November 20, 2003 (by Lieven Dewitte) - A "blip" on a radar screen, rather than a plane, sent scores of White House staff and tourists fleeing the executive mansion on Thursday in fear of another Sept. 11-style attack on the U.S. capital.
Two Air Force F-16 fighters were scrambled to secure the air space over the White House and Vice President Dick Cheney was whisked away in a motorcade to an undisclosed site.
Notified by the North American Aerospace Defense Command, or NORAD
, two Air Force F-16 fighters were scrambled from Andrews Air Force Base to secure the air space over the White House. They found no signs of the Washington restricted air space violator.
"Although the fighters determined that there was no threat they continued to patrol the area," said Air Force Maj. Eric Butterbaugh, a NORAD spokesman.
The Secret Service said the evacuation was ended after "the airspace violation was determined to be a radar anomaly."
It was the latest in a series of security scares for the White House.
On Nov. 10, a small plane caused a brief security alert before military jets intercepted it and steered it away.