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.”


39 Responses to “Mexican Press Attache Takes White House Cell Phones, BlackBerries (Updated x2)”

  1. Nobody “accidentally” takes half a dozen blackberries. The Secret Service should have put his ass into jail.

    Steverino (6772c8)

  2. Probably protected by diplomatic immunity, Steverino. With Mexico, its hard to say if its intentional spying or petty thievery.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  3. I don’t think press attaches are covered by diplomatic immunity, SPQR. Maybe I’m wrong, there’s nothing in the story that indicates he had it.

    Steverino (6772c8)

  4. The government of Mexico is a nasty, thieving lot, so it comes as no surprise that this sort of theft occurs. What I’d like to know is if the phones had any information removed from them during the trip to the airport.

    Apogee (366e8b)

  5. 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.

    Smart hombre, that Rafael. Sandy Burglar’s Mexican cousin?

    driver (faae10)

  6. Every Chevy Impala has to have a blackberry.

    Vermont Neighbor (04023f)

  7. It is hard to believe he is a proper journalist trying to get a scoop.

    More likely, he is a junkie trying to score some dope.

    Alta Bob (934c6d)

  8. Glad we’re being so understanding of their lovely country and its wonderful citizens.

    Patricia (f56a97)

  9. It might be helpful to note why he and his boss were there in the first place. Namely, holding the SPP meeting, opening their NewOrleans branch office, and attending a meeting of their de facto agents in Dallas.

    TLB (e10679)

  10. Compare this with how an American would be treated if caught stealing while in Mexico.

    Mark1971 (888585)

  11. get your hands off my blackberries you filthy mexicans

    Harmonicaman (ce1248)

  12. Blackberries? I don’t need no stinking Blackberies.

    davod (5bdbd3)

  13. It likely was spying and not necessarily for the Mexican government. He might be regretting being “allowed to return to Mexico” about now.

    nk (35ac33)

  14. thats some pretty abysmal security.

    stef (46c091)

  15. stef,

    Just because you would have just let Raffie go with the stolen Blackberries.

    Mexican police regularly buy and drive stolen from the US vehicles, many not even bothering to change the tags to Mexican ones.

    PCD (5c49b0)

  16. Its not the actual taking of the physical devices thats bad — thats low cost that doesn’t justify huge security efforts — its the information inside them that should be of concern. And this breach was enough to compromise that if it had been an attack.

    stef (1d4dfc)

  17. #3 Steverino:

    I don’t think press attaches are covered by diplomatic immunity,

    It would be unusual for “Rafael” to be described as an attaché if he weren’t traveling as part of the official party so it’s very likely that he was part of the diplomatic party (=”immunity.”)

    Considering how rampant corruption is in the Mexican government at all levels, I think it was just “Rafael” asserting his nature as a kleptocrat.

    And there sure as heck shouldn’t have been anything sensitive on the Blackberries in the first place.

    EW1(SG) (84e813)

  18. You are all racists. And sexists. Poor impoverished Rafaela was just trying to help feed her family, while the capitalist running dogs have cell phones that cost more than they make in a year.

    And, Kyoto.

    JD (75f5c3)

  19. #19 JD: Huh, you’re right! So I’m gonna turn over a new, greener leaf!

    And stop running.

    EW1(SG) (84e813)

  20. Accidentally. I’d like to see what would happen to me if I stole someone’s car and just told the cops I “accidentally” took it. I bet that would work.

    Andy (09ab51)

  21. The next time we meet with the Mexican government we should make sure that no Mexican press accompanies them.

    tyree (0d131f)

  22. tyree…
    Not press, “press attache” = Official Government Functionary…like one of Dana Perino’s staff.
    This was espionage. But, since he had a “black” passport (diplomatic cover/immunity), they had to let him go.
    I would not be surprised though, if his government has been officially notified that “Rafael” (whoever he might actually be) is now “Persona Non Grata”.

    Another Drew (f9dd2c)

  23. A press attache is NOT a journalist, he is part of the official government diplomatic party. As such, he would have diplomatic immunity.

    kaf (06aa9f)

  24. Let me put it in context, as someone who deals with these devices everyday, and has many employees in his store, as well as when I go to other stores, meetings, see other managers, etc, and many of us have the same device in the same color: if you pick up the wrong Crackberry, you will know REALLY quick that it is not yours, because you are going to check it about 2 seconds after you get your hands on it.

    I’ve been in meetings where we had to put our mobile devices in a box so we are not tempted, and the last one had 6 of us with red Curves. We all picked up the correct ones.

    William Teach (5d9f94)

  25. “Probably protected by diplomatic immunity,…”

    All Mexican nationals are protected by “diplomatic” immunity now. It’s known as Special Order #40, or a federal facsimile thereof.

    Norris (e3b173)

  26. But he is a member of a Special Victim Status ™ minority group. If he stole them, it is because he was driven to it by the evil white people. They cannot arrest him until they arrest some number of white people in proportion to the general population.

    martin (cd5d90)

  27. come on now…. he was just taking the electronics no American wanted to use. %-)

    redc1c4 (292479)

  28. They got the Blackberries back, but was he able to get any data off them before they were returned? Or get something into them to send data? I’d call all of those Blackberries compromised.

    kimsch (2ce939)

  29. If they were like most corporate and governmental crackberries on the BES servers, they would require a password after 30 minutes of inactivity.

    William Teach (5d9f94)

  30. William Teach – Could the sim cards be duped? Would that be worth anything?

    Apogee (366e8b)

  31. I’ve updated the post with new information from the Houston Chronicle: As we suspected, Rafael did claim diplomatic immunity; it’s not clear if there was sensitive information in the devices; and Rafael is now jobless.

    DRJ (a431ca)

  32. Hi, is disgusting what this, madiocre individual came to do in this country, but unfortunately, criminals can be fund in any part of the world, that includes decent and well educated people that by taking a chance ruin their life sometimes forever, that’s why our jails are full of undesireble parasites as this one, it would be unreasonable cataloging, all Mexicans the same, in the Mexican society you can find all kind of people as in U.S.A. remember that U.S.A. Has more incarcerated individuals than any other country in the world, but I agree that this mexican BURRO should go to jail. Gracias amigos.

    Francisco (9aeb73)

  33. Until they actually rob politicians and lawmakers, is that what it takes to pay attention to what goes on every day in most cities, counties and states of the US?
    Change the law, no immunity for this street thug thief.
    Wonder what else he stole or got away with.

    Marilyn (56a0a8)

  34. I´ve been reading all the comments on the Mexican Official who stole the blackberries. I agree, it is terrible for someone in his position to do something like that. I would just like to say that some of the comments I read are vicious against all Mexicans. I don´t believe all Mexican citizens are crooked. We do not eat burritos all day and do not drive chevy impalas anymore. I believe problems like this one happen everywhere in every country. There is corruption everywhere, remember Florida? From my personal point of view there has been a long time resentment from both sides. But the truth is that we do help each other. And by the way, technology has already arrived to Mexico. Believe it or not!
    Thank you.

    Jorge Martinez (467488)

  35. We … do not drive chevy impalas anymore.

    And that’s my biggest complaint against *you people*. If you had kept on driving Chevy Impalas it could have saved a wonderful car (the ’63 convertible was my favorite) instead of letting GM turn it into ugly taxis and police cars.

    Just kidding. I’m very sorry about the Mexican jokes too. And I still suspect this guy of being somebody’s “asset” and not necessarily spying for the Mexican government.

    nk (284b49)

  36. Well, that might be true. Corroption has a way to drilling into society. And I personally like GM cars a lot. I actually worked for the plant in Guanajuato for a few years and I myself drive a Chevrolet, it is a pity that Japanese cars are invading us. As for this creep who stole the blackberries, he sent a letter to all major newspapers in Mexico saying that he did not steal the phones, he was just “waiting for the right time to give them back”. Of course no one believes that and most people want his head. He is actually under investigation by the Mexican secret service. We hope our authorities send his butt to prison. And thanks for apologizing.

    Jorge Martinez (467488)

  37. “…do not eat burritos all day and do not drive chevy impalas anymore…”

    Not to be too snarky about this, but I would think this comment demonstrates Jorge’s unfamiliarity with East-LA and some of the other Hispanic areas of SoCal.

    Another Drew (8018ee)

  38. Rafael responds that he’s been unfairly portrayed by the media and the reports “unfairly cast doubt on my honor.”

    Indeed. How dare the video-tape besmirch this man’s good name!

    Scott Jacobs (d3a6ec)

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