21 hours ago
AFP at www.google.com/hostednews
WASHINGTON (AFP) — The outgoing White House administration will next week hold a joint “disaster scenario” exercise with top members of
the incoming team of president-elect Barack Obama, US officials said Friday.
“I’m not going to go into the details of it, but it is a disaster scenario where the government would be very much tested,” White House spokesman Scott Stanzel said.
“It is an exercise scenario, a hypothetical scenario that is designed to test and tax the capabilities of the federal government,” he added.
He did not specify whether Obama or vice president-elect Joe Biden would take part in Tuesday’s three-hour long exercise, saying merely it was part of regular training events and had not been motivated by any specific threat.
A huge security blanket is being thrown over Washington for Obama’s inauguration on January 20, with up to two million people planning to converge on the US capital to witness the nation’s first African-American president being sworn into office.
“It is a very public event … and one that gathers, you know, leaders in a very small environment, essentially. So obviously we have a lot of concern about it,” Stanzel said.
“But there is no credible threat at this point to the inauguration that is precipitating this.”
Stanzel said Tuesday’s exercise was part of President George W. Bush’s commitment to ensuring a smooth handover of powers in the first transition to take place since the September 11, 2001 attacks.
He said senior members of Obama’s team had been invited “to attend 90-minute orientations and briefings followed by a three-hour exercise intended to familiarize the incoming administration with domestic and international incident management procedures used by the current administration.”
“The exercise is a regular thing. We have these exercises at various levels throughout the administration, at several different levels on a regular basis every year,” he added.
“This just happens to be an exercise that we were having at a very senior level that we had planned that we can also include the incoming team on that exercise.”