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posted by LaminatorX on Tuesday January 27 2015, @12:53AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the death-from-above dept.

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 as the NYT reports that a small aerial drone has been found on the grounds of the White House. Obama and the first lady, Michelle Obama, are on a three-day visit to India, but their daughters, Malia and Sasha, are in Washington. The report of a drone came at a time when other threats to the president’s family or their home have led to concerns about security but according to a White House spokesman the drone poses no threat. “As the Secret Service has more information about their investigation, about what they’ve been able to learn about this, they’ll share more information on this,” says White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest. 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.

The incident is the latest in a string of White House security breaches that have led to questions about Secret Service effectiveness. Four of the agency's highest-ranking executives were reassigned earlier this month. Former Director Julia Pierson's 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.

Related Stories

Drunken Government Satellite Agency Employee Crashed Drone on White House Lawn 18 comments

Related to our story yesterday, the US Secret Service has release some of its findings: http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2015/01/drunken-spy-satellite-agency-employee-crashed-drone-on-white-house-lawn/

Today, ... the Secret Service revealed new details into their investigation—including a confession by the pilot himself. According to the Secret Service, an unnamed employee of the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency (NGA) claimed responsibility for crashing a remote-controlled quadrocopter into a tree on the grounds of the White House.

The yet-unnamed employee reported the incident to his superiors at NGA. He claimed to have been drinking at an apartment near the White House when he decided early Monday morning to fly a friend’s new DJI Phantom drone. He claimed that he then lost control of the drone. Soon after the drone slipped unnoticed over the White House fence, it was spotted flying low over the grounds before it crashed into a tree.

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  • (Score: 4, Funny) by Kell on Tuesday January 27 2015, @12:57AM

    by Kell (292) on Tuesday January 27 2015, @12:57AM (#138374)

    ... I was wondering where that went. Think they'll give it back?

    --
    Scientists ask questions. Engineers solve problems.
    • (Score: 2) by Hartree on Tuesday January 27 2015, @01:20AM

      by Hartree (195) on Tuesday January 27 2015, @01:20AM (#138382)

      In the pictures, it looked a little beat up. Might be fixable though.

    • (Score: 2) by frojack on Tuesday January 27 2015, @01:44AM

      by frojack (1554) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday January 27 2015, @01:44AM (#138386) Journal

      Later reports indicate someone fessed up..

      A man called authorities roughly six hours later to report that he was a recreational operator and had mistakenly crashed the drone. He said he did not mean to fly it onto the White House grounds, according to the Secret Service.

      (Wapost).

      He probably knew they would catch him, since he was a government employee and had his prints all over the drone.

      Still something, weird about flying your drone at 3am.
      Left unsaid is whether the Whitehouse area has RC control jammers.

      Its not exactly like these things are new, and some model airplanes are big enough to carry a payload. Can't believe they have never given that a thought. Most of these quad copters are supposed to just slowly descend when they can't hear their controller any more.
       

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      • (Score: 2) by Kell on Tuesday January 27 2015, @02:20AM

        by Kell (292) on Tuesday January 27 2015, @02:20AM (#138396)

        Drat! There goes my plan for a free drone. ;)

        --
        Scientists ask questions. Engineers solve problems.
      • (Score: 2) by mhajicek on Tuesday January 27 2015, @03:21AM

        by mhajicek (51) on Tuesday January 27 2015, @03:21AM (#138408)

        There was an NCIS episode about such an aircraft. BTW, it's not too hard to make them autonomous.

        • (Score: 2) by frojack on Tuesday January 27 2015, @04:14AM

          by frojack (1554) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday January 27 2015, @04:14AM (#138425) Journal

          Yes, once you start paying close to $2000 they can be programmed to go to some GPS settings, and return, or you can take your hands off the controller and it will hover, freeing you to mess with the camera, or any time it loses its controller it will return to its GPS launch coordinates.

          But its the white house. Why you anyone expect to get stable GPS coordinates there? Or working RC control bands?

          --
          No, you are mistaken. I've always had this sig.
          • (Score: 2) by mhajicek on Tuesday January 27 2015, @11:20PM

            by mhajicek (51) on Tuesday January 27 2015, @11:20PM (#138675)

            Use inertial navigation for the autonomous flight. That can't be jammed.

  • (Score: 2) by GungnirSniper on Tuesday January 27 2015, @01:12AM

    by GungnirSniper (1671) on Tuesday January 27 2015, @01:12AM (#138378) Journal

    While there is no doubt the President is a target, it also seems like having him live anywhere other than Dick Cheney's secret bunker is going to be risky.

    I wonder if the man claiming the drone will get charged with something entirely unrelated to this incident just to punish him. The SS is going to thoroughly investigate him, which will be punishing too.

    • (Score: 2) by Thexalon on Tuesday January 27 2015, @01:44AM

      by Thexalon (636) on Tuesday January 27 2015, @01:44AM (#138387)

      I wonder if the man claiming the drone will get charged with something entirely unrelated to this incident just to punish him.

      Why would that be necessary? The airspace over the White House is a no-fly zone for anything not in a short list of official aircraft, and that would presumably include drones, so they can charge him with breaking those rules in order to punish him.

      --
      The inverse of "I told you so" is "Nobody could have predicted"
      • (Score: 2) by frojack on Tuesday January 27 2015, @01:49AM

        by frojack (1554) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday January 27 2015, @01:49AM (#138390) Journal

        Or, as I speculated above, jammer transmissions might have made it impossible to control his toy once it got so close to the whitehouse grounds. He might get off with a wrist slap and a forced NDA requirement.

        --
        No, you are mistaken. I've always had this sig.
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 27 2015, @05:19PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 27 2015, @05:19PM (#138579)

        It isn't necessary, but it allows him to go all Godwin and try to sound all anti-establishment cool.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 27 2015, @01:23AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 27 2015, @01:23AM (#138383)

    Citizen drone ban incoming...

    • (Score: 2) by zeigerpuppy on Tuesday January 27 2015, @08:06AM

      by zeigerpuppy (1298) on Tuesday January 27 2015, @08:06AM (#138469)

      Yeah they probably flew it over the fence themselves to have the excuse to ban civilian aircraft and make sure they are military/paramilitary only.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 27 2015, @11:15AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 27 2015, @11:15AM (#138499)

        You may not be far off. A government employee fessed up as the operator of the drone.

  • (Score: 2) by c0lo on Tuesday January 27 2015, @02:03AM

    by c0lo (156) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday January 27 2015, @02:03AM (#138392) Journal
    ... when a two-feet model aircraft drives the Whitehouse in lockdown.
    I mean... look... no need for ICBM-es anymore, a "tactical model aircraft" suffice.
    --
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aoFiw2jMy-0
    • (Score: 1) by Nuke on Tuesday January 27 2015, @01:49PM

      by Nuke (3162) on Tuesday January 27 2015, @01:49PM (#138532)
      The "terrorists have won" meme is getting a bit tired.

      Look at it from the secret service guards' point of view. They have an utterly utterly boring job for 99.99% of the time. TFA mentioned that there was one posted on the south grounds of the White House when the drone appeared at 3am. Can you imagine how f#&king boring it must be to stand like that guy for hours on end, in the cold, with nothing ever happening, night after night - until one night a drone appears? Of course the SS made a huge fuss and a huge search about it. It is the only sort of thing that happens in most of their lives- their 15 minutes of fame.

      I once worked as a night security guard, temporarily, in an industrial place. We used to walk around and check things like the filling dates on fire extinguishers. One night it was noticed that a fire sand bucket was only three-quarters full. Some guards were sure that it had been full a day or two earlier, others were not so sure. The debate about how a quarter of a bucket of sand had dissappeared went on for days (or rather nights). It was the most interesting thing that happened during my two months there. I wish we'd had something like a drone land in the grounds.

      Anyway, this is the USA isn't it? The nation that has always (ie from before "terrorism") been paranoid about its president being assassinated (at least since Lincoln was). But as someone else here said, no-one is irreplacable. Anyway, about half the American population did not even want him to be President in the first place.
  • (Score: 2) by lentilla on Tuesday January 27 2015, @04:53AM

    by lentilla (1770) on Tuesday January 27 2015, @04:53AM (#138440)

    The White House "locked down" because a toy aircraft flew over the fence? It's like the day we discovered that a billion dollar battleship could be destroyed using a dozen or so cheap aluminum runabouts. All we need to do to paralyse the seat of government is fly a dozen drones over the fence with some suspicious looking tubes attached with wires hanging out.

    For the worst case, we must remember that the President is replaceable. The show will go on regardless. An enemy's only victory will be the paralysis they cause - and that is entirely up to how the situation is handled. We have only to fear fear itself.

    • (Score: 2) by tibman on Tuesday January 27 2015, @05:26AM

      by tibman (134) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday January 27 2015, @05:26AM (#138443)

      There is a line somewhere though. It's a bad idea to allow random drones to fly around the white house doing whatever they please. This will likely cause the secret service to create better plans to deal with these situations. Why the fire department showed up i have no idea. It looks like the secret service lost their shit and called everyone that was still awake at 3am.

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    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 27 2015, @11:45AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 27 2015, @11:45AM (#138508)

      Once, yes. No more. Try that now and the cheap runabouts will be blasted out of the water half a klick away. New weapons tactics and procedures for dealing with unidentified low range intruders. Identifying how pirates work then disabling their supply process. This means destroying fishing boats used as way stations. Remember kiddies, it's only kinky the first time.

  • (Score: 3, Funny) by NotSanguine on Tuesday January 27 2015, @09:22AM

    Somebody's toy ended up on the White House lawn. Paranoid morons freak out. Film at Eleven.

    --
    No, no, you're not thinking; you're just being logical. --Niels Bohr
  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by sudo rm -rf on Tuesday January 27 2015, @09:29AM

    by sudo rm -rf (2357) on Tuesday January 27 2015, @09:29AM (#138484) Journal

    In September 2013 german Chancellor Merkel held a public speech and a drone landed [youtube.com] not 2 meters (~ 1.1 x the length DNA strands of the human genome or 0.8 x the circumference of Captain America's shield) away. She kept smiling, while the security officers looked quite pissed off.

    • (Score: 2) by Rivenaleem on Tuesday January 27 2015, @11:20AM

      by Rivenaleem (3400) on Tuesday January 27 2015, @11:20AM (#138501)

      The comments on that video are hilarious. Drone is flying around, the police ask the operator to land it. S/He does so and everyone continues as normal.

      US viewers: "OMG that could have had explosives!" "I hope the operator was arrested!" "The security team should all be fired!"

      Typical over reaction. Unfortunately fear has such a grip on "the average American" that this has become the standard reaction. I guess this is exactly what the SS want, in order to gain more powers.

  • (Score: 2) by Phoenix666 on Tuesday January 27 2015, @11:24AM

    by Phoenix666 (552) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday January 27 2015, @11:24AM (#138503) Journal

    Armies of armed drones, keyed in to Blackberry MAC addresses clustered in DC and Lower Manhattan. Hmm, possibilities, possibilities.

    --
    Washington DC delenda est.