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Archive for Saturday, November 28, 2009

White House: State dinner crashers met president

November 28, 2009

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President Barack Obama greets  Michaele and Tareq Salahi, right, at a State Dinner hosted by Obama for Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Tuesday at the White House in Washington. The Secret Service is looking into its own security procedures after determining that the uninvited Virginia couple managed to slip into the dinner.

President Barack Obama greets Michaele and Tareq Salahi, right, at a State Dinner hosted by Obama for Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Tuesday at the White House in Washington. The Secret Service is looking into its own security procedures after determining that the uninvited Virginia couple managed to slip into the dinner.

— A reality TV hopeful and her husband who crashed a presidential dinner met President Barack Obama in the receiving line, the White House said Friday, as a “deeply concerned and embarrassed” Secret Service acknowledged its officers failed to check whether the couple was on the guest list.

The White House released a photo showing Michaele and Tareq Salahi in the receiving line in the Blue Room with Obama and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, in whose honor the dinner was held. Michaele Salahi is a candidate for Bravo’s “The Real Housewives of D.C.” and on the day of the dinner was being filmed around Washington by Half Yard Productions, the producer of the program.

The Secret Service earlier this week had said the president was not in danger because the Virginia couple — like others at the dinner — had gone through magnetometers. But in light of their close proximity to the president, no such claim was made Friday.

The Salahis were not on the guest list and should have been prohibited from entering last Tuesday’s dinner on the White House South Lawn for the prime minister of India, said Secret Service Director Mark Sullivan.

On Friday, Sullivan was apologetic in a written statement, saying the agency that protects the president is “deeply concerned and embarrassed” that procedures were not followed.

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

Secret Service spokesman Jim Mackin said officers at the checkpoint had a clipboard with names of the invited guests. Even though the Salahis names weren’t on it, they were allowed to proceed. The officers should have called either someone on the White House staff or Secret Service personnel before allowing them past the checkpoint, Mackin said.

Earlier, Mackin said the Secret Service may pursue a criminal investigation of the Salahis.

Sullivan said, “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,” he said.

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