We knew it wasn't going to be an ordinary visit to the Googleplex when we saw the Bomb Squad truck in the parking lot.
This time, the security precautions were for U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and her British counterpart David Miliband, who were visiting Silicon Valley to tour various companies and meet with tech industry leaders.
I headed to the Mountain View, Calif., campus Thursday afternoon with CNET News.com's multimedia team (consisting of me, cameraman Jared Kohler, and photographer James Martin). After a yellow lab sniffed our cameras and tripod, plus my purse, for drugs, bombs, and other no-nos, we joined other members of the media in a roped off "safe zone" in the middle of Google's main quad. After an hour sunning ourselves in the media pen, Rice and Miliband emerged from their "fireside chat" with Googlers and addressed the media for a brief 10 minutes.
Five reporters got to ask questions, and even though we were in the heart of tech country, most queries focused on foreign policy--Rice's stance on freeing Guantanamo Bay prisoners, strife in Iran, etc., which she answered, not surprisingly, with canned political-speak.
Yours truly was the only reporter who squeezed in a tech question; I asked about Rice's visit to Google and if she was surprised to be invited to such a well-known liberal outpost in the Valley.
In response, she laughed, saying that "Google is not about politics. Google is about innovation and technology and about creativity of people and about what freedom permits in this great environment." She also reminded the audience that she's no stranger to the Valley, having begun her professorship at Stanford in 1981. At that point, Secretary Miliband chided me as the question asker by saying Rice's Stanford stint was before I was born (for the record, I was alive in '81. I'm a child of the '70s!).
Before we knew it, the pair said their goodbyes and were whisked away by Secret Service. We never even got to find out.