Chicago Sun-Times
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Obama state dinner crashers met Obama in receiving line. Photo.


(White House photo)

WASHINGTON--A White House official just confirmed for me that President Obama met the couple who crashed Tuesday's state dinner--Michaele and Tareq Salahi-- as they went through the receiving line.

The Secret Service on Friday was taking full blame for the incident in a statement issued by director Mark Sullivan. An initial internal investigation found that Secret Service protocols were not followed. "That failing is ours," Sullivan said.

Jim Mackin, the Secret Service deputy assistant director for public affairs said the Secret Service wants to interview the couple.

Sullivan statement:

"The Secret Service is deeply concerned and embarrassed by the circumstances surrounding the State Dinner on Tuesday, November 24.

The preliminary findings of our internal investigation have determined established protocols were not followed at an initial checkpoint, verifying that two individuals were on the guest list.

Although these individuals went through magnetometers and other levels of screening, they should have been prohibited from entering the event entirely. That failing is ours.

The Secret Service safely processed more than 1.2 million visitors last year to the White House complex. In the last several years, the agency has successfully protected more than 10,000 sites for the President, Vice President and other Secret Service protectees, screening more than
7 million people through magnetometers at campaign related events, with more than 1 million during the Inauguration alone.

Even with these successes, we need to be right 100% of the time. While we have protocols in place to address these situations, we must ensure that they are followed each and every time.

As our investigation continues, appropriate measures have been taken to ensure this is not repeated.

The men and women of the U.S. Secret Service are committed to providing the highest level of security for those we are charged to protect, and we will do whatever is necessary to accomplish this mission."

From White House Spokesman Nick Shapiro:
"The men and women of the Secret Service put their lives on the line everyday to protect us, they are heroes and they have the full confidence of the President of United States. The White House asked the United States Secret Service to do a full review and they are doing that. The United States Secret Service said they made a mistake and they are taking action to identify exactly what happened and they will take the appropriate measures pending the results of their investigation."


This is very disturbing. It seems the Secret Service is overworked and overstretched monitoring this president. I've been concerned about the President's openness with the public and willing to meet just about anybody, because he doesn't want to be isolated.

It also makes one wonder about overall security in this country, esp. after the Ft Hood incident. Everybody knew the Major was a nut-case but did nothing about it?

I wondering if there would be anything to laugh about if these numskulls would have thrown "anthrax" in his face... Everyone knows that if these were non-white people there certainly would not have made it on the front lawn for that event under those circumstance, not to mention the opportunity to "meet" the President. Ah, don't you just love "white privilege?"

This was a breach of "National Security" and by all means this couple should be charged criminally and sentenced appropriately. Maybe they should be the first in the "Thompson Prison" to get it warmed up for the other conspirators. Who knows how many other want-to-be TV idiots will try at the next State Dinner. Is there no respect for the office of President anymore????????

Seems rather strange to me that two individuals would get dressed in black-tie to go to a formal event that they weren't invited to. How do you even breach security to get on the White House grounds given that you have to give your social security number and date of birth well in advance of the event you are expected to attend. Secret Service has to check you in at the gate accordingly. I would think that they would then cross reference your name to the guest list of attendees for the State Dinner. Seems like someone may have been working on the inside. Hmmmm?

This Breach could really be a "blessing" in disquise!

(Change We Can Belive In...)

Obama Bars Thousands of Lobbyists From Washington!

Hundreds, if not thousands, of lobbyists are likely to be ejected from federal advisory panels as part of a little-noticed initiative by the Obama administration to curb K Street's influence in Washington, according to White House officials and lobbying experts.

The new policy -- issued with little fanfare this fall by the White House ethics counsel -- may turn out to be the most far-reaching lobbying rule change so far from President Obama, who also has sought to restrict the ability of lobbyists to get jobs in his administration and to negotiate over stimulus contracts.

The initiative is aimed at a system of advisory committees so vast that federal officials don't have exact numbers for its size; the most recent estimates tally nearly 1,000 panels with total membership exceeding 60,000 people.

Under the policy, which is being phased in over the coming months, none of the more than 13,000 lobbyists in Washington would be able to hold seats on the committees, which advise agencies on trade rules, troop levels, environmental regulations, consumer protections and thousands of other government policies.

Where was Desiree Rogers? The Bush admin always had someone at the gate from the White House social office to make sure gate crashers didn't get him. But Mr's Obama's good buddy was probably just too busy. Another example of amateur hour at the White House.

This was not a breach of security. Too much is being made of this by people who dont understand the breadth of measures taken to protect the president. If someone passes through the massive security apparatus- metal detectors, radiation sensors, etc.- then they are not "breaching" security. Everyday people shake hands with the President at events all over the world who havent been name checked. This is embarassing because of the appearance- not because the President was in danger. The US Secret Service is the best in the world at what they do, One Uniformed Division Guard (not Agent) made a mistake. All other layers of security worked as they were designed to. I dont understand why the USSS doesnt have a spokesman point out all the false statements and innuendo being discussed on cable chat shows.

More about Tareq and Michaele Salahi: They were caught two ways: 1) photo postings on Facebook; and 2) NASA received a curious message at Mission Control: "Houston, The Egos have Landed!"

More about Tareq and Michaele Salahi: They were caught two ways: 1) photo postings on Facebook; and 2) NASA received a curious message at Mission Control: "Houston, The Egos have Landed!"

I want to know at what point during the evening was it determined that the crashers were, in fact, crashers? What happened then? Were they kicked out of the party?

Heads should roll! The inept secret service people who allowed the Salahis to be admitted to the White House without proper credentials should be fired--or at least demoted. Because the Salahis lied to admitted, they should be tried for any laws they broke. If terrorists or others who seek to hurt the President of the United States see that it is that easy to "fool" our highly-trained secret service personnel, they might get bold enough to try the same thing to do harm to the first family.

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Lynn Sweet

Lynn Sweet is a columnist and the Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun-Times.

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Lynn Sweet published on November 27, 2009 4:34 PM.

Michelle Obama welcomes White House Christmas tree was the previous entry in this blog.

Obama White House holiday parties start this week; State Dinner crashers probe continues is the next entry in this blog.

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