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.
"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."