Most people are generally supportive or do not really care about the visit of President Bush to London.
However the disruption caused by the extraordinary security measures is worth looking at.
14,000 police officiers (about half the Metropolitan Police) is more people than the UK armed forces have out in Iraq at the moment. The claims that this will not affect the normal policing of the rest of London is rubbish.
All the President's policemen, The Times, November 18th 2003 reports:
"Security chiefs are even considering shutting down all mobile phone signals
near the President every time he leaves Buckingham Palace in case terrorists
try to use a mobile to detonate a bomb"
What would the exact legal basis be for such a draconian measure ?
There are relatively few Mobile Phone Base Stations near Buckingham Palace and Whitehall, presumably due to the open spaces of St. James' Park etc., but if these were to be blacked out, how could one be sure that the next nearest base stations would not still function ?
c.f. Radio Communications Agency map of Mobile Phone Base stations:
Would they attempt to shut these down or would it simply be a case of using an illegal Mobile Phone jammer in the immediate vicinity of the President ?
Will the frequency of the timeout between the Base Station and the Mobile Phone be reduced, so that the phones have to transmit and negotiate the handshake more frequently than normal, thereby making it easier to triangulate their postions (whilst running down their batteries more rapidly) ?
Will the GSM Mobile Phone encryption be switched off, allowing for quicker "tactical" mobile phone interceptions by the US Secret Service ?
What if there is a non-mobile phone detonated device, not quite on the President's route, or even the normal sort of first aid incident that always happens in large crowds? Wouldn't jamming all the Mobile Phones make calling the emergency services even more difficult ?
There seem to be attempts by the usual more money than sense "flash mob" suspects to try to "coordinate" their protests by sending SMS messages and MMS camera phone pictures to central websites etc. to "track George Bush", as if the world's TV media will not be doing this in any case. This sort of tactic is only of use if Bush were to depart from his planned itinerary and go shopping or sightseeing to "meet the people" etc., which seems rather unlikely.
Are these people aware that they could be "tarred with the same brush" and be seen as being "guilty by association" if the Mobile Phone records along the route of the visit are analysed by, for example, I2's PatternTracer Telephone Call Analysis software ?
Has the Home Secretary signed warrants under RIPA for the interception of all mobile phone calls along the President's route ? Are the Metroplitan Police gathering "traffic data" on all such mobile phones ?
What happens to the details of all the innocent people who have been caught up in any such "trawling" operation ?
What mobile phone information, if any, is being handed over to the US authorities ? Will the presence of your mobile phone in central London during the visit be treated as "suspicious" ? If you actually participate in any SMS/MMS "flashmob" protest lists, will you be classified as a "potential enemy" and have your details added to the "Echelon" style watchlists ?
Will the various Commissioners who have been appointed under RIPA, i.e. the secretive Sir Swinton Thomas, the Interception of Communications Commissioner or the slightly more open Sir Andrew Leggatt, Chief Surveillance Commissioner, actually investigate what electronic snooping on the public has occurred prior to and during the visit of President Bush ?
Have all the US presidential VIP vehicles registered for the London Congestion Charge, even if they are deemed to be exempt from paying it ?