The press now has accounts of the extraordinary security measures that are being enacted in preparation for Bush’s visit to India:
About 5,000 personnel including snipers, commandos and U.S. marines using helicopters, bomb detectors and electronic jammers will protect President George W. Bush during his visit to India this week, officials said on Monday.
The personnel would be part of a three-ring security cordon around the U.S. president and First Lady Laura Bush who are due to arrive in New Delhi for their maiden visit to the subcontinent on Wednesday, they said.
“He is a much-threatened VVIP. We are fully geared,” Manish Agarwal, a top Delhi police officer involved in security operations, told Reuters…
Besides the inner-ring of security forces, an outer cordon would be deployed “as deep as possible” to thwart any attack by a rocket launcher, Agarwal said.
“A rocket launcher normally has a 1,000-metre (3,300 ft) range so we would be deployed in forests around venues,” he said. “We will have 360-degree rooftop surveillance around all the venues…” [Link]
I would hate to be a Secret Service agent on this trip. My brother once got a chance to meet Clinton but he was stopped by an agent while his two female companions were motioned forward. Another time an agent warned him that a sniper on the roof of the Chinese embassy had him in his sites. Just imagine being an agent in a whole country full of brown people!
Traffic in many areas in the capital will come to a near standstill on March 2 when Bush travels to his engagements from the Maurya Sheraton hotel to Hyderabad House, where he will meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, and Rashtrapati Bhavan, where President A P J Abdul Kalam will host a dinner for his American counterpart.
Traffic is also likely to be affected by the proposed demonstrations against the Bush visit planned by the Communists, the Samajwadi Party and the Janata Dal-Secular.
The Maurya Sheraton, where Bush and his entourage will stay, has been converted into a fortress with the US Secret Service screening every visitor.
Hotel employees have been issued special passes, which have to be produced along with their identity cards when they arrive on duty. [Link]
All the security precautions are sure to rub local law enforcement the wrong way. Even when Bush went to Britain a few years ago the local authorities felt bullied by his security detail:
An unconfirmed report claims that American security officials wanted to handle Air Traffic Control themselves when Air Force One, the Presidential aircraft, arrives in New Delhi but the bizarre proposal was turned down. Indian engineers, they’ve been told, are capable of handling the situation but it would not be surprising if American officials are allowed to be around.