Thursday, May 12, 2005


Bush not told till he finished his bike ride

Let's see. Your wife has just been hustled off to some unknown location because of an unknown but imminent threat; your (nominally) second-in-command likewise. Wouldn't you want to know? Wouldn't you want to be told as quickly as possible?

Not if you're "Incurious" George.

Yesterday the Capitol and White House were evacuated. There was a small plane flying in the restricted airspace around Washington, which produced what reporters Alan Levin and Mimi Hall called "a frantic 15-minute scene."

A government Black Hawk helicopter and small jet intercepted the single-engine plane shortly before noon and tried to signal the pilot to change course. (Related video: Scenes from the evacuation)

When that didn't work, two F-16 fighter jets circled the plane and fired signal flares until it veered away 3 miles from the White House, according to Lt. Jody Vazquez, a spokeswoman for the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD).

The plane was diverted to Maryland, and the two men aboard were briefly taken into custody and questioned but were not charged, according to the Secret Service and FBI. The intrusion "appears to have been accidental," said Secret Service spokesman Tom Mazur.

Wednesday's incident was the third highly public evacuation in the past year. A plane carrying Kentucky's governor to Ronald Reagan's memorial service prompted a false alert on June 9. A cloud that appeared on radar screens prompted an alert April 27.

President Bush was away from the White House, biking at Patuxent Wildlife Research Center in Beltsville, Md. Vice President Cheney was rushed from the White House to another location. Mrs. Bush and White House guest Nancy Reagan were taken to an unidentified location.

Bush wasn't told of the threat until he finished his bike ride, said Scott McClellan, a White House spokesman.

"He was not in any danger," McClellan said.

What a guy!

It strangely recalls 9/11, doesn't it? Bush reading stories to children while the Twin Towers burned.

And it recalls 9/11 also by contrast. Yesterday's exercise shows just how quickly they can get those F-16s in the air—when they really want to.

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