- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 30, 2002

Security at the Capitol last night was tighter than ever for President Bush's first State of the Union address, with police stopping, questioning and searching pedestrians hours before the speech.
The Federal Aviation Administration extended the no-fly zone for private aircraft around the Capitol from 15 to 25 miles as Mr. Bush delivered the annual speech, according to FAA spokesman William Shumann.
Commercial airlines flying in and out of area airports were required to remain in constant contact with air-traffic controllers, Mr. Shumann said.
Fighter jets that have patrolled over the city since the September 11 terrorist attack on the Pentagon and World Trade Center could be heard at the Capitol throughout the day.
Downtown traffic was rerouted, and streets in a three-block radius from the Capitol were closed, said Capitol Hill Police Lt. Dan Nichols.
Security has not reached such heightened levels since the Persian Gulf war or Mr. Bush's address to the nation in the week following the terrorist attacks. Public tours were permitted at the Capitol until 2 p.m. yesterday, but few tourists were in evidence.
The extraordinary security measures brought to mind for many at the Capitol the evacuation of the complex on September 11 and the tension in the days afterward.
"Security will rival what we did following the September 11 attack," Lt. Nichols said.
With so many top officials in one place at one time, Lt. Nichols said extraordinary precautions were taken.
U.S. Capitol Police worked closely with the Secret Service to provide security, most of which will not be obvious to the public.
"We will be taking additional precautions, but I won't elaborate on what those are," Lt. Nichols said.
Bomb-sniffing dogs were led through the House chamber hours before senators and representatives gathered to hear the speech.
Black metal fences replaced orange plastic snow fences surrounding the Capitol grounds, but officials said the extra fencing was erected in prepartion for construction of a visitors' center.

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Manage Newsletters

Copyright © 2021 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide