The Corner

I Don’t Like This

You know what seems a bad idea to me? Publishing POTUS’s itinerary, right down to motorcade routes, during his visit to a country with a long history of Jihadist attacks on Western targets. But it seems the Jakarta Globe disagrees:

Two Days In Indonesia: Obama’s ScheduleTuesday 4:30 p.m. Arrive at Halim Airport in Jakarta on Air Force One.  Proceed to Presidential Palace for official welcoming ceremony (traveling via Outer Ring Road,  Semanggi exit, Jl. Jend. Sudirman  and Jl. M.H. Thamrin). Late Afternoon. Meet with President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and several Indonesian ministers for bilateral talks. Press conference to follow in  Presidential Palace garden.  8:30 p.m. State dinner, followed by transfer to Shangri-La Hotel.  Wednesday 8 a.m. Visit to Istiqlal Mosque for  30-60 minutes, then drive (via Semanggi and Outer Ring Road) to University of Indonesia for a 60-minute visit and speech. Onward to Kalibata Heroes Cemetery in South Jakarta (via Outer Ring Road) for a brief visit. Afternoon. Drive to Halim Airport and leave for Seoul for G-20 meeting.

I shared this with my friend Aaron Connelly, an East Asia wonk/bloodless technocrat, and editor of CSIS’s CogitAsia blog. In an e-mailed response, he suggested there isn’t too much call for worry:

Yeah, that seems awfully unusual. Wonder who released that. [Indonesia] officials have a history of releasing security information to the press that they should not release, not out of any nefarious intent, but just because standards of secrecy in Indonesia are so lax and they are so tickled to be in on the arrangements.

I also wonder if the released route is accurate, and if there will be a decoy motorcade (and if a decoy motorcade takes the announced route). On the other hand, this trip is going to cause such complete traffic hell in Jakarta, in a city that already regularly experiences near “total traffic”– i.e. inability to move on main arteries for hours at a time, that maybe they felt they had to give motorists an idea of what roads should be avoided.

I would have actually thought that he would have flown in from the airport and out to University of Indonesia on Marine One. The center of the city is easy to secure– the Presidential Palace and the Shangri-La Hotel are placed around a large central square several square kilometers in area, and most buildings have helipads (welcome to a plutocracy). I guess MANPADS [shoulder launched surface-to-air missiles] are a bigger threat to rotorcraft than RPGs are to the motorcade, though.

As far the hotel goes, well– everyone knew that was where he would stay. There are plenty of other options, but the Shangri-La was crawling with very conspicuous Secret Service dudes back in March for two weeks prior to the visit.

On last point– the terrorist groups you would normally be worried about have been nearly destroyed, no matter what some AP writer says. Jakarta is a lot safer than, say, Manila. This would be on the same level as publishing the motorcade route into Bangkok, not Srinagar.


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