November 27, 2009 WASHINGTON: Crashing a state dinner at the White House apparently takes a security breakdown as well as some kind of nerve.
The Secret Service is looking into its security procedures after determining that a Virginia couple, Michaele and Tareq Salahi, managed to slip into a state dinner at the White House on Tuesday night even though they were not on the guest list, said a spokesman for the agency, Ed Donovan.
The President, Barack Obama, was never in danger because the party crashers went through the same security screening for weapons as the 300-plus people who had been invited to the dinner, which was held in honour of the Indian Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, Mr Donovan said.
The Secret Service learnt about the security breach on Wednesday after a media inquiry that was prompted by the Salahis’ boasting online that they had attended the event, Mr Donovan said.
One of the many photos from the dinner posted on Michaele Salahi’s Facebook page shows the couple with a smiling Vice-President, Joe Biden.
In other photos, they appear alone or together with the White House chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, the Mayor of Washington, Adrian Fenty, the CBS News anchor, Katie Couric, a Republican representative, Ed Royce, and three Marines in their dress blues.
The Salahis, long-time fixtures in the local horse-country society, have recently seemed destined for national fame by way of reality television.
Michaele, a striking, model-thin blonde who used to be a Redskins cheerleader, is widely reported to be in contention as one of the Real Housewives in the coming Washington DC edition of the hit Bravo cable series. While Bravo has not officially finalised its cast, its cameras have followed the couple at numerous parties, including the America’s Polo Cup held in September as part of a series of tournaments the Salahis founded a few years ago.
Even before their brush with reality fame, the couple had gained some notoriety for a long feud with Tareq’s parents, Dirgham and Corinne Salahi, over control of the family’s Oasis winery in Virginia.
Last year, Tareq accused his mother’s lawyer of punching him. The lawyer was found not