White House Placed On Lockdown After Man Jumps Fence With Bags

Pennsylvania Avenue was placed on lockdown Friday after a man carrying two bags was caught trying to hop the White House fence. He was pulled down by agents from the Secret Service and U.S. Park Police before he could actually get over the fence, and was subsequently taken into custody. According to a Secret Service spokesman, there was nothing dangerous in the bags.

While you’d think that security around the perimeter of the White House would be airtight, the fence is pretty low, and it seems like someone successfully scales it every couple of years or so. In her excellent history of White House security, Elizabeth Weingarten provided a simple explanation as to why the fence isn’t more secure:

PR. The Secret Service could easily stop jumpers from hopping the fence with a little barbed wire. They could also halt pedestrian traffic on Pennsylvania Avenue altogether or double the height of the current fence. But they won't do any of those things: The White House must maintain the illusion of accessibility, even if you can't simply walk in the front door.

A video of Code Pink protester Diane Wilson hopping the fence while protesting the continued operation of Guantanamo Bay last year demonstrates how easy it is, although note how quickly the Secret Service responded.

President Obama missed the incident entirely, as he was in Michigan signing the recently-passed farm bill.

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