Friday, November 27, 2009

Secret Service needs to get it right

Well, everyone is a buzz about the D.C. area couple who busted into the State Dinner on Tuesday. This would be funny if it was a "punked joke", but for the leader of the free world, this is hardly funny. It is very dangerous and no one is laughing about this.

This photo released by the White House Nov. 27, 2009, shows President Barack Obama greeting Michaele and Tareq Salahi, right, at a State Dinner hosted by Obama for Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at the White House in Washington Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2009. The Secret Service is looking into its own security procedures after determining that the uninvited Virginia couple managed to slip into the dinner.

The Northern Virginia socialite was being taped by a production crew for Bravo cable channel's forthcoming "The Real Housewives of Washington."

"It was a lot of schmoozing with the staff," James Packard-Gomez, CEO of Erwin Gomez Salon, said Thursday, explaining why the hair and makeup session lasted from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The salon was abuzz because Michaele and her husband, Tareq, were among the 320 VIPs invited to join the president and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. "They were asking, 'So, what do you think of them getting invited to this?' "

The stylist doing Michaele's hair asked to see the White House invitation, Packard-Gomez said. "She starts rummaging through her purse, and then said, 'It must be out in the car.' "

Would the film crews get into the White House, too? " 'We tried,' " he says she told them, " 'but they wouldn't let them in.' "

This couple, Michaele and Tareq Salahi are part of the new Bravo series, "Real Housewives of D.C. or Washington". Again, this would be all fine and dandy for SOMEONE ELSE, but not the President of the United States. The Secret Service is not a secret by letting this couple, who was not on the list of attendees, to actually bypass their procedures and security to actually meet and greet the President of the United States and the Vice President of the United States. This takes me back to the President Bush "shoe incident" in Iraq. Though this was funny, for me the first thought was, "Where is the Secret Service?"

This coming from an agency that has stated it is overwhelmed at the increase of death threats against President Obama and his family, an increase of 400%. The highest for any sitting U.S. President. And now this? If this agency needs increase of funds, give to them. If this agency needs to hire new personnel, allow them to do so. An incident like this should never happen again, a total embarrassment.

Yes, the Secret Service is embarrassed.
Sullivan said that “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,” he said.

Sullivan said it wasn’t good enough that his agency screened more than 1.2 million visitors last year to the White House complex and protected more than 10,000 sites for the president, vice president and others.

“Even with these successes, we need to be right 100 percent of the time,” he said. “While we have protocols in place to address these situations, we must ensure that they are followed each and every time.”

It is unclear what the couple told officers at the checkpoint that allowed them to go through the security screening. Federal law makes it a crime to knowingly and willfully falsify statements on matters within the federal government’s jurisdiction.

Lastly, the White House released a statement that the Obama Family will not spend the Christmas Holiday in Chicago. After this, I am not surprised, as the Obamas live in the heart of the City of Chicago, under urban dwelling and for the Secret Service it just may be too much of a stretch to protect the family when homes are so close to one another.

Washington Post

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