One moment President Bush was glad-handing Albanians on Sunday, proudly sporting a watch with a dark strap on his left wrist. Moments later however, it was gone.
Did it fall off? Did one of his bodyguards remove it, as has been claimed? Or did a thief in the crowd deftly slip it off the president’s wrist?
The United States Embassy in Albania emphatically denied that Bush’s watch was stolen while he greeted crowds on Sunday.
However, the Internet is buzzing with a video that shows Bush’s wrist watch apparently disappearing while he was shaking hands with people in Fushe Kruje.
“What the local media is saying is absolutely not true,” an embassy official, who declined to be named, told the Associated Press.
Crowds thronged the sidewalks on Sunday to give the U.S president a rapturous welcome, shaking his hands, grabbing his arms and wrists and even ruffling his hair.
Did a skilful thief take the opportunity to deftly relieve Bush of his wrist watch?
Bush was clearly delighted by the attention and plunged back into the crowd for more hand shaking.
Nonetheless, an Albanian bodyguard who accompanied Bush in the town told The Associated Press he had seen one of his U.S. colleagues close to Bush bend down and pick up the watch.
Did he? Or was that simply a story concocted to cover a potentially embarrassing incident. Take a look at the video and judge for yourself. At the start of the video clip around 00:37 his watch is clearly visible but by 01:20 its gone.
Late Wednesday night the BBC broadcast footage of what was claimed was Bush removing his watch prior to greeting the Albanian crowds.
However, the man in he frame had his back to the camera, making it impossible to verify it was actually Bush and given the lies over Saddam’s Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD), which the BBC also helped promulgate, it is entirely possible that the sequence had even been faked to quiet the media speculation.
Why? Because for what may be the first time ever the Internet was setting the pace on a story which the mainstream media was following. Thereby robbing the powers that be of the initiative.
After all claims by an “Albanian bodyguard” and denials by the U.S. Embassy indicate just how keen officaldom was to downplay the incident. Just as it once made an effort to highlight Saddam’s WMD complete with satellite photos of his mobile ‘chemical weapons laboritories’, which again the BBC dutifully broadcast.
See here for photos of the incident.