*Another security breach has happened at the White House.
This time, some kind of unmanned aerial drone, about 2 feet in diameter, flew onto the grounds early this morning while President Barack Obama and the first lady were in India.
However, first daughters Sasha and Malia were home with their grandmother, Marian Robinson. Obama’s spokesman said Monday that the device posed no threat to the first family.
“There is a device that has been recovered by the Secret Service at the White House,” said Obama’s press secretary, Josh Earnest, speaking in New Delhi. “The early indications are that it does not pose any sort of ongoing threat to anybody at the White House.”
A member of the Secret Service first heard and saw the device – which they are calling a “quadcopter” – at 3:08 a.m. EST. It was flying in a low altitude when it landed in a tree on the White House grounds.
Police, fire and other emergency vehicles swarmed around the White House in the predawn hours, with several clustered near the southeast entrance to the mansion. The White House was dark and the entire perimeter was on lockdown until around 5 a.m., when those who work in the complex were allowed inside.
After daylight, more than a dozen Secret Service officers fanned out in a search across the White House lawn as snow began to fall. They peered down in the grass and used flashlights to look through the large bushes that line the mansion’s driveway.
While the circumstances of this incident were not immediately clear, previous security breaches at the White House have led to questions about the Secret Service’s effectiveness.
Four high-ranking executives were reassigned this month, and former director Julia Pierson was forced to resign last year after a Texas man armed with a knife was able to get over a White House fence in September and run deep into the executive mansion before being subdued.
An independent panel that investigated the agency’s leadership and practices in the wake of the September incident and the disclosure of a previously unreported security breach that month recommended hiring a new director from outside the agency.
That report was the second critical review of the agency responsible for protecting the president. In November, the Homeland Security Department, which oversees the Secret Service, released an internal investigation about the fence-scaling incident that found poor training, staff and a series of missteps led to the breach.
Homeland Security investigators found, among other things, that uniformed agents patrolling the White House grounds the night of Sept. 19 mistakenly assumed that thick bushes near the mansion’s front door would stop the intruder.