White House Accepts Some Blame in Gate-Crashing, Changes Policies

December 3, 2009

(ChattahBox)—-After a lapse in Secret Service procedures allowed a Virginia social-climbing couple, who weren’t on the guest list, to enter a White House state dinner honoring the Prime Minister of India last week, the White House issued a statement accepting some of the blame for the incident. And procedures will be changed for future events, requiring a member of the social secretary’s office to assist the Secret Service at various checkpoints where guests are screened.

The White House deputy chief of staff Jim Messina, conducted a review of procedures and issued a directive to the staff. Messina posted the following statement on the White House website:

“After reviewing our actions, it is clear that the White House did not do everything we could have done to assist the United States Secret Service in ensuring that only invited guests enter the complex. White House staff were walking back and forth outside between the check points helping guests and were available to the Secret Service throughout the evening, but clearly we can do more, and we will do more.’’

“As the Secret Service said last week, agents failed to verify that these two individuals were invited guests before they entered the White House,” wrote Messina.

Messina’s statement was the first acknowledgment that having a staff member posted at Secret Service checkpoints, may have helped to prevent the admittance of the party crashing couple, Michaele and Tareq Salahi.

Meanwhile, the House Homeland Security Committee is holding a hearing into the state dinner security lapse on Thursday, where the Director of Secret Services, Mark Sullivan is expected to be the only person to testify. The White House informed the committee that Desiree Rogers, Obama’s social secretary would not be appearing to testify.

“I think you know that, based on separation of powers, staff here don’t go to testify in front of Congress. She won’t — she will not be testifying in front of Congress,’’ Press Secretary Robert Gibbs told reporters on Wednesday.

And the gate-crashing couple and wannabe reality TV stars, will also not be appearing before the Congressional committee. A public relations firm issued a statement late yesterday saying, that the couple already provided sworn testimony and documents to government officials and have nothing further to offer. The statement said, that the Salahis turned over “all relevant e-mails and cellphone records that detail communications with a White House official,” and can do nothing else to help in the inquiry.

The documents the statement says, show that no laws were broken, that White House policy “was either deficient or mismanaged” and that there were “honest misunderstandings and mistakes made by all parties involved.”

Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS) the chairman of the committee said, he was prepared to issue subpoenas to compel the party-crashing couple to appear.

The ranking Republican on the committee Rep. Peter King (R-NY), is calling for a further inquiry into White House procedures and he is wants to hear the testimony of Desiree Rogers. According to King, the state dinner security lapse “…was the responsibility of the White House,” and not the Secret Service, despite the fact that the Secret Service admitted security errors.

In recent days, various news stories have appeared slamming Desiree Rogers, implying she is too flashy for her job, because she once appeared in Vogue magazine. When questions about Rogers’ Vogue photos and flashiness dominated yesterday’s White House press conference, Gibbs steered the topic to more important matters, like the war in Afghanistan.


One Response to “White House Accepts Some Blame in Gate-Crashing, Changes Policies”

  1. Secret Service Puts 3 Agents on Leave for State Dinner Lapse | ChattahBox News Blog on December 4th, 2009 1:16 am

    […] expected, the gate-crashing couple Michaele and Tareq Salahi did not appear at the hearing and Rep. Thompson is preparing subpoenas for the couple and is considering contempt […]

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