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

Secret Service acknowledges failure in state dinner snafu

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="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:


(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

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. JOE M

    What is the big deal...Harry Truman, used to go out the gate and take walkes down Pennsylvania Ave....This guy needs a 10 ton armoured Cadillac to go to the bathroom.. I am glad they made a joke out of the CLOWN.

    November 27, 2009 10:04 pm at 10:04 pm |
  2. richard in montana

    what a joke. send them to jail and the agents back to school. how much will we sell our souls for to get our names in the limelight??????????????????

    November 27, 2009 10:05 pm at 10:05 pm |
  3. Impromptu

    This is a serious understatement. President Obama was put in jeopardy because the crashers wore nice clothes. Maybe the Secret Service has never seen a James Bond film ( he often wears a tuxedo). This is not mere social gossip. It is a serious breach of the law. Ask the Kennedy family how they would feel about it. Heads should roll. No more visits to vineyards in Virginia. The President deserves better especially in the White House.

    November 27, 2009 10:06 pm at 10:06 pm |
  4. classichorse

    As Henry Kissinger meant to say, "[Blondes are] the ultimate aphrodisiac."
    Seriously though, look at her 'dress,' the blonde hair and, yes, she turns heads. Call it a caper, attention seeking, whatever you wish. They certainly would not set off any profile alarms! These people knew how to blend in and move past the Secret Service. She could be the MOTHER of all Osamas! Praise God, they were not REAL terrorists!

    November 27, 2009 10:06 pm at 10:06 pm |
  5. Rob

    Just really unbelievable that apparently anyone can get all dressed up and crash a White House state dinner with both the President and Vice President in attendance.

    Man, if I was President Obama I would demand an entirely new Secret Service detail and hand pick them myself.

    ESPECIALLY, given how many freaks out there would love to assasinate this President, he needs EXTRA protection not less.

    I also hope they press charges against the Salahis, if nothing more then to show that being rich and glamorous doesn't mean you can do whatever the hell you want.

    November 27, 2009 10:06 pm at 10:06 pm |
  6. SF Serg

    This is frightening and very upsetting. The good thing about all this is that the Secret Service now knows that they had a major flaw in their protocol and will most likely tweak their entire operation. As for the crashers, if they actually weren't invited then they need to be severely punished. If someone has the nerve to do this and lie about it, they're too daring and that makes them dangerous. They need to pay for this.

    November 27, 2009 10:08 pm at 10:08 pm |
  7. Deb in Northglenn, Co

    Tom, please tell me how the previous administration was so much more professional than this one. Perhaps giving the woman head of state of Germany a neck rub, reading books upside down, an inablility to pronounce basic English, even with the assistance of a teleprompter, telling Al Qaeda to "bring it on" or declaring "mission accomplished" while showing up in a flight suit.

    The Secret Service is not a partisan organization and the President and his staff have nothing to do with the services practices or hiring.

    I suggest that you grow the hell up and argue policy and not things that have nothing to do with the President's decisions.

    November 27, 2009 10:13 pm at 10:13 pm |
  8. Paula in Michigan

    The Secret Service made a HUGE mistake. In addition to our President and VP, there were other foreign dignataries in attendance also. (Haven't they been having trouble in India in the past year or so?) Had anything happened to anyone, it could have been catastrophic.

    November 27, 2009 10:13 pm at 10:13 pm |
  9. Gil from Ottawa/Canada

    To Tom:
    I can't beleive how stupid you republicans are to not understand that this new administration has nothing to do with the secret services assignments.
    Let me tell you that what you've been plotting will return against you. This is not the 1960's when you kept killing democrats leaders without paying any price. Folks like Dick Cheney, Rush Limbaugh or your tea party leaders should be aware that if something bad happens to president Obama or one of his family members, it will be the Armagedon that the Bible talks about in the book of revelations. The ground will set on fire under your feet. Make no mistake about that. All of you right wings extremists will run from this same country you're claiming to be only yours.
    And let me tell you that we will close our borders here in Canada, to prevent you from running away from the fire you set. So be wise and well aware!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    November 27, 2009 10:13 pm at 10:13 pm |
  10. Sniffit

    more Bush holdovers at the White House caused this.

    November 27, 2009 10:17 pm at 10:17 pm |
  11. Hope to Change


    OMG, she even shook Obama’s hand. How in the world did someone said they were not invited?????????? Maybe Obama invited them but refuse to tell because they’re not politicians.

    November 27, 2009 10:21 pm at 10:21 pm |
  12. Hope to Change

    Well can't any one. Obama has the White House door wide open to the public.

    November 27, 2009 10:24 pm at 10:24 pm |
  13. Carrie Harris

    The SECRET SERVICE MAN who let the couple in without an invitation should TERMINATED for POOR JOB PERFORMANCE and the COUPLE should be charged with TRESPASSING and/or INVASION OF PRIVACY to the fullest extent of the law.

    What an awful deed! GOD BLESS ....AMERICA!!!!!!!!!!

    November 27, 2009 10:24 pm at 10:24 pm |
  14. JSL

    There's a lot of unemployed people who'd gladly take their jobs from them.

    As for the darling couple ...they belong jail.

    But wait...they'll (the S.S.) will screw that up too.

    November 27, 2009 10:26 pm at 10:26 pm |
  15. Rowe

    This couple has actually done the President a big favor. There has been a 400% increase in the number of death threats made against the President since Obama took Office, mostly from domestic extremists. I'm just glad the first people to crash a party at the White House weren't among them.

    November 27, 2009 10:27 pm at 10:27 pm |
  16. jason b.

    this is so frightening! we have a president with the highest ever taget on his head and these idiots waltz right in, i guess the secret service should be renamed the kkk maybe? hecks u wannas sees that big old boy? step rights up missy and massa! i hope the entire secret service contingent is fired!!!! this is a disgrace!

    November 27, 2009 10:28 pm at 10:28 pm |
  17. Nicholas

    "The Secret Service is deeply concerned and embarrassed by the circumstances surrounding the State Dinner on Tuesday." Embarrassed? That's it? Honestly they shouldn't have even made a statement about this. Way to strip away the mystique of the US intelligence community...

    November 27, 2009 10:30 pm at 10:30 pm |
  18. sandy

    Lets take this serious no matter who the President is, be it Democrat or Republican. This should never have happened and if there is a shortage of agents etc. then give th dept. more money and lets protect this man properly.

    November 27, 2009 10:30 pm at 10:30 pm |
  19. Reg

    This would never happen under a caucasian president.
    The lack of effort to potect this Pesident is unexceptable.
    I think there needs to be a shake up in the secret sevice.
    You people can say what you want, but if anything happens to this president America will not be the same, take that however you wish, but you better pray to whom ever you pray to that no harm comes to President Obama.

    November 27, 2009 10:31 pm at 10:31 pm |
  20. xerbud

    Secret Service Screwed up. Hey Mike what has Obama done? Really since he has been in office what has he done. Stop getting mad and look at facts! Your right Palin isn't the best person for president, but that doesn't mean Obama is any better. Give me ONE thing he has done since he has been in office? Just because you yell louder than me doesn"t make your point any smarter! And buy the way your party made it a priority to drag down Bush every day he was in office. Save your political B.S for somebody else, and before you go on your I'm a Rightwing loving tangent I havent voted Republican in 8 years!

    November 27, 2009 10:33 pm at 10:33 pm |
  21. CNN afraid of a liberal post

    So how can the same secret service individuals who guarded Bush and Cheney and the republicans NOW BE AMATEUR HOUR. Did their intelligence drop off all of a sudden. Or is it just that a republican nutso is trying to make everything that happens political.

    How about FBI did they turn them all out in the streets when Obama took over. Or maybe they sent the military to Timbuctoo. Gee what a dope.

    November 27, 2009 10:35 pm at 10:35 pm |
  22. kuriya

    I'm wondering does the secret service know that we have people that are praying for this president to be killed like that pastor in Arizona that is praying for that to happened? This is a shame for the country and the president especially when there is a president from another country is involve.

    November 27, 2009 10:36 pm at 10:36 pm |
  23. b. moral

    funny how the black suited goons are tracing my ip right now but still let in a pair of clowns to a state dinner! my brother in-law is a virgina trooper and he says w. had 110 times the security, obama is maybe too relaxed about it? I love our president, i want him to be safe from kooks like these.

    November 27, 2009 10:38 pm at 10:38 pm |
  24. yourmommycalled

    Tom: At least we have an administration now as opposed to the the sock puppets that we've had over the previous administration

    November 27, 2009 10:39 pm at 10:39 pm |
  25. Lynn

    This is just another attempt to make the Obama administration look ineffective. All these tactics will not work. It is time for all Americans to realize that we need to change our course of direction in terms of humans relations. This is not a democrat/republican issue. This reflects on America and the rest of the world will look upon us as squabbling idiots. One party just can't come to grips with the fact that they lost the election. Time to move on!!!!

    November 27, 2009 10:41 pm at 10:41 pm |
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