November 27th, 2009
06:49 PM ET
4 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. mjm

    What makes you people think Tom is talking about the SS?

    November 27, 2009 07:07 pm at 7:07 pm |
  2. Perusing-through

    UTTERLY EMBARRASSING
    Yes, the party-crashing incident is embarrassing to the Obama's and the White House staff – - – But unlike some idiot postings so far, this was not caused by Obama or his staff.

    The blame lies flat on the shoulders of the U.S. Secret Service. The Secret-Service at one time was controlled by the U.S. Treasury, but now they fall under U.S. Homeland Security. SO PUT THE BLAME WHERE IT BELONGS WHICH IS THE "DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY".

    November 27, 2009 07:08 pm at 7:08 pm |
  3. Wendy Stevens

    since when is the secret service a part of the administration? At least this administration is doing something about the lobbyests who really try to run the country. If the right wing doesn't stop this foolishness, they will be laughed out of Washington.

    November 27, 2009 07:12 pm at 7:12 pm |
  4. wm weeks

    Seems the "service" has egg on its face. Even the Secret Service can't get things right. Sign of the times I guess.

    November 27, 2009 07:17 pm at 7:17 pm |
  5. Bert K.

    Maybe the Feds should go easy on these two and keep their focus on Bin Laden or else it will look like when George W. Bush baged Martha Stewart and forgot about the real problem

    November 27, 2009 07:17 pm at 7:17 pm |
  6. Mike

    These "reality star wannabe's" should be prosecuted!

    November 27, 2009 07:18 pm at 7:18 pm |
  7. pilot22a

    Probably most of the SS agents protecting the president and his family, would be happier doing real Secret Service work, like finding the guy printing those bogus $20 bills.

    Since this agency went HLS, it's professionalism has plummeted, along with the Homeland Security Agency; the agency that also took over immigration security and has totally botched that.

    November 27, 2009 07:20 pm at 7:20 pm |
  8. Carol

    It's hard to believe the President, First Lady, First Children and all the visiting invited dignitaries were exposed to imposters. If these socialities were employeed by Macy's Dept. store they would be in jail right now. Because you're having a party is no reason to forget to check your lists of guests. Embarassing?

    November 27, 2009 07:20 pm at 7:20 pm |
  9. Greg, San Francisco, CA

    They shouldn't be embarrassed – they should be fired.

    November 27, 2009 07:20 pm at 7:20 pm |
  10. Dudette

    The person or persons who job it is to protect the First Family should be fired IMMEDIATELY.

    November 27, 2009 07:21 pm at 7:21 pm |
  11. shawn

    Great job SS...they should FIRE the SAIC..not Admin Leave with pay..but FIRE..there is no excuse why this happened. Isnt this their job..their so called bread and butter to protecting the President? How can the Department of Homeland Security protect us (law abiding, tax paying patriotic Americans) when they cant protect someone who is in the White House???

    November 27, 2009 07:21 pm at 7:21 pm |
  12. Perusing-through

    400,000 THREATS AGAINST PRESIDENT OBAMA SETS NEW RECORD. Jillian Rayfield writes in TPM's 19-OCT-2009 edition of "Live Wire" that "The Boston Globe" and "Congressional Research Service" reported threats against President Obama is at a record high and is 400% higher than the previous president.

    With this knowledge in the Secret Service's hip pocket, their is NO EXCUSE for this type of slip up.

    November 27, 2009 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
  13. Independent

    Someone needs to do a closer look at the Secret Service....First whether you like Bush are not a person shouldn't been able to throw TWO shoes at him and now this issue with Obama.... What the H!#!@#!@LL are the Secret Service doing???

    November 27, 2009 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
  14. Eyes wide OPEN!!!

    @bob November 27th, 2009 5:38 pm ET
    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.
    ***************************************************************************
    They shall stumble, and they shall not prevail: they shall be greatly ashamed; for they shall not prosper: their everlasting confusion shall never be forgotten.

    November 27, 2009 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
  15. JonDie

    Meanwhile the editors of the NY Times seem to think that mispellings on the menu are the real story.

    November 27, 2009 07:26 pm at 7:26 pm |
  16. Ken Pontac

    Tom, I can only echo what Erik said, "Until you all stop treating the government of our nation like a small-town football rivalry, things won't get any better."

    So true.

    November 27, 2009 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |
  17. Nola

    Well a few Secret Service Agents will be without a job. Effective as of NOW all the Policies and Procedures of protecting the President and his Family will be CHANGED. Maybe they need to modify the procedures every few months – that way no one will be able to crash any event at the White House.

    November 27, 2009 07:32 pm at 7:32 pm |
  18. I want to know . . .

    Did these people get seated for the dining session? With "tables for ten" presumably assigned according to protocol - did they? IF not, when were they "discovered" and ejected?

    Come on, CNN - let us know - THAT would be REAL journalism.

    November 27, 2009 07:33 pm at 7:33 pm |
  19. Greg in Milwaukee

    Why are they making a big deal over this? Heck they are letting terrorists into New York, well, actually bringing there intentionally.

    November 27, 2009 07:34 pm at 7:34 pm |
  20. Marc 2

    More than embarrassing! It's a potential threat to national security. I don't care which party is in office. Slipping in to great the President should not be the stepping stone for some fame seeking low lifes. They could have had anthrax or something on their hands. The Secret Service should fire all that were involved in letting these weirdos through. Hopefully there will be something beyond simple trespassing to put the couple on trial for. But on second thought, not trying them and letting them slip into obscurity might be even better.

    November 27, 2009 07:36 pm at 7:36 pm |
  21. Paul

    Are you kidding me They ALL NEED TO BE FIRED it is very important to keep our President safe...

    November 27, 2009 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  22. Perusing-through

    TWO REASONS THIS IS VERY BAD

    1) – This incident may inspire a lot of "wing-nut birthers", who strongly feel Obama is not a legitimate President to take their chances and take it to the next level. (GOD Forbid!)

    2) – This incident could significantly tarnish the trust any foreign dignitaries may have in U.S. Secret Service, U.S. Homeland Security, and unfortunately President Obama and White House staff to protect foreign diplomats and high profile visitors to the White House.
    .

    November 27, 2009 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  23. srini

    An inexcusable error by our secret service.

    Hopefully, it never happens again!

    November 27, 2009 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  24. Ken in NC

    @ TOM... The Administration does not run the Secret Service and the Service is not run by "The Department of Law" as Sarah Palin would have you beleive.

    I doubt that any Secret Service Agents will lose their jobs over this mess, however, you may find them chasing "Funny Money" for a long time. They may stay with the Service but will never again work a Presidential or White House Detail.

    November 27, 2009 07:38 pm at 7:38 pm |
  25. Nathan from Atlanta

    The Secret Service needs to tighten it up. This makes me worry more for the safety of our president when morons like the Sahali's can ease through security.

    November 27, 2009 07:38 pm at 7:38 pm |
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