Patterico's Pontifications


Mexican Press Attache Takes White House Cell Phones, BlackBerries (Updated x2)

Filed under: International — DRJ @ 8:43 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

From Fox News:

“Whether he was up to no good or simply desperate to play BrickBreaker, a Mexican press attache was caught on camera by Secret Service pocketing several White House BlackBerries during a recent meeting in New Orleans, FOX News has learned.

Sources with knowledge of the incident said the official, whose first name is Rafael, took six or seven of the handheld devices from a table outside a special room in the hotel where the Mexican delegation was meeting with President Bush.

Everyone entering the room was required to leave their cell phones, BlackBerries and other such devices on the table, a commonplace practice when high-level meetings are held. American officials discovered their missing belongings when they were leaving the session.

It didn’t take long before Secret Service officials reviewed videotape taken by a surveillance camera and found footage showing “Rafael” absconding with the BlackBerries.

Sources said “Rafael” made it all the way to the airport, where the Mexican president was preparing to leave New Orleans, before Secret Service officers caught up with him. He was forced to return the BlackBerries.”

Rafael claimed he accidentally took the devices and he was allowed to return to Mexico.

It’s possible Rafael saw a chance to score some high-tech devices and took advantage of it, but this could be a case of diplomatic spying. If so, Rafael used his position as press attache as a cover.

UPDATE 1, 4/24/08 – From the Houston Chronicle:

“Was it a case of bumbling espionage? Just what was a Mexican press officer thinking when he reportedly swiped U.S. dele-gates’ BlackBerrys at the North American summit this week?

Mexican officials didn’t wait to find out. On Thursday, Rafael Quintero Curiel was dismissed as deputy director of press logistics for Los Piños, the Mexican White House.

“He was removed in order not to obstruct the investigation,” said Gladis Boladeras, spokeswoman for President Felipe Calderon.

She said her office learned about the incident from a report on the Fox News Channel. Video cameras, Fox said, captured Quintero pocketing the devices left outside a room where Calderon and President Bush met.

Dana Perino, White House spokeswoman, said it wasn’t clear whether the BlackBerrys belonged to White House staffers or whether they held sensitive information.

Fox said Secret Service agents tracked Quintero down. At first he denied having the devices, Fox said, but after he was shown the video footage he handed over the phones.

Then he invoked diplomatic immunity to avoid detention.”

UPDATE 2, 4/25/2008: Rafael responds that he’s been unfairly portrayed by the media and the reports “unfairly cast doubt on my honor.”


Petraeus Nominated to Lead CentCom

Filed under: War — DRJ @ 4:48 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Defense Secretary Gates has recommended General David Petraeus to lead US Central Command with General Ray Odierno slotted to replace Petraeus in Iraq:

“U.S. Army Gen. David Petraeus will be nominated to be the next commander of the U.S. Central Command, Defense Secretary Robert Gates announced Wednesday.

Petraeus, who is currently serving as the commander of the Multinational Force in Iraq and has overseen a dramatic reduction in violence, will replace U.S. Navy Adm. William Fallon, who abruptly retired in March after it was reported that he had substantial policy disagreements with U.S. President George W. Bush over Iran.

As commander of the Central Command, Petraeus would have responsibility over U.S. military operations in the Middle East, Central Asia and the Horn of Africa, including both wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Gates said he recommended Petraeus because of his experience within the region as well as his experience dealing with the asymmetric warfare that characterizes the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“I am absolutely confident he’s the best man for the job,” Gates said.

U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Ray Odierno has been nominated to replace Petraeus as the top U.S. commander in Iraq. Odierno previously served as the commander of the Multinational Corps in Baghdad, the U.S. military’s number two position in Iraq.

“He’s known to the Iraqis and has very current experience,” Gates said of Odierno. “He clearly was Gen. Petraeus’s right-hand man during this last year.”

Gates doesn’t foresee any change in the strategy in Iraq.

Hopefully plans a change in strategy. If not, its organizers are consulting the rhyming dictionary for words that rhyme with Odierno as I write this.


Nora Ephron on Race, Gender, and Racist White Men (Updated x2)

Filed under: 2008 Election — DRJ @ 3:44 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

The NY Times’ Politics Blog The Caucus has surveyed the internet regarding the Democratic race between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. There seem to be as many opinions as there are blogs. The one that most interested me was Nora Ephron’s 4/20/08 entry at the Huffington Post (emphasis supplied):

“Here’s another thing I don’t like about this primary: now that there are only two Democratic candidates, it’s suddenly horribly absolutely crystal-clear that this is an election about gender and race. This may have always been true, but weeks ago it wasn’t so obvious — once upon a time there were eight candidates, and although six of them withered away, their presence in the campaign managed to obscure things. Even around the time of Ohio, when there were primarily three candidates, the outlines were murky, because Edwards was still in there, picking up votes from all sectors.

But now there are two and we’re facing Pennsylvania and whom are we kidding? This is an election about whether the people of Pennsylvania hate blacks more than they hate women. And when I say people, I don’t mean people, I mean white men. How ironic is this? After all this time, after all these stupid articles about how powerless white men are and how they can’t even get into college because of overachieving women and affirmative action and mean lady teachers who expected them to sit still in the third grade even though they were all suffering from terminal attention deficit disorder — after all this, they turn out (surprise!) to have all the power. (As they always did, by the way; I hope you didn’t believe any of those articles.)

To put it bluntly, the next president will be elected by them: the outcome of Tuesday’s primary will depend on whether they go for Hillary or Obama, and the outcome of the general election will depend on whether enough of them vote for McCain. A lot of them will: white men cannot be relied on, as all of us know who have spent a lifetime dating them. And McCain is a compelling candidate, particularly because of the Torture Thing. As for the Democratic hope that McCain’s temper will be a problem, don’t bet on it. A lot of white men have terrible tempers, and what’s more, they think it’s normal.

That’s the gist of it, although Ephron slings still more insults at white men in the final paragraphs when she opines that for Hillary to win, she has to convince Democrats that she can attract more “racist white male voters” than Obama can.

I’m not generally into identity politics. One reason I like the internet is that you can’t tell someone’s gender, race or religion unless they tell you and even then you don’t know if it’s true. It’s easier to understand the real person from the written word because writing forces us to get to the core of who we are and what we believe. In this case, Ephron’s writings obviously expose her as someone who has no respect for white men. She comes across as angry and bitter, some of the same qualities she sees and denigrates in white men.

I agree with those who view the Democratic Presidential race as good news for the Republican Party. Clinton and Obama are beating each other up more effectively than Republicans could do at this point in the election cycle. Ultimately, I expect many Democrats will come together behind a nominee but, for now, they aren’t a gathering of true believers. They seem to have a fair share of bitter, angry, and disillusioned believers.

UPDATE 1: Tom Hayden and his peaceful, organic wife join Ephron’s club.

UPDATE 2ABC News jumps on the bitter bandwagon: “Dems’ Bitter Path to the Bitter End”


FLDS Judge Won’t Separate Mothers & Infants

Filed under: Civil Liberties,Law — DRJ @ 3:20 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

In a hearing today, the Deseret News reports that Judge Barbara Walther ruled that infants under 12 months will not be separated from their mothers:

“The Texas judge who is overseeing the massive custody case involving children seized during a raid on the Fundamentalist LDS church’s ranch earlier this month said today she will not separate mothers from their infants. But mothers whose children are over 12 months will have to be separated, according to the judge.

The decision came during a briefing between the judge and Texas child-welfare authorities.

Lawyers for the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services said that officials relocated 111 children on Tuesday. “All arrived safely at their destinations and are making adjustments and doing well so far,” said attorney Gary Banks.

The state’s Child Protective Services said its plan was to separate mothers from their children when they began placing the rest of the children who are still inside the San Angelo Coliseum. But Judge Barbara Walther said she would prefer that the 18 girls with infants would not be separated.”

Based on the use of the term “girls,” it’s possible there are 18 underage girls with infants. It’s hard to tell if that was a quote or if the term ‘girls’ refers to underage mothers or younger – but not underage – mothers. [EDIT: It could also refer to underage mothers with children over 12 months of age, since all mothers with infants under 12 months will stay together pursuant to the Judge’s order.]

The report indicated the Judge “peppered” the CPS representative with questions:

“Throughout the hearing the judge peppered CPS with questions about the conditions for the children once they are placed in foster care.

She moved quickly over topics such as parental visitation, practice of religion and education. CPS officials said the children will be free to practice their religion. Educational assessments also will be done.

“It might be down the road, they would be integrated into the school system but that is not the plan right now because there may be a little bit of culture shock,” Banks said.

The judge also asked if CPS could provide clothing that meets the unique aspects of the FLDS Church. Girls wear long prairie-style dresses and boys wear long-sleeved shirts.

“We think that is something that needs to happen because it is a big part of who they are,” said Banks.”

All children have had DNA samples taken and placement in foster care facilities is continuing.


Virtual Border Fence Doesn’t Work

Filed under: Immigration — DRJ @ 9:08 am

[Guest post by DRJ]

The US is scrapping plans for a virtual fence on the Southern border because it doesn’t work:

“The government is scrapping a $20 million prototype of its highly touted “virtual fence” on the Arizona-Mexico border because the system is failing to adequately alert border patrol agents to illegal crossings, officials said.

The move comes just two months after Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff announced his approval of the fence built by The Boeing Co. The fence consists of nine electronic surveillance towers along a 28-mile section of border southwest of Tucson.

Boeing is to replace the so-called Project 28 prototype with a series of towers equipped with communications systems, new cameras and new radar capability, officials said.

Less than a week after Chertoff accepted Project 28 on Feb. 22, the Government Accountability Office told Congress it “did not fully meet user needs and the project’s design will not be used as the basis for future” developments.

A glaring shortcoming of the project was the time lag between the electronic detection of movement along the border and the transmission of a camera image to agents patrolling the area, the GAO reported.”

Here’s a thought: Build a real fence. Low tech fences work.


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