Dafydd ab Hugh writes:
Judging from your comments, I don’t think you guys realize the seriousness of what happened in Chile. Let me put it into perspective: the president has been marked for death by hundreds of terrorist groups; he is in a foreign country, one where there have been near contintuous riots against America and against him, personally, over the Iraq War; as he’s walking into a banquet hall, the local police intentionally cut him off from his security detail.
If the first thought that popped into your mind when you heard about that was not “assassination,” then your mind is still laboring in a pre-9/11 world.
It’s entirely possible that rather than “rescuing” his detained Secret Service detail, Bush in fact saved his own life. If there was a plan, if this wasn’t just a random act of rudeness by the Chilean police (why would they do that?), then Bush’s quick thinking may have forced the would-be attackers to abort the operation.
This little incident needs a thorough and complete investigation by Chile, as well as by the CIA. The incident the next day — where the Bush team demanded everyone at the next banquet pass through metal detectors — shows that they had the same thought I did (and we all should have had); the fact that Chile refused, even to the point of scuttling the party, is troubling, to say the least.
There are a lot of people out there who want to see George W. Bush dead; alas, there are a lot of heads of state who would not shed a tear. In this day and age, when armed local cops intentionally cut the president off from his security detail, that should be taken as no less a violent act that when an anti-aircraft missile battery “paints” an American plane with fire-control radar.
UPDATE: One of our readers writes from Santiago:
I am a US military officer stationed in Santiago, Chile. And while I think that there should have been better coordination to avoid the incident on Sat evening, each country’s personnel were doing their job.
I have the utmost respect for Chilean National Police, and in fact, our US Special Forces have trained with many of them over the past four years and recognize them as the most professional force in Latin America.
Ths US Secret Service treats every foreign visit of the US President pretty much the same, not having the time to learn about individual police forces and their capabilities. Although an advance Secret Service team coordinated with the Chilean National Police before the President’s arrival, what occurred was a result not having reached an an agreement prior to the event, forcing the issue at the entrance to the dinner, or there was a change/misunderstanding at the last minute.
Chile, and Santiago as its captial city, are without question the safest in South America. Chile is a sovereign country and, as such, can set protocols for security as they did for APEC. The choices for visiting govts are to abide with the protocols, discuss them and come to a compromise (which did occur on innumerable issues) or to not participate and try and force a change (as occurred at the Sunday night dinner).
Obviously, many foreign govts are ambivalent with regard to the “supposed threat” that exists against Americans and its head of state. Many Chileans are in that frame of mind. The Chilean Govt is also very proud of their military and police and felt the security was more than adequate. Without going into more detail, I would summarize by saying that I am a fervent supporter of the President. That each govts security representitives were doing what they felt was in the best interest of the respective govts.