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Agents secure Obama's offices

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

As President-Elect Barack Obama carries out business in Chicago, officials beef up security downtown.

While Obama prepares to assume the presidency in January, he'll work part of the time from an office in the Federal Building, 230 South Dearborn. That address was transformed overnight and made into one of the most secure blocks in The Loop.

Tuesday was the president-elect's first day of work in his newly opened downtown Chicago transition office. Most people walking past the John Kluczynski Federal Building had a hunch Obama was in the neighborhood.

"I'm not surprised. There's a lot of security around here that's very noticeable. I'm not surprised," said Larry Leonard.

The Secret Service, Homeland Security and Chicago Police Department have added a second hyper-secure zone in the Loop for whenever Obama works in his small office at Dearborn and Jackson.

It's a different style, but it's the same level of security that has surrounded Obama's house in Hyde Park. That security was expanded again after his election last week.

"At the same time it's a little scary that we've got that kind of change coming and that kind of hope that we have fulfilled and this is the kind of precaution we have to take," said Elizabeth Evans, Hyde Park Resident.

The president-elect's heavily-armed motorcade ventured away from the Loop for about 15 minutes Tuesday morning so he could join Illinois Veterans Affairs Director Tammy Duckworth in laying a wreath at the Veterans Memorial at Soldier Field. Duckworth, a former Congressional candidate, said she would be honored to be considered as a possible replacement for Obama in the U.S. Senate.

"He asked me how has it been in terms of working with the federal V.A. facilities and I told him truth. I said some facilities are better than others and we need for uniformity," said IL Veterans Affairs Director Tammy Duckworth.

The Federal Building, which also houses the Internal Revenue Service and other federal agencies, will remain open to the public. Also, pedestrian and vehicular traffic will be allowed on all sides surrounding streets, but will stop when the president elect's motorcade comes and goes.

"As long as they let us walk by, sure nobody will give them any problems and if they need to divert us a block or two, not a big deal.," said Leonard.

Federal officials have not said where in the 45-story building Obama's office is located.

The Federal Building was closed on Tuesday for the holiday, but those who work in the area should give themselves extra times due to the beefed up security.

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