November 27, 2009

Secret Service Apologizes for Allowing Pair at State Dinner

Posted: 06:52 PM ET


From The New York Times

WASHINGTON — The celebrity-seeking couple who snuck into a state dinner this week came face-to-face with President Obama and his wife, Michelle, the White House said Friday in a disclosure that underscored the seriousness of the security breach and prompted an abject apology from the Secret Service.

A White House spokesman said the couple, Michaele and Tareq Salahi of Virginia, met the president and first lady in a receiving line at their first state dinner. That disclosure coincided with a statement in which Secret Service Director Mark Sullivan said his agency was “deeply concerned and embarrassed” by the events at the state dinner last Tuesday.

“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,” Mr. Sullivan said.

“Although these individuals went through magnetometers and other levels of screening, they should have been prohibited from entering the event entirely,” Mr. Sullivan said. “That failing is ours.”

Shortly before the disclosure from the White House and the statement by Mr. Sullivan, the Secret Service said it wanted to interview everyone connected with the incident, including the couple, and had not ruled out criminal charges.“Everyone who has some information to contribute” will be contacted, said James Mackin, a spokesman for the Secret Service.

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Filed under: President Barack Obama

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Dave Rinehart   November 27th, 2009 6:57 pm ET

How can you reward this dangerous act by giving this psycho couple the fame they sought to steal at the expense of the President's security?

By making them celebrities you invite more of the same behavior!

You are either foolish to think otherwise, or complicit in endangering our President.

Dodie   November 27th, 2009 8:14 pm ET

Forget the apology! The secret service's average wage is around $80,000 per year. Granted this is nothing compared to Congress; however, it is still a considerable about of income paid for by us tax-payers to be sleeping on the job!

TXmom   November 27th, 2009 8:29 pm ET

Are these the same fools who STOPPED the security checks here in Dallas when then-candidate Obama had a rally here in Dallas??? They caught HELL for that in the local media. We are a LITTLE sensitive to sh*t like that!
Their claim then was there were alot of people and they were trying to speed up the seating process.
Idiots need to be fired..go be mall rent a cops or something..the ones that drive around in their little golf carts. I'm sure the malls are hiring extra help this time of year.

george   November 27th, 2009 8:29 pm ET

Dodie is correct !.

oreste   November 27th, 2009 8:38 pm ET

Fire them! this could have resulted in a tragedy..& I'm not kidding..still recall 46 yrs ago Pres Kennedy's assasination...

Dodie   November 27th, 2009 9:59 pm ET

This is another good example of the “monster” reality TV is creating. Every lunatic that wants TV fame is doing outrageous stunts. First the balloon boy and now this. What will be next???

I would like to make a motion to STOP reality TV! Someday, something really terrible will happen resulting from people doing crazy stunts.

Perturbed   November 27th, 2009 10:31 pm ET

I will stop watching your show if you have Michaele and Tareq Salahi on your show on Monday night.

Janice   November 27th, 2009 10:53 pm ET

Do not give them air time, there not hero`s only a disgrace to
our country,
Looking for that one minute of fame.

They should be put away for a very long time.

Talk to the heros who work 24/ 7 to feed there families and care for those in need .

Our military who put there life in danger 24/7 our true heros.

vallary   November 27th, 2009 11:34 pm ET

this is wrong. this is why to close and shouldn't have never happen. If I was obama I would be upset. there are to many people out there that want to hurt people to get their 15 mins of fame.

Tom Margulies   November 28th, 2009 12:24 am ET

Please do not allow these people to appear on your show.

louie   November 28th, 2009 12:33 am ET

CNN should NOT allow this couple to be on the show..take them to many weirdos in the world todaY..DO not make them celebrities...

Dodie   November 28th, 2009 1:21 am ET


If you have Michaele and Tareq Salahi on your show, I will be really disappointed in you. This only fuels the fire with people wanting instant fame. Then CNN becomes part of the problem and not part of the solution.

There is no get out of jail card here. They do not pass go... they do not collect their $200 and they should go directly to jail!

Keith   November 28th, 2009 4:37 am ET

Larry, I urge you, please do not have this couple on your show. Don't reward their appalling behavior. Instead, put someone on whose behavior should be praised and emulated. There are countless heroes who strive every day to make our country better - not cheaper.

Jessica   November 28th, 2009 4:43 am ET

I -totally- agree with Janice! We need to make an example out of these two. You sneak your way into the White House – You will have -severe- consequences. Regardless of who's fault it was. (Even though I still think whoever slipped up needs to be demoted to Mall Cop immediately!!).

siena   November 28th, 2009 10:47 am ET

Prosecute the Salahis to the fullest extent of the law.
Their behavior is outrageous and any network who puts them on their show is no more than a cheap tabloid.
I'd expect that from ET.
Don't give positive publicity to reward bad behavior.
This is dangerous behavior on a national level.
They need to be treated as a serious national security breech, with serious consequences.

Otherwise just change the name of your show to
LARRY YENTA LIVE...and be truthful about what we tune into watch for an hour.

Chris   November 28th, 2009 1:01 pm ET

If they do end up on your show, Larry, I say fry'em. I can guarantee they won't have one single thoughtful or justified argument on why they decided to compromise the safety of not only the President of the United States but also that of the Nation's Capitol.

The fact is we still live in the shadow of 9/11 and that each security breach is a harsh blow to the reality that even thought we've spent billions on safe-guards we may never reach a truly secure state in our country.

Regardless, this parody of this pseudo-socialite couple is only a slap in our face.

At the very least this incident was a tasteless media grab, but the full weight of this issue should at least result in criminal charges.

yodacohen   November 28th, 2009 2:16 pm ET

Please tell me that the rumors that you are NOT going to have the two social climbing jerks that breached White House security on CNN's air. It would be EXTREMELY irresponsible to put two people who've shown the world how to breach that security and get near the officer with the nuclear codes, not to mention the President.

These two people are publicity seekers and caused potential harm to the US and the world by doing what they did. They most likely lied to federal officers and if so, ought to be in prison for a year or two. They should NOT be rewarded for what they did by a world-wide appearance on CNN.

I used to look to CNN for responsible journalism. I'd like to continue to do so.

Juchelcz   November 28th, 2009 2:51 pm ET

Being called -inappropriate- seems to be a harsh insult to you, Mr. King. Having the Salahi's as guests so that they can gush about how easy it was to bypass White House security is the ultimate in inappropriateness. I, for one, will be an ex-watcher if you choose to give them that platform.

I'd rather hear an interview with the State Dinner chef, planner, decorator or a waitstaff member – someone with a true talent and who earns their title and income! And has something of interest to say.

Insulted   November 28th, 2009 4:24 pm ET

Please Larry do NOT give this Salahi woman the publicity she seeks. Her "crashing" the White House party is an insult to the President and to the United States government. Terrorists and just plain nuts must be in awe that a person can actually get right into the President's face. I am in horror. As for the publicity stunt, enough already. Are we so perverted with lust for fame and money that we would show criminals how to break the White House security. Please Larry, do NOT interview this person.

michele   November 28th, 2009 8:41 pm ET

I agree with Dodie – Giving these wannabee celebs another opportunity in the spotlight will only fan the flames for these nuts.

They should be prosecuted to fullest extent of the law to set an example for anyone else that thinks these types of stunts will result in anything other than prosecution.

robert (speedy) Gonzales   November 28th, 2009 9:29 pm ET

We need to learn in a big way from this. Thank God they were seeking fame for themselves. I believe the agency will come out stronger from this huge embaressment to all Americans. In a sad way it showed our weakness to visual impression, this couple looked the part to perfection. I, as most bloggers, hope their fame ends here, but their lesson needs to live forever in the manuals of the Secret Service!

Jacquelyn   November 28th, 2009 10:57 pm ET

Obama was never in any danger because they search their guest before allowing them to enter. This is the fault of the secret service and no one else. Imagine if an average person could pull something like this off, imagine the enemy (terrorists or another) going after Obama.

Herbert Peress   November 28th, 2009 11:11 pm ET

The Salahis are disgusting. An embarrasement. Sheer publicity hounds. Garbage. DO NOT GIVE THEM A PLATFORM ON LKL. PLEASE – SHOW SOME RESPONSIBLE AND ETHICAL JOURNALISTIC LEADERSHIP.

Anne   November 29th, 2009 12:19 am ET

It will be very disappointing if Larry King has the Salahi's on his show Monday night. It's the wrong thing to do, to give this couple the exposure they are exactly seeking when they did something very wrong. It will make me question my continuing to watch Larry King Live.

Juliet See   November 29th, 2009 12:44 am ET

I agree with everyone, if you indeed will put the Salahis in your Larry King Live, it is not only disappointing but disgusting as well. This is exactly what they wanted, to get into a TV show and you are rewarding their bad behavior and being disrespectful to the President's Office – by putting them in your show.

earl hickey   November 29th, 2009 3:30 am ET

These two bozos are criminals who lied to the secret service and potentially endangered the life of the President and his family. They embarrassed the White House during an important State function. They should be "rewarded " with jail time , not given 15 minutes of infamy by being interviewed by Mr. King. is Larry so desperate for guests and ratings that he has to have these two phonies on his show? By giveing them air time , I believe Mr. King is an accomplice after the fact to their crime. I will not watch his show any more if they appear.

Ron J   November 29th, 2009 6:41 am ET

I don't understand all the talking heads on cable today so adamant about going after this couple that penetrated the Obamas lawn bash and claiming this undermines our national security or something....why are some so worried about them ? So a couple of wanna be socalites waltzed on to the grounds of a glitzy
affair.. This is a minor publicity stunt that isn't worth all this air time or consternation..

i know the prez needs security but hey he's not the wizard of oz or something. and the DC elites are just people. and the obamas get out and mix with the public all the time at public schools,
town halls, etc. , where everthing is not always perfect. >>>>
hey, just laugh it off for once this time !

bring them on larry-it's good for ratings !=money!

Anne   November 29th, 2009 11:32 am ET

Ed Rollins
New York (CNN) - The gate crashers Michaele and Tareq Salahi want to be famous as stars of reality television. I am all for that. Give them a reality television series and call it "Trial and Jailtime" in the D.C. criminal justice system. This despicable, desperate, duplicitous couple disgraced the Secret Service and embarrassed the president in his home.

They totally overshadowed the president's meeting with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, the leader of an important ally. The incident made the Obamas' first state dinner, honoring the prime minister and his wife, Gursharan Kaur, fodder for comedians - and it certainly raises security concerns for other world leaders visiting at later dates.

The gate-crashers need to be held accountable and not glorified.

Unless they have some excuse we haven't heard yet, the Salahis deserve to be charged with criminal trespassing and lying to federal officers for starters. Yes, they dressed for the occasion, but the Salahis are no different, and shouldn't be regarded any differently, than a nut case who jumps over the White House fence and tries to run in the front door. The only difference is that the fence-jumper would be shot ten feet from his entrance point.

I worked in a couple of White Houses and have always had the greatest respect for the Secret Service. These men and women put their lives on the line daily and often serve in long and tedious tours of duty.

I worked in the White House when President Reagan was shot and I saw the extraordinary bravery of Secret Service agent Timothy McCarthy, who was critically wounded when he took a bullet in the stomach after turning and putting his body between the president and the shooter, John Hinckley. But for all the bravery of its agents, the Secret Service lives in a world that demands zero defects.

So I have to tell you I am appalled at the comments by the Secret Service spokesman who was described as saying it hadn't been determined whether party-crashing is technically illegal. He went on to say he didn't believe the Salahis posed a security risk. Spin control is not needed now. Responsibility is the key word.

Trespassing is illegal. How does the Secret Service know whether the Salahis were a risk or not? The service apparently had not done a background check on them - unlike every other guest and government employee in the tent that night - because they weren't on the invitation list.
Video: Crashers met the President

* U.S. Secret Service
* The White House
* Janet Napolitano

Secret Service Director Mark Sullivan issued a rare apology, saying the service took full responsibility for the episode and was "deeply concerned and embarrassed." Not good enough! He needs to determine who was responsible for letting the Salahis onto the White House grounds and fire whoever it was, before he thinks about offering his own resignation.

Public servants have to be held accountable and now is a good time to start.

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has fired some of the top people in the military because they were not performing at the level he expected. Can Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, whose department oversees the Secret Service, expect any less? Can an agency, Homeland Security, that has responsibility for securing our borders be trusted if it cannot even secure the White House?

We live in a world of reality television in which egotists try to be famous for three minutes and land an appearance on the talk shows. The bigger question is what example this sets for our kids. If we glorify the actions of people like the Salahis and don't hold them accountable, how do we teach our kids what is right and what is wrong?

The Salahis claim there's more to the story. Their lawyer says they weren't crashing the party, but the Secret Service says otherwise.

Based on the facts as we know them so far, there's a simple way to deal with this case.

Charge them, prosecute them, and if a D.C. jury finds them guilty, jail them. Make an example out of them. Then next November when the president is pardoning the Thanksgiving turkey, he can pardon them too.

And after the pardon, as is traditional for the turkeys whose lives are spared, they can go live in Disney World - a fantasy world that seems to be the perfect place for this pair.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Ed Rollins.

Wilhelmina Serrano   November 29th, 2009 2:11 pm ET

Dear Mr. King:

I, and many friends and relatives with whom I have discussed it, feel that this couple's egregious breach of both security and etiquette – should not be rewarded in any way. If you dignify their outrageous behavior by granting them the airtime they seek on your program, it will only encourage others to contemplate similar actions seeking similar results.

We feel that you, in your position of such widespread media influence, should instead provide coverage only to legitimate news, and never to manipulated events – and that you should urge all other media outlets to embrace a similar stance. Ours would be a far better country if we returned to the process of living our own lives instead of spending so much time vicariously involved in the activities of other people.

Thank you very much for your attention.

Wilhelmina Serrano

Terrell Pulliam   November 29th, 2009 2:40 pm ET

I hope that CNN does not for the sake of ratings and advertising revenues reward these two by giving them the time of day and a pulpit from which to gloat about their narcissitic accomplishment. I don't need to watch a show that rewards their bad and inappropriate behavior-it's another version of the balloon boy debacle. Desperate people needing to rub their sociopathic fantasies in the face of the American public -not to mention that by doing so they have sown a seed in the minds of more nefarious types that the shield surrounding the President can seemingly be breached-that alone should exact some sort of punishment . Obscurity would be the only reward they really deserve!

Roger Tyler   November 29th, 2009 5:32 pm ET

I have no interest in hearing anything this couple have to say on why they crashed the White House state dinner, anything they have to say should come in the form of Criminal hearing for lying to the secret serice in getting into the white House.
Larry King shouldn't be glorifying these people by having them on, as was stated by Fran Thompson, people out there are watching this, we don't need to give them any more of a reason to think that they can do the samething.
Even if this an innocent incident, Obama has received as much as 4 times the threats against himself, then any previous president and by letting these people on, you just give more credit to fringe fanatics who would do harm, especially by having scrutiny of the secret service made public and where they have made failed in stopping these people.

Dodie   November 29th, 2009 9:42 pm ET

@ Anne

Thank you so very much for sharing that personal insight and information with us! It must have been a harrowing experience for you.


This is the "monster" reality TV is creating. Every moron who wants fame is now compelled to do something so extraordinary as to create media frenzy and ultimately fame. First the balloon boy, now crashing to White House, what will be next? Sooner or later, someone one will be killed in the process. Its only a matter of time.

My recommendation: "Nip this in the Bud" Now!!!

There is NO get out of Jail Card here. They do Not go past "Go" or collect their $200.

Unless they want to be a part of the new Reality TV show, entitled "Jail Bird"

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