Watch CBSN Live

NATO To Mark 50th Anniversary

It's chaotic enough in Washington when just one foreign leader visits. For example, during a recent visit by Chinese dignitaries, their 27-car convoy tied up traffic on and off for two days.

So imagine the scene in Washington later this week when 43 heads of state arrive. Just the thought of it is causing the Secret Service headaches.

"To have that many heads of state in Washington, D.C., is really unprecedented," says Danny Spriggs of the Secret Service.

NATO's 50th Anniversary Summit, with 1,500 delegates expected, will be held April 23-25. The meeting had been planned long before NATO warplanes began pounding Yugoslavia, reports CBS News Correspondent Jim Stewart.

But with the war nearly a month old and the Serbs still defiant, private security specialist Chuck Vance says out loud what most government agents most fear: "This would be a perfect opportunity for these people to make a statement over in the United States, even if it were one bomb. That would be a significant effort for them."

So security forces have pulled out all the usual stops and then some. Fifty law enforcement agencies will be on hand. Manhole covers are being sealed. Six square blocks will be closed to even pedestrian traffic. Sniper teams have every downtown rooftop covered.

"You're gonna have intelligence units all over, some of them obvious, some of them mixed with the crowds," predicts Vance. "You're gonna have dog teams. You're gonna have horse teams. You're gonna have patrol cars."

And the leaders will be strongly discouraged from making any unexpected stops to play to the crowds, like Mikhail Gorbachev did in 1987, even though experts say that's not when things are the most dangerous.

"It's when people know where you're going and when you're arriving and where you're departing," explains Vance. "And if that becomes a mess and people are backed up in public areas, for instance, now, that could be dangerous."

Most of those public comings and goings will be from the new Ronald Reagan Building in downtown Washington, a building that some security analysts say is way too vulnerable. But for at least this week, it will be airtight.

More than 40 corporations are chipping in to pay for the NATO celebration. At least 13 of them (including Ford, Microsoft, and defense contractor United Technologies) have plunked down at least $250,000 for a seat on the board of directors of the summit's host committee. Twenty-eight others, including such notables as Kodak, Coca-Cola and IBM, have given at least $25,000 to join the host committee.

Some donations let companies show off their products. DaimlerChrysler is donating Mercedeses to help ferry the delegates around town; Motorola is providing cellular telephones to be carried over Nextel Communications' network, another donation; Microsoft is providing software.

Summit information will be regularly updated on the Internet at