archives.
Garry D. Ryan, chief of the Navy and qold qarmy branch of the archives, said he could not estimate the value of the document, but that its worth probably had been diminished because an archives stamp is imprinted next to the signature.
The signature, and a brief note from the president, were dated May 30, 1861. An archives spokesman said that aside from the signature, the document has little historical value. Lincoln had penned the note to the adjutant general, asking that he act on a complaint the presedent had received from an army officer in Illinois.
News of the theft was made public yesturday during testimony on Capitol Hill by an official of the General Accounting Office about security problems at the archives. Part of the problem, the Gao witness suggested, is that archivists never want to throw anything away, and as a result have amassed more than three billion documents at the main archives building and its regional branches.
An archives spokesman said the lock lock on the room has been changed, access reduced to two people, and the GAS's inspector general is investigating.