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White House's West Wing briefly evacuated

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Once agents gave an "all-clear" signal, the car was driven from the White House grounds  


WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The West Wing of the White House was briefly evacuated on Thursday after a Secret Service-trained dog identified a suspicious car parked on the executive mansion grounds.

The Secret Service said the evacuation was purely precautionary and gave an all-clear signal after examining the car. The evacuation lasted about an hour.

A staffer for a House committee told CNN Producer Ted Barrett that the car belongs to him and that he didn't know why it was singled out by the bomb-sniffing dog.

CNN White House Correspondent Kelly Wallace reported that journalists left the White House briefing room and its adjoining areas, and headed to the nearby Eisenhower Executive Office Building while Secret Service officers investigated.

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CNN's Major Garrett was one of the reporters evacuated and described the situation as it took place

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CNN's Major Garrett describes how reporters inside the White House learned of the security alert
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Visitors and some staff members were also asked to leave the West Wing.

But Wallace reported that President Bush never left the White House, nor did Vice President Dick Cheney leave the building.

CNN Senior White House Correspondent John King, after speaking with a Secret Service source, said the east side of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building and the White House press offices, including press secretary Ari Fleischer's office, were evacuated.

The trained dog reportedly sensed something suspicious about -- or near -- a vehicle parked close to the West Wing, and sat down beside the four-door sedan. These specially trained dogs have been taught to sit next to suspicious vehicles until agents on the scene take notice.

King reported that these dogs are trained to sniff for explosives. The dog tabbed the vehicle twice, King reported. The animal sat down next to the car after an initial pass, and again when Secret Service agents took the dog away and then led it back to the vehicle.

The White House first announced the evacuation at about 11:05 a.m. during a regularly scheduled off-the-record briefing for reporters in the White House.

Fleischer, who was giving the briefing, was handed a note and suddenly announced that the West Wing was being evacuated and that all media personnel should move to the Eisenhower Executive Office Building next door to the White House.







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