The White House has downplayed media concerns over President Barack Obama’s security in Kenya after an apparent security breach by a Kenya Airways official.
The KQ official is reported to have sent an email to Jomo Kenyatta International Airport and Wilson Airport staff, aircraft operators and even flight schools detailing Air Force One’s exact 50 minute landing and departure window for the weekend.
For security reasons, the White House does not publicly release details of the window.
Responding to a question over the apparent breach on Wednesday afternoon, White House national security adviser Susan Rice said it would “in no way affect our approach and plans.”
US President Barack Obama makes his way to board Air Force One upon departure from Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland on April 2, 2015. PHOTO | AFP
“Often times a lot of this information is not entirely accurate,” she said. “In no way is it disturbing our plans.”
Weighing in on the same question, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said that the situation with Kenya is different from that of Iraq and Afghanistan where the president has to go unannounced.
“We have however taken certain precautions to keep the President safe while he is travelling to Africa,” Earnest said.
He also reminded the journalists that they often get details of the president’s travel plans ahead of time but they often change and are not as specific until the final itinerary is made.
‘MOST DANGEROUS’ COUNTRY
Later on Thursday evening during a segment on CNN’s news show Erin Burnett UPFRONT, stand-in host Kate Bolduan introduced a segment using the line “…..and now security concerns for President Obama on the eve of his trip to one of the most dangerous countries in the world.”
She discussed the security breach as a copy of the redacted document sent by the KQ official to the two Nairobi airports was displayed on the screen.
She said that the breach was serious considering the document was also posted on Facebook.
Two of her guests; a former CIA operative and Intelligence Analyst Robert Bauer and Jonathan Wackrow, a former Secret Service agent in President Obama’s detail weighed in painting Kenya as country under siege.
Jonathan Wackrow, who was in President Obama’s secret service security detail for five years said that the leaking of the details raise the threat level during the President’s trip.
He said that Obama’s trip to Kenya had been anticipated for a long time and anybody who wanted to plan against the President had time to prepare.
“People have been anticipating this trip since he became President,” he said. “People who want to hurt the President have been preparing for seven years.”
MORE DANGEROUS THAN IRAQ
He claimed that Kenya is more dangerous that Iraq and Afghanistan.
Former CIA Operative and Intelligence Analyst Robert Bauer said Obama’s trip to Kenya was the perfect storm for a terror attack and the trip is not worth the risk for the president.
He cited Kenya’s concern with terror flowing in from Somalia and the proposed erecting of a wall between the two countries.
He also said the fact that Kenya’s Muslims make about 11 per cent of the country’s population was a terror concern.
Earlier on Wednesday, FOX News has expressed a similar concern after reports of the breach saying that the leak places the US leader in danger.
Fox reported that the email was also sent to airline customers across Africa giving details of when the airports would be closed.
The station also reported that a Johannesburg travel agent sent out an email with the sensitive text pasted in to all its customers with the subject line: “Info on Obama visit to Kenya.”
President Obama will depart Washington DC on Thursday evening for Nairobi. The First Lady Michelle Obama and daughters Malia and Sasha will not be accompanying him.