Fair is fair, Mr. Mayor. If your security man says there was a problem, there's nothing to be gained by doubting him. Still . . . .

'Twas a Thursday morning in June, at about 8 o'clock, on 12th Street NW, just south of Pennsylvania Avenue. Steve Specht of Brownsville, Md., was one of hundreds of office-bound commuters who suddenly heard a siren. It was attached to a limousine that was coming north on 12th Street at an above-the-speed-limit clip, scattering traffic out of its way.

"As it turned west on Pennsylvania Avenue, the siren was turned off," Steve reports. "But with red light flashing, the limousine proceeded up the median strip, across the 13th Street intersection against the light and . . . . into an empty space at the east entrance to the District Building."

His curiosity aroused, Steve stood in Western Plaza and watched.

For one minute, nothing happened.

Then the driver got out of the limousine. He walked around the limo onto the sidewalk, greeted a few passersby, then stood casually beside the vehicle and waited.

Two more minutes passed.

During which nothing happened.

Finally, at some unseen signal, the driver opened the right rear door.

Out stepped the mayor of Washington, D.C.

He walked -- didn't run, didn't trot, didn't scurry, walked -- into the District Building.

Why all the sirens and red lights if the mayor was going to sit in front of the D.B. for three minutes?

"On the date in question, there was a security problem," said Ron Harvey, the mayor's chief of security. "The mayor had to be removed from the situation . . . .

"If we have received a threat or have any indication he is threatened, we will remove him with the aid of emergency equipment . We do not run rampant through traffic with the siren on for no reason. There was a dangerous indication that morning and that is all I can say about that."

If the mayor were simply late for work, would you use siren and lights?

"We would move quickly but we would not use the siren and light," Harvey replied.

I'd be the last person to suggest that the mayor expose himself to unnecessary risk. But if there really was a dangerous situation that morning that the mayor needed to flee, shouldn't he have gotten out of the limo and into the well-guarded District Building as soon as possible?

The fact that he sat there for three minutes has to make you wonder -- either about the seriousness of the threat, or the seriousness with which his security men were treating it.