November 27th, 2009
06:49 PM ET
5 years ago

Secret Service acknowledges failure in state dinner snafu

President Obama meets the Salahis at Wednesday’s state dinner.
President Obama meets the Salahis at Wednesday’s state dinner.

Washington (CNN) - An internal investigation into a couple who crashed the White House state dinner this week has found that Secret Service agents did not follow protocol at a security checkpoint, the agency said Friday.

"The Secret Service is deeply concerned and embarrassed by the circumstances surrounding the State Dinner on Tuesday," the agency said in a statement Friday. "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."

Tareq and Michaele Salahi, the couple who allegedly crashed this week's White House state dinner, met President Barack Obama in a reception line at the event, a White House official told CNN on Friday.

An internal investigation has found that Secret Service agents did not follow protocol at a security checkpoint.

Full Secret Service statement after the jump:

STATEMENT BY DIRECTOR MARK SULLIVAN

(Washington, D.C.) – On Friday, November 27, 2009, United States Secret Service Director
Mark Sullivan issued the following 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.”


Filed under: Extra • White House
soundoff (204 Responses)
  1. Tom

    This administration is strictly amateur hour and has been from day one.

    November 27, 2009 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  2. bob

    There needs to be a major shakeup at the Secret Service Department. Since President Obama has taken office there has been a four hundred percent increase in threats to the President. Yet from what I have read there has been a reduction in the number of agents that protect the President. It's almost as if they are leaving an opening for something to happen to this President.

    November 27, 2009 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  3. Marc

    They made a mistake/error/whatever and acknowledged it.
    What a difference from the previous presidency!
    Let's move on while they do what's necessary to prevent that something like that might ever happen again.

    November 27, 2009 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  4. ken

    i thinks there going to be a few job openings with the secret service real quick.

    November 27, 2009 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  5. Monster Zero

    Maybe after KSM gets acquitted for his murderous reign of terror in Federal court he can sneak in for a visit to personally thank Holder, Barry and Michele at the Whitehouse....hey, maybe Oprah will be there for an interview and MTV can crank up another socially destructive reality TV series....

    November 27, 2009 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  6. Mike

    Tom,
    Does the administration run the Secret service now?
    You folks will look for any little tidbit to try and drag down this president. Well let me tell you that you will all fail. Who would you like to see as President? A moron like Palin? I won't be surprised.

    November 27, 2009 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  7. Erik in Real PA

    Funny how Tom in the previous comment makes the issue a partisan one, when the Secret Service field leadership is not connected to changes in White House occupants. As a Libertarian Party member, I am by turns amused and troubled by this constant impulse to render everything in D vs. R partisan terms. Until you all stop treating the government of our nation like a small-town football rivalry, things won't get any better.

    November 27, 2009 05:55 pm at 5:55 pm |
  8. Tommygunn

    Now that the error is found, PLEASE MAKE SURE IT DOESN'T HAPPEN AGAIN!!!!!!

    The accessibility to our PRESIDENT should be VERY VERY VERY LIMITED.

    November 27, 2009 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  9. JES

    Are they still around or did they get fired.

    They should get fired their job is to make sure only the people that are invited are there. If I was the President I don't think it would make me very happy.

    It doesn't make any difference who is President even though I am not a fan of Obama it's still can't be overlookked.

    November 27, 2009 06:05 pm at 6:05 pm |
  10. Willy Brown

    And they let in Barry too...

    November 27, 2009 06:06 pm at 6:06 pm |
  11. SuperHiro

    Great... you found it. Now don't do it again.

    November 27, 2009 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  12. Cindy

    Stuff happen... deal with it. Main thing it wasn't something dangerous.

    The thing that gets me is that we reward people like this couple. They'll get on a reality show for sure now. Like Octomom. And Jon and Kate. There's too many ways for people like this to be rewarded these days.

    Let's hope they can kinda go the way of the Balloon Boy parents instead.

    November 27, 2009 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
  13. Terry from West Texas

    Those two morons who were trying to pump up their reality show ratings and personal popularity by crashing the party should get about five years of community service every Saturday and Sunday until 2015.

    November 27, 2009 06:18 pm at 6:18 pm |
  14. Aleksandar

    TV statistics stating in realtime with what positions are prerecorded before time that is allowed after participants before ...
    Déjà vu "already seen" when all participants are used people who do not pay attention to list of invitees to advance in chess ("The Blind Side") ...

    November 27, 2009 06:30 pm at 6:30 pm |
  15. terry,va

    The Bush Administration checked people at the gate. The didn't wait until they got in the White House. Criticize Bush all you want, but at least he could keep people from sneaking in. Obummie's security detail is just like the rest of his administration. The blind leading the blind from Obummie on down.

    November 27, 2009 06:37 pm at 6:37 pm |
  16. Monster Zero

    Tom, I am with you 110%, what a bunch of MOOOORRRRROOOOONNNNNS we have running our Government. If peoples lives weren't ultimately at risk there would be much humor in watching this debacle unravel. I bet if this Administration had to actually be accountable for their spending we would see a much different story. Just remember America, keep everything in chaos and it is much easier to achieve or impose your will upon others.

    November 27, 2009 06:37 pm at 6:37 pm |
  17. normajean

    Why is it that so many people ramble on about things they know nothing about, pointing fingers and generally blaming things on people who have no involvement with the matter at hand.The current administration has nothing to do with the functioning of the Secret Service. Their sole responsibilty on the night of the dinner was the security of the White House and it's occupants {no matter what political party they are part of} and they really blew it this time. Heads will no doubt role.If you must make a snide remark , be sure you know what you're talking about.,or do you like looking like hand puppet.

    November 27, 2009 06:38 pm at 6:38 pm |
  18. Tired

    Looks like the Secret Service has gotten a bit lax. With the personal threats again our President up they should be being more careful not less. I still remember that day in November 1963. Heaven forbid it ever happens again.

    November 27, 2009 06:40 pm at 6:40 pm |
  19. Georgette

    Certainly makes one very concerned, if one wasn't already, about the ability of the Secret Service to protect this President.

    November 27, 2009 06:52 pm at 6:52 pm |
  20. Debby

    This gets better and better now they are shaking Obama's hand. hahaha Talk about a Turkey moment by the Secret Service.

    November 27, 2009 06:55 pm at 6:55 pm |
  21. Dave C - NJ

    This is the same Secret Service that was under Bush, you clueless clowns (tom).

    Did we replace the entire Army when Obama was elected too?

    November 27, 2009 06:56 pm at 6:56 pm |
  22. Sean

    This big doesn't exist just in the white house secret service. It clearly exists at the airport. They detain foreigners who are famous (like Indian singer and Prime Ministers of some Islamic countries. And I often saw old ladies being checked so thoroughly. They must focus and know who the real terrorists are! They can't be the Prime Ministers, Singers, and Old ladies... can they?

    November 27, 2009 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  23. Harold

    Head ought to roll–Secret Service and the Salahi's. Fire the officers whose responsibility it was to vet the guests, and charge the crashers to the full extent of the law.

    November 27, 2009 06:59 pm at 6:59 pm |
  24. D.

    Since Bush was about "secret" of the secret service work, I guess now with the non-Bush attitude, it is just about "service" and it was not a security breach but a man-induced service breach!
    The politization of everything around the president is not by Tom's comment below and the mistake has nothing to do with political parties– the safety of the president is important to all Americans (indeed, nothing partisan about this mistake, hopefully they just learn). But, this over-politization of everything is unfortunately the president's own policy and a residual attitude from "riding Bush's unpopularity," so the first paragraph above just meant to raise the concern that over-politization over-politically-correct presidency is a dangerous one, even to the president himself.

    November 27, 2009 07:01 pm at 7:01 pm |
  25. Please go deeper!

    Where is the respect for the Office of the President? The audacity to think that is OK to "punk" the Secret Service for the purpose of obtaining a part in a reality show.

    And how is this a reflection upon the Obama administration? This is not D vs. R! This about protecting a father of 2 young children. This about our President being unprotected you selfish jerks.

    November 27, 2009 07:02 pm at 7:02 pm |
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