Dion Nissenbaum has explained it all for me in his latest Blog: Checkpoint Jerusalem post, entitled Strippin’ for Cheney.
To attend — or to be in attendance at — U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney’s press encounter with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Dion and other journalists had to drop their pants for security first.
Even Saddam Hussein — who was famous for the wierd security rituals he subjected journalists to, before they could be in his presence — did not go this far. Dion doesn’t explain what happened to female journalists — that is, if any were present (don’t take this for granted …)
Dion wrote: “After a five-year absence, US VP Dick Cheney returned to Israel this weekend as part of a broader Middle East trip … The VP, as most people know, has a reputation for secrecy and inaccessibility. (For more, check out the award-winning series, “Angler,” from The Washington Post.) This trip did little to dispel that notion. Cheney arrived on Saturday night and met Israeli PM Ehud Olmert for dinner. Before getting their nosh on, the two were slated to hold an evening news conference at Olmert’s Jerusalem residence. Security in Israel — from the airport to the Israeli parliament — is exceptionally tight, and getting into Olmert’s official residence was especially intrusive. First came the normal procedure of being pulled out of the line and questioned: How long have you lived here? Where do you live? Do you live alone? Do you have family here? Do you speak any Hebrew? Why do you travel to Jordan and Egypt? Have you been to Syria and Lebanon? Do you have friends in those countries? Etc. etc. etc… This process seemed to drag on especially long and a photographer who has lived here nearly a quarter century, has two kids and is married to an Israeli, stormed off after being held at the entrance for more than an hour. Once you make it past the first check, (if you make it through the first check) there’s the routine metal detector and x-ray machine, followed by the side trip behind the curtains for a body search. Only, this time, I was asked to drop my pants. ‘Really?’ I asked the security officer, who seemed slightly embarrassed by it all, though, since he does it all the time, I suspect he wasn’t really… The security guard said he needed to check the zipper of my jeans, though security also made other international reporters in normal pants strip before getting into the press conference. Strippin’ for Cheney might have been worth it – had we been given the chance to ask a question or two of the vice president. Instead, at the last minute, apparently, Cheney decided not to take questions … Fine. Lesson learned. That’s the last time I drop my pants for the vice president”.
Dion’s revelations were posted on 24 March on his Blog: Checkpoint Jerusalem here .