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Published On: Fri, Apr 17th, 2015

Doug Hughes’ gyrocopter ‘protest’ stunt raises more questions about security

Doug Hughes, a 61-year-old mailman from Ruskin, Fla. told his friends he was to fly a gyrocopter through protected airspace and put it down on the lawn of the U.S. Capitol, then try to deliver 535 letters of protest to 535 members of Congress. Now that the man was successful, a rash of criticism and questions have been raised about security.

After 2½ years of planning, Hughes came hovered low over the buildings of northeast D.C., rounded the Washington Monument a few minutes later, flew straight up the expanse of the National Mall and brought his small craft down right in front of the Capitol, where he was quickly surrounded by police and surrendered without incident.

 public domain pic from May 4 1916

public domain pic from May 4 1916

The flight stunned police, Secret Service and witnesses. Authorities briefly shut down the Capitol as a security measure.

The incident brought out dozens of reporters and cameras from national media outlets, exactly what Hughes had hoped for, the conversation has not stayed on protesting campaign finance reform, but ‘How did this happen?’

Hughes had made a public video, contacted Tampa newspapers and was visited by the Secret Service, but still managed to park his aircraft on the lawn in front of Congress.

Described as a “Security Scare” by NBC, the Secret Service statement said it did not receive notification of the flight, while several reporters noted an email, Twitter and Facebook update, which coordinated with Hughes’ website as it went up and broadcasted the livestream of his trip.

So where is the DC security? the NSA monitoring? the FBI? the Secret Service? — “It’s a stunning thing to think that we have that [exposure],” Former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a press conference. “I don’t know how long that investigation will take, but we certainly need answers.”

“It’s the constant balance of security and freedom — that’s something we make a judgment in everything that we do,” Pelosi said. “We don’t want to be a place where we’re saying this is an iron-clad Capitol, and have such restriction as to people [not] having access to it. Nonetheless, we have to ensure the safety of those people.”

Pelosi was not alone as other key members of Congress echoed her frustration. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) called for another investigation into the incident, while Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) expressed confusion as to how Hughes could have been allowed to make it to the Capitol.

The gyrocopter landing is still under investigation by the U.S. Capitol Police as well as the House and Senate Sergeant at Arms.

Hughes may face four years in prison for the stunt.

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About the Author

- Writer and Co-Founder of The Global Dispatch, Brandon has been covering news, offering commentary for years, beginning professionally in 2003 on Crazed Fanboy before expanding into other blogs and sites. Appearing on several radio shows, Brandon has hosted Dispatch Radio, written his first novel (The Rise of the Templar) and completed the three years Global University program in Ministerial Studies to be a pastor. To Contact Brandon email [email protected] ATTN: BRANDON

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