Update @10:40am Politico is reporting the News Sites were scrubbed at the request of the White House: Kristina Schake, Communications Director to the First Lady, emails to confirm this was a White House effort:
From the beginning of the administration, the White House has asked news outlets not to report on or photograph the Obama children when they are not with their parents and there is no vital news interest. We have reminded outlets of this request in order to protect the privacy and security of these girls.
But, did the President’s own US State Department change its travel advisory wording to protect the President from criticism and embarrassment from his daughter’s Mexico visit, because governmental family personal travel is prohibited?
I’ve never seen so many websites scrub a news story in an almost simultaneous fashion. Now two stories have been created. The first is the original story of the First Daughter taking 12 friends and 25 Secret Service agents, along with the entourage of security vehicles, etc to Oaxaca, Mexico. It was initially posted around noon on Monday, and began disappearing around 5pm the same day. We posted at 4pm
The second and becoming more rapidly intriguing story is the literal scrubbing of any information from the web placed by main stream news outlets after they initially reported the story. Why scrub it?
The scrubbing query has been picked up by The Blaze, The Daily Caller, and PJ Tatler to name a few. But pictures of Malia and friends in Mexico are posted on the Mexican news website Quien.com . One of the more funny ironies is a Yahoo news story; Yahoo initially reported the vacation story and is now reporting on the scrubbing of the vacation story.
So what is the risk to the White House and why scrub the story?
Perhaps because the Department of Public Safety, a Texas law enforcement agency, issued a warning last Tuesday against students celebrating their spring breaks in violence-torn Mexico?
Or, even more alarming, perhaps because the US State Dept. has banned personal travel for government personnel and their families.
The Huffington Post reported that in February, the United States State Department “recommended that Americans avoid travel to all or parts of 14 or 31 Mexican states. It’s the widest travel advisory issued by the U.S. since Mexico stepped up its drug war in 2006.”
For the second time in less than a year, the U.S. State Department has expanded its travel warning for Mexico, urging Americans to stay clear of 14 Mexican states engulfed in an ongoing drug war between transnational criminal organizations (TCOs) and government authorities.
“Gun battles between rival TCOs or with Mexican authorities have taken place in towns and cities in many parts of Mexico, especially in the border region,” the travel warning reads. “Gun battles have occurred in broad daylight on streets and in other public venues, such as restaurants and clubs. During some of these incidents, U.S. citizens have been trapped and temporarily prevented from leaving the area.”
The warning provides further information about how U.S. travelers can avoid kidnappings, carjacking and highway robberies, advising people to avoid displaying any evidence of wealth and to stay off the roads at night.
According to the advisory, 120 U.S. travelers to Mexico were reported murdered in 2011, up from 35 murders in 2007.
But what is more alarming is this paragraph within the State Department Report itself: February 8th 2012
This Travel Warning supersedes the Travel Warning for Mexico dated April 22, 2011 to consolidate and update information about the security situation and to advise the public of additional restrictions on the travel of U.S. government (USG) personnel. [...]
Effective July 15, 2010, the U.S. Mission in Mexico imposed restrictions on U.S. government employees’ travel. U.S. government employees and their families are not permitted to drive for personal reasons from the U.S.-Mexico border to or from the interior of Mexico or Central America. Personal travel by vehicle is permitted between Hermosillo and Nogales but is restricted to daylight hours and the Highway 15 toll road (cuota).
U.S. government personnel and their families are prohibited from personal travel to all areas described as “defer non-essential travel” and when travel for official purposes is essential it is conducted with extensive security precautions. USG personnel and their families are allowed to travel for personal reasons to the areas where no advisory is in effect or where the advisory is to exercise caution.
So what does that say about the judgement of President and Michelle Obama, against the backdrop of a State Department Travel Warning?
It is, after all, President Obama’s own State Department that is warning against travel to Mexico, and yet Mr. and Mrs. Obama defy their own administrations’ travel warning. Could that be the reason?
Update: And this is where it gets really interesting. At 3pm the US.GOV official travel advisory site had “Oaxaca” listed in the advisory. Immediately preceding the news scrubbing the text has been changed to the following:
Oaxaca: Oaxaca, Huatulco and Puerto Escondido are the major cities/travel destinations in Oaxaca -see map (PDF, 286 kb) to identify their exact locations: No warning is in effect.
Note that on all other cities and counties the word “advisory” is present. Sometime yesterday the wording was changed and it now reads no “warning” is in effect. Implying that an “advisory” might still be present. Odd no? Why for this city, and only this city, that happens to be the place where Malia Obama is vacationing for spring break.
Did the President’s own US State Department’s change its travel advisory wording to protect the President from criticism from this visit, because governmental family personal travel is prohibited?
Hello? Media? Please set aside your bias and actually do some questioning here. Changing an official State Department travel advisory to avoid embarrassment is a much bigger deal than a 13-year-old wanting to take a Mexican Spring Break vacation.
- More on the travel advisory here RUETERS
- US State Dept. Travel Advisory HERE
- Mexican Translated News Story HERE