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From The Washington Post:
Inside Bush's Top-Secret Trip
...This reporter, who represented newspapers in the media pool and provided a download for all his colleagues who could not be there, was first approached about the trip less than four hours before takeoff. I was talking on my cell phone on the front lawn of Crawford Middle School, where the White House sets up a media filing center in the gymnasium, seven miles down the road from Bush's ranch. Steve Atkiss, 26, deputy director of presidential advance, beckoned for me to climb into his mammoth white rented Dodge pickup.
Atkiss drove a few blocks to a concealed parking lot and told me to step out, that someone wanted to talk to me. Bartlett stepped out of his car, smiling mischievously at the surprise meeting.
"I have news," he said. "The president is going to Baghdad."
He said that I was going, but that I could not tell my employer or family what was up. It was 3:45 p.m. Texas time, and Atkiss told me that I should get changed and meet him at 5:30 p.m. in the parking lot of the Baylor University stadium where the Secret Service and military aides regularly cream the press corps in softball.
At the rendezvous, several of the magazine and wire-service photographers were still convinced that they were the victims of an extremely elaborate practical joke, and were plotting what they were going to do to with Atkiss when he finally came clean.
The two-vehicle motorcade from the softball field was joined by a white Jeep Grand Cherokee with Blake Gottesman, the president's personal aide, at the wheel, Deputy Chief of Staff Joseph Hagin riding shotgun and Bartlett in the back seat.
Bush's simplest movements, even a trip to the Crawford coffee shop or a speech a block from the White House, are usually accompanied by an entourage of 50 or more. For now, it was 12. With no security, Atkiss led the way to the Waco airstrip, getting caught in rush-hour traffic, a rare experience in the White House bubble.
The shades in the press cabin on Air Force One had been pulled down, and both doors were closed, so the reporters could not see Bush arrive or what personnel and firepower accompanied him. The reporters knew he was aboard only when they heard the engines rev.
Now, the plane was cruising at an average speed of 665 mph, Baghdad or bust. Richard Keil, a 6-foot-3 inch reporter for Bloomberg News whom Bush calls "Stretch," leaned across the aisle of the hushed press cabin.
"The president of the United States is AWOL, and we're with him," a grinning Keil said as he shoved aside his iPod headset. "The ultimate road trip."
Two quotes to note "...deputy director of presidential advance, beckoned for me to climb into his mammoth white rented Dodge pickup."
"...Richard Keil, a 6-foot-3 inch reporter for Bloomberg News whom Bush calls "Stretch,"..."
White pickup? Stretch?
Feel free to comment to your hearts' content regarding the elitism of the Republican Party in general, and our Commander in Chief in particular. More from me later. (Nyuck nyuck)
Do we know that the President actually went to Baghdad? Everything the press heard, saw, smelled, touched, etc. was provided by the White House. The windows were closed, cell phones were taken away. They landed in the dark. They were taken into a hangar that was full of soldiers, with the assumption that they were in Baghdad. Hmmmm...what if that hangar was located on a sound stage somewhere and the "soldiers" were just hired actors/extras? Would the reporters know the difference?Posted by Ashley at April 30, 2004 10:31 PM Hide Comments | Show/Add Comments in Popup Window(1) | (Note: You must refresh main page to view newly posted comments here)