The Washington Review Commentary: About That Presidential Security Breach
Secret Service Director Mark Sullivan is in the hot seat. As he should be. How could two complete strangers infiltrate a state event without the batting of an eyelash? Tareq and Michaele Salahi breezed into the state dinner given in the honor of the Prime Minister of India, Manmohan Singh, sat in the company of world leaders and dignitaries, cheesed it up with Vice President Biden and greeted President Barack Obama with a hand-shake.
As part of a publicity stunt to impress the top brass at the BRAVO media network, Michaele Tareq pulled out all the stops to land a role on the yet to be cast reality series “THE REAL HOUSEWIVES OF D.C.” To get the nod, Michaele decided that she would take matters into her own hands: crash the ultimate high society party to appear as if she, and husband Tareq, are influential movers and shakers with big connects.
Turns out that the only thing Michaele and Tareq Salahi have succeeded in doing is creating a world-wind of controversy and immense concern as to the safety of President Obama. A lawyer for the Salahis stated that the pair were invited to the affair, contrary to what the guest list showed, and will grant interviews to the media next week.
Amid the backlash regarding the apparent breach in security surrounding the President and the First Lady, Secret Service Director Mark Sullivan issued the following statement:
November 27, 2009MEDIA ADVISORY
STATEMENT BY DIRECTOR MARK SULLIVAN
(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 repeated.
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.”
According to varied reports, the Salahis manuevered and manipulated their way through several layers of Secret Service constructed security. Obviously, somewhere down the line, the Secret Service dropped the ball. The real question, the burning question is: Where did the breach in security actually occur? According to the Salahis’ attorney, Michaele and Tareq were invited and on the list. Somewhere between two check points, a Secret Service agent (s) either perused the guest list, saw their name and granted them passage, or did not see the Salahis listed and granted them access solely based on their appearances.
However, the unnerving aspect of the entire episode is simply that President Obama’s top security was breached. This is entirely unacceptable. The President is not safe. If two aspiring cuckoos looking to make it big on a ‘reality show’ can crash a state dinner held at the White House, where one would definitely expect the Secret Service to be lurking in every crevice and crack, and actually shake the Commander in Chief’s hand, what does this really mean? What kind of message is being sent?
This is the second security breach under the watch of Secret Service Director Mark Sullivan. The first? That shoe throwing incident in Iraq involving an irate Iraqi journalist and President George W. Bush. But who knew someone would take off their shoes and throw them at the President of the United States?
But, also lets not forget the health care reform town hall meetings. Remember all of those ridiculous gun-toting fanatics that the Secret Service allowed to just hang around outside the places where President Obama was speaking? There was one particular man that carried what appeared to be an assault weapon. Why weren’t these folks picked up and hauled off to jail by the Secret Service? Obviously, they posed a real threat to the President.
Michaele and Tariq Salahi have earned their fifteen minutes of fame. In the quest for television notoriety, their greed, phoniness, selfishness, and sheer vanity laid bare a serious security sink hole that needs to be addressed when it comes to the protection of the President and the First Family. Rep. Edolphus Town, Chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee commented Friday that “the incident compromised the safety and security of the President and undermined our confidence in the protection we expect of the Secret Service.”
Rep. Town wants the House of Representatives to investigate the state dinner security breach. Yet, before the investigation even begins, Secret Service Director Mark Sullivan should fire the Secret Service agents responsible for the so-called clearance of the Salahis, and then tenure his resignation.
Sources report that federal charges are coming down the pipe, too! I respectfully ask Michaele and Tariq Salahi: Was it worth it?
Hope it was.