Tales from the Trail

Inquisition begins over state dinner gatecrashing

Secret Service Director Mark Sullivan looked like he was having a bad day as he sat facing a firing USA/squad of lawmakers determined to find out how the vaunted Secret Service could allow uninvited guests into the White House and even into a receiving line to shake hands with President Barack Obama.

“I’ve asked myself that question a thousand times over this past week,” Sullivan told the House Homeland Security Committee when asked how Tareq and Michaele Salahi were allowed to talk their way into the White House for last week’s state dinner although they were not on the guest list.

“Do I like to see this? Believe me, we are beating ourselves up over this,” said Sullivan, who looked like he could use a good night’s sleep and seemed to have a 5 o’clock shadow even at 10 a.m.

Sullivan said he had put three Secret Services officers on paid leave for their role in letting the Virginia couple into the state dinner held in honor of the Indian prime minister.

Sullivan’s agency has been the brunt of criticism after the Salahis talked their way into the White House and managed to pose with Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and others including the Marines guarding the White House.

White House defends social secretary in gate-crasher flap, couple declines to testify

INDIA-USA/White House spokesman Robert Gibbs today defended the White House social secretary, Desiree Rogers, in the controversy surrounding how a Virginia couple managed to wangle their way into President Barack Obama’s state dinner for Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh last week.

It has been noted in news accounts that no one from the social secretary’s office was at the gate helping the Secret Service identify guests and making sure people not on the list did not get inside.

Gibbs noted that for the crush of holiday parties that have just begun at the White House, procedures have been changed to ensure someone from the social office is at the gate.