King Abdullah II of Jordan, from his official website
OROVILLE, CA - The Harley-riding king of Jordan spent at least several days touring Northern California on his motorcycle with American taxpayers footing a major portion of the bill for his security.
Lake View Restaurant manager Zella Davis described Monday's lunchtime visit by King Abdullah II as the thrill of a lifetime. As the king ate a turkey melt and fries while enjoying the view of Lake Oroville, a security detail she estimated at about 25 agents swept the grounds of the restaurant and events center.
Davis said about half of the detail appeared to be American, including Secret Service agents and California Highway Patrol officers.
People in Jamestown described a similar scene on Saturday when the king and nine others on Harleys roared into town for lunch at the National Hotel.
"Oh, gosh, it was so exciting," said Jamestown merchant Karen Luckhardt. "The Secret Service just moved into town. We knew somebody big had to be here for such a large entourage."
Although the Secret Service will not discuss the size of the detail that was protecting King Abdullah and his son, Crown Prince Hussein bin Al Abdullah, a spokesman did confirm that the expenses are not reimbursed by the Jordanian government.
Secret Service Special Agent Max Milien said all foreign heads of state are covered by the U.S. government, regardless of the purpose of their visit. "Security arrangements for visits by foreign protectees are already built into the budget," he said.
Davis, the restaurant manager in Oroville, said she had no problem with U.S. taxpayers footing the bill for the king's vacation security. She described the king as very down-to-earth, and she believed the size of the Secret Service contingent was not his choice.
"I think that's us wrapping our arms around them, welcoming them," Davis said. "To keep everyone safe and everything right, I think that's what we need to do."
by George Warren, GWarren@news10.net