Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Bush Protected By Robots During Middle East Visit

If a robot goes nuts and assassinates the president, who's responsible?

The roll-out of security for President Bush's first visit to Israel and Palestine is mind-boggling. And yes, it's true, robots will be protecting him, along with all this :

Snipers posted on rooftops, entire city blocks sealed off, thousands of police on duty - Israel and the Palestinian Authority are going on full alert for US President George W. Bush's visit.

For weeks, Israeli and Palestinian officials have grappled with how to ensure the safety of the leader of the world's biggest superpower in densely-populated urban centres in one of the most volatile regions on the planet.

Israeli police say 10,500 officers and border guards will be on duty and all intelligence services in the security-obsessed country placed on high alert for operation "Clear Sky" when Air Force One touches down on Wednesday.

On the Palestinian side, 4000 law enforcement officials will be deployed in Ramallah alone, with additional personnel in the city of Bethlehem.

Streets and whole city blocks are to be closed in Jerusalem and the West Bank capital of Ramallah during the three-day visit, the first by an American president in more than nine years.

"The visit will paralyse Jerusalem," one Israeli official said. "It will be impossible to move around and get anywhere close to where he is staying and visiting."

Residents of Jerusalem, Ramallah and Bethlehem will face checkpoints, streets closed to cars and pedestrian traffic and swarms of security personnel.

The president is coming with his own plane, helicopters, transport planes and 20 armoured limousines, the Yediot Aharonot newspaper reported.

Some 400 American security personnel are due to arrive with him, as well as 200 White House staff, it said. In addition, 15 US canine teams trained in explosive detection will be on hand, it said.

In Jerusalem itself, blocks around the historic King David Hotel where the president is staying will be closed, with snipers due on rooftops and a balloon with cameras and night-vision hovering above, local media reported.

Robots were even sent into the sewers below the King David to check the subterranean area, the Jerusalem Post quoted a hotel official as saying.

People who live near the King David - scene of a deadly 1946 bombing by an underground Zionist group seeking to overthrow British rule in Palestine - are to receive special tags from the Shin Beth internal security service to access their homes, according to media.