Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Security blunder in Canberra - Obama visit details stored in old van

Obama Van
What security? ... vans involved with President Obama's visit to Australia. Source: The Courier-MailSENSITIVE details of US Secret Service agents and preparations for President Barack Obama's visit have been stored in an old van parked at a Canberra hotel.
On the day the President arrives in Canberra, The Daily Telegraph can reveal timesheets detailing travel of US agents and officials have been left in the white Mazda parked at the rear of the Hyatt hotel.
Roads will be closed today, guards were yesterday stationed at aviation fuel terminals at the airport and the President's attack-proof limousine, the Obama-mobile, has already arrived in Canberra. Yet hire car drivers working on the President's visit have been asked to deposit their time sheets in the van, which was unmanned when visited by The Daily Telegraph on Friday.
One driver said they folded up the documents as they were concerned about leaving them unattended in a carpark. Another claimed he was sacked for refusing to send timesheets, showing where a US Secret Service agent from the Presidential Protection Division of the US Department of Homeland Security had been, unaccompanied in a taxi to the hotel carpark.
The timesheet detailed suburbs and buildings visited last Tuesday, when the agent went to a Canberra primary school.
It is understood advance work was done at the school but it was not chosen for a visit by President Obama and Prime Minister Julia Gillard.
Obama's visit is vital, says White House
Planning for the school visit has been the most closely guarded secret in the President's itinerary.
The timesheets the driver said he refused to send in a taxi showed the Secret Service agent had been to various places President Obama will visit around Canberra.
The driver was sacked in an email and the woman who sent it declined to comment.
The Secret Service agent also declined to comment when contacted on Monday.
"I don't have any comment on that," he said.
A spokesman for the company contracted to drive the US officials around Canberra admitted using the van as a collection point but denied there had been a major security breach.
The US Embassy in Canberra said any questions about presidential security were a matter for the Secret Service.
The President has meetings with Ms Gillard later today ahead of his address to a joint sitting of parliament at 10.15am tomorrow.
He will then visit a primary school with Ms Gillard.
The president is also due to lay a wreath at the Canberra War Memorial.
Mr Obama will spend Friday in Darwin.

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