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Security measures in place for Obama family vacation

By Gordon Y.K. Pang

LAST UPDATED: 1:48 a.m. HST, Dec 19, 2012

Law enforcement and security agencies on Oahu are planning for the arrival of President Barack Obama and his family in Kailua this weekend, although federal fiscal negotiations may delay the start of his annual vacation in his birth state.

The Coast Guard notified the public Tuesday that it will enforce a "temporary security zone" in Kailua Bay from 6 a.m. Friday through Jan. 6. The zone is "necessary to ensure the safety of the President of the United States and his official party," a news release said.

During annual visits since becoming president, Obama has stayed in a rented home in the Kai­lu­ana beachfront section of Kailua along with a host of friends and security personnel.

The Coast Guard said the security zone includes a portion of Kailua Bay, beginning at Kapoho Point and extending westward to the shoreline near Kai­lu­ana Loop and also including the adjacent canal beginning near Kapoho Point to about 150 yards mauka of the North Kala­heo Avenue bridge.

A Honolulu Police Department source said HPD has been told that Obama, first lady Michelle Obama and their daughters may be in Hawaii as early as Saturday. Oahu roads between the airport and Kailua were closed by HPD for escort detail training at the end of November and the beginning of this month in anticipation of Obama's visit.

The president's plans could be jeopardized, however, if a compromise cannot be reached with congressional leaders on the so-called "fiscal cliff" before the year ends. Failure to reach a budget deal could result in tax increases for most Americans and significant across-the-board budget cuts.

The White House and local U.S. Secret Service have previously declined to say when the first family is scheduled to arrive. The White House website, which earlier included a blog stating the president was looking forward to his annual holiday vacation in Hawaii, has no mention of an upcoming trip.

The official schedule for the president and the White House listed no events beyond Tuesday.

The memorial services being scheduled both in Washington and Hono­lulu for U.S. Sen. Daniel Ino­uye, who died Monday, may also affect Obama's plans.

Plans call for Ino­uye, the most senior member of the Senate and fourth in line to the presidency at the time of his death, to lie in state at the U.S. Capitol Rotunda on Thursday. Formal services are scheduled for Friday morning at the National Cathedral in Washington.

Inouye's body is then expected to lie in state at the Hawaii state Capitol on Saturday, with a final memorial service scheduled for the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific at Punchbowl at 10 a.m. Sunday.

Obama is expected to attend at least one of those events.

Gene Castagnetti, Punchbowl cemetery director, said Tuesday afternoon that he had not been contacted by anyone from the federal government or Ino­uye's family.

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