Friday

Presidential party crashers. Time to worry?

With the war on terror (or man made disasters if you prefer) still raging it seems beyond comprehension that a couple of yuppie game show contestants should be able to subvert security at the White House. If not for the glaring headline posted on MSNBC I would have likely thought it a hoax. I wish it had been.

The future of our nation seems to darken with each passing day. You would think that the one impenetrable fortress of our nation would be the White House; you would be wrong.

The following story outlines the decayed state of our nation’s security:

Secret Service admits it let Obama crashers in


NBC News is also told that they were not cleared as their lawyer contends


WASHINGTON - The Secret Service on Friday said that "established protocols" were not followed at a White House state dinner where a couple not on the guest list was allowed through a first checkpoint. The couple was able to greet President Barack Obama in the receiving line before being escorted out, a White House source told NBC News.

Aparently the got close enough to greet the president. That means they were close enough to inflict harm upon him. How can such a lapse occur? This is appalling; worse, it is an open invitation for every nut job with a cause to try. This time it was only a couple of attention starved morons but what about next time?

"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," the Secret Service said in a statement.


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

It is mentioned bellow but worth emphasizing at this point as well; they could have carried biological or chemical weapons that would not have been detected by a metal detector (magnetometer to the well informed).

NBC News learned that a Secret Service officer saw that Tareq and Michaele Salahi were not on the list and, rather than verifying if they were legitimate guests, assumed they would be vetted at the next checkpoint and allowed them to pass, NBC learned.


The source also confirmed what two White House staff sources earlier told NBC News, that the Salahis were not "waved in" or had their names manually entered into the White House computer to gain entry.


The Secret Service, for its part, said it might begin a criminal investigation against the Virginia couple.


Agency spokesman Jim Mackin said the possible turn toward criminal charges is one reason the Secret Service has kept mum about what happened when the Salahis arrived at the security checkpoint. They were not on the guest list for the dinner honoring Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

There should be criminal charges. They should be filed against the whack-jobs that snuck in as well as the criminally negligent agents at the checkpoint. The silence is more likely due to the egregious error/negligence on the part of the secret service. I would squelch information as well if that information tended to show I was incompetent.

Nobody disputes that the two, candidates for a reality TV show, were allowed through security. The Secret Service acknowledges that its procedures weren't followed.


Still unknown is the story that the uninvited guests spun to the security officers that persuaded them to allow the couple through. That likely would play a role in any criminal charges.

I would love to hear what magical tale they spun that so enchanted these trained agents that they abandoned protocol. It must have been a doosie.

"As this moves closer to a criminal investigation there's less that we can say," Mackin said. "I don't want to jeopardize what could be a criminal investigation. We're not leaving any option off the table at this point."


Lawyer: 'Cleared by the White House'


It was not immediately clear what charges would be pursued. The Salahis lawyer, Paul Gardner, posted a comment on their Facebook page saying, "My clients were cleared by the White House, to be there."


He said more information would be forthcoming.


Attempts to reach Gardner on Friday were not immediately successful.


Michaele Salahi's hairdresser at the Georgetown salon where she scheduled a last-minute appointment hours before the dinner said she asked to look at the invitation to the White House event, but never saw it.


"She was so excited. She told me that she got it in the mail and it was just an amazing feeling and they couldn't wait and in fact they called the White House, I believe, to make sure that she was going to be dressed appropriately," Peggy Ioakim told CBS' "The Early Show" on Friday. Salahi wore a red sari to the dinner.


Bravo Media, meanwhile, confirmed that on the day of the dinner Michaele Salahi was being filmed around Washington and while she prepared for the dinner by a film crew connected with the network's reality show, "The Real Housewives of D.C.," because she is being considered for the upcoming TV program.


"Half Yard's cameras were not inside the White House. They filmed the couple preparing for the event," Johanna Fuentes, Bravo Media's vice president, communications, said in an e-mail late Thursday. She said the Salahis "informed Half Yard that they were invited (to the dinner), the producers had no reason to believe otherwise."


Fuentes referred further questions to the couple's lawyer and their publicist.
The White House refused comment on the Salahis and referred all calls to the Secret Service.


Author: 'They could have' killed president


Ronald Kessler, author of a book on the Secret Service, said, "While the couple did pass through a magnetometer to detect weapons, they could have assassinated the president or vice president using other means — anthrax, for example." He added the Secret Service would not detect secreted biological weapons.


Kessler, a journalist, wrote "In the President's Secret Service: Behind the Scenes with Agents in the Line of Fire and the Presidents They Protect."


The author added that it's unlikely the Secret Service performed the usual background check to ensure that the crashers were not possible threats.


"The party crashers could have had outstanding arrest warrants for murder. They could have been involved with terrorists. They could have been agents of Iran or North Korea. The Secret Service would never have known," he said.


During President George W. Bush's administration, it was standard procedure to have someone from the White House social office at the gate for state dinners and other events with large groups of visitors, according to a former senior Bush aide who spoke on condition of anonymity so as not to be seen as criticizing the Obama White House.


The social office is most knowledgeable about the guest list and could have been called in case of any uncertainty, this official said.


White House Social Secretary Desiree Rogers, asked by The Associated Press on Thursday whether personnel from her office were at the checkpoint said, "We were not."
However, a senior administration source told NBC News that staff from the office were nearby, working "between the checkpoints" in the case of problems.


In addition, the source said, social office staff were "available at a computer to double check if someone is not on the list and also to enter them into the system for processing if for some reason they should be allowed in and are not on the list."

The frightening truth is this; a couple of ordinary slobs made their way by some of our most elite agents with nothing more than a song and a dance. Regardless of whether they were “supposed” to be there or not their names did not appear on the list. One would think this would raise the alarm and set into motion a series of predetermined protocols. Instead they got to greet the president.

Whether or not they face charges is irrelevant. The damage is done. They have exposed a glaring hole in the presidents security that unless fixed can be exploited by those whose interest are nothing as mundane as a meet and greet with the POTUS.

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