- 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 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."