White House Staffers' BlackBerrys Stolen Five-Finger-Discount Style - InformationWeek

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4/25/2008
09:56 AM
Eric Ogren
Eric Ogren
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White House Staffers' BlackBerrys Stolen Five-Finger-Discount Style

This story is disturbing. In what was described as a "common practice," White House staff and others attending a meeting with President Bush left their BlackBerrys sitting unattended on a table outside the meeting room. With the meeting in progress, a Mexican press attaché decided to lift six or seven of them and make a run for it. Thankfully, the Secret Service was able to catch him before he got too far. What I want

This story is disturbing. In what was described as a "common practice," White House staff and others attending a meeting with President Bush left their BlackBerrys sitting unattended on a table outside the meeting room. With the meeting in progress, a Mexican press attaché decided to lift six or seven of them and make a run for it. Thankfully, the Secret Service was able to catch him before he got too far. What I want to know is, what are government BlackBerrys doing sitting on an unprotected table?You just never know. This could have been a serious breach of national security. Who knows what sensitive information was stored on the stolen BlackBerrys? The thief involved, Quintero Curiel, the lead press advance person for the Mexican delegation, may have only been interested in the hardware and not the data. But that's not something I am willing to place any bets on.

The fact that the BlackBerrys were left in such an insecure place should concern everyone, even if it isn't all that surprising. The people whose 'Berrys were stolen work in the White House. Day in and day out. They certainly must have access to information that isn't meant for the public, nor foreign governments. We can only hope that the security programs on the devices themselves were top-notch.

Here's how the whole thing went down, according to Fox News:

Quintero Curiel 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 earlier this week.

Everyone entering the room was required to leave his or her cell phone, BlackBerry, and other such devices on the table, a common 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 Quintero Curiel absconding with the BlackBerrys.

Sources said Quintero Curiel made it all the way to the airport before Secret Service officers caught up with him. He initially denied taking the devices, but after agents showed him the DVD, Quintero Curiel said it was purely accidental, gave them back, claimed diplomatic immunity and left New Orleans with the Mexican delegation.

I'll let you all discuss the sheer stupidity of the person involved, but the fact that he made it all the way to the airport with stolen government BlackBerrys is unsettling. Thank you, hard working officers of the Secret Service, for apprehending this man before who-knows-what government secrets left the country with him.

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