Sydney Goes Into Lockdown As Cheney Comes To Town
By Darryl Mason
US Vice President Dick Cheney is jetting towards Sydney as I write this, and the police and Roads & Traffic Authority are rushing to get this place ready for Dick's big visit.
The preparations mostly include locking down entire chunks of the city for most of Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, making sure all the necessary surveillance cameras are in working order and co-ordinating with Cheney's huge Secret Service detachment to plan escape routes from the venues where Cheney is holding meetings and giving speeches should anything go explosively wrong.
The authorities have said there is no credible threat against Cheney while he's in Sydney, but then they wouldn't be talking it up even if there was.
Regardless, Big Dick is going to be surrounded by an army of Secret Service agents, undercover detectives, uniformed state and federal police, counter terrorism officers, dog squads and hired on security guards.
How many? One source estimated Cheney may be bringing as many as 50 Secret Service agents to Sydney with him, with more than 300 local police and hundreds more security guards in place to keep protesters well away from the venues where Cheney will be holding court.
Two major protests rallies are planned, for Thursday afternoon and Friday morning.
The monster security operation is expected to use up most of the resources of the NSW Police Counter Terrorism Command, the police dog squads, the anti-riot units and and the city-based general police.
How much does it cost to be gifted with a visit from such a widely admired and respected leader of the free world?
Unofficial estimates range from $3 million to $6 million. For four days of Cheney time.
The least the vice president could do is draw the winning tickets at a couple of charity raffles while he's here, but no.
He has more important business to attend to : busting the prime minister's chops over why he will only send a measly 70 more soldiers into Iraq, heaping praise on supplicant journo-
propagandists, listening with utter contempt to the opposition leader, Kevin Rudd's, demands that Australian Guantanamo Bay detainee face justice or be freed, and holding court with Australia's business elite.
Story continues below....
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Major Traffic Problems Expected In Heart Of Sydney For Three Days
You don't often get told to stay the hell out of your own city. But Cheney's coming to town, so the NSW and Federal Police, and the NSW Roads And Traffic Authority have decided to pre-warn Sydneysiders of the vast traffic chaos, gridlock and delays Cheney's visit is expected to cause :
People are warned to avoid the city if they can until Mr Cheney leaves Sydney on Sunday morning.
It's a good thing that protest rallies are being held.
This means that most of the traffic delays and chaos can be blamed on Sydneysiders exercising their democratic rights to express their disgust and horror at the child-heavy carnage the US vice president helped to unleash upon the people of Iraq.
Blaming the protesters for traffic delays means easy avoidance of the fact that the Dick Cheney visit requires entire streets to be shut down, traffic lights locked to green, and side streets searched, cleared and secured so his huge motorcade can whip through the centre of one of the world's busiest cities without experiencing undue delay.
The traffic problems will begin at 5.30pm tomorrow when protesters from the Stop the War Coalition will march from Town Hall and move along George Street.
The protesters will also demonstrate on Friday morning at the Shangri-la Hotel in The Rocks, where Mr Cheney is scheduled to speak to the Australian American Association.
At least three whole streets around Cheney's hotel in The Rocks will be totally closed for three days and nights while Cheney is in town.
The NSW police, burdened with handling most of the nightmarish logistics of closing down, locking down, huge sections of Sydney, regard Cheney as a "high risk dignitary."
Perhaps some of the huge street closures are for the safety of Sydneysiders.
With Cheney in his hotel room, surrounded by dozens of armed Secret Service agents, the vice president might be tempted to start unloading firearms from his hotel room windows at some of the local bird life.
Or lawyer life.
MORE TO COME....