A motorcade believed to be carrying former media mogul Conrad Black drives past a television camerman as it enters Krome Detention Center in Miami, Florida May 4, 2012.
Credits: REUTERS/Joe Skipper
MIAMI, Fla. - Was the whole thing a ruse?
The old Homeland Security two-step?
Certainly, Lord Conrad Black's release from prison looked more like something out of Miami Vice than was necessary.
At 8:16 a.m. Friday, first there was a loud siren from a white Miami Federal Institution vehicle which rolled out on the main road and blocked oncoming traffic.
Then escorted by a marked Bureau of Immigration vehicle in the front and a dark SUV in the rear, a green van was presented in such a way that it was likely carrying Black.
But was it?
Nobody officially said it was and with tinted windows nobody could see inside.
However once the thing headed out, with it went all of the 20 or so media types camped out hoping for a glimpse of the newly freed Black.
Could this have been a decoy game? A diversion to allow prison officials to remove him with no fuss or potential media moment of the Lord gloating how he survived tough justice down here?
Of course with this modern and instant media world of today, no one is more ripe for the goof than reporters. We are like trout. Any bait will do.
And officials, particularly those within the system who get high on authority, understand reporters can be played like any instrument.
It's so true and was the case in this story down here. One reporter tweets one thing and then everybody then has to follow.
For example my information when I first came down here was Black would be released and taken to an airport where he would get on either a commercial or chartered flight.
Then, out of nowhere, there were reports about being taken to an immigration lockup to be processed where he could be held indefinitely.
There was phony talk of deportation to Great Britain, too.
It just takes one duplicitous media spokesman to choose his gullible media mark and the caper is in full swing faster than you can say Twitter.
What happened here had an orchestrated deception feel to it.
The problem with it all is the timing didn't seem to add up at the Toronto end. Lord Black seemed to get to his Bridle Path welcome home with wife and dogs several hours before our timing at this end should have allowed.
So was he not in this motorcade? Did he not see all of the media waiting for him? Did they just drive him to the nearby local airport 10 minutes later, with a chuckle knowing they had duped the media?
The problem is reporters are often treated as the unwanted at any scene but the truth is they are often the most important people to be there in terms of protecting freedom in a free society. Sometimes they are just as nuisance as Toronto Mayor Rob Ford will attest.
Whatever happened in his escape home here, maybe Black will enlighten us at some point?
Who knows maybe behind the glass he was giving us all the finger like he did during the trial in Chicago?
Meanwhile, there was a corporate jet that took off from the nearby airport that would have matched the actual time line of Black's checkout as America's guest.
I grabbed some shots of it, and several others, but don't know if they were part of this game of cat and mouse.
If officials did do this bait-and-switch operation it's not necessarily a bad thing. From a security point of view it makes perfect sense to use this opportunity to test and train how to move a high profile prisoner to see how the media will react.
It also must have provided some good laughs for them watching media squirm and scramble.
The truth is reporters on this kind of assignment are already playing with house money. Fine meals every night, a day off to enjoy the sights, sounds, beauty and incredible party scene of art deco Miami Beach before coming back to reality.
Sure, after watching the gracious and easy access provided at the Bridle Path homecoming later in the day, the reporters that I spoke with down here would have loved to have got at least an image of the kinder and gentler Black in the Florida Sun.
But as we look out at the blue sea no one is complaining for long.
It certainly beats getting the assignment of trying to peer into Mayor Ford's house. Have a good rest of the weekend everyone.