WH prepared for terrorist attack at Obama’s first inauguration

The White House was so concerned that terrorists could target President Obama’s 2009 inauguration that a top aide prepared remarks he could read to the crowd if the Secret Service determined an attack was imminent.

David Axelrod, Obama’s senior adviser, says in excerpts from his new book obtained by The New York Times that former chief of staff Rahm Emanuel called him the night before the inauguration to warn him that a group of four Somalis may have slipped into the United States to target the ceremonies. “I can’t read the speechwriters into this,” Emanuel, now the mayor of Chicago, said according to Axelrod’s account.

“So I want you to write a brief statement for the president-elect. Meet him right before the ceremonies in the speaker’s office and give it to him. He’ll put it in his pocket in case it’s needed.”

{mosads}Axelrod said worry over the possibility of an attack and concern for his family led to a restless night. His wife and son would attend church with Obama and President George W. Bush before the inauguration.

“I was frantic,” Axelrod wrote. “What if an attack happened there? I desperately wanted to tell them to stay away, but that would have violated Rahm’s edict. As I watched my wife and son disappear through the door, I worried that I might have made a terrible mistake, one I would regret for the rest of my life.”

Axelrod said he handed Obama the remarks moments before the inauguration as the pair huddled in the Speaker’s office.

“He tucked it into his pocket without even looking at it — and thankfully, he would have no reason to read it later,” Axelrod wrote.

The Times reported on the potential terror threat in 2010, saying that the Defense secretary was kept in a secure location so that he could take over in case of disaster. But it was later determined that the threat was based on a bad tip from a Somali intelligence source.

Tags David Axelrod National security Rahm Emanuel Terrorism
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