ould that the State Department were as tough on the Saudis.
NRO contributor Joel Mowbray was detained this afternoon at the State Department after an acrimonious exchange with top Foggy Bottom press flack Richard Boucher.
Mowbray had challenged Boucher on his account of events at State this week, which had to fire its longest-serving career diplomat in response to the congressional uproar created by Mowbray's reporting on the "Visa Express" program (the program gives the Saudis easy access to U.S. visas see Mowbray's reporting here.
Mowbray read from a classified cable that had been leaked to him and that contradicted Boucher's spin (both Mowbray and the Washington Post quoted from the cable earlier this week). State Department officials were not amused. Very not amused.
When Mowbray was leaving the briefing, a State Department official, accompanied by four guards, asked him to stay to answer a few questions. Mowbray said he could come back later. The official said, no, they wanted him to answer a few questions immediately.
When Mowbray began to get the feeling that he couldn't leave even if he wanted to, he asked, "Am I being detained?"
When a diplomatic security official who had showed up on the scene told him "no," Mowbray announced that he was leaving.
At which point, the guard stepped in front of Mowbray and said, "Now, you're being detained."
The guards wouldn't let him leave until Mowbray had called a lawyer from his cell phone and National Review had called the State Department's press office to ask what was happening about a half-an-hour after the run-in began.
When NRO contacted an official in the State Department's press office later this afternoon to ask if State had a comment on the incident, she said, "He wasn't detained!"
Asked to elaborate, the press official continued, "I wasn't there! I don't know what happened!"
But for at least a few minutes, Mowbray had a harder time leaving the State Department than many Saudis have had entering the country.