Monday, June 18, 2007
A press room across the street of the White House was evacuated after a bomb sniffing dog had a reaction to a van it was searching. The van was believed to be a transport vehicle for Israeli Prime Minster Ehud Olmert, but some reports also say that it is not known to whom the van belongs.
The evacuated space is where the press gathers before they enter the Press Briefing Room in the West Wing of the White House. It is around the corner from Blair House.
“Police were called, they are on the scene currently attempting to clear the vehicle. The vehicle is part of the delegation that is staying at the Blair House,” said Darrin Blackford, a spokesman for the Secret Service.
Police searched the van using a robot and blocked off streets around the area to vehicle traffic, but at 4:30 p.m. (eastern time), authorities gave the “all-clear” for personnel to be allowed back into the building.
The “suspicious” van was parked in front of Lafayette Park. Other areas near the White House were also evacuated including Pennsylvania Avenue, on which the White House is located, and the Jackson Square Press Center, because “of an abundance of caution.”
Olmert is currently a guest in the Blair House which is located across the street from the White House. Olmert is expected to meet with United States President George W. Bush to discuss the Palestinian government and other issues. It is not known if Olmert was inside the house at the time of the incident.
It is not known why the dog reacted to the van, but nothing was found inside it after the Secret Service searched it.