Archive for Thursday, November 27, 2008

Turf battle looms over Clinton protection

November 27, 2008

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— It may not be your typical Washington power struggle, but Sen. Hillary Clinton’s expected nomination to be secretary of state has already locked two turf-conscious federal agencies in a delicate behind-the-scenes dance over how to protect her.

Even before her appointment is announced, informal discussions have begun on resolving a conflict between the Secret Service and the State Department’s Diplomatic Security Service, both of which will be assigned to guard her if and when she becomes the nation’s top diplomat.

Officials familiar with the matter say the talks revolve around which agency will protect her at home and abroad and who will have the ultimate say in planning her security.

As a former first lady, Clinton is entitled to lifetime protection from the Secret Service. But as secretary of state that task normally would fall to the lesser-known Bureau of Diplomatic Security, the State Department’s in-house law enforcement wing.

Neither agency is eager to give up the high-profile job, which will be further complicated by the fact that Clinton’s spouse, who might accompany her on overseas missions, is a former president who is also protected by the Secret Service, the officials said.

Clinton spokesman Philippe Reines declined to comment, saying the senator’s office will not discuss speculation about her possible nomination or her security arrangements.

Spokesmen for the Secret Service and Diplomatic Security, which routinely refuse to discuss the details of their protective responsibilities, would not comment publicly on the matter.

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