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Suspicious package thrown over fence at White House

Thursday, March 23, 2006

WASHINGTON -- A man tossed a suspicious package onto the North Lawn of the White House on Wednesday, setting off a security alert, and was taken into custody, the Secret Service said.

After a remote-controlled device was used to probe the package, the Secret Service determined it was not hazardous and sounded the all-clear shortly after noon, about an hour after the incident began, officials said.

"This individual has a done a similar act in the past and he is in custody," Secret Service spokesman Tom Mazur said.

The package was noticed near a fence that runs along Pennsylvania Avenue just after President Bush left in his helicopter from the South Lawn -- on the opposite side of the White House -- for a trip to Wheeling, W.Va.

"Normal security protocols are in place," Mazur said while the package was being investigated.

The Secret Service secured the White House and raised its internal alert system by one level during the investigation, a Homeland Security official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because the review was ongoing.

Reporters, cameramen and photographers were told to remain inside the briefing room while officers investigated.

Secret Service spokesman Jim Mackin said he did not know what the package contained but it was "nothing of protective interest."

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