Sunday, April 27, 2008

They Have an Off Switch, You Know

The White House BlackBerries incident - Field Notes -
The leaders of Mexico and Canada were in New Orleans earlier this week with President Bush for the North American Leaders' Summit. After a high-level meeting between the Mexican and U.S. delegations, White House staffers noticed their BlackBerries were missing. Per protocol, they had left the devices on a table outside the meeting room.

A source familiar with the incident tells NBC News the Secret Service approached the members of the Mexican delegation as they were preparing to leave New Orleans. They helped identify the person the agents suspected of taking the BlackBerries as Rafael Quintero. When authorities approached Quintero, he denied having them. But when he was shown hotel surveillance tape of himself caught in the act, he acknowledged it and returned the devices.

Presumably, the Blackberries are hooked into the White House email system, and presumably these wonks don't delete email or observe elementary security measures. If the point of leaving the devices outside is to prevent interruptions, powering down might be a better choice than leaving devices containing official government info lying around in a digital candy dish.

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