I need some inconsistency

An amalgamation of content: the aim not to politicise, but exercise. I'll think aloud about politics, technology, current news, as well as being a gay boy and what that really entails.

Friday, November 28, 2003

Mike Allen's private notes on Bush's visit to Baghdad

The President left Waco secretly Wednesday at 8:25 p.m. Eastern (7:25 p.m. Texan) with a small pool, stopped at Andrews to pick up a few staff and a few more poolers, change planes and then head to Baghad. Both flights were what we think of as the normal Air Force One, Boeing 747 with the normal marking. The President landed in darkness at Baghdad International Airport at 9:31 a.m. Washington time (5:32 p.m. local) on Thursday, Nov. 27, Thanksgiving Day. He took off at 12:03 p.m. Eastern time, so was in Baghdad roughly 2.5 hours.

The staff aimed to keep the trip secret until after he had taken off from Baghdad ? no filing was permitted from the site, by the pool or by locals. The President landed with barely a sliver of a moon. He was already in a white Land Rover or Land Cruiser by the time the pool reached the Tarmac. The staff said the motorcade was 12 vehicles plus a military ambulance.

The event had been set up with Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, and Paul Bremer, the chief civilian administrator. When the President arrived, the soldiers were still thinking those would be the speakers. General Sanchez said, "God bless you for all of your sacrifices," and hurriedly introduced Ambassador Bremer. Bremer said he had Thanksgiving greetings from the President. But then Bremer, hamming it up, looked toward stage left and said, "Let's see if we've got anyone more senior here." Then the President came out and the room erupted even before he reached the stage, with soldiers standing on chairs, standing on tables to bark, hoot, yell and "Hoo-ah!" their approval.

The President then plunged into the crowd to meet with the soldiers. He served food and worked the entire length of the long building. The President seemed to be into the serving thing. "What do you want?" At one point he said, "How many do you want, one or two?" Secretary Card worked the crowd separately. The President did not eat while the journalists were in.

"The first conversation about this trip took place approximately five or six weeks ago ? the concept of visiting the troops during the holidays. The President instructed him to do some diligence on the logistics of this. Joe Hagin, the deputy chief of staff, is the one who's been spearheading this trip. The President went to the next level of committing to do the trip during the Asia trip. There are a certain amount of people you have to include in planning something like this. So they went to the next level of due diligence. He made a final call this morning. {hellip} He had two kind of final opportunities to make a decision. One was while he was in Las Vegas, he gave the final approval, which required another level of planning. And then made the final, final approval this morning when he was on a CIVITS call this morning with the chief of staff, the vice president and Dr. Rice." secure videoconference, where he gets his intelligence briefing.

What an amazing insight into the style of the President, whilst also a look into the way a pool reporter works, the way they're treated on the ground. The West Wing sounds pretty accurate to me now!


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