President Barack Obama’s multi-million dollar trip to Africa
By Nick Wing
The Huffington Post
President Barack Obama’s tour of sub-Saharan Africa this month was supposed to make history as his first stay extended stay in the region, but a report by The Washington Post this week has shifted focus onto the trip’s price tag, which could reach upwards of $100 million.
When the first family departs on June 26 for a weeklong visit to the continent that will bring them to Senegal, South Africa and Tanzania, they’ll kick into motion an expansive security procedure that is typical for any presidential travel.
The entire security apparatus is required to be present on the ground at each of Obama’s stops, as his quick pace will leave little time for the entire detail to pack up and redeploy at the next location. The Post reports that this challenge has led to a requirement of 56 total support vehicles — 14 of them limousines and three of them trucks carrying bulletproof glass panels to cover the windows where the first family is set to stay. All of these will be flown to their various positions by military jet.
Secret Service agents will also be flying to each of the African locations en-masse, ensuring that they have secured the premises prior to the first family’s arrival. The Post reports that hundreds of agents will be needed for the operation.
All said, the cost is expected to run the federal government somewhere between $60 million and $100 million, an amount that the White House told the Post is almost entirely determined by what the Secret Service deems necessary in order to ensure the safety of the president and first family. But the fact that the report comes amid sequestration, which took a toll on the Secret Service budget earlier this year, is likely to bolster critics who have questioned the real impact of the cuts.
Obama’s forthcoming trip is the latest evidence that presidential travel is both incredibly expensive and frequently controversial. When President Bill Clinton went to Africa in 1998, his trip came at a cost of around $42.8 million. President George W. Bush made two trips to Africa during his tenure, though information from the Government Accountability Office hasn’t turned up a specific figure.
Video Link: The Washington Post- Obama’s multi-million dollar trip to Africa
The White House has cancelled the safari for this trip.
Mo Ibrahim speaks about the upcoming Africa visit by President Barack Obama
Mo Ibrahim is a billionaire from Sudan who founded Celtel, a mobile phone company that now serves 23 countries in Africa and the Middle East. He sold it in 2005 for $3.4 billion and pocketed an estimated $1.4 billion. FORBES estimated his net worth at $1.1 billion. Ibrahim is co-chair of the 2013 World Economic Forum on Africa.
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June 14, 2013
White House nixes Obama safari in Tanzania
WASHINGTON– The White House has canceled a safari that US President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle were due to take in Tanzania over budgetary concerns, The Washington Post reported on Thursday.
The newspaper, citing a Secret Service planning document, said the excursion scheduled during a tour of Africa that Obama will undertake later this month would have required agents protecting him to take extraordinary precautions.
The safari “would have required the president’s special counterassault team to carry sniper rifles with high-caliber rounds that could neutralize cheetahs, lions or other animals if they became a threat,” the paper reported.
Outlining the vast security preparations made for Obama’s trip to Senegal, Tanzania and South Africa, the document was provided to the Post by a person “concerned about the amount of resources necessary for the trip.”
It did not provide cost information.
The Post said the White House canceled the safari Wednesday after the paper inquired about the “purpose and expense.” The Obamas had been expected to spend more than two hours at Tanzania’s Mikumi National Park.
The White House was not immediately available for comment, but a spokesman told the Post that a trip to South Africa’s Robben Island, the site of the prison where anti-apartheid hero Nelson Mandela was held, had taken precedence.
“We do not have a limitless supply of assets to support presidential missions, and we prioritized a visit to Robben Island over a two-hour safari in Tanzania,” said the spokesman, Josh Earnest.
“Unfortunately, we couldn’t do both.”
The Post said Obama’s Africa tour, his first since taking office in January 2009, could cost the government between $60 million and $100 million, based on cost of similar trips in recent years.
The report comes as many government agencies struggle with mandatory budget cuts that took effect in March because US lawmakers failed to strike a wider budget deal.
Hundreds of Secret Service agents will be dispatched for the president’s visit, along with a Navy aircraft carrier or amphibious ship, with a fully staffed medical trauma center stationed offshore, the report said.
Dozens of vehicles will also be brought to the three countries by military transport planes, along with sheets of bulletproof glass to cover the windows of the hotels where the Obamas stay.
“Fighter jets will fly in shifts, giving 24-hour coverage over the president’s airspace,” the report said, citing the Secret Service document.