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'Device,' Possibly A Small Drone, Discovered On White House Grounds

Secret Service officers patrol in front of the White House on Jan. 20. (Reuters /Landov)

The White House says a device was found on the grounds of the executive mansion overnight, but adds it posed no threat to the first family. Several news reports say the device was a small drone.

President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama are in India; their daughters, Sasha and Malia, stayed behind with their grandmother, Marian Robinson.

"There is a device that has been recovered by the Secret Service at the White House," said White House spokesman Josh Earnest, who is with Obama in New Delhi. "The early indications are that it does not pose any sort of ongoing threat to anybody at the White House."

The Associated Press reports that Earnest did not deny that the device was a drone. The New York Times called the device "a small aerial drone."

The device's discovery prompted a lockdown at the White House until 5 a.m. today.

Drones, as we have previously reported, come in a variety of sizes, and are used in counterterrorism, surveillance, aerial photography and even as toys.

The incident follows a spate of security lapses at the White House for which the Secret Service has been widely criticized. As we previously reported:

"The Secret Service was criticized last year after several lapses, including one in which a knife-wielding man scaled the White House fence and made it inside the executive mansion's main level. The scandal resulted in the resignation of its then-director, Julia Pierson.

"In December, a panel appointed by the Department of Homeland Security recommended changes at the Secret Service, saying it was "starved for leadership."

Several top officials at the Secret Service were asked to leave earlier this month.

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