Apologetic Secret Service 'red-faced' after Salahis White House dinner gatecrash

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Washington, Nov. 28 (ANI): The gate-crashing Salahis were greeted by President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama during the state dinner in honour of Indian Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh, White House officials have admitted, prompting apology from the Secret Service for the security breach.

The New York Times quoted the director of the Secret Service, Mark Sullivan, as saying that his agency was "deeply concerned and embarrassed" by the events.

"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," Sullivan said.

"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 added.

According to a White House spokesman, Michaele and Tareq Salahi of Virginia, met and shook hands with the president and the first lady in the receiving line in the Blue Room, as the Obamas greeted each of their 400 invited guests Tuesday night before moving to a tent on the South Lawn for dinner.

The White House also released a photograph of the couple in the receiving line, being greeted by Obama.

In the photo, a smiling Michaele Salahi, wearing a red and gold sari, is clasping Obama's hand with both of hers, as her husband looks on. The prime minister of India, Manmohan Singh, is standing next to Obama.

The Salahis penetrated the intensive layers of security surrounding a US president armed with nothing more than a badly fitting dinner jacket, eye-catching sari dress and mind-boggling chutzpah on Tuesday night.

Boasting of being "honoured to be at the White House", Tareq Salahi's page on her Facebook site showed her posing for photographs with Vice President Joe Biden, the White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, the CBS News presenter Katie Couric, Adrian Fenty, the mayor of Washington DC and even three US marines. Facebook photos also appear to show the couple in the First Family's glass-enclosed bullet proof viewing area after a concert at the Lincoln Memorial during Barack Obama's inauguration weekend.

Biden's snaps were particularly embarrassing, one capturing the vice president with his arm around the gatecrasher's waist as she rested a hand intimately on his chest.

Other pictures on her page show the couple with the Prince of Wales, President Obama, Bill Clinton and Oprah Winfrey, as well as one of Tareq Salahi wearing a skimpy dress on the cover of a local lifestyle magazine.

Tareq Salahi is a former Washington Redskins cheerleader who, along with her husband, has auditioned to appear in a forthcoming TV show called Real Housewives of DC.

Secret Service officials said the agency wanted to interview everyone connected with the episode, including the Salahis, and had not ruled out criminal charges.

The couple's lawyer, Paul W. Gardner, asserted that the Salahis had been "cleared, by the White House," to be at the event, and so were not really "crashing." (ANI)

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