Jason Chaffetz is going around the world in six days

Papua New Guinea's capital, Port Moresby
Papua New Guinea’s capital, Port Moresby. (Rocky Roe/AFP/Getty)

We’re all in favor of ’round the world travel, but Rep. Jason Chaffetz’s one-lawmaker congressional delegation (codel) is flying commercial (though upgrades are allowed for really long flights) with one House oversight committee staffer and a military escort.

An even bigger problem is that the Utah Republican is going to London in February and to Port Moresby, the capital of Papua New Guinea, which looks to be a place to avoid pretty much any time of year but especially now during rainy season.

The purpose of the trip, we’re told, is to talk with officials in London and Port Moresby about costs and security considerations for the embassy facilities now under construction there. In London, where he’s going to be for all of six hours,  the concern would be terrorism.

The problem in Papua New Guinea, however, is “high levels of serious crime,” the Australian government advises travelers. “Large crowds and public gatherings should be avoided,” we’re told, “as they may turn violent.”

“Ethnic disputes  continue to flare up,” the Aussies note, and “disputes can quickly escalate into violent clashes [and] an atmosphere of lawlessness.” Carjacking, meanwhile, “is an ever-present threat.” Rainy season is from November to May, when “flooding and landslides have resulted in deaths.” There was also a “spate of killings” last year related to accusations of “witchcraft,” according to one report.

There’s also what looks to be a thrilling stop in Abu Dhabi to see how things are going with a new Customs pre-inspection operation (so people can fill out customs and immigration forms before they get on board). There are stops in Australia, the Solomon Islands and Fiji, but only to change planes.

Next thing you know, Chaffetz will be off to Somalia and East Timor.  Sign up now!

Al Kamen, an award-winning columnist on the national staff of The Washington Post, created the “In the Loop” column in 1993.
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Al Kamen · February 6