The White House has canceled a safari that US President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle were due to take in Tanzania over budgetary concerns, The Washington Post reported on Thursday.
Friday, June 14, 2013
The newspaper, citing a Secret Service planning document, said the excursion scheduled during a tour of Africa that Obama will undertake later this month would have required agents protecting him to take extraordinary precautions.
The safari “would have required the president’s special
counterassault team to carry sniper rifles with high-caliber rounds that
could neutralize cheetahs, lions or other animals if they became a
threat,” the paper reported.
Outlining the vast security preparations made for Obama’s trip to
Senegal, Tanzania and South Africa, the document was provided to the
Post by a person “concerned about the amount of resources necessary for
It did not provide cost information.
The Post said the White House canceled the safari Wednesday after the
paper inquired about the “purpose and expense.” The Obamas had been
expected to spend more than two hours at Tanzania’s Mikumi National
The White House was not immediately available for comment, but a
spokesman told the Post that a trip to South Africa’s Robben Island, the
site of the prison where anti-apartheid hero Nelson Mandela was held,
had taken precedence.
“We do not have a limitless supply of assets to support presidential
missions, and we prioritized a visit to Robben Island over a two-hour
safari in Tanzania,” said the spokesman, Josh Earnest.
“Unfortunately, we couldn’t do both.”
The Post said Obama’s Africa tour, his first since taking office in
January 2009, could cost the government between $60 million and $100
million, based on cost of similar trips in recent years.
The report comes as many government agencies struggle with mandatory
budget cuts that took effect in March because US lawmakers failed to
strike a wider budget deal.
Hundreds of Secret Service agents will be dispatched for the
president’s visit, along with a Navy aircraft carrier or amphibious
ship, with a fully staffed medical trauma center stationed offshore, the
Dozens of vehicles will also be brought to the three countries by
military transport planes, along with sheets of bulletproof glass to
cover the windows of the hotels where the Obamas stay.
“Fighter jets will fly in shifts, giving 24-hour coverage over the
president’s airspace,” the report said, citing the Secret Service