The Washington Times - January 7, 2009, 03:41PM

Rumors that a threat had shut down President-elect Barack Obama’s transition headquarters today spread like wildfire this afternoon at the Starbucks at 7th and E streets Northwest.



But they weren’t true.


Employees of the nearby courthouse took refuge from the elements at the coffee house after the building was cleared. Several blocks were shut down to traffic.


I was sitting here working, and watched the fake news spread.


One lawyer told another that it had been so chaotic because the nearby transition office on 6th Street had been evacuated due to a bomb threat.


The lawyer picked up the phone and reported the news to a friend.


“The Obama office got a bomb threat,” the person reported matter-of-factly.


Someone sipping their coffee within earshot perked up, and also called someone with the news.


D.C. police spokeswoman Traci Hughes told me there was much ado about nothing. Some buildings had been shut down briefly after someone reported a “suspicious vehicle,” she said, adding: “It was nothing major at all.”


From the AP report:


Secret Service spokesman Eric Zahren says explosive detection dogs alerted officials to the vehicle around noon Wednesday. He says the vehicle was going through a checkpoint to access the same building that houses Obama’s transition team.

Authorities closed about three blocks in downtown Washington while they investigated. Officials eventually determined that the driver was authorized to be in the area and that the vehicle posed no security risk.


The Obama folks didn’t respond to my request for comment.


And a programming note: I’m back after two weeks’ vacation. Happy new year. Please keep the tips coming and keep checking back to read my blog and stories as I transition to covering the Obama White House.


 Christina Bellantoni, White House correspondent,
The Washington Times


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