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Posted at 1:56 PM ET, 01/ 1/2011

Capitol evacuated after brief threat

By Washington Post editors

Update, 2:05 p.m.:

Capitol Police now say the plane was not a threat, the pilot is landing safely and they have given the all-clear.

Original post:

An email has gone out to anyone who might have gone to work at the U.S. Capitol complex from Capitol Police, asking that people evacuate the complex because an unauthorized aircraft has entered restricted air space.

By Washington Post editors  | January 1, 2011; 1:56 PM ET
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People who are careless enough or smartass enough to invade DC restricted airspace should be required to repay the high tax dollars used for scrambling jet fighters etc.

Posted by: bookmonk | January 1, 2011 3:11 PM | Report abuse

I find it astonishing that anyone who works in the government would be working on New Year's Day!

Posted by: sprice57952 | January 1, 2011 4:45 PM | Report abuse

The aircraft in question did not "invade" the restricted airspace of the DC area as a post said; in fact, it was a scheduled flight, into DCA, by a commercial airline with an easy-to-read "N" number on its tail. Yes, there was a radio communications error but the flight was never a threat to the Capitol or to anyone at all. I appreciate the careful actions of our military but evacuating buildings was, as usual, a complete overreaction.

Posted by: carolineC1 | January 1, 2011 5:27 PM | Report abuse

Better safe than sorry. What would the reaction have been had no action been taken? The same people who criticize the first response would have been critical of this one as well.

Posted by: GSpelvin | January 1, 2011 5:42 PM | Report abuse

As one who pilots an aircraft in this airspace, it is clear that this was an an aircraft tracked on radar from the time it left the runway on departure, known to Potomac approach, who mistuned a radio. Confirming this by intercept may, and only may, have been justified, but causing a panic and evacuation with the concomitant news story represents a massive over reaction.

This is another example, one of many, of justification of the bizarre approach to air security by inducing fear in the public and showing the government is out there effective protecting you.

Posted by: prof2 | January 1, 2011 7:11 PM | Report abuse

I think your objections are overblown. Why do you think fear would be induced in the public as a result of an evacuation request at the Capitol complex? Those of us who live and work in D.C. expect that these incidents may happen from time to time, and often have to evacuate during exercises and drills. BTW, the 9/11 aircraft were legitimate flights being tracked on radar as well. But they didn't end up where they were supposed to according to their flight plans.

Posted by: MHeffner1 | January 1, 2011 8:50 PM | Report abuse

The security people at the Capitol did absolutely the right thing. As others have said here, what if the police did nothing and the baddies hit the Capitol with a plane? It is not a matter of "if," but "when". Today, nobody died. Happy New Year.

Posted by: djphilbin | January 1, 2011 9:27 PM | Report abuse

"An email has gone out to anyone who might have gone to work at the U.S. Capitol complex from Capitol Police, asking that people evacuate the complex"

"absolutely the right thing"?

They must have been using their "Artificial Intelligence". A plane travels 200-500mph, and some people read email once a day.

Posted by: wsj2 | January 1, 2011 11:43 PM | Report abuse

well done

Posted by: jferche | January 2, 2011 3:52 AM | Report abuse

I continue to fail to see how moving the "soft pink bodies" out of the building into the open protects them from a potential aerial threat. Recall in particular the 2-seat, 1500 lb Cessna that caused the evacuation a few years ago. That plane would have bounced off the building, maybe breaking some glass. By moving everyone outside, you've only exposed them to more serious injury if the pilot (and potential co-conspirators on the ground) actually had sinister intent. Knowing that occupants will be evacuated outdoors only gives bad guys more opportunity to do harm. Shelter-in-place or moving to the basement would make more sense for most aircraft smaller than an airliner. If an airliner is actually coming in, a lot of people need to be evacuated far away very quickly - an "email" isn't going to cut it.

The aviation-related "security" in the region is just "security theater" (

Posted by: gus11 | January 2, 2011 10:30 AM | Report abuse

Full Effects. It is a regretable nuisance but with respect I offer that post 9/11 is not just a phrase but a current way of life. The American / Canadian appreciation for assymetric threat spectrum by airborne vehicles is ever - intelligent,variable and demands an immediate decision. Those in security related uniforms on both sides of the border must put people first, and the Wasington Vital Point area is hard to protect. Your ecurity Staff are to be applauded.

Posted by: commonwealthdoug | January 2, 2011 11:29 AM | Report abuse

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