By Paul Thompson and Liz Hazelton
Last updated at 7:14 PM on 09th January 2009
It’s official call sign is Cadillac One, but it will always be known as the Obamobile.
This is the top – security armoured limousine which has been custom built to be Barack Obama’s presidential car.
It will travel with him wherever in the world he goes. The President- elect, pictured inset, will have his first ride in the stretch limo when he parades along Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington after his inauguration on January 20.
But his Secret Service agents have already been familiarising themselves with the machine they call ‘The Beast’, built by General Motors in Detroit and based on a Cadillac chassis.
The company refuses to give precise details of how it will perform its primary purpose – protecting the president.
But bulletproof glass and armourplatingare standard throughout and the car is hermetically-sealed to withstand chemical weapons.
As with previous presidential limos it is packed with electronic communication systems to allow Mr Obama to keep in contact with the outside world.
One personal touch will be the remote-controlled ten-CD changer on which he can play his favourite artists, said to include Stevie Wonder and Bob Dylan.
Despite the protection afforded by Cadillac One, the Secret Service will be taking no chances when Mr Obama is sworn in as the 44th president.
A three-mile security perimeter will be thrown around the U.S. capital, with no vehicles allowed inside, to prevent a car bomb attack.
The expected two million visitors have been told to be in place at least three hours before the swearingin ceremony begins.
In his first major speech since his election triumph, Mr Obama warned last night that the U.S. could be mired in recession for years if his plan for a £515billion rescue package is delayed too long.
He had been hoping to sign it into law on his first day, but it has been the subject of prolonged wrangling in Congress.
The bailout, which is in addition to the £450billion fund approved last year, offers tax cuts to the middle class and small businesses as well as a massive cash infusion to modernise roads, bridges, schools and medical care.
Money would also be provided for renewable energy projects.
A US intelligence document has revealed the Secret Service fear a ‘lone wolf’ type attack on the day rather than an organised, well-planned plot to kill Obama.
According to the intelligence document, no specific threat to Obama has been uncovered.
But the report makes it clear the number of dignitaries and the significance of the swearing-in of America’s first black president make the inauguration vulnerable to attacks.
The level of security is unprecedented – and already Mr Obama says he feels trapped.
In a candid interview, the American President-Elect described his frustration at being suffocated by the White House bubble.
He is already cosseted in a security cocoon, driven around in a heavily guarded motorcade and unable to walk down the street without a massive security operation.
The 47-year-old revealed how his staff even discouraged him from going body-surfing in Hawaii – and that wife Michelle was amused after pictures of him on the beach without a shirt appeared in the press.
‘It was silly, but, you know, silliness goes with this job,’ he said.
Mr Obama has vowed to hang on to normal life as long as possible after moving to the White House, which Harry Truman once dubbed ‘great white jail.’
The President-Elect said he particuarly determined to keep his Blackberry to have a link with the wider world.
He is trying to avoid the fate of President George W. Bush, who gave up e-mail when he took power in 2001 on the advice of his lawyers.
‘They’re going to pry it out of my hands,’ he told The New York Times and CBNC. ‘I don’t know that I’ll win, but I’m still fighting it.
‘What it has to do with is having mechanisms where you are interacting with people who are outside of the White House in a meaningful way.
‘And I’ve got to look for every opportunity to do that – ways that aren’t scripted, ways that aren’t controlled, ways where.. people aren’t just complimenting you or standing up when you enter into a room, ways of staying grounded.
‘And if I can manage that over the next four years, I think that will help me serve the American people better because I’m going to be hearing their voices.
‘They’re not going to be muffled as a consequence of me being in the White House.’
President Bush was forced to give up emails as his lawyers feared electronic communications would have to be preserved for posterity as presidential documents.
There are also concerns that presidential electronic communications could be hacked into by the mischievous or the malevolent.