White House tourists shooed away due to unattended package

The White House North Lawn is guarded by the Secret Service after a "suspicious package" was found and is checked in Washington April 9, 2009.

Tourists walking in front of the White House Thursday afternoon, enjoying the scenery and the lovely spring afternoon, found themselves shooed away by guards after security personnel spotted what one guard called an “unaccompanied package.”

Pennsylvania Avenue, the street that runs in front of the White House was closed, and police made visitors leave Lafayette Park which runs along the front of the White House.

Carefully watched reporters

When reporters emerged from Press Secretary Robert Gibbs’s 3:00 p.m. briefing, guards kept them from taking the normal exit out the front gate of the White House and had them use an exit near the rear of the mansion. A muzzled German Shepherd watched from the lawn as reporters walked out.

It was an unusual end to what had been a witty session with Gibbs. After not holding a briefing on Wednesday to recover from travels to Europe and Iraq with President Obama, Gibbs was in fine fettle Thursday.

Gibbs quipping through interruptions

During the session, Human Events correspondent John Gizzi’s phone twice played what sounded like a Latin tune. The first time Gibbs cracked: “two margaritas with salt, on the rocks, maybe some chips.” The second time Gizzi’s phone rang, he was in the midst of asking Gibbs a question. Gibbs quipped, “this is like the bar scene from Star Wars.”

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