WASHINGTON — Before an intruder jumped the White House fence two weeks ago, sightseers could lean into the black iron bars and snap an unobstructed photograph.
Now, a temporary fence keeps people several feet back, spoiling a picture-perfect moment for some.
"It's the people's house, and I think it's tragic that we have reached a state in our nation where we have to have barriers to keep people out ... but that's the world we live in now," said Jean Snook, who was visiting from Syracuse, New York.
A man with a knife jumped the original fence Sept. 19 and ran inside the executive mansion, looking for the president, authorities said. It was the sixth time someone has jumped the fence this year and the 16th in the past five years, according to the Secret Service.
White House visitors now find a new layer of waist-high bicycle racks linked end to end along Pennsylvania Avenue, keeping people about 5 feet back from the fence. Yellow signs on each barrier read "Police Line: Do Not Cross."
Officials with the National Park Service said the new barriers are temporary, but it's not clear when they might come down.
"Call your congressman," a Secret Service officer told one couple when they asked why they couldn't get closer to take a picture through the fence rails.
Would the new, smaller barrier really deter someone who is determined to jump over the fence?
"No, absolutely not," said Snook's husband, Steven. "All it does is keep the tourists from getting a better (picture). It doesn't do anything."
The Secret Service also is considering widening the security zone by checking visitors' bags in the parks surrounding the White House.
Charlene Fisher of Fremont, Ohio, walked past the White House on Friday snapping pictures, and said she didn't like seeing the new barriers. Screening bags would just be too much, she said.
"What they've got so far is good because if they do anything else, we won't be able to get up here," she said.
Security threats after 9/11 and the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995 led to closures and barriers around the White House that have become permanent.
Eleanor Holmes Norton, the District of Columbia's delegate to Congress, has been advocating against the newest barriers for days and said the Secret Service itself needs a closer inspection.
"They've got to go," Norton said of the new barriers. "I assume they're temporary. They're unsightly."
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