WASHINGTON (AP) — As millions converged on Washington last year to witness the inauguration of President Barack Obama, security officials were concerned that among them were extremists traveling from Somalia to set off explosives as Obama took the oath of office, The New York Times reported on its Web site Monday.
The magazine report, to coincide with the first anniversary of Obama’s inauguration, says that for 72 hours before the new president was sworn in intelligence agencies worked around the clock trying to figure our whether the threat was real and what, if anything, should be done if a terrorist struck while millions watched on the Mall and tens of millions more saw the ceremony on television.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates, the only Cabinet member who had been sworn in by Jan. 20, was spirited off to a secret location during the inauguration in case the worst happened.
As Obama publicly thanked the outgoing administration for its generous help in a smooth transition, privately his advisers and Cabinet-designees sat across the table from President George W. Bush’s team to evaluate the information coming from the intelligence community and what should be done about it. The president-elect could do little beyond ask questions.
In the end, the report turned out to be false: No terrorists traveled here to attack the inauguration. The story was little more than a rumor, fueled by a false report from a rival organization.