Secret Service will tighten WH security after party crashers scandal

posted at 9:30 am on November 30, 2009 by Ed Morrissey

A bit like closing the barn door after the horse has bolted, no?  The Secret Service says that guests to future White House events had better bring umbrellas on rainy evenings, because they will take their time in the future in confirming invitations rather than expedite waiting times — the situation that created an opening for two embarrassing but thankfully innocuous party crashers at a state dinner last week.  The Washington Post takes a bit of credit for exposing them — but also an unnecessarily hysterical tone over presidential security:

The bizarre breach at the White House state dinner last week lends new urgency to a review of Secret Service procedures that was begun after President Obama’s inauguration, and threatens to revive questions about how much security is enough for the country’s elected leader.

A senior Secret Service official said a “top-to-bottom” review of the agency’s protective department was ordered shortly after Obama began his term amid the highest threat level for any recent president. The results are due soon, said spokesman James Mackin.

The highest for any President?  The US prosecuted a man in Virginia for seriously plotting George W. Bush’s assassination (and convicted him).  Ahmed Omar Abu Ali also got convicted of providing material support to al-Qaeda.  Perhaps they’re tracking that kind of threat at the moment against Barack Obama, but I’d call an operational AQ plot to assassinate a President a very high threat level indeed.

But who blew the whistle on the party crashers?  Surprisingly, the Post says it was their reporter:

A source who had spoken to senior Secret Service officials said the Salahis were allowed inside in violation of agency policies by an officer outside the front gate who apparently was persuaded by the couple’s manner and insistence as well as the pressure of keeping lines moving on a rainy evening.

“Rather than stand there and get wet, he went ahead and let them go,” said the source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to avoid offending his contacts.

Once inside, the couple were identified by a Washington Post reporter, who asked two White House staffers early in the evening about their absence from the guest list and raised the issue with them in an 11 p.m. e-mail. A report on what occurred that night — including their movements inside the White House — is expected in a matter of days.

But this part of Michael Shear and Spencer Hsu’s report is just silly:

But Tareq and Michaele Salahi, the Virginia couple who waltzed, uninvited, into the White House and shook hands with Obama on Tuesday night provided new evidence that in a democracy, it is far from impossible to breach the bubble of security around the chief executive.

What does “democracy” have to do with it?  We could be a communist people’s republic with Pol Pot running security, and if guards don’t take the time to check the invitation list, you’ll still get crashers at state dinners.  People on the queue outside the White House didn’t vote to allow the Salahis into the party.  They didn’t vote for rain, either, or to let security off the hook for doing their job.  Someone should be out looking for a new job, and I’m going to bet that someone won’t save the one he had last week by giving the Secret Service a discourse on democracy.

Besides, it’s apparently not the first time the Salahis have met Barack Obama.  According to Canada Free Press and the American Power blog, the Salahis met Obama at a 2005 event hosted by Tariq Salahi, the America’s Polo Cup pre-event party:

So were they at the state dinner by invitation after all?  The Secret Service says no, but they hardly crashed the 2005 event.  Read more about Salahi’s interesting political background at Talking Points Memo.  Would a lobbyist for Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian Authority have been invited but his name kept off the official list?  That might explain the supposed security breach better than just a rainy night, or democracy.

Update: TPM link fixed.


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to a review of Secret Service procedures that was begun after President Obama’s inauguration

huh? what did dear leader need to change??

cmsinaz on November 30, 2009 at 11:20 AM

You didn’t answer my question, ccr6.

Do you believe every word written in Going Rogue is true? Yes or no?

Also, you completely miss my arugument with your question. My point is that one man’s tell all does not “wide reporting” make. The validity of the arugment needs to be further substantiated before it can be addressed. I have not argued that Obama’s death threats are not 400% more than Bush’s, but only that one man’s book is not proof enough to say definitively one way or the other.

Vera on November 30, 2009 at 11:22 AM

crr6 on November 30, 2009 at 10:49

Is this source unreliable or would the author want to lie?

http://www.zombietime.com/zomblog/?p=621

And I would put forward that everyone involved in the making of this movie and anyone who paid a dime to see it should have been on this list of possible suspects. That might skew the numbers a bit, huh?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Death_of_a_President

You libs have conveniently forgotten all the hatred of the last 8 years. When I see the trailer for “The lynching of a President” then I will speak up and defend this President. Until then…

yakwill83 on November 30, 2009 at 11:22 AM

Vera on November 30, 2009 at 11:17 AM

Want to blow Crr6′s mind? Remind him that the SWIFT boat people put out a book about John Kerry. By the standards of today’s little tirade, Crr6 will have to admit Kerry’s treason because, after all, the charges were made in a book with pictures and everything.

highhopes on November 30, 2009 at 11:24 AM

Do you believe every word written in Going Rogue is true? Yes or no?

No, but as I said the assertions that were false were quickly refuted. Why didn’t that happen with this book?

Crr6 will have to admit Kerry’s treason because, after all, the charges were made in a book with pictures and everything.

Once again, this is a perfect example of my point. The lies in this book were quickly and scrupulously refuted. If the author in question here made up facts, why didn’t the same thing happen?

crr6 on November 30, 2009 at 11:30 AM

Vera on November 30, 2009 at 11:22 AM

Now answer my question. Are facts that don’t conform with your worldview prima facie false?

You’ll say no of course, but your conduct in this thread indicates otherwise.

crr6 on November 30, 2009 at 11:30 AM

Another Obama lie and cover up . I don’t know who or why , but somebody within the administration cleared these people in , somebody pretty high up . The Secret Service is being made the fall guy .

borntoraisehogs on November 30, 2009 at 11:31 AM

On the contrary I’m the only person here who actually has provided any proof for my assertions.

crr6 on November 30, 2009 at 11:19 AM

More lies. You did not provide any proof other than the “some guy said” variety of innuendo and, lie #2, that you are a person. You are a troll and nothing more.

highhopes on November 30, 2009 at 11:32 AM

On the contrary I’m the only person here who actually has provided any proof for my assertions.
crr6 on November 30, 2009 at 11:19 AM

Which consists of a circle-jerk all pointing to an unsourced anonymous person who will remain anonymously anonymous.

Do you work for the AGW crew in East Anglia?

Bishop on November 30, 2009 at 11:35 AM

Because, by the nature of the book, the claim can not be substantiated.

The only comment the SS can make is what it did make. There are threats to the president but they can not be detailed.

Vera on November 30, 2009 at 11:35 AM

Secret Service better tighten security before someone tries to walk into the White House through a window.

Oh, wait…nevermind.

Christien on November 30, 2009 at 11:36 AM

Bishop on November 30, 2009 at 11:35 AM

You’re still moping around this thread?

Buzz off, you’ve been sufficiently embarrassed for today.

crr6 on November 30, 2009 at 11:38 AM

The only comment the SS can make is what it did make. There are threats to the president but they can not be detailed.

Vera on November 30, 2009 at 11:35 AM

They could make a general statement that he made up, or twisted facts. That would be great evidence that he was lying. But of course they didn’t do that. There’s absolutely no evidence that he lied. You know this.

crr6 on November 30, 2009 at 11:39 AM

Right, because I question your source I must be an idiot who can’t deal with anything that threatens my world view.

No, ccr6. I don’t enter into a debate with the predetermined assumption that I am right. I clicked on your link with interest to see exactly what proof awaited me.

It was immediately clear that the first article you posted used only Kessler as a source. That’t a red flag. I don’t care what the subject is.

You may find it interesting to know that I was a liberal for many years. I even voted for Kerry. Then I actually started looking into things more critically. It’s really funny that you accuse me of doing something you are so obviously doing yourself. If you stopped assuming you’re right, you’d have to admit that liberalism is wrong. Much easier to project that fault on us stupid conservatives.

Vera on November 30, 2009 at 11:41 AM

crr6 on November 30, 2009 at 11:30 AM

No, but as I said the assertions that were false were quickly refuted. Why didn’t that happen with this book?

Right, I have a credible reporter who got his information from sources within the Secret Service. Once again, where else would he get the information? The Secret Service is “secret” after all. It’s not as if they give weekly press conferences on the number of threats. And no one else would have that kind of information on the threats the president receives.

yakwill83 on November 30, 2009 at 11:41 AM

You’re still moping around this thread?
Buzz off, you’ve been sufficiently embarrassed for today.
crr6 on November 30, 2009 at 11:38 AM

Still mad that you can’t reconcile that “scientific consensus” on AGW also once found consensus that the Earth was flat?

I’ll wait until you formulate your response why the Earth really is flat because science once said it was.

Bishop on November 30, 2009 at 11:44 AM

There’s absolutely no evidence that he lied. You know this.

FIFY.

Vera on November 30, 2009 at 11:44 AM

Poor crr6. He/she can’t deliver a verifying source for Kessler’s assertions. Therefore, the only verifying source for Kessler’s veracity is crr6′s own intelligence. Hardly a reliable source.

kingsjester on November 30, 2009 at 11:45 AM

24 years in the Navy … I even served at the White House during the Bush 41 and Clinton years. I know my way around security – though I’m not an expert.

One of the things about security – you can have an air tight SOP but it all goes to pot with ONE complacent guy. That’s all it takes.

COMPLACENCY – is a tough animal to fight. It’s sire is SUCESS and it’s dam is GOOD LUCK. Did a lot of study on this in the military. People can screw up even the most basic of tasks if they get complacent. In fact, the more convinced they become that a task is basic, easy, “un-screwuppable” … the more chance they will screw it up through complacency.

And the only cure I’ve really ever found for complacency is actually screwing a task up. White House security was complacent – and they allowed themselves to become distracted while feeling “bullet proof”.

On the up side – this was a VERY CHEAP EFF-UP. No body got hurt. No body was really ever in danger.

Dare I say it? We owe a debt of gratitude to these two attention whores?

I think so.

Because of them – heads will roll with Secret Service and White House staff. People will be fired, SOP’s will be re-written … and that evil animal … COMPLACENCY – will be beaten down (at least for a time).

Let’s remember here – that JFK and Reagan both paid a personal price when their protective services became complacent. There were major revisions to SOP after those incidents.

And there will be after this one – and security will be BETTER – and … no one paid a personal price for it on the level that Kennedy and Reagan did.

HondaV65 on November 30, 2009 at 11:45 AM

kingsjester on November 30, 2009 at 11:45 AM

I have a source. A credible reporter who relied on sources within the Secret Service. What’s your source?

crr6 on November 30, 2009 at 11:47 AM

The Secret Service is “secret” after all. It’s not as if they give weekly press conferences on the number of threats. And no one else would have that kind of information on the threats the president receives.

Ouch, that must have hurt writing it.

The SS is so professional they won’t publish threats, but some fud in the organization will share things anonymously, and only to an a guy that 99.9% of Americans couldn’t pick out of a one-man lineup.

You just keep screaming “But…it’s in a book!” as proof, though a glass of water and a nap might be a better idea for you.

Bishop on November 30, 2009 at 11:48 AM

crr6 on November 30, 2009 at 11:47 AM

You have a source. Like everyone has told you, without approachable, verifiable sources to back his information up, as a reporter, it counts as nothing more than hearsay.

kingsjester on November 30, 2009 at 11:51 AM

You have a source

Right, I just said that. Once again…where’s your source?

crr6 on November 30, 2009 at 11:52 AM

The lies in this book were quickly and scrupulously refuted. If the author in question here made up facts, why didn’t the same thing happen?

crr6 on November 30, 2009 at 11:30 AM

Memory retention isn’t a big asset in Obamaworld, is it? There were no lies scrupulously refuted in

Unfit for Command

. Those Medal of Honor recipients were not proven to be spreading falsehood. All you had was Kerry up there putting spin on the facts to suit his template as a Vietnam war hero.

Bottom line is this. Unfit for Command was written by named sources who scrupulously backed up every claim they made. If they had been lying, Kerry would have sued for defamation and libel. It didn’t happen. How in the hell can you claim that this situation is anything close to your anonymous sources that make claims of a 400% increase in threats? You can’t but I’m sure that won’t shut you up or cause you to admit what an ass you have been today.

highhopes on November 30, 2009 at 11:56 AM

crr6 on November 30, 2009 at 11:52 AM

My source for what? Calling a story based on unnamed sources unverifiable? College Broadcast Journalism courses, being the University Radio News Director in college, and Common Sense. Duhhh.

kingsjester on November 30, 2009 at 11:56 AM

crr6, you rode the bench on the debate team, didn’t you?

right2bright on November 30, 2009 at 10:58 AM

he rode something in high school…benches weren’t it.

angryed on November 30, 2009 at 11:57 AM

You have a source

Right, I just said that. Once again…where’s your source?

crr6 on November 30, 2009 at 11:52 AM

Your head has to be stuck where the sun doesn’t shine.

No one could intentionally be this obtuse.

donh525 on November 30, 2009 at 12:04 PM

The highest for any President? The US prosecuted a man in Virginia for seriously plotting George W. Bush’s assassination (and convicted him). Ahmed Omar Abu Ali also got convicted of providing material support to al-Qaeda. Perhaps they’re tracking that kind of threat at the moment against Barack Obama, but I’d call an operational AQ plot to assassinate a President a very high threat level indeed.

They may have been referring to the sheer quantity of threats:

Since Mr Obama took office, the rate of threats against the president has increased 400 per cent from the 3,000 a year or so under President George W. Bush, according to Ronald Kessler, author of In the President’s Secret Service.

And that includes threats from Islamists:

According to the book, intelligence officials received information that people associated with the Somalia-based Islamist group al-Shabaab might try to disrupt Mr Obama’s inauguration in January, when the Secret Service co-ordinated at least 40,000 agents and officers from some 94 police, military and security agencies.

So it is accurate to say that “Obama began his term amid the highest threat level for any recent president”. Especially since the threat you mentioned to GWB didn’t come at the beginning of his term.

orange on November 30, 2009 at 12:06 PM

Rush is talking about this and I’m so glad. This is a significant story.

ORconservative on November 30, 2009 at 12:15 PM

***
I don’t believe it is possible to protect a President–or anyone else–against a “loco” willing to give up his / her life in the attempt. At least not when the target allows big parties, political campaigns, appearances where he / she is within a few feet of the “loco”.
***
Witness the BUTT BOMBER. What if one of these crashers–probably the lady–had “loaded up” with a pound of Semtex or another small powerful explosive? Or the traditional nitroglycerin that was used to kill a Czar a hundred years ago? Metal detectors and sniffer dogs probably couldn’t detect this. And the killer may be a supposed friend, big donor, or political crony with a grudge–someone trusted by the President.
***
I don’t think the Secret Service can bat 1000 forever.
***
John Bibb
***

rocketman on November 30, 2009 at 12:34 PM

Dana Perino mentioned on Fox News Sunday that the incoming Obama admin actually asked the Bush admin to work with them on relaxing White House security.

Go RBNY on November 30, 2009 at 9:35 AM

Well there you go, The Obama administration has had a sucess since entering office. (the only one BTW)

whbates on November 30, 2009 at 12:35 PM

From Crooks and Liars:

A CNN source with very close to the U.S. Secret Service confirmed to me today that threats on the life of the president of the United States have now risen by as much as 400 percent since his inauguration,

“A CNN source”? Pardon me while I laugh out loud.

Del Dolemonte on November 30, 2009 at 12:59 PM

orange on November 30, 2009 at 12:06 PM

You’re late, Dear. crr6 already posted that same link.

Del Dolemonte on November 30, 2009 at 1:04 PM

It will inevitably come out that these two were waved through security by an Obama staffer. It might not come out until after Obama leaves office, but it will come out.

A good reporter might try to find a way to get some info on this couple’s cell phone records to see who it was they called when they were turned away from the automobile gate.

The crumbs are out there waiting to be picked up.

Jason Coleman on November 30, 2009 at 1:23 PM

Since these 2 gatecrashers are terrorist sympathisers and chronic liars, Obama’s life was never in danger by their act. It was the life of the Indian PM which was in danger. The state dinner was just a few days before the first anniversary of Mumbai massacre and the security of the guest is also the resposibility of the WH..

macncheez on November 30, 2009 at 1:57 PM

Did anyone notice Gibbsy turning red as the press kept pressing him about the social office’s culpability in this? I honestly thought he was going to lose it.

Laura in Maryland on November 30, 2009 at 2:03 PM

macncheez on November 30, 2009 at 1:57 PM

Yes, and the stain of that lapse cannot be removed. Even firing the guards and or staffers that allowed this to transpire will not “fix” the error.

dogsoldier on November 30, 2009 at 2:11 PM

I noticed in the photo of Obama talking to these two at the dinner that he looked very relaxed and at ease…but I figured he had no reason to believe anyone was there to do harm, and was just welcoming strangers.

Now I see he has been photographed with these two before, and that they are apparently acquainted with Rashid Khalidi.

This article by Washington Post writers says they were at the inauguration:

Before Tareq and Michaele Salahi catapulted to international notoriety as possible White House gate-crashers last week, the Virginia socialites had their pictures taken with President Obama during his inauguration, Prince Charles at a polo match, and Oprah Winfrey at another event. They had Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy speak at their elaborate wedding, which more than 1,800 guests attended.

Who are these people really? Lots of people went to the inauguration, but most of them were not photographed with Obama I would assume. I’m really beginning to think there’s more to this than meets the eye.

capitalist piglet on November 30, 2009 at 2:48 PM

Hell, let ‘em all in.

BHO Jonestown on November 30, 2009 at 3:24 PM

What a wasted opportunity. These two people to go all that trouble to get through security and come face to face with Hussein, and didn’t take the opportunity to b!tchslap him across the head. Shame.

UltimateBob on November 30, 2009 at 3:34 PM

Another Obama lie and cover up. I don’t know who or why , but somebody within the administration cleared these people in , somebody pretty high up . The Secret Service is being made the fall guy .
borntoraisehogs on November 30, 2009 at 11:31 AM

BINGO! What people do not understand is–this administration wants to take down everything that we respect about government-CIA, Secret Service, armed forces, our judicial system, ad infinitum…(whatever is left that we do respect). Remember Bo’s word’s when he said, “We are just days away from fundamentally transforming this government. This is what they intend to do, in spite of what everyone thought.

Nalea on November 30, 2009 at 3:46 PM

On the contrary I’m the only person here who actually has provided any proof for my assertions.

crr6 on November 30, 2009 at 11:19 AM

Wrong, my statement that I posted was just as valid, with just as many links and supporting evidence as your quote gave.
Obama is the least threatened president in modern history.

right2bright on November 30, 2009 at 3:55 PM

I’m still waiting to find out who ordered the Secret Service to let them in. somebody had to clear them. It’s still a huge black eye for the Secret Service, but I cannot see how they let anyone in without clearing them. Someone ordered them to. And that someone had to be fairly high up.

chicagojedi on November 30, 2009 at 4:28 PM

I haven’t read all the comments but it seems that Tareq and Michaele Salahi have the same M.O. as The One!! They’re everywhere! They’re everywhere! There’s a photo op for even the peasants!

ranger549 on November 30, 2009 at 4:32 PM

Speaking of the show “Real Housewives of DC”
does Michelle Obama qualify to be star of the show?

Someone ordered them to. And that someone had to be fairly high up.

chicagojedi on November 30, 2009 at 4:28 PM

macncheez on November 30, 2009 at 4:33 PM

chicagojedi on November 30, 2009 at 4:28 PM

Precisely.

The secret service “tell all” book (released the other month) made this point: that the POLITICIANS are the ones setting PROTOCOL absolutely against the advice that the Secret Service gives to the President. The case that author used as his most blatant example regarded security measures at entrances to where the President will be in attendance. As soon as it’s time for the meeting to get started, the politicians order their secret service to stand down and allow everyone in to take their seats in time.

maverick muse on November 30, 2009 at 4:36 PM

That’s right, Kessler. I listened to several of his stump speeches promoting his book. He kept on his script pretty consistently, but spilled some beans late night with George Noory. Ha! You gotta love it when the host actually asks good questions.

It wasn’t that Obama is more threatened by outside threats; only that Obama, Inc. are all indebted to so many outsiders who paid to be insiders, that when these special lobbyists show up to collect their photo op, the incompetent Obama administration coerces the security agents into letting go of the security measures that are in place.

Exceptional threats to security are based from within this administration as this particular odd couple has PLO ties.

maverick muse on November 30, 2009 at 4:53 PM

Of course they were “invited.” Obama just forgot to tell them not to plaster the thing all over Facebook.

Ronnie on November 30, 2009 at 5:31 PM

This whole brouhaha re the Salahis smells beyond words, and the ObaMaos are not averse to dumping on the Secret Service.

Former press secretary for W Bush claims that the ObaMaos wanted to lessen the protocol strictures on security for the White House admissions when they assumed power. The WH social secretary, Desiree Rodgers (Michelle Obama’s friend(, was supposed to be at the entrance area vetting incoming guests. Instead, she was partying with the guests.

The Secret Service will be the fall guys for this blunder (because the ObaMaos are “circling the wagons” in protecting Desiree Rodgers).

These people did not belong in a party tent. They belong in a barn…for their disregard of protocol and security. At the same time, they squeal about the number of threats against the Boy King.

onlineanalyst on November 30, 2009 at 5:41 PM

“Rather than stand there and get wet, he went ahead and let them go,”

I would imagine the Muslim sounding name was the door opener. Especially when Tarek shouted, “lets get this diversity party started!”

BL@KBIRD on November 30, 2009 at 6:56 PM

I would laugh at this “CrasherGate” situation if it wasn’t so dangerous…

Khun Joe on November 30, 2009 at 7:58 PM

They used the magic words to get near Obama:

Allah-o-Akbar

macncheez on November 30, 2009 at 8:19 PM

From Fox News:

Representatives from the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation say the couple also attended their recent awards dinner without an invitation, and multiple sources told MyFoxDC.com they snuck in to the event through an entrance meant for bus boys and caterers.

And it goes on to say they were escorted out by security. Since Obama was at that dinner I am assuming that Secret Service was there also and that they were in the loop as regards the Salehis “crashing” the party. So what is up?

There is a connection between this couple and Khalidi who is a known PLO persona and a connection between Khalidi and Mr Obama. Could these “party crashers” actually be messengers between the PLO and Obama? The way she grips Obama’s hand in the picture is interesting- the one underneath could have something in it and the one on top is used for cover. The other thing that strikes me about the picture is how tense her arm is and we know now that she has met Obama before so I would think she would be more relaxed. I would love to see the next minute or so of tape- does Obama drop his hand and then put something in his pants pocket or maybe he retrieves a handkerchief from his suitcoat.

Just musings from someone who needs to go to bed now…

journeyintothewhirlwind on December 1, 2009 at 12:37 AM

GateCrasher CasherGate. goodness sakes. I think our boy let some things slide so some of his other buddies could come in the back door too. Who else does he let in, hmmmm?

johnnyU on December 1, 2009 at 7:31 AM

Look at that Happy Obama, laughing, smiling, reaching out to touch hands and arms and more with the two Crashers.

That is not a “concerned” guy.

Whatever “concern” Obama’s later developed such that there’s now a need for “increased security,” Obama appears to have developed in retrograde. ‘Cause he sure wasn’t “concerned” during the mingling with the two Crashers…who HE KNEW already.

Mr. Clueless didn’t think to stop and ask any security person or even Associate AT the Dinner why these two Crashers were there?

Lourdes on December 1, 2009 at 10:43 AM

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