November 28th, 2009
10:15 AM ET
11 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: Popular Posts • White House
soundoff (72 Responses)
  1. Jon Krieger

    I think this is hilarious!Those two "Crashers" are mytwo new personal heroes!But people like "Proudlib" need to be reminded that for 8 years we had to listen to liberals laughing and mocking Bush for everything he did,and now that we're giving as good as we got,their sense of humor has dried up!Do us a favor and SHUT UP and spare us the sanctimonious bullcrap!!

    November 28, 2009 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  2. Anne

    I've mourned enough assassinations for one lifetime. Another would be just unbearable. The common denominator in each victim were the promise of hope and change for American society. This was a frightening security breach which had the potential to repeat history. There have been much neglected reports over the years, of under- the -radar sinister activity at work within our own government. I hope this wasn't a trial run.

    November 28, 2009 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  3. Kyrianmege

    I'm suspecting that this couple where intentionally allowed into that dinner by an insider.. There is no way they will ever have the mind to near the White House without knowing that they will be allowed in... This couple knew they where not invited and yet have the courage to near the white House.. Something went wrong there.. Truth will come out.

    November 28, 2009 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  4. diridi

    fire the secret service that is responsible just like the dudes in aero plane for drinking...and put this white india lady and that dude in prison...for execuse...glad they do not have guns...what a mess this india dudes do...

    November 28, 2009 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  5. Gumby

    Does anyone remember the journalist who threw his shoes at Bush? Now that is a serious faux pas on the Secret Services part. It seems there are more exposures of the President than most people think.

    November 28, 2009 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  6. ncslim1

    Secret Service? Aren't these the same people who protected JFK? And, why are media-types referring to these arrivistes as "socialities?" Puh-leeze! They committed a crime. Throw them under the jail. Tell the Secret Service even Santa checks his list twice. Fire them all!

    November 28, 2009 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  7. JES

    Don't blame the crashers put the blame where it belongs on the SS.

    They didn't hurt anyone it just shows how weak the SS protection is and how easy it would be to get to the President.

    I am not an Obama fan in any way but glad nothing happened.

    November 28, 2009 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  8. Dan, TX

    Somebody in the WH (may be even the President) had invited them and now somebody is keeping silent. I hope they have fair investigation and no cover up. Let the truth speak.

    November 28, 2009 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  9. GOP - Delusional and Proud of It

    Proud GOPer November 28th, 2009 11:23 am ET

    This definitely wouldn't have happened under Bush/Cheney. They actually knew how to keep the White House and America safe.

    Well, except for that one time. As of 9/11/2009 Obama has kept this country safe longer than Bush.

    November 28, 2009 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  10. Willy Brown

    Still trying to figure out how Barry got into the WH.

    November 28, 2009 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  11. Tallulah, La.

    Everything has changed since this President has been in office. Again, this wouldn't have happened during the prior administration.
    This sounds like an inside job, which pur President Obama's security at risk. Unbelievable

    November 28, 2009 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  12. Bill

    You know, the previous commentators on here, both on the extreme left AND extreme right, need to stop this ridiculous childish "oh well, if this was during the so-and-so administration" or "Those stupid (insert political affiliation here) are complete hypocrites" garbage!! THERE WAS A BREECH OF SECURITY THAT POTENTIALLY COULD'VE THREATENED THE LIFE OF OUR NATION'S PRESIDENT! I wouldn't care if it was Roosevelt, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Nixon, Carter, Reagan, Clinton, either Bush, Obama or even a brain-damaged jellyfish that was President: Every real patriotic American on here should be concerned about this, and should rightfully call for these two to be arrested, as well as call for the jobs of those in the SS who botched up the White House security by allowing those two to go inside. Put the party affiliation aside just for once!
    You know the election is over; there is a President in office. Yeah, you may not agree with his views on how to handle certain issues, but time was people dropped the vitriol after the election and remembered to hold the office of the POTUS with some respect, even if they philosophically didn't agree with whoever was in there. With the way some of you radicals on both sides act, you'd think a second Civil War would break out any minute. Grow up!!

    November 28, 2009 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  13. elviejo

    We're outsourcing everything else in our country, why not the secret service. I bet if the security people were from North Korea this would not have happened. You know that "enclosed", " isolated", and "impenetrable" land. Makes one wonder. The only reason we "know" about this is because it was somewhat of lark. How about that the spooks have yet to explain how a group of determined people who took lessons at some small time flying school where they certainly never got the opportunity to practice on a great big behemoth like a Boeing 7 anything, could disable the computer, rearrange the program, kept the speed appropriate so it would not fly apart or stall and from hundreds of miles away find their target and arrive appropriately? They were also lucky but the full story has not been available. I hope the next time I fly my plane doesn't lose contact for an hour.

    November 28, 2009 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  14. gypsydaveywithablowtorch

    Amazing how the 'wing nuts' on both sides are using this to continue their partisan bickering. Get a life 'wing nuts'!

    November 28, 2009 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  15. Scott

    This couple should be arrested immediately and vigorously prosecuted (not "given medals" as some others have posted). They should receive no publicity and Larry King should not contribute to their efforts toward celebrity by having them on his show. The Secret Service is justly embarrassed however, and needs to ensure that there are no more gaps in security.

    November 28, 2009 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  16. Jon Krieger

    I agree 'Proudlib'!The "double standards"do need to cease!FROM YOU LIBERALS,THAT IS!!The left never cease to amaze me!Everyday for eight years you mocked president Bush and us republicans.Now that we are giving as good as we got,your sense of humor seems to have dried up.What happened 'Proudlib'?THAT is the double standard,my friend!

    November 28, 2009 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  17. Robert Berry Brockport NY

    Lets see if my memory serves me righ.

    1. In the not too distant pst several charges have been brought against the S.S. by minority members of the service. These charges centered around Racial Harassment and Racial Discrimination.
    2. If these charges are ture – Then how can the S.S. protect our
    President who is black.
    3. Where were the top managers of the S.S. at the time of this
    security breach?
    4. Is the S.S. facing budget cuts that have lead to this security
    5. Investigate what exactly happened. The investigation shuld be conducted by an INDEPENDENT GROUP. Not the S.S.
    6. Remove the present Leadership of the S.S. Immediately.
    7. Remove those S.S. Agents involved in the secureity breach immediately.
    8. Go back to items 1 & 2 immediately.

    November 28, 2009 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  18. SometimesElla

    I feel sorry for this couple. To be exposed as such bottom feeders in the national media must be terribly humiliating. They seem a little too old to be so pathetically desperate to fit in that they need to crash state dinners and post pictures of themselves with "celebrities" on facebook. Inferiority complex much?

    November 28, 2009 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  19. Jim

    Why no arrests yet? Why no firings yet?

    November 28, 2009 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  20. Joanna in PA

    Hey A Proud GOPer:
    FYI_ It never would have happen under Bush Cheney REALLY? remember 911? how about the shoe thrower? What selective memory you have!

    November 28, 2009 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  21. ACinCincy

    Um... The fact is, this IS the Obama Administration's fault. They changed the way guests are screened at these events, and that's a fact (not emotion/opinion).

    In the past, a rep from the Protocol office would be stationed at the *first* checkpoint since they are the office most familiar with the guest list, and would know right away if someone was pulling a fast one vs. if it were a true accidental omission.

    The fact is, Obama did away with that requirement, and instead have the Protocol people "floating" between the first and second checkpoints. Who knows why...

    November 28, 2009 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  22. ACinCincy

    During WWII, there was a blizzard that effectively shut down the entire east coast of the United States – including DC. Not one major news outlet carried the story because they felt it would not be in the best interest of national security to do so.

    Fast forward a few decades, and breach of security such as this one is front page news within minutes of the event. Either the media simply doesn't have the national security standards it once did, or this was a cleverly orchestrated leak...

    November 28, 2009 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
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