Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Secret Service - It Ain't Free.

One theme that's arisen in my father's viral emails has been of the "outrageous" costs of President Obama's trips.  At first, these emails focused on trips he's made for pleasure - first for flying to New York to see a broadway play, then for Michelle Obama's decision to extend her London stay to do some sightseeing with her children.

Never mind that it's clearly noted in the (mainstream) articles above that the President paid for personal expenses out of his pocket.  Right-wing emailers are aghast that they have to spend money on the Obamas' security.

And, other than repeated emails about these two trips?  I thought things had died down for awhile.  Maybe the Obamas have decided to take vacations to places that are less expensive to secure.  Maybe.  And if so, this might not be a bad thing.

But, now, this whole "Oh, the expense" thread has come back:


There is no recession in the White House!

Can you imagine what this trip will cost the tax payer?

"It's good to be the King and Queen". All this on borrowed money from China!

Barack and Michelle's Mumbai Darshan plans
Obama’s personal security staff itself will be huge, and it has already started making its own arrangements in Mumbai. “A team of secret service agents has already arrived, and has surveyed the areas of his stay and the roads and places on his itinerary,” the officer said.
To ensure fool-proof security, the President’s team has booked the entire the Taj Mahal Hotel, including 570 rooms, all banquets and restaurants. Since his security contingent and staff will comprise a huge number, 125 rooms at Taj President have also been booked, apart from 80 to 90 rooms each in Grand Hyatt and The Oberoi hotels. The NCPA, where the President is expected to meet representatives from the business community, has also been entirely booked.
The officer said, “Obama’s contingent is huge. There are two jumbo jets coming along with Air Force One, which will be flanked by security jets. There will be 30 to 40 secret service agents, who will arrive before him. The President’s convoy has 45 cars, including the Lincoln Continental in which the President travels.”
Since Obama will stay in a hotel that is on sea front, elaborate coastal security arrangements have been made by the US Navy in consonance with the Indian Navy and the Coast Guard. “There will be US naval ships, along with Indian vessels, patrolling the sea till about 330-km from the shore. This is to negate the possibility of a missile being fired from a distance,” the officer said.
The President will be accompanied by his chefs, not because he would not like to savour Indian cuisine, but to ensure his food is not spiked.
US President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama are scheduled to land in Mumbai on November 6 .
Now, wait a minute.

This trip isn't for personal recreation.  This is for state business.  It can't be avoided.  He doesn't have the choice of going somewhere cheaper.  And these hotels have been a target for terriorist attacks.

It's awfully hard to begrudge the need for security.  As well as our nation's need to continue ties with India and the G20.  So, yes, security is absolutely necessary.

But one thing should seem pretty strange.  The techniques of the Secret Service are kept very confidential.  Who actually has access to the budget and plans for President Obama's upcoming trip?

As usual, this has been investigated by Snopes and FactCheck.  Both have verified that the only source to this information has been an unnamed Indian contact.  Who, probably, would not have access to such information.  And certainly not the budget for it.

And, as Snopes and FactCheck point out, even with the measures that this email states are happening, the $200 Million figure seems, well, crazy.  Our war in Afghanistan costs less per day, and uses much more resources.  If the $200 Million were true, this trip would cost $66,000/day per staff member.  So, clearly, this source can't be considered credible.

But, I suppose some right-wing folks still might complain that the secret service is wasting valuable taxpayer money.

That's probably fine.  I'm all for efficient use of government resources.

But one thing I'd ask?  Make it apply across the board.

Remember - the Secret Service provides the security details for both Bush presidents, and Dick Cheney.

I'm not arguing against our needing them.  These figures have been targets of assasination attempts.

But if you're going to complain about the expense of security during campaign rallies and vacations?  Make it apply to our former figureheads' public (and usually paid) appearances and expansive ranches as well.

We don't need two standards.  One is good enough.