While First Lady Michelle Obama enjoys her $8,400/night suite at the five-star Westin Hotel in Chaoyang, President Obama is running up quite the tab in Europe. According to The Guardian, the President’s trip to Brussels required a 900-person entourage and cost the city about $10.4 million – no word on how much money the American taxpayer are on the hook for.
As Belgium’s capital and host to the EU and Nato, Brussels is used to deploying heavy security when big names pop by. But US President Barack Obama’s visit on Tuesday will strain the city like never before with €10m ($10.4m, £8.4m) of Belgian money being spent to cover his 24 hours in the country.
The president will arrive on Tuesday night with a 900-strong entourage, including 45 vehicles and three cargo planes. Advance security teams orchestrating every last detail have combed Brussels already, checking the sewers and the major hospitals, while American military helicopters were last week given the green light for overflights.
The city’s four-stage security scale will be raised from two to three during the visit, Obama’s first to the country. A tight cordon will surround The Hotel, the 27-storey former Hilton in the Toison d’Or shopping district where the president will spend the night.
“That might be bigger than Puffy Combs,” Pat joked of the President’s entourage.
Brussels mayor Yvan Mayeur explained typical visits and summits run the city about $690,000 (€500,000) in extra police, military and transport expenses. But “you can multiply that figure by 20” Mayeur said of President Obama’s trip.
To add insult to injury, the Secret Service is once again making headlines for inappropriate behavior. The Washington Post reports three agents were sent home ahead of President Obama’s arrival in the Netherlands after one agent was found “drunk and passed out” in an Amsterdam hotel.
“I have never in my life seen such behavior from the Secret Service,” Glenn said. “We have seen it over and over and over again in this regime – the Secret Service misbehaving and behaving badly.”
The agents sent home from Amsterdam were placed on administrative leave, according to The Washington Post, which first reported the disciplinary action. The newspaper said all three were on the Counter Assault Team, which defends the president if he comes under attack, and that one agent was a “team leader.”
One agent was discovered highly intoxicated by staff at a hotel, who reported it to the U.S. Embassy, said a person familiar with the situation, who wasn’t authorized to discuss the alleged behavior on the record and demanded anonymity. The other two agents were deemed complicit because they didn’t intervene despite being in a position to assist the drunken agent or tamp down his behavior, the person said.
While Secret Service spokesman Ed Donovan said the incident was prior to the President’s arrival and did not compromise the his security in any way, Glenn believes this is a larger issue that must be addressed.
“That puts our President in peril. It puts the United States of America in jeopardy. This is a bell I have been ringing before this guy was even elected. Secret Service, you’ve got to do your job,” Glenn concluded. “This is a very, very bad thing. I think the Secret Service has gone dark. I really do. I hate to say that. I love these guys. But I fear they have gone dark… It’s not one bad apple. One bad apple does spoil the whole bunch, girl. I’m sorry… Somebody has got to go in there and clean that rat’s nest out.”
Front page image courtesy of the AP