Wait until he gets to Bogota.
As we arrived at President Bush’s hotel here for a Joint Press Availability with his Brazilian counterpart today, at least three helicopters carrying armed men hovered eerily still in the air not far off the ground. More than 4,000 security officers are involved in closing down roads, guarding motorcades and inspecting people and bags that get close to the president, and according to Brazilian reports.
Security will no doubt grow even tighter as the trip progresses. The diciest stop likely will be Bogota, the Colombian capital where no president has dared set foot since Ronald Reagan in 1982. Bush has visited Cartegena, but his staff decided to go to Bogota this time to showcase improvements in security in a country ripped by decades of war and narco-trafficking.
But they’re not so confident that they will let the president actually spend the night. Bush will be on the ground only for five or six hours and will remain cloistered behind a powerful security wall. Other than a stop at the U.S. Embassy, he will spend his entire time inside the Casa de Narino, the Colombian presidential residence named after one of the leaders of the independence from Spain.
Reports from Bogota say as many as 21,000 security personnel will be involved in keeping Bush safe while in Colombia — surely, a coincidence that it’s the same number as the president’s so-called surge to Iraq.