Costly Presidential Trip To India-Truth! & Fiction!

 Costly Presidential Trip To India-Truth! & Fiction!

Summary of eRumor:

This is a forwarded email that says that President Obama is traveling to India on November 6, 2010 and that 570 rooms have been booked at the 5 star Taj Mahal Hotel for his entourage.  The email also alleges that this is a sight seeing trip, a large amount of aircraft and vehicles will be accompanying the President to transport the entourage, 34 warships will be on hand to protect the President, the trip will cost the American taxpayers $200 million a day and that the President and the First Lady will bring their daughters.

The Truth:

It is true that President Obama is travelling to India and that this will be his biggest trip since he began his term in the Oval Office.

On October 31, 2010 article United Kingdom’s Daily Mail said that the entire five star Taj Mahal Hotel has been reserved for “two days of his visit and the property will be a no-go area for non-hotel staff while he is staying.”   Full details of security measures have not been released but the Daily Mail article did say that the U.S. Secret service will “set up two command posts in Delhi and Mumbai which will act as the communication nerve centres.”   As an added security measure, the British paper also said that thirty sniffer dogs will be utilized during the Presidential visit.

The trip to India is only the first leg of the President’s ten day trip that will cover India, Indonesia, South Korea and Japan.  An October 27, 2010 White House press conference confirmed that the President would be accompanied by the First Lady, Michelle Obama.

The White House held a press conference on November 4, 2010 to correct what it said were inaccurate reports from international press articles about the upcoming trip that sparked a fury of allegations and viral eRumors on the World Wide Web.   The transcript of the press conference can be found on in a November 4, 2010 article by Fox News.

Here is what we have been able to find out:

The India visit is not an official state visit but more of a sight seeing trip – Fiction!
The White House said that this is not a sight seeing visit as the eRumor alleges but the purpose for this trip is to build important links between the US and India, which is on the fast track towards economic growth. The President will be attending a business summit that was organized by the U.S.-India Business Council.  White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said that the President will also be taking part in a commemoration ceremony on the 1 year anniversary of the Mumbai terrorist attack. In a briefing, Gibbs said that the President would “take the time to pay his respects to the victims who lost their lives and to sign the guest book there, but also to make some brief remarks.”

40 planes, 3 Helicopters and 6 armored vehicles used to transport entourage –Unproven!
TheDaily Mail article did say that 40 planes, including Air Force One, would transport the President and his entourage to India.  The paper said that three Presidential Marine One helicopters and six heavily armored cars, including the President’s fortified “Obama Mobile” Cadillac, fully equipped with nuclear launch codes and communications center, will be on hand to transport the president and members of his party when they arrive in India.   We have not found any official  White House disclosure of logistics for this trip.

An entourage of 3,000 travelling with the President to India- Disputed!
The Press Trust of India news service said that  “3,000 people including Secret Service agents, US government officials and journalists would accompany the President.”  White House spokesperson Tommy Vietor said, “The numbers reported in this article have no basis in reality.” Owing to security details Vietor could not go into details but said the numbers were “widely inflated.”

A flotilla of 34 warships to protect the President- Fiction!
On November 4, 2010 New Delhi Television (NDTV) reported that Obama will be “protected by a fleet of 34 warships, including an aircraft carrier, which will patrol the sea lanes off the Mumbai coast during his two-day stay there beginning Saturday. The measure has been taken as Mumbai attack in 2008 took place from the sea.”  Pentagon press secretary Geoff Morrell told reporters at the White House Press Conference, “I will take the liberty this time of dismissing as absolutely absurd this notion that somehow we are deploying ten percent of the Navy, some 34 ships, and an aircraft carrier in support of the president’s trip to Asia — that’s just comical. Nothing close to that is being done.”

This trip will cost the American Tax payers $200 Million a day- Unproven!
Similar versions of this eRumor have also been circulating focusing on the current economic conditions in the U.S. and financial cost saying that this trip could cost the American taxpayer $200 Million a day.  According to a November 4, 2010 CBS report, those numbers were reported by the Press Trust of India without a substantial source.   CBS News asked the White House to verify this amount  and an email response said, “The numbers reported in this article have no basis in reality.” 

The President will be accompanied by children, Sasha and Malia- Fiction!
Some false reports from international news agencies originally said that the President will be accompanied by his wife, Michelle, and two daughters, Malia and Sasha.    On October 29, 2010, a Press Trust of India article said that daughters Sasha and Malia will not be travelling to India owing to commitments with school.

updated 11/4/10