Monday, January 26, 2015

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it's a drone!

(Susan Walsh/Associated Press)

Early Monday morning, a drone weighing about two pounds and about two feet in diameter crashed into a tree on the South Lawn of the White House. The drone went undetected by the White House radar system until it was eventually spotted by a Secret Service officer. However, the Secret Service officers were unable to bring down the drone and were only able to retrieve it after it struck a tree. The White House went under a temporary lockdown until it was confirmed that the drone did not pose a threat. A man called authorities about six hours later to report that he had been the one operating the drone when he suddenly lost control of the device, causing it to accidentally crash onto White House grounds. The drone appears to be a recreational drone that can be purchased easily and cheaply online, and has the capability to possibly carry explosives and other weaponry.

The drone or "quadcopter" device that was found around 3 am on Monday (US Secret Service)

Although small drones have previously violated restricted airspace near the White House, this is supposedly the first time a drone has penetrated the White House perimeter, concerning the public and government officials. This also questions the ability of the Secret Service in protecting the President and his family, as past events such as the 2011 shooting incident at the White House illustrate the Secret Service’s poor response to these situations. Additionally, officials have stated that the Secret Service currently does not have a way to easily identify and stop a typical drone, and that the Service has been working on finding a solution for many years already.

What is your opinion of the Secret Service? Do you think it should consider reforming the way it handles these types of situations?

In what ways do you think the White House can better protect itself from outside attacks? (For instance, installing more surveillance cameras, having a higher fence, etc.)


Spencer Larsen6 said...

This incident is quite alarming as it raise the question, " Could an armed drone breach the White House?" This is yet another example of a Secret Service mishap that has occurred recently. For this case, in the handling of drones, I would just make it illegal to fly drones in the city of Washington DC. While this may seem dramatic, I believe it is the best way to ensure the safety of all the influential people that are always in Washington DC. To help enforce this, law enforcement could give monetary rewards to people who report drones in the air that lead to someone getting caught.

Lindsay Block said...

I agree with Spencer, I am very surprised that this happened at all, and that it took so long to be found. I don't get how it could take any extended period of time to be found. Before this, I thought of the Secret Service and security of the White House impenetrable; at the very least, I would think that basic security would enable any object to be found fairly quickly. While this could have been an isolated accident, I think that considering the job the Secret Service is tasked with, there should be much more preventative measures, like a sensor, to prevent drones from entering the grounds. There have been a few instances of drones entering nearby airspace in the last six months, and the fact that nothing has been done to change the Secret Service after recent close calls at the White House makes it clear that protection is not extended to every area of the White House.