Terrorism and Liability in the Luxury Hotel Racket

Hey, Ray! You need a new P.R. agency. "Saddened by losses of security forces"? How about your guests who lost their lives from your lackluster security?
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Jeff Koopersmith believes the Taj Mahal Intercontinental Hotel in Mumbai may be responsible for the slaughter of its guests. Where, he asks, was the beefed-up security after it had been warned?

November 30, 2008 – Geneva (apj.us) – I don't have a lot to say about the carnage the world witnessed in Mumbai over the past three days.  It was terrible, and reminds us all what could happen from terrorism in our own home towns.  They say human life is cheap in India – but we could all see that this is not true.  The mourning over the dead police official and others in the police and armed forces showed this clearly. Our hearts go out to their families.

I must however point to a statement made by Raymond Bickson, the CEO & Managing Director of Indian Hotels Company Ltd.  His remarks were irresponsible, and seemed designed to get him and the hotel off the hook as to responsibility.  Here is what he posted on the Taj website on November 29, 2008:

MUMBAI SITUATION UPDATE    [1.00 pm IST, November 29, 2008]

Statement from Mr. Raymond Bickson, CEO & Managing Director, The Indian Hotels Company Limited

"I would just like to update you all. The heroic actions of our security forces have now contained the attack on the Taj Mahal Palace and Tower. We are enormously saddened at the loss of life amongst the brave men who carried out this action. Due to the security measures that are being completed in the hotel, we have been granted very limited access, presently. The process of fully assessing the internal situation can not yet begin as the NSG are continuing their risk assessment. We will provide updates on the situation within the hotel when we can. We are extending our full cooperation to the investigating authorities. There is one point that I would like to make clear. We have had  as is being reported by some media outlets. At the moment, the clear focus of all our activities continues on supporting the immediate needs of the guests and staff who have been affected by the terrorist acts. Our deep condolences are being expressed to the families and friends of all those who have lost their lives."

What?  He is saddened by the loss of the men who got the terrorists, but his deep condolences are "being" expressed to the families and friends of all those who have lost their lives?

It seems Bickson consulted his lawyers before he consulted his PR firm.  He is careful to point out "…no indications from them that any employee or contractual staff of the hotel have been involved as part of this terrorist attack…"

What cheek!  I think he had better first worry about the facts reported that the hotel knew or should have known it was a target for terrorists. Obviously it did not take those warnings seriously enough.

Bickson's response is disgustingly pitiful. 

Jeff Koopersmith is an internationally renowned political consultant, opinion research authority and policy analyst. He has lobbied for causes including the alternative fuel sector and women's health, and is an expert on the international real estate market. He lives in Philadelphia, Washington and Geneva.

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