Tuesday, April 17, 2012

G8 Summit 2012 at Camp David

The G8 Summit was held at Camp David on May 18-19. The summit location was unexpectedly moved from Chicago to Camp David back in early March. When asked about the location change at a March 6th press conference at the White House, President Obama replied:
"Somebody pointed out that I hadn't had any of my counterparts, who I've worked with now for three years, up to Camp David. G8 tends to be a more informal setting in which we talk about a wide range of issues in a pretty intimate way. And the thinking was that people would enjoy being in a more casual backdrop. I think the weather should be good that time of year."

G8 Summit Leaders Arrival

French G8 delegation arriving at Dulles Airport

The G8 leaders arrived at Dulles Airport throughout the day on Friday. This video shows the arrival of Italian Prime Minister Monti.

Upon arrival, the leaders were greeted and escorted into temporary portable buildings set up by the State Department to handle the leader arrivals.

The portables provided a foreign delegation reception area that was "a quiet and tranquil resting place while awaiting onward movement". The furnishings were of "upscale quality" suitable for "foreign dignitaries up to the level of king, prime minister, or president".

portable buildings set up at Dulles Airport for G8 Camp David leader arrivals
Modular reception center at Dulles Airport for arriving G8 leaders (photos: ModSpace)

President Obama departed the White House for Camp David at 6:00PM. From the White House, it takes Marine One about 30 minutes to reach Camp David. The helicopter landing zone at Camp David is a short walk (or golf cart ride) away from the residential cabins.

G8 Summit Leaders at Camp David

President Obama greeted leaders at the entrance of Laurel Lodge as they arrived for the welcome reception and dinner on Friday evening. The theme of the working dinner was "International Unity" and the discussions  were focused on security.

Laurel Lodge at Camp David

Video of President Obama greeting the G8 leaders:

On Saturday morning, the media was invited into Laurel Lodge for a brief photo opportunity prior to the first working session of the summit. President Obama spoke about the discussions the leaders had the night before. Later that morning, the leaders headed over to the Aspen Lodge to pose for the G8 family photo.

Video of the G8 leaders posing for their official photo:

After the photo op, the leaders held their second working session followed by a working lunch with the leaders of four African nations to discuss the topic of food security. Three additional working sessions were held in the afternoon. President Obama also held separate bilateral meetings in the Aspen Lodge with Prime Minister Cameron and Chancellor Merkel.

The summit had some relaxing moments as well. On Saturday morning, President Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron went to the gym and used the treadmills. In the afternoon, the leaders watched the Champions League final soccer match. The summit concluded at 6PM and President Obama delivered the closing remarks outside the Aspen Lodge.

G8 Leader Cabin Assignments

National Security Adviser Tom Donilon joked that the "cabin allocation system" for G8 leaders was classified. The cabin choices must have been made with diplomatic care; some cabins are definitely nicer than others. In her 2007 book, Laura Bush referred to the Birch and Dogwood cabins as "the two cabins where dignitaries stay". In 1978, Egyptian President Sadat stayed in Dogwood and Israeli Prime Minister Begin stayed in Birch.

Medvedev outside Dogwood cabin; Harper and Hollande inside Birch cabin

It took me three months to unravel the mystery of the cabin assignments:

  • President Obama - Aspen Lodge
  • French President Hollande - Birch cabin
  • Russian Prime Minister Medvedev - Dogwood cabin
  • German Chancellor Merkel - Red Oak cabin
  • British Prime Minister Cameron - Maple cabin
  • Canadian Prime Minister Harper - Rosebud cabin
  • EU Presidents Van Rompuy and Barroso - Hickory Lodge
  • Japanese Prime Minister Noda - Hawthorn cabin
  • Italian Prime Minister Monti - Southern Pine cabin

Read about how I discovered the cabin assignments for the G8 Leaders. Information and photos of these cabins can be found in the cabins section of this blog.

G8 Summit Photo Gallery

Additional photos of the G8 Summit at Camp David can be found on another post: G8 Summit Photos

Media Coverage of the Camp David G8 Summit

            G8 media center at Camp Round Meadow gym                                  G8 Summit media bus (photos: @EUintheUS)  

Media trucks - G8 Summit at Camp David (@BBCNormanS)
The international media center was located at Camp Round Meadow in Catoctin Mountain Park. The State Department arranged catering to provide breakfast, lunch, and dinner there.

To cover events inside Camp David, the press rode a bus from the media center to the Evergreen Chapel, which served as a  press pool hold area. Reporters were forbidden to take any pictures while riding the bus. Some French journalists had to delete some photos they took while waiting inside the Evergreen Chapel.

A pool report described the bus passing by "fenced-in wooded areas, several cabins, tennis and basketball courts, and a few golf carts zipping around the grounds".

G8 Summit Leaders Gift

Gifts are traditionally given to the leaders at the G8 Summit. In February, Chicago-based R.S. Owens proudly announced they were selected to create a commemorative G8 gift from President Obama representing a famous Chicago landmark. Less than two weeks later, the summit location was moved to Camp David.

President Obama gave the leaders a Camp David parting gift, but details about the gifts were not initially disclosed by the media. It took a Freedom of Information Act request to confirm that President Obama gave each leader a black leather Camp David jacket.  Read more about the Camp David G8 Summit gift.

Traditional Camp David jackets have been blue windbreakers with the blue patch. President George W. Bush favored the
leather bomber jacket (pictured above was for P.M. Gordon Brown). President Obama wearing a green windbreaker

G-8 Spouses Invited to the White House for a Tour and Luncheon 

First Lady Michelle Obama invited the spouses of the G-8 leaders to the White House on Saturday, May 19th for a guided tour by White House Curator Bill Allman followed by a luncheon in the Blue Room.

The meal was prepared by Chef José Andrés and the White House chefs using local produce grown in the White House Kitchen Garden.  Menu items included gazpacho soup, Maryland rockfish, and tangerine sorbet with strawberries.

About the G-8 Summit

Official G8 Summit 2012 logo
Official G8 Summit Website
The State Department created an official G8 Summit 2012 website: click to visit

G-8 Summit 2012 Participants
United States: President Barack Obama;  Canada: Prime Minister Stephen Harper; France: President François Hollande;  Germany: Chancellor Angela Merkel;  Italy: Prime Minister Mario Monti;  Japan: Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda;  Russia: Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev;  United Kingdom: Prime Minister David Cameron; European Union: President Herman Van Rompuy, Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso

Additional Leaders Invited
President Obama invited four African leaders to participate in a discussion session on May 19th about food security in Africa: President Yayi Boni of Benin; Prime Minister Meles Zenawi of Ethiopia; President John Mills of Ghana; and President Jakaya Kikwete of Tanzania.

G8 Declaration
Upon the conclusion of the 2012 G8 Summit at Camp David, the official G8 Declaration was released by the White House.

G8 Security Measures and Closures

Catoctin Mountain Park
The National Park Service closed the Catoctin Mountain Park for security reasons during the summit. All trails, campgrounds, picnic areas and buildings were closed along with Cunningham Falls State Park.

Foxville-Deerfield Road remained open to through traffic only and portions of MD Route 77 were closed east and west of the park boundaries. Click here to view the full-size map of the park closures.

Maryland State Police issued a traffic advisory for weekend G8 road closures in Frederick County. The advisory gave details about Rt. 77 closures and increased traffic along the Rt. 15 corridor.

Temporary Flight Restrictions (TFR)
G8 Summit NOTAM 2/2137
The FAA issued a NOTAM effective at 5:30PM (EDT) on May 18th and ending at 8:30PM EDT on May 19th. The NOTAM defined a 30 nautical-mile radius TFR consisting of a 10-nautical-mile radius inner core (no-fly zone) and an outer ring extending out from 10nmr to 30nmr. Aircraft operating within the outer ring had to follow specific "squawk and talk" procedures defined within the NOTAM.

The FAA had previously published a Flight Advisory pertaining to the above TFR. The 30 nautical mile radius TFR is significantly larger than the usual 10 nautical-mile radius restriction ordinarily in place when the president is at Camp David.

NORAD has established a warning signal for communicating with aircraft consisting of highly focused red and green colored signal lights (as shown in this video clip).  This signal is directed at aircraft suspected of making unauthorized entry into a restricted zone. Pilots who do not adhere to the restrictions may be intercepted, detained and interviewed by law enforcement.

G8 Protests Near Camp David

Shortly after the White House announced that the G8 Summit was being moved to Camp David, the Occupy Chicago group announced a Victory Party and declared "They have heard the cries for peaceful protest and are running scared".

Cunningham Falls Park Closed After Occupy Group Announces Camping Plans
The Twitter hashtag #OccupyCampDavid quickly appeared along with tweets from accounts associated with the Occupy movement and the hacktivist group Anonymous. Early protest plans called for protesters to reserve campsites at nearby Cunningham Falls State Park during the G8 Summit.

In early April, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources announced that the Secret Service requested that they close Cunningham Falls from Thursday May 17th until 8AM Sunday May 20th for G8 security reasons. The Baltimore Sun reported that the closure of Cunningham Falls was "highly unusual and may be without precedent".

                      @AnonymousIRC on Twitter                                                            @OccupyBaltimore on Twitter

G8 Protests in Thurmont
Occupy Baltimore
The Occupy Baltimore group announced their intention via Twitter to plan a visible protest in Thurmont  A Thurmont farmer allowed some of the protesters space for camping out overnight.

The Occupy group invited protesters to go to Thurmont to voice their concerns "regarding nuclear policy, energy policy, resource wars, agribusiness, the 1% corporate dictatorship, and other international issues." Their proposed G8-alternative People's 99% Agenda included topics related to nuclear disarmament, international banking reform, war, deepwater drilling, global climate, and a host of other issues.

Watch the interview
A local Baltimore TV news station interviewed the Thurmont police chief about preparations for protesters including a staging area for demonstrations away from the center of town and a section of a road that will be open for marches.

Police Chief Gregory Eyler: “There’s a lot of rumors going around: Thurmont’s going to shut down all the streets and we’re going to shut down the businesses. It’s not true.”

Occupy Frederick
G8 Protests in Frederick
The Occupy Frederick group planned a weekend of G8 protest activities 15 miles south of Camp David in downtown Frederick, MD.  The "Occupy G8 People's Summit" was  held on Friday May 18th at the local library with speakers from Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch, Jubilee Justice USA, and others followed by a march in downtown Frederick.

On Saturday, the "Counter-G8 Community Bloc Party" was scheduled for a local Frederick park. Described as an "all inclusive all ages event for radicals and residents alike", the party featured free food, music, dancing, games, workshops, a free exchange of goods, and more. This tweet says there was "space for 100 tents and plans to caravan to Chicago after".

A local newspaper headline declared: "Frederick preparing for worst in case of G-8 riots". The Frederick Police issued this press release about protest preparations. A local TV news station also covered the town's preparations for the upcoming event.

Frederick County released a video of Sheriff Chuck Jenkins addressing the citizens of Frederick regarding the upcoming G8 Summit.

Sheriff Jenkins also wrote a letter to Frederick County residents advising them to be prepared for severe traffic congestion, a heavy influx of visitors, and security checkpoints throughout the area.

 He asked residents to respect the rights of protesters and "simply don’t get involved in conversations with activists or demonstrators that result in controversy".

March 4 Freedom G8 rally bus

March 4 Freedom Plans G8 Protest Against Zenawi
March 4 Freedom is a Washington, DC-based advocacy group whose main objective is to help coordinate the movement against genocide and dictatorship in Ethiopia/Africa. They planned a protest rally against Ethiopian Prime Minister Zenawi on Saturday May 19th. They arranged bus transportation from DC to Thurmont.  About 200 protesters participated.

List of Camp David G8 Summit Protest Websites
      Twitter accounts for the G8 Occupy groups:  @OccupyFrederick; @OccupyBaltimore

Thurmont Prepares for the G8 Summit

As the closest town to Camp David, Thurmont had to prepare for an influx of visitors during the G-8 Summit. The Cozy Inn, which has a small Camp David museum inside, and the local Super 8 were booked by journalists covering the event. Local restaurants and businesses planned to schedule extra shifts to handle the crowds.

According to Thurmont police chief Gregory Eyler, the 10PM closing time for the city parks would be enforced. The county sheriff's department made contingency plans in the event of large-scale protests and the deputies were prepared to work overtime.

Some area residents rented out rooms in their homes on Craigslist. Or for $50,000 per week, you could rent your own mini Camp David at Trout Run -  a presidential fishing spot and filming location for the West Wing TV show. Frederick County public schools closed on Friday May 18th out of safety concerns for their students. Local radio enthusiasts made plans to monitor the local airwaves during the event.

Here are some photos taken around Thurmont by Town Commissioner John Kinnaird in preparation for the G8 Summit. More of his G8-related photos can be viewed on the Thurmont G8 website.

G8 flags displayed in a Thurmont city park and the new Thurmont town sign 

Police motorcycles lined up outside the  Cozy Inn in
The ONE Street Tweeter painted G8 tweets along
 Route 77  
Maryland State Police Incident Command Unit
 heads into Thurmont 
An American flag near Route 15 at  Lewistown

Emmitsburg's Role in the G8 Summit

National Emergency Training Center in Emmitsburg
The State Department planned to utilize FEMA's National Emergency Training Center (NETC) in Emmitsburg as meeting space for U.S. officials. They also contacted Mount St. Mary University about renting the campus seminary.

Emmitsburg Mayor Don Briggs said they were expecting 300 guests to be housed at the training center and that local business owners were ready for the increase in visitors. He said that Emmitsburg should expect extra traffic beginning on Tuesday, May 15th through Saturday.

Local G8 Summit Website Links

  • G8Thurmont.com - Information about the town of Thurmont including restaurants, lodging and local businesses

Camp David Video Tour

Take a short aerial tour of Camp David tracing the same route the president takes from the South Lawn of the White House to the landing zone at Camp David. You'll fly around the retreat stopping for a closer look inside the buildings before heading back again to the White House.

Previous G8 Summit Hosted By U.S. - Sea Island Summit 2004 

The last G8 Summit hosted by the United States was held on a small resort island off the Georgia coast. President George W. Bush chose Sea Island for its " beautiful natural setting and reputation of gracious hospitality". The international press corps was located 80 miles north in Savannah, GA. The official website is no longer up but can be viewed here via the Internet Archive.

The G8 protests were also centered in Savannah and plans for a G8 Protest Carnival were posted on the organizers' website (no longer online nor archived). Early news reports predicted anywhere between 5,000 to 100,000 participants. $35 million was spent on security for the summit including  20,000 law enforcement officers and military personnel. The total protester turnout for the G8 Summit was low at around 300 people. The local paper described a scene at the protest: "The 50 protesters danced, waved flags and shouted at 100 stone-faced officers in full riot gear, while a helicopter circled overhead and two patrol boats floated nearby in the river."

Eighty miles to the south, another group of protesters marched down the closed 8-mile road to the entrance of the secure zone on Sea Island. The video below shows scenes from the march and the protesters' encounter with law enforcement on Sea Island.

Sources: The White House; G8 Information Centre; Europa.eu; Occupy Chicago; Forbes; Occupy Peace; Occupy Frederick; Occupy BaltimoreHuffington PostMaryland Department of Natural Resources; National Park ServiceBaltimore Sun; Waynesboro Record Herald; FAA; FMFA.org; Government Security News; The Deseret News; Frederick News Post; RadioReference.com; Savannah Morning News; G8USA.gov; ABC-7 News; FAASafety.gov; Lawrence Journal-World; Emmitsburg.net; Europa; WFMD; CBS BaltimoreU.S. Department of State; Obamafoodorama.comEuropean Commission; The Canadian Press; ModSpace

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Camp David Summit - 1978

In 1978, President Jimmy Carter invited Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin to Camp David to negotiate a framework for peace in the Middle East. For thirteen long and tense days, the leaders and their delegations met at various locations around the retreat. The press was not allowed anywhere near the negotiations and were headquartered several miles away at the American Legion Hall in Thurmont.

There is no shortage of information on the internet about the Camp David Accords. The Jimmy Carter Library created a 25th anniversary collection of historical materials on their website that includes a daily narrative of the meetings at Camp David along with a related set of documents and photos.

There are well over a hundred photos of this historic event on the National Archives website. I went through the entire collection and identified representative photos from various locations around the retreat.


President Sadat and Prime Minister Begin arrived at Camp David in separate helicopters on September 5th. President Carter came the day before. Carter greeted each leader upon arrival and gave each a short walking tour of the retreat.

President Carter welcomes Egyptian President Anwar Sadat to Camp David - Sept 5, 1978  

President Carter walks with President Sadat from the helicopter landing zone to the Aspen Lodge

Jimmy Carter and Anwar Sadat have a discussion the next day on the Aspen patio

President Carter welcomes Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin to Camp David - Sept 5, 1978

President Carter shows Prime Minister Begin around Camp David  after his arrival

Jimmy Carter meets with Menachem Begin in his Aspen Lodge study later that evening


There were eleven residence cabins in 1978. President Carter stayed in his usual cabin, the Aspen Lodge. Prime Minister Begin was assigned to Birch cabin and President Sadat stayed in Dogwood cabin. National Security Affairs Zbigniew Brzezinski shared the Witch Hazel cabin with Chief of Staff Hamilton Jordan. Israeli Foreign Minister Moshe Dayan shared the Red Oak cabin with three others from the Israeli delegation. Some trailers were brought in to house members of the Israeli and Egyptian delegations. Because of space constraints, the countries had to limit the size of each delegation: Israel - 9; Egypt - 9; US - 11.

Menachem Begin stayed in the Birch cabin. He played chess on the deck outside with Zbigniew Brzezinski 

Anwar Sadat stayed in the Dogwood cabin

Jimmy Carter holds a discussion with Anwar Sadat inside Dogwood cabin

 Israeli Foreign Minister Moshe Dayan and Israeli Defense Minister Ezer Weizman stayed in the Red Oak cabin

Trailers set up at Camp David for members of the Israeli and Egyptian delegations


The leaders and their delegations met at various locations around Camp David. Carter preferred holding the negotiating sessions in the cozy rooms of Holly cabin, rather than the more formal Laurel Lodge. He spent many hours meeting with his team inside Aspen. Sometimes he would meet with the leaders in their cabins. The beautiful terrace outside Aspen was also a site for some gatherings.

President Carter described the mood at Camp David in his opening comments at the Carter Center's Camp David 25th Anniversary Forum:
"We spent 13 days there. The first three days I attempted to have Begin and Sadat come together. The two men were totally incompatible. There was intense perturbation between them, shouting, banging on the tables, stalking out of the rooms. So for the next 10 days, they never saw each other."

Begin and Sadat greet each other outside Aspen Lodge

Carter, Begin, and Sadat hold a meeting on the Aspen Lodge terrace

Carter, Begin, and Sadat meet inside the president's small office/study in the Aspen Lodge 

Jimmy Carter, Anwar Sadat and Cyrus Vance meet in Holly cabin 

Jimmy Carter, Menachem Begin, Cyrus Vance and others meet in Holly cabin  

Jimmy Carter, Zbigniew Brzezinski , Cyrus Vance,  and William Quandt meet in Aspen Lodge  

Begin and Sadat in a relaxed mood with members of their delegations at Laurel Lodge on the last day of the summit

Pool table in Holly cabin (1980 photo)

A pool table and a movie projector were set up in Holly cabin to provide some recreation for the summit participants. 58 movies were shown over the thirteen days including "Dr Zhivago", "The Thomas Crown Affair", "Sleuth", "Hawaii", and "Return of the Pink Panther".

The leaders attended an evening performance by the Marine Drum and Bugle Corps which included a ten-minute "silent drill" performed by a precision rifle team with no verbal commands.

Other recreational activities included bicycling, jogging, tennis, swimming, and long walks around the retreat. Every morning, Sadat put on a jogging suit and took a brisk three to four mile walk around the camp.

The Israelis hosted a dinner for the Americans in Hickory Lodge on Friday Sept 8th to observe the beginning of the Jewish Sabbath. A separate section of the Aspen kitchen was designated for the preparation of the kosher food throughout the summit. Sadat always ate in his Dogwood cabin; Begin frequently ate at Laurel with his Israeli delegation; and Carter would eat his meals at both Aspen and Laurel.

Marine Evening  Dress Parade  near the  field house / helicopter area 

President and Mrs. Carter attend an Israeli dinner with the Begins in Hickory Lodge

Jimmy Carter speaks with Menachem Begin following a tennis match  

     Menachem Begin walks with Zbigniew Brzezinski                       Jimmy Carter talks to members of the Israeli delegation

President Carter accompanies President Sadat on his morning walk


The three leaders flew together from Camp David to the White House on the evening of September 17th. They signed the Camp David Accords in the East Room at 10:30PM. The ceremony was broadcast live over nationwide television.

Camp David Accords signing ceremony of the White House - Sept 17, 1978


Scenes from the 1978 Camp David Summit narrated by Carter Press Secretary Jody Powell

Sources: Jimmy Carter Library; National Archives; People; The DayThe President is at Camp David; White House Diary: Jimmy Carter; The Carter Center; Youngstown Vindicator; The News Dispatch; Frederick News Post; Reading Eagle; C-Span