August 19, 2019

Top secret Obama visit plan found in Canberra street

125 pages for a two day visit? What happens when Barack wants to go on a road trip?

A secret manual describing Barack Obama’s Australian visit schedule down to the minute, as well as the breakdown of his security convoy and the mobile numbers of dozens of senior US and Australian officials, has been found by the Sydney Morning Herald lying on a Canberra street yesterday morning.

The loss, a significant and hugely embarrassing security slip-up, will leave a sour final note to what was an otherwise positive two days for the Gillard government.

The booklet, Overall Program and Orders of Arrangements, for the US President’s visit, was found by a reporter in a gutter about 100 metres from the entrance to Parliament House.

Last night a top security analyst, Alan Dupont, said the find was far more than embarrassing. It represented a significant security breach.

”If that had got into the wrong hands it would certainly put the President and some of his entourage at risk, if someone could respond quickly enough to having the information,” said Professor Dupont, the Michael Hintze Chair of International Security at Sydney University.

”Even if you were an ordinary crim, there would be a market for that kind of book, so it’s not good news.”

The 125-page booklet is classified ”in confidence” and its cover states its content ”is not to be communicated either directly or indirectly to any person not authorised to receive it”.

More than 120 pages are dedicated to minute by minute descriptions of Mr Obama’s schedule, and even describe which limousine door the President will enter and exit.

”On a signal from the presidential advance agents, the Prime Minister, [the Australian ambassador to the US, Kim] Beazley and [US ambassador to Australia Jeffrey] Bleich alight from their vehicles,” the booklet states for the event at the Darwin RAAF base yesterday afternoon.

It also lists the seating arrangements for the presidential motorcade. It gives a breakdown of Mr Obama’s secret service presidential protective division, including its ”counter-assault teams”, a ”comms vehicle”, an ”intel car” and the ”hammer truck”. Hammer stands for ”hazardous agent mitigation medical emergency response”.

The Secret Service team provides emergency medical and chemical attack treatment and keeps equipment used for forcing entry and for rescue.

The counter-assault teams, or CATs, are five-person units of men or women with a military or police background. Their job is to use heavy weapons on attackers and allow the president to escape with his suit-wearing secret service agents.

Then there are dozens of mobile and landline numbers for Australian and US military and civilian staff.

They include mobiles for the US deputy ambassador, Jason Hyland, and the US consuls-general in Melbourne, Sydney and Perth, an embassy attache, three Australian Air Force wing commanders in Canberra and Darwin, and the federal police co-ordinator for foreign dignity protection.

”It’s incredible,” Professor Dupont said. ”It could be exploited down the track because it’s got all sorts of numbers in it.

”And if you are somebody who could exploit that or sell it to someone who could exploit, that could be serious because you could listen into the telephone calls of people who are very senior.”