White House Party Crashers Called to Testify Before Congress

December 1st, 2009 by

www.cbsnews.com – Congressional lawmakers are expecting to hear this week directly from the head of the Secret Service, as well as from the Northern Virginia couple who “crashed” the White House State Dinner last week, as to how exactly the couple gained access to the White House uninvited.

Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) announced this morning that the House Committee on Homeland Security will hold a hearing on the matter this Thursday. The committee plans to invite testimony from Michaele and Tareq Salahi, the couple who managed to attend portions of the State Dinner on Tuesday without proper White House and Secret Service clearance. Secret Service Director Mark Sullivan, who is responsible for the safety of Secret Service protectees, will also be invited to testify.

“This is a time for answers, recognition of security deficiencies past and present, and remedies to ensure the strength of the Secret Service and the safety of those under its protection,” Thompson said in a statement. “The intent of this Administration may be openness and transparency, but a security breakdown that allowed anyone who looked the part to walk off the street into a State Dinner is a slap in the face to the Secret Service employees who put their lives on the line to protect our form of government and its leaders.”

Former U.S. Chief of Protocol Donald Ensenat, who served in that post for most of President Bush’s eight years in office, told CBS News that “the Secret Service is being made the scapegoat” in the party crasher incident. Sullivan acknowledged in a statement released Friday, however, that ultimately it is the responsibility of the Secret Service to ensure that individuals not on the guest list are not permitted entry to the White House.

The Salahis have yet to release a public statement regarding their presence at the party. A publicist for the couple, however, denies they are demanding money from television networks before sharing their story.

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