WASHINGTON — Fears that an unidentified aircraft had entered restricted space near the White House prompted security officials to move President Bush from the Oval Office to an underground shelter Wednesday.
The brief scare lasted only a few minutes before officials determined it was a false alarm, White House counselor Dan Bartlett said. Some White House staff members were moved out of the West Wing and tourists were rushed from the East Wing.
“There was an indication that an aircraft has entered the no-fly zone,” White House press secretary Scott McClellan said. “There’s an investigation to determine what it really was.”
Security officers toting shotguns took up positions around the White House compound during the incident.
“There was a report of a possible violation of restricted air space and it was cleared,” said Lorie Lewis, a spokesperson for the Secret Service.
McClellan said Bush was working in the Oval Office at the time. Bush was taken to the underground bunker. He was there “a very short amount of time,” McClellan said.
Vice President Dick Cheney was notified about the scare and moved to a secure location, according to an administration official who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the security information. He arrived at the White House minutes after the situation was resolved.
The last known time Bush was taken to the underground shelter was on the night of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks when security fears prompted officials to move the president and his wife.
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