The U.S. State Department has labeled Venezuela's consul general in Miami persona non grata and ordered her out of the country by Tuesday after some Mexican students said she'd expressed interest in their offer to hack U.S. government websites and nuclear plants. It's like something out of the movie Hackers, combined with 21, as the students reportedly plotted a cyber attack on U.S. sites at the behest of a leftist professor. The U.S. hasn't given an official reason for expelling the diplomat, Livia Acosta Noguera, but she was one of a group of Iranian and Venezuelan diplomats that the Spanish-language news channel Univision reported heard out the students and promised to convey their hacking offer to Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. Check out CNN's rundown on the plot, and imagine a Spanish-speaking Kevin Spacey type in the role of professor:
The evidence that the plot was real, according to Univision, are secret recordings with diplomats who ask questions about what the hackers can do and promise to send information to their governments.
Univision interviewed a purported Mexican whistle-blower -- a student at the National Autonomous University of Mexico named Juan Carlos Munoz Ledo. The student told Univision he was recruited by a leftist professor who wanted to wage cyber attacks on the United States and its allies.
Munoz told Univision he secretly recorded a meeting in 2008 with Acosta, who was then the cultural attache of the Venezuelan Embassy in Mexico. According to a recording Univision aired as part of its report, Acosta is heard saying that she can send the information gathered by the hackers straight to Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.
When you consider the context of Noguera's dismissal, as Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad kicks off a Latin American visit with a stop in Venezuela, the U.S. expulsion seems like a pretty clear signal that the State Department is sending a message that it's not impressed with the two countries' friendship.