Is the president not expendable?
November 16, 2003 8:16 PM   Subscribe

The U. S. Secret Service is going to extraordinary lengths to ensure the safety of George W. Bush's visit to London - including some not insignificant structural changes to the Palace (which have not as of yet been approved). The article claims that "There will be more armed men on the streets of London this week than at any time since the end of the Second World War." British security officials further describe operations as has having been "hijacked by the US secret service."

Everyone knows there's a possibility of violence against the president, especially in light of recent events. A measure of security is thus justified. However, are economic concerns being considered? Now, I have the utmost respect for the president's life - as much as I do for just about anybody. I hate the callousness of associating any sort of price on human life. But when security measures require 5,000 police officers and £4,000,000 (that's merely the cost footed by UK taxpayers, mind you), have we not yet reached the point where that money would have been better spent? -especially when the U. S. executive branch has a very robust official policy of succession in place. It's not like the government will suddenly evaporate if the president were to be killed.
posted by SilentSalamander (115 comments total)
 
A better question:

Who could possibly hate America THAT much?

(tongue in cheek)
posted by shepd at 8:19 PM on November 16, 2003


We recently experienced a similar thing when the prez came to Canberra - so many streets were closed that many residents had trouble travelling anywhere. The nations parliament was closed to the public. To me, it seems completely obsessive to spend 4 million pounds protecting one human being's life, but hey, that's the way the world works. Other world leaders aren't quite so fearful.
posted by Jimbob at 8:29 PM on November 16, 2003


S_Salamander, I don't think you're adequately considering the economic impact of what would happen if the POTUS was assasinated. There are those who would argue that one of the main reasons for war in Iraq is because somebody *tried* to kill a former President. With every random act of God and the stupid now being put through the great "terror" filter (an oil well caught fire, gee, ya think it was terrists?) an assasination of such a high profile individual would have a long term cost far exceding the current cost of security now.

Besides, If Georgy gets popped than we would be saddled with Cheney, a most inhuman greed-monster indeed. If the Brits don't do their share to protect Americans from THAT fate, I could never forgive them.
posted by Wulfgar! at 8:32 PM on November 16, 2003


I'm all for keeping GWB safe and snug, 'cause if something even the slightest bit suspicious happens, the shit is on the fan!

This is actually much worse than the hair trigger days with the old USSR. At least back then, we looked before we lept!
posted by Wildcat3 at 8:46 PM on November 16, 2003


Is there any compelling reason for him to even go there (photo op and attempt to boost Blair do not qualify)?

Other world leaders aren't quite so fearful.

Well, I think he's repeatedly demonstrated his cowardice in the past, in many ways. The question is, why is Britain putting up with this humiliation? Too politically awkward to back out now? I'll bet it will be a while before he gets a second invite.
posted by rushmc at 8:48 PM on November 16, 2003


This stuff doesn't bother me really. They chose this over a phone call, damn the taxpayer's expense. That should be an issue each country tackles in their own way.

What does bother me is demands like these:

1. So-and-so will not speak/visit unless you can promise a standing ovation.

2. So-and-so will not speak/visit unless you can promise no protestors withing view or earshot.

3. Establishing 'free speech' zones hundreds of meters away from the events.
posted by skallas at 8:59 PM on November 16, 2003


But skallas, its all about security in a time of war, isn't it? I mean ... isn't it?
posted by Wulfgar! at 9:03 PM on November 16, 2003


Bare Your Bum at Bush!
posted by homunculus at 9:07 PM on November 16, 2003


rushmc, word on some news sources is that one of the reasons Bush is there is that Blair and some other European leaders would like to have a talk with him about those steel tariffs and other free trade issues.

It's probably also worth noting that non-domestic assasination of the POTUS would be highly desireable for terrorist actors, because it'd signal viability. Symbolism and signaling are important part of struggles. And assasination can have strong geopolitical consequences -- see WW1.

That said, yeah, the price tag seems high.
posted by weston at 9:32 PM on November 16, 2003


i have to admit that i'm rather surprised at the lengths the administration (brits and US) is putting into protecting this guy.

SilentSalamander i didn't get into see the article (password anyone?), but structural changes to a historic structure are NOT going to get done with only a few weeks of notice...and they alone would cost a ton.

Also i would figure that london is probably safer then washington (i'd feel safer walking the streets there), i mean it's not like the president is going to go talk in iraq or berkeley or something. I don't remember hearing anything of this magnitude when bush visited asia just a few weeks ago for an economic summit. I would say that the conspiracy that shutting down london is done merely to block demonstrators seems far fetched....but then i've got too much respect for humanity.
posted by NGnerd at 9:36 PM on November 16, 2003


Wulfgar! -

You may be right about the economic damage if the POTUS were assissinated... consumer confidence factors prominently in the markets, at least. That said, I looked at some economic figures for 1962, 1963, and 1964 in order to try to see how much impact President Kennedy's assissination (Nov. 1963) figured into the equation.

1961 1962 1963 1964 1965

Well, I'm unaware of the other factors that may have been involved - and we can't discount those - but the performance of the ecomony, at least year-term, does not seem to have suffered significantly from the death of JFK. I'm still looking for stock prices for the session immediately before and after the assassination to see what the short term effects may have been - if and when I find them I'll post them here. I'm with you on Cheney, though.

There are those who would argue that one of the main reasons for war in Iraq is because somebody *tried* to kill a former President.

That's interesting - I hadn't heard this before. Which former president?

1. So-and-so will not speak/visit unless you can promise a standing ovation.

Skallas - can you provide a reference to this? I hadn't heard about this yet.
posted by SilentSalamander at 9:37 PM on November 16, 2003


That's interesting - I hadn't heard this before. Which former president?

daddy of course.
posted by kjh at 9:48 PM on November 16, 2003


That's interesting - I hadn't heard this before. Which former president?

Bush 1. Just doin' it for pa.
posted by The God Complex at 9:48 PM on November 16, 2003


Not On Preview: YOU SON OF A BITCH, kjh!
posted by The God Complex at 9:49 PM on November 16, 2003


Which former president?

George H.W. Bush

Some believe W was so hellbent on Iraq was due to Saddam trying to take out his dad.

Although I loathe GWB with a passion, I wish no ill will upon him and that he gets voted out of office fair and square next November.

From what I've read in the English press, this state visit could be better timed --it was originally going to be a victory visit but that seems premature now. Blair doesn't need anymore of George on the "Bush's Poodle" front. And the Guardian editorials make it sound like the visit will do more for George's re-election efforts [See he's International! He's at Buckingham Palace!]

It is too bad that the taxpayers in the UK [and US sending over hundreds of agents] have to pay for this dog and pony show. I guess it is part of the cost of being beacons for liberty.
posted by birdherder at 9:55 PM on November 16, 2003


Wow, I hadn't heard that. For anyone else who hadn't heard, a car bomb was set for Bush Sr. in Kuwait, April, 1993. Apparently it was tracable to Saddam.

http://iafrica.com/news/worldnews/165477.htm

Also, on preview, the article birdherder sites. However, G. H. W. Bush was not "then-president" in 1993 - in 1992 Clinton took office.
posted by SilentSalamander at 10:04 PM on November 16, 2003


Oh, and hasn't Bush heard there are no guns in Britain? Oh my god, the president was just struck with a billy club. jesus, the fucking guy should be more worried about the next time he hits L.A.

I mean, christ, who does this guy think he is, Elvis?

Bonus points for hitting the GOD TRIFECTA
posted by The God Complex at 10:06 PM on November 16, 2003


For anyone else who hadn't heard, a car bomb was set for Bush Sr. in Kuwait, April, 1993. Apparently it was tracable to Saddam.

"That's the man who tried to kill my dad."
posted by quonsar at 10:53 PM on November 16, 2003


I mean, christ, who does this guy think he is, Elvis?

As if. Presley was active duty.
posted by trondant at 10:53 PM on November 16, 2003


Active duty in the Army, as opposed to a Guard unit, or in a Reserves unit that was called up. And he was stationed in Germany rather than Texas, and apparently didn't disappear halfway through the commitment.
posted by trondant at 10:58 PM on November 16, 2003


security measures require 5,000 police officers and £4,000,000

If you’re going to tell the other side, “Bring Them On,” it’s nice to have 5,000 guards between you and the general public.

Still, it’s easy to survive in London compared to, say, Glascow.
posted by LeLiLo at 11:11 PM on November 16, 2003



posted by specialk420 at 11:19 PM on November 16, 2003


As if. Presley was active duty.

To-mothafuckin-che.
posted by The God Complex at 11:30 PM on November 16, 2003


Wulfgar, agreed. I don't think W. even needs Secret Service protection, Dick Cheney waiting in the wings is probably the best insurance against assassination that anyone could ask for:
posted by Ty Webb at 11:37 PM on November 16, 2003


and apparently didn't disappear halfway through the commitment.

imagine that! as i said over on www.whyelvissuckslessthanbush.com, elvis may have been a weak willed, pill-popping schizoid, but he accepted his flaws and handled them like a real man would, dying fat, bloated and alone. in other words, with dignity.

he didn't go a-wailin' off to jesus, begging forgiveness and wanting to get born again and drop bombs all over hell's half acre and invade rubble dumps and sand dunes looking for common nouns.

there's a lot to be said for the kind of dignity elvis exhibited in death.
posted by quonsar at 11:37 PM on November 16, 2003


And I think you just said most of it. Amen.
posted by The God Complex at 12:43 AM on November 17, 2003


I clicked it, Quonsar, and by God there *should* be a site there. not only did Elvis fulfill his draft committment, he earned high marks for servicing his jeeps and keeping them in tip-top shape, which was his job in the motorpool. They said he used to sandpaper the tarnish off the tailpipes. Like many others, however, he lerned to pop pills in the army, to stay awake for guard duty.
posted by planetkyoto at 12:44 AM on November 17, 2003


Please don't let anyone assasinate Bush. Do you or they realize who would replace him? Ken Lay for secretary of state perhaps?
posted by donfactor at 2:28 AM on November 17, 2003


Bush is stupid. (Say 37%).

I came very close to posting that link as an FPP last night but thought better of it ;-)

Anti-Bushism not Anti-Americanism seems to be the order of the day.

This visit is:

A good PR opportunity for the Bush '04 campaign. This article from the Spectator (traditionally right-wing) gives a good rundown.

A terrible PR opportunity for Tony Blair.

A total waste of money.

An interesting twist on the old colonial days. Now the Brits have to bow down to the great Emperor from afar. And there was me thinking that the US had (thankfully) put an end to those days. [See Speccy article]

A pain in the arse. I've really been trying to approach the whole WoT/global politics thing without a 'Bush is bad' mentality but I'm finding it increasingly hard to do so...seeing him on the news last night trying to folksy his way thru an interview was one of the final straws. Wanker.
posted by i_cola at 2:34 AM on November 17, 2003


My psychic message to GWB, this coming week <presses fingers to temples>.... "Eat more pretzels, eat more pretzels..."
posted by Blue Stone at 2:35 AM on November 17, 2003


I think this needs to be said:

The security for GWB isn't for protection from terrorists, but from ordinary Brits who are sick and tired of his war and would like to give him a piece of their mind.

So much for free speech.
posted by timyang at 2:59 AM on November 17, 2003


Related Guardian article.

Nice to see that the original request included closinga large part of the Tube, which would have effectively shut down most of London. Arrogant much?
posted by arha at 3:09 AM on November 17, 2003


The God Complex: There are plenty of guns in Britain - illegally owned, of course.
posted by chrid at 3:46 AM on November 17, 2003


If you don't think George Bush isn't at very high risk of being assassinated, you have lost your mind.

Frankly I wish he'd stay at home and let the other leaders come visit in Washington.
posted by konolia at 3:46 AM on November 17, 2003


This visit is for GWB's re-election campaign.

The protestors will be able to shout their hearts out, just so long as there are plenty of protest-free camera shots for US domestic consumption.

Personally I think Sedgefield (Blair's home constituency) is a better bet for messing-up the visit.

Anyway, I wonder just how many of these outrageous demands by the POTUS were engineered so that the UK could refuse them and show just how independent it can be.
posted by Blue Stone at 3:49 AM on November 17, 2003


well, Great Britain has a much better record than the US when it comes to protecting a head of state (or govt chief executive) from assassinations -- the only British PM killed in office was Spencer Percival, 1812.

1-8-1-2

the IRA only managed to get to a prominent member of the Royal Family once -- Lord Mountbatten in 1979

Many assassination attempts against Royals (against Queen Victoria, for example) have been successfully thwarted.

on the other hand, names like Lincoln, McKinley, Kennedy (Jack and Bobby), George Wallace, Reagan come to mind

I think the British security people aren't as lame as the Secret Service thinks. and Scotland Yard is hardly as incompetent as the (either riidiculous or corrupt, maybe both) Dallas Police Dept, 1963

(also check out Ruby-shoots-Oswald photograph for reference)



//
"If you don't think George Bush isn't at very high risk of being assassinated, you have lost your mind.", wrote konolia//

of course the risk is high, I don't see many posters here arguing that Bush should travel alone on the subway. straw man, anybody? I agree with skallas, I don't care about how much it costs I'm more concerned about limits to free speech and protester-free zones. but yes, it's kind of ridiculous the amount of security, the unwillingness to trust the British government with many details.
not to mention the corrupt, evil Clintons didn't need as much security. and the pot-smoking philandering draft dodger oral-sex-obsessed Satanic Bill himself saw happy crowds almost anywhere when he traveled, even during Bosnia or Kosovo -- I remember him walking through the streets of Naples, checking out little pizza places.
not to mention JFK's triumphal trip to Rome in (I guess) 1962, still fondly remembered by my parents to this day -- more than a million people wildly cheering the US President at the Fori Imperiali


ps and anyway your "you have lost your mind" bit sounds kind of rude, connie. not to mention a bit rich, if you think about it


posted by matteo at 4:28 AM on November 17, 2003


Is it true Bush has demanded that all brown M&Ms be removed from Britain as well?
posted by ElvisJesus at 4:30 AM on November 17, 2003


oh, I forgot:

"Frankly I wish he'd stay at home and let the other leaders come visit in Washington."

yeah. care to include a list of US Presidents assassinated while they were visiting abroad?
I'll give you a list of US Presidents assassinated in the US, then.

but of course you can't trust those lame-o furriners with security

simple math tells you that a US Presidents is safest when away from the USA. but math is probably unpatriotic
posted by matteo at 4:32 AM on November 17, 2003


"If you don't think George Bush isn't at very high risk of being assassinated, you have lost your mind."

If you don't think grammar isn't very important in communicating clearly then you are absolutely correct. I'm not sure that you didn't inadvertently say the opposite of what you meant, there.
posted by nthdegx at 4:50 AM on November 17, 2003


*drafts satirical comment, reconsiders*

*bares his feathery ass to the FBI*
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 4:50 AM on November 17, 2003


On a relevant-ish note: On Clinton's last visit to the UK while still President, he spoke at a university venue and a friend of mine who works there was involved in liaising with the various security agencies. Clinton was preceded by a mix of US Secret Service and UK Special Branch who checked the place out and did security checks on personnel. The bomb squad scoured the place prior to and on the day. For his arrival he had a squad of US marines to secure his helicopter, had about a dozen SAS men on standby in part of the centre and was accompanied by a group of armed SB (not sure if SS were armed). Local constabulary were in attendance throughout. The numbers were certainly not in the order of 5000 police and the level of protest was quite low.
posted by biffa at 4:56 AM on November 17, 2003


Yes, but we liked Clinton.
posted by Hogshead at 5:06 AM on November 17, 2003


At least his security detail hasn't been given diplomatic immunity in the event they feel compelled to shoot anybody. From the article I linked to it would appear that the UK government volunteered to spend some of the cash to avoid some of the Bush administrations more offensive requests, such as mini-guns.
posted by substrate at 5:30 AM on November 17, 2003


The problem with these free-speech zones is that they are actually an extension of our liberties, not an infringement on them. There is no free speech in the UK other than on one 100yard square bit of land in London.

No man should have this much protection unless he pays for it himself. Christ, the Royal family were under much more of a threat for a much longer period of time, and (maybe unfortunately) they've all survived...
posted by twine42 at 5:34 AM on November 17, 2003


more offensive requests, such as mini-guns.

like Men In Black? cool!
posted by matteo at 5:40 AM on November 17, 2003


Fox News: I'm reporting from the Mall where a column of terrorist infiltrators has come face-to-face with the might of the US military and been found wanting. In mere moments, the violent shouts of America's enemies were turned to screams for mercy as the US's best showed them who not to mess with. The incident is being hailed as a further victory for the policies of US President Geroge Bush.
posted by biffa at 5:41 AM on November 17, 2003


Please don't let anyone assasinate Bush. Do you or they realize who would replace him?

One year of Cheney is preferable to five more years of Bush.
posted by rushmc at 5:48 AM on November 17, 2003


Bush's Travelling Entourage
posted by gi_wrighty at 5:54 AM on November 17, 2003


Mind, this is the UK, so why should either side have guns?

Lets arm the protestors with bricks and the american services with petrol bombs and then stand back and watch. First person to destroy the opposition side's corner shop wins. Points deducted for setting light to cars before trying to roll them over.
posted by twine42 at 5:59 AM on November 17, 2003


"....Christine Swanson, back home after taking the kids on the morning run to school, said: "I am frustrated. As horrible as September 11 was, it was a real opportunity to move forward in a positive way.

"There was a lot of goodwill to tap into and it took the incredible talent of George Bush to piss it all away in two years." " (from i_cola 's link above, halfway up thread)
posted by troutfishing at 6:07 AM on November 17, 2003


This is an interesting development though. Essentially, a suggestion from an ex-Cabinet Minister that all the tariffs about to be imposed following the WTO steel ruling be aimed at industries in US swing states.
posted by biffa at 6:17 AM on November 17, 2003


Hey georgie, what's up with the god talk? Don't you trust her for the important stuff, like protecting your sorry and wimpy arse?

I guess not ... and neither do others in this board and in fact thread.

It's settled them: keep her out of your filthy discourse. Forever.
posted by magullo at 6:52 AM on November 17, 2003


BushUKVisitFilter.

And don't forget -- bare your bum at Bush! tee hee!
posted by pardonyou? at 7:07 AM on November 17, 2003


I remember [Bill Clinton] walking through the streets of Naples, checking out little pizza places

And you think that the Secret Service hadn't already secured the entire area and swept every one of those shops? The scale of the security here may be unprecedented, but the Secret Service is always paranoid, and they'd be negligent if they didn't take extreme precautions.

A lot of these posts are so caught up in their dislike of Bush that they miss the point. It's not Bush they're protecting, but the President, and that's a responsiblity that certainly excuses extreme measures (though I, too, am bothered by unnecessary limits on demonstrations). It's ridiculous to suggest that the UK shouldn't host him because of his security requirements - what kind of message does that send, to both America and to terrorists/assassins?
posted by Dasein at 7:17 AM on November 17, 2003


biffa - amazing. "....[Bush] advisers may be shaken by Mr Byers' proposals. The tariffs would not technically be imposed on the four states, but would instead be directed against named exports which would adversely affect those sensitive states.

Florida is regarded as essential by both the main US parties. If the EU hit the citrus business there, with consequent job losses and economic fall-out, Mr Bush could pay a heavy electoral penalty.......Any threat to Iowa's agricultural equipment industry would certainly be heavily exploited by the Democrats.....Everett Ehrlich, an undersecretary of commerce under Bill Clinton, gave a taste of the battle ahead when he told the LA Times: "If the US sticks with the tariffs, the EU will surely retaliate now that it has the authority to do so."

Ha ha ha.

Meanwhile, I've determined that the security provisions for the protection of Mr. Bush are completely unnecessary and a horrendous waste of British taxpayer money not because it is unimportant to protect Bush but for the fact that the methods being employed are idiotic and probably are intended as a display of the romanesque imperial might of the U.S. as much as they are about protecting Bush.

However - if authorities would employ what I have dubbed the "Turkey-flock strategy", George W. Bush could be protected for a fraction of the cost incurred by flooding the streets with armed guards.

This is, essentially, a "shell game" strategy which is also employed by all animals who gather in groups or herds. [ I've dubbed it the "Turkey-flock strategy" because I saw a flock of wild turkeys, a dozen or so, in my back yard yesterday morning ] The implicit logic couldn't be simpler. Predators tend to be solitary or to operate at most in small packs (as do wolves) and so their prey can dramatically reduce their individual chances of being killed and eaten by hanging out in large groups of other virtually identical prey (fellow members of their species). Further, the herd or flock can also to some extent fight back - the strength-in-numbers principle. So - many hooves, beaks or horns can be turned against the far fewer but better armed predators. Quite simple, this.

So now introduce the U.S. President, George W. Bush, into the equation. We need only flood the streets, the palace, the overall environs of the area to be "secured" with paid actors, Bush doubles. Saddam Hussein used to use this strategy to great effect (until the actual U.S. invasion, of course). The U.S. would have loved to bump off Saddam, but could never determined the location of the real Saddam, obscured as it was by the constant secretive movements off the several "shell" Saddams (his doubles).

So, we can populate the area to be "secured" with a "turkey flock" of George W. Bush doubles. Of course armed guards will be present, but not in such heavy (and expensive) numbers since potential assassins will never be sure exactly where the real George W "turkey" or how to distinguish the real turkey from the many false turkeys strutting about and flashing their plumages. Assassins will not be able to assume that the real George W turkey even got on the plane to London! He might actually be at his ranch in Crawford, Texas or simply taking a exercise-and-prayer respite weekend at the White House, laying low.

Republicans should support this novel security approach (over the possible "brand-dilution" sorts of objections) on the basis that it would both reduce the cost of protecting the commander-and-chief and would also greatly increase the visibility of GW Bush in the news - and so improve Republican political prospects.
posted by troutfishing at 7:30 AM on November 17, 2003


If I were the Queen...and if there were a god in heaven, I would be...I would rescind the offer. Screw Bush. Screw the American Presidency if this is what it takes for him to see Europe. I mean, if I invited someone to my house, and they insisted that I put up 500 of their friends, rebuild the house, and allow them to shoot at my neighbors with no repercussions...I can assure you that they would no longer be welcome.

Honestly, this is the most absurd thing I've ever seen a national leader try to pull off. He's refusing to meet parliament members, they want a Black Hawk hovering over the Palace at all times, they wanted to bring in tanks in case the protestors got close enough that they might be in a picture...all of this for a man who should have been tried for treason in his own country. Deserting active duty is a serious crime...unless of course, you happen to be a rich white kid who's daddy was heading up the spooks at the time.

It isn't the "President" we're protecting. Reagan didn't travel like this when he visited the Queen...Bush the First didn't travel like this when he went abroad...Clinton didn't travel like this....this is to protect a chickenhawk who is afraid of what his actions have put in motion.

4-6 million dollars to protect this moron for 3 days is absurd...and he and his paranoia shouldn't be allowed to land on British soil.
posted by dejah420 at 7:32 AM on November 17, 2003


Its not the security measures but the extreme lengths to which they go. presidents have gone abroad before but never had they DEMANDED such extreme measures. The media go to great pains saying that these discussions (on security arrangements) are going tit for tat with no anger or hostility. But really Dubbya isn't used to hearing no and Britain has said no to many of his demands, do you think king DUBBYA was pleased. I do honestly think bush has been told that he is this defender of justice,good and democracy so many times that he's made himself believe it. Now Dubbya has a bad case of the "they're gonna get me's"of course no other president had so much reason to believe it!
posted by hoopyfrood at 7:34 AM on November 17, 2003


dasein...How many other sovereign nations can you name that would allow another government to co-opt its own security measures,import heavy fire power(mini-guns, fully armed tanks,attack helicopters ect)just to protect another nations head of state? Not only that but Britain is an ALLIED NATION and there is no reason to think bush would be any more of a target there than here...or is there something they're not telling us?????Not only that but what about the whole use the tanks if the protesters become visible on camera debacle...only tyrants and despots are afraid for their population to see how reviled they really are! Oops I forgot that we are led by both.
posted by hoopyfrood at 7:44 AM on November 17, 2003


George W. Bush could be kept perfectly safe for a fraction of the cost if only the U.S. would adopt my "Turkey-flock" strategy (outlined in my last comment, above).
posted by troutfishing at 7:46 AM on November 17, 2003


And apparently Bush's communications equipment will screw up the Queen's TV so she won't be able to watch Corrie all week which is annoying her, bless! Granada have kindly agreed to send her tapes of the shows she misses. (This was main story in the Mirror on Saturday so must be true ;-)
posted by brettski at 7:51 AM on November 17, 2003


It's not like the government will suddenly evaporate if the president were to be killed.

Don't get me wrong - I think Bush is a rotten guy and I'll be glad to see him in go '04... but that's still the tackiest fucking thing I've read all morning. And on the 40th anniversary of JKF's assassination no less... shame on you, SilentSalamander.
posted by wfrgms at 8:02 AM on November 17, 2003


Luckily, if something does happen, it will surely be covered by one of the tens of thousands of CCTV cameras that blanket London.
posted by smackfu at 8:05 AM on November 17, 2003


I remember [Bill Clinton] walking through the streets of Naples, checking out little pizza places

And you think that the Secret Service hadn't already secured the entire area and swept every one of those shops?


it's not what I said -- they certainly "swept" the shops but I guess you're not familiar with the layout of Naples' streets. they are a security nightmare, "securing the entire area" like they're doing in London would have been completely impossible. and larger issue is, with the possible exception of Lyndon Johnson, no other American president has been as unpopular abroad as Bush II. Not Reagan, not Bush I, probably not even Nixon.
but maybe I'm wrong and Bush will happily stroll down Charing Cross Road, checking out those cute little bookstores, having a quiet sandwich in Pret A Manger. it doesn't look like it, though


If I were the Queen...and if there were a god in heaven, I would be

Indeed.
Dejah for Empress. Now.

And on the 40th anniversary of JKF's assassination no less... shame on you, SilentSalamander.

well, the anniversary will be on Saturday Nov 22 to be precise, but SilentSalamndre's is at best a very clumsy statement. I didn't like it either, but still he/she is entitled to his/her opinion
posted by matteo at 8:13 AM on November 17, 2003


I applaud Dasein's motion to abstract away the "Bush" and concentrate merely on "President". Politics aside, upwards of $7,000,000 - probably much more - for the protection of any single head of state for three days - even if it were Gold Old Honest Abe... it just seems like a waste.

gi_wrighty - that traveling entourage bit is fascinating. 250 secret service agents? OK... understandable, even if excessive. But 150 national security advisors? That seems a bit weird.

And a personal chef with team of four cooks? What are you trying to say about British cuisine there, Mr. Bush?

On preview: no shame here, wfrgms. I never once said or implied that I wanted Mr. Bush to leave office in this thread. And I'm certainly not advocating assassination! Let me take this opportunity to restate my position: are such measures at such cost appropriate for ANY president? I'm not so sure.

And, with the utmost respect and sympathy towards JFK and the Kennedy family, and also the utmost respect to you wfrgms - with regards to the fact that I happened to post on the fortieth anniversary of JFK's assassination - big fucking deal. It's just a number after all.
posted by SilentSalamander at 8:16 AM on November 17, 2003


i wonder if hippies and commies will be assembling fake crowds for the dropping of this statue. something tells me the crowd will be a bit larger for the demise of the bush effigy.
posted by specialk420 at 8:24 AM on November 17, 2003


could one of you brits toss an insult W's way if you get the chance. Despite the "unprecedented" security measures, you'll still be able to get closer to him than I can as your average (poor) US voter.

At least show 'im your bum.
posted by jmgorman at 8:27 AM on November 17, 2003




How many other sovereign nations can you name that would allow another government to co-opt its own security measures etc.

In answer, hoopyfrood, every government to which the President has ever travelled. The Secret Service always demands that things be done their way, and I suspect that these sorts of compromises go on on a smaller scale much of the time. I was in Quebec City in 2001 at the FTAA protests, where Bush got a whole hotel to himself, and if he ever bothered to make a visit to Canada, there'd be similar precautions taken again. It's not co-opting local police forces - the Secret Service can't tell the British police what to do - it's simply a joint security arrangement.

As to the issue of cost, yes, it's a lot of money, but the world would be a lot worse off if we all refused to let the POTUS visit us because we didn't want to foot the security bill. That would be a capitulation - letting security concerns derail government business. I say spend what you have to to ensure that our leaders can conduct their business safely. Who seriously says otherwise?
posted by Dasein at 8:53 AM on November 17, 2003


Three Doors Down - Duck and Run
(imagine done to a country western beat, sung by George W Bush)

To this world I'm unimportant just because I have nothing to give
So you call this your free country tell me why it costs so much to live
Tell me why
All my work and endless measure never seem to get me very far
Walk a mile just to move an inch now even though I'm trying so damn hard
I'm trying so hard

CHORUS:
This world can turn me down, but I won't turn away
And I won't duck and run, cause I'm not built that way
When everything is gone there is nothing here to fear
This world cannot bring me down, No cause I'm already here.
I must have told you a thousand times I am not running away

I won't duck and run, I won't duck and run, I won't duck and run, No I pass away
(repeat chorus ad infinitum)
posted by ZachsMind at 8:54 AM on November 17, 2003


limitedpie - Ahaaa! They do use a variant of my "Turkey-flock" strategy to protect the President (2 identical Air Force One planes, two identical presidential motorcades) but they just don't take the idea to it's logical conclusion.

Fools.
posted by troutfishing at 8:59 AM on November 17, 2003


I've been holding off on posting here, but the page title "Is the president not expendable" is just too much. I get your point, Silent Salamander, but it's nearly lost in the language you use.

big fucking deal. It's just a number after all.

That's a BS dorm-room debate technique. Yes, you and I know that the date is arbitrary, but it has value to a lot of people, and I can see where some people would find your
"expendable" language particularly offensive during this week.

Having said that, the security tactics described here are way out of line.
posted by jpoulos at 9:04 AM on November 17, 2003


The idea that I could be hassled under the orders of another nation while protesting on my own soil is completely and utterly disgusting.
posted by Summer at 9:05 AM on November 17, 2003


I think the British security people aren't as lame as the Secret Service thinks. and Scotland Yard is hardly as incompetent as the (either ridiculous or corrupt, maybe both) Dallas Police Dept, 1963

Do you just make these blanket statements up.

June 1981 Three German tourists climb over the walls and camp overnight on the grounds of Buckingham Palace, believing it to be Hyde Park. After breakfast on the lawn, they are finally apprehended when they ask a gardener for the exit. Police announce a security review, but add, reassuringly, that the campers would have been discovered earlier if they hadn't stayed so close to the wall.

July 1982 Michael Fagan breaks into the Queen's bedroom at Buckingham Palace. Police ignore a phone call for help, so the Queen chats with him for 10 minutes before alerting staff. Home Secretary William Whitelaw announces a "major shake-up" in palace security. Members of the opposition Labour Party call Whitelaw's comment that the incident represented a serious failure in security arrangements "the understatement of the year."

January 1994 Cambodian student David Kang runs toward Prince Charles and fires two shots from a starting pistol at an event in Sydney. Charles displays considerable sangfroid as his would-be assailant is wrestled to the ground a meter away from him. He maintains that security was "well handled" by Australian police.

February 1994 American prankster James Miller paraglides onto the roof of Buckingham Palace, then strips to reveal that below the waist he's wearing only a coat of green paint. Scotland Yard say the incident doesn't raise concerns over security, as he was arrested "within minutes."

December 2002 A drunken reveler gets into St. James's Palace — the home of Prince Charles — but is reportedly only arrested when he knocks on the door to Princess Anne's apartments to ask the way to the nearest train station. Police say there was no danger to the royal family, but launch an inquiry into the breach.


4-6 million dollars to protect this moron for 3 days is absurd
why you pompous windbag. so, kennedy was an idiot for thwarting his own security, you wanna call him a moron. What a fine little diatribe you have going.

Screw the American Presidency if this is what it takes for him to see Europe
it is the presidency that is protected you twit. Not the man per say.

I mean, if I invited someone to my house, and they insisted that I put up 500 of their friends, rebuild the house, and allow them to shoot at my neighbors with no repercussions...I can assure you that they would no longer be welcome.

your from PLANET ANALOGY and your home is now the queens house. WANNA PLAY?

"Can we let this Texan in the house ma"
"HELL NO, HE is from TEXAS"
"sorry sir, since Texas is a hate filled backward ass state, we wont allow it"

Honestly, this is the most absurd thing I've ever seen a national leader try to pull off.

Really, then you have the historical thinking capacity of a gnat and your self righteous rant makes my anger look good.
back to Matteo

on the other hand, names like Lincoln, McKinley, Kennedy (Jack and Bobby), George Wallace, Reagan come to mind

Wallace was a chief of state? (your kinda state eh, matteo?)

(also check out Ruby-shoots-Oswald photograph for reference) why because Scotland Yard is hardly as incompetent as the (either ridiculous or corrupt, maybe both) Dallas Police Dept, 1963


your From analogy planet too eh?

simple math tells you that a US Presidents is safest when away from the USA. but math is probably unpatriotic
another jelly donut pvt. pyle?

WTF, simple math. Wow, pull out the troops, matteos simple math says the prez is safe and sound. Un patriotic? are you hinting at something? you hide behind your anonymity Matteo and hurl STUPID, lame insults. I don't give a fuck about GWs vanity trip but i want the presidency intact.

Matteo, your not that clever and your not smart.
posted by clavdivs at 9:05 AM on November 17, 2003


[begin sarcasm]
Perhaps it would be better if he just stays home and summons the leaders of the leaders of the other piddly assed countries of the world to kneel before him in tribute.
[end sarcasm]
posted by cmdnc0 at 9:06 AM on November 17, 2003


So if Bush gets assassinated, do you reckon we can get a refund on our £4mil?
posted by Orange Goblin at 9:12 AM on November 17, 2003


" I don't give a fuck about GWs vanity trip but i want the presidency intact."

If W. dies, the presidency remains intact. Not that I'm advocating assassination, I'm just saying that we have very clear (and extensive) rules of sucsession.
posted by jmgorman at 9:21 AM on November 17, 2003


sure, but you get to deal with Dick Cheney.....
posted by clavdivs at 9:23 AM on November 17, 2003


nice logic jmgorman.

sucsession? Um, did you read what happened to the economy and more important, the countries moral after kennedy was killed? And he had as about as many people hating him as Bush does. Your logic says that the presidency is like some duck shooting game...one goes down another pops up. game ends YOU get the kupee doll.
posted by clavdivs at 9:28 AM on November 17, 2003


clavdivs: You've convinced me. Let someone shoot the f****r.
posted by i_cola at 9:34 AM on November 17, 2003


"There is no free speech in the UK other than on one 100yard square bit of land in London.

You must have forgotten the EU Charter of Human Rights [not to mention the UN Charter.]
posted by Blue Stone at 9:37 AM on November 17, 2003


This talk of succession is about as stupid as it comes. "There'll always be someone to take over if the President/Prime Minister/Queen etc. is killed, so why bother to protect him/her?" Try finding someone to run for President if that's the operative logic of the Secret Service.
posted by Dasein at 9:39 AM on November 17, 2003


your not that clever and your not smart.

you are not that clever and you are not smart.
posted by devon at 9:40 AM on November 17, 2003


Matteo, your not that clever and your not smart.

That is the best sentence, ever.
posted by majcher at 9:46 AM on November 17, 2003


/me buys devon a coke.
posted by majcher at 9:47 AM on November 17, 2003


Re: 2. So-and-so will not speak/visit unless you can promise no protestors within view or earshot.

Today's Daily Mirror reported: Bush pulls out of speech to parliament; no traditional joint address to the Commons and Lords, because someone might heckle him.
posted by raygirvan at 9:52 AM on November 17, 2003


Wouldn't it be funny if Bush got there, and the Queen put him in the tower for war crimes? "Off with his head!!!"

On a more serious note, what exactly is Bush afraid of? There's very little gun ownership in London, and no car or truck will be allowed close enough to him to detonate a bomb or anything, and i'm sure the airspace will be totally restricted.
posted by amberglow at 9:59 AM on November 17, 2003


The interesting thing about this visit is that it is the first ever state visit by a US president.
This honour is usually afforded to those who offer something beneficial to the people of the UK. Cook has his own outlook on this:
"President Clinton did enormous good for Britain, particularly in the Northern Ireland peace process where he was a great help, and we never gave him a state visit.

"What I can't understand is why we believe that President Bush has done more for Britain, has been a closer friend to Britain or supporter of Britain's foreign interests than any previous American president.'

Certainly a waste of money, time and resources for anyone but those who believe that the Republican/Bush cause will benefit from the photo-ops.
posted by asok at 10:18 AM on November 17, 2003


On a more serious note, what exactly is Bush afraid of?

Dissent. He's really afraid of dissent. The emperor has no clothes, and he doesn't want to risk anyone telling him so.

All the rest is window dressing.
posted by anastasiav at 10:20 AM on November 17, 2003


Agree 250% w/anastasiav on that point.
posted by ZachsMind at 10:30 AM on November 17, 2003


"So, we can populate the area to be "secured" with a "turkey flock" of George W. Bush doubles. Of course armed guards will be present, but not in such heavy (and expensive) numbers since potential assassins will never be sure exactly where the real George W "turkey" is or how to distinguish the real turkey from the many false turkeys strutting about and flashing their plumages. Assassins will not be able to assume, even, that the real George W. got on the plane to London!"
posted by troutfishing at 10:35 AM on November 17, 2003


I heard that Bush was going to be suspended in a clear, bulletproof plastic cube in front of Parliament for his own safety and for the amusement of passersby. Is that true?
posted by Hildegarde at 10:40 AM on November 17, 2003


The number of police the met will be putting on the street has just gone up from 5000 to 14000. The radio reports said this was partly in response to the heightened level of threat over the weekend and also to allow police to better maintain order during the planned marches.

Cost seems to be the same though. Obviously some sort of bulk buying discount.
posted by ciderwoman at 10:47 AM on November 17, 2003


What about this: hundreds of Dubya impersonators ought to be used to protect the President. In a kind of "turkey-flock," these could reduce the chances of anyone getting to the real Dubya, and would also amount to a much larger protective presence!

If this idea gets used, I want credit.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 10:47 AM on November 17, 2003


Wallace was a chief of state? (your kinda state eh, matteo?)
no he was running for President (just like Bobby)
I actually liked Henry, Old Bigot George is probably more of your kind, you know, all patriotic and stuff

Do you just make these blanket statements up.
no, as I mentioned already the Brits haven't lost a Prime Minister since 1812 and they're not losing Royals either to IRA or various nuts -- and their security is not as monstrous as the US Presidents. Hence, they do a better job of protecting their leaders, I'm sorry if that hurts your patriotic pride.

to sum it up:
1 assassinated British PM since 1812
how many US Presidents killed in the USA by Americans since 1812?

also, I see you link nonfatal security breaches regarding British Royals. Cool. What about security breaches in the Presidential security detail? About other thwarted assassination attempts against US Presidents (Roosevelt, Truman, etc)

matteos simple math says the prez is safe and sound
no I say that Presidents have been killed in the United States, not abroad. sadly, it's a fact. and they were killed by Americans, not by foreigners. or do you have a link proving that Oswald was really an Iraqi?

anyway keep up with your cheap slurs. coming from you, I'd be tempted to wear them as a badge of honor
posted by matteo at 11:04 AM on November 17, 2003


I'm with you in spirit, matteo, but obviously a US president spends far more time at home than abroad. The fact that they've been killed in the US really doesn't mean anything.

Most car accidents happen withing 10 miles of one's home.

And rarely has a US president been so unpopular outside his own country. I don't think it's surprising that their concerned for his safety.
posted by jpoulos at 11:14 AM on November 17, 2003


ugh. they're
posted by jpoulos at 11:14 AM on November 17, 2003


stupidsexyFlanders - Would those be domestic turkeys or wild fowl? And could we perhaps substitute Chickenhawks instead?


"I am a chicken Hawk!"

Hey, I've got an idea! - If we dress George W. Bush up as Elvis, all the thousands of Elvis impersonators in the world can come - in lieu of the "Turkey-flock" - and provide security for free! They'd probably even pay their own plane fare.
posted by troutfishing at 11:21 AM on November 17, 2003


Simulated Bush Turkey Flock
posted by ElvisJesus at 11:39 AM on November 17, 2003


well, you don't need no stinking badge.

matteo,

He held a grudge because Garfield hadn't appointed him U.S. ambassador to France. At his trial, Guiteau acted like a madman. His attorney said that he was innocent by reason of insanity, but he was convicted. He was hanged in 1882.
well, your right, all american assassins, all in america.

BUT, the POTUS, historically was the least guarded head of state amongst the 'major powers' (what ever that means for the period of 1820-1939) thus making him susceptible to assassination. who cares about these trivial facts for an argument.

1 assassinated British PM since 1812
how many US Presidents killed in the USA by Americans since 1812?

this is the essence of the what? That Bush will be safe in buckingham? well hell man, i agree.
posted by clavdivs at 11:42 AM on November 17, 2003


well, your right, all american assassins, all in america.

Apparently I am, at least in Garfield's case

Charles Guiteau (1841-1882) was an American lawyer...
He shot Garfield in the back as he was boarding a train in Washington DC.

American killer
killing in Washington, DC

so what's your point again?
posted by matteo at 12:03 PM on November 17, 2003


Maybe you guys are right. There is no difference in our security that means that our PMs are safer than your Presidents. Maybe people just hate your guy more.

clavdivs - this is the essence of the what? That Bush will be safe in buckingham? well hell man, i agree.

Nah, he'd not be safe in Buckingham. It's a big place. Buckingham Palace is a lot smaller, but the Prime Minister doesn't live there.
posted by twine42 at 12:12 PM on November 17, 2003


ElvisJesus - Hey! What's that turkey doing to George W ? I thought that sort of thing was illegal in the U.S.
posted by troutfishing at 12:56 PM on November 17, 2003


Well the protests have started as a grandmother scales the palace gates. Meanwile, the authorities have backed down and the protesters have been allowed to follow their favoured route
posted by brettski at 1:00 PM on November 17, 2003


Maybe people just hate your guy more.

Nah, they just have more guns.
posted by riviera at 1:22 PM on November 17, 2003


it occurs to me that the demands, and their public discussion also serve in america to proliferate shrub's worldview of a planet held hostage by terrorist madmen and himself as a god-fearing man's One True Hope{tm}. no matter what happens, there will be americans who tsk-tsk the amount of security "necessary" these days for Our President{tm} to visit even our allies, and Thank [the Christian] God{tm} Our President{tm} has the American Brass Balls{tm} to do something about Those Terrorists{tm}.
posted by quonsar at 4:07 PM on November 17, 2003


Amen™©®
posted by The God Complex at 4:57 PM on November 17, 2003


Well, Sir, again I don't wish to give offense when I suggest that this country should select a, uh, king or even a queen instead of a president. One isn't that quick to shoot a king or a queen. The majesty of royalty, you see?

--- English Bob, Unforgiven
posted by SPrintF at 7:04 PM on November 17, 2003


it occurs to me that the demands, and their public discussion also serve in america to proliferate shrub's worldview of a planet held hostage by terrorist madmen and himself as a god-fearing man's One True Hope{tm}.

Bingo! Give that man a prize!
posted by rushmc at 7:12 PM on November 17, 2003


Am I the only one who suspects that were Bush to die, the overall morale of the USA would improve?

Come to think of it, best thing that could happen to the USA is to roll back the clock about five years. Rescind all those stupid laws that were made during the terrorism panic. Take back the billions of dollars wasted in stupid-ass military conflicts. Have another shot at, say, focusing on the economy. Try having an honest election. That sort of thing.

Where's the rewind button?
posted by five fresh fish at 9:58 PM on November 17, 2003


It doesn't look like anyone's mentioned the main reason for Bush being so over-protective...

He's due.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 11:23 PM on November 17, 2003


Am I the only one who suspects that were Bush to die, the overall morale of the USA would improve?

If Bush were to be killed--especially at the hands of a Muslim extremist--it would be like 9/11 times ten. (90/110?) We would invade Iran and Syria before the week was out, and we'd probably drop a nuke on Palestine. The jingo-facism on the part of the average American would be unprecedented. If that's what you mean by an improved morale, then you're right on.
posted by jpoulos at 12:50 PM on November 18, 2003


We would invade Iran and Syria before the week was out

Only because Cheney would be calling the shots.
posted by rushmc at 1:12 PM on November 18, 2003


I saw the British protests today.

My goodness, what a restrained bunch. It was like they'd all been tranquilized. Can't imagine what a Briton acts like when s/he's not all riled up.

Little wonder they've a reputation as horrible lovers. I've seen more excitement from people balancing their chequebooks.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:38 PM on November 18, 2003


The main protest hasn't started yet, FFF.
posted by Summer at 2:11 AM on November 19, 2003


this is funny, and mean, from the Guardian.
And a Mirror writer got a job inside the palace for 2 months with bogus credentials, until tues. night. Parry wrote: "Had I been a terrorist intent on assassinating the Queen or American president George Bush, I could have done so with absolute ease. Indeed, this morning I would have been serving breakfast to key members of his government, including National Security Adviser Condoleeza Rice and US Secretary of State Colin Powell.
posted by amberglow at 5:59 AM on November 19, 2003


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