Secret Service Guards Obama

By Politics
Friday, May 4, 2007

Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) was placed under Secret Service protection yesterday, in the earliest such move for a presidential candidate who was not an administration veteran.

Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff authorized Obama's protection at the senator's request after consultations with House and Senate leaders in both parties, spokesmen for the Secret Service and the Department of Homeland Security said.

Officials declined to discuss the reason for the move, and the Obama campaign declined to comment.

"The secretary did authorize and the Secret Service is implementing today protection for presidential candidate Senator Barack Obama," Secret Service spokesman Eric Zahren said. "We're not going to discuss further details as to the number of resources or as to those protection operations.

"This is certainly the earliest, but if you look, this is also the earliest kickoff of any campaign season," Zahren said.

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) is under Secret Service protection as a former first lady, DHS spokesman Russ Knocke said. Knocke said Chertoff made the decision on Obama "in recent days."

"As a matter of procedure for very obvious reasons we would not disclose whether other requests have or have not been made," Knocke said.

Candidates must request protection before it is authorized by the secretary of homeland security.

Sen. Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.) expressed concern to Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) about information on threats to Obama in letters and on the Internet, the Chicago Tribune reported. Reid raised the issue with DHS, the Tribune said.

-- Spencer S. Hsu and Zachary A. Goldfarb

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