White House tightens security to avoid 'gatecrashing' during holiday season

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Washington, Dec. 4 (ANI): Following last week's embarrassing gate-crashing incident at President Obama's first state dinner, the White House is set to host 50,000 guests at 17 holiday parties and 11 open houses over the next few weeks, apparently a challenge for the Secret Service.

During the Bush administration, nearly 60,000 visitors attended 25 lavish receptions, seven dinners and several tours at the White House, with no reported instances of security mishaps.

Now, the Obama administration is under pressure to prevent security breaches from spoiling its holiday season, Fox News reports.

As the government probes how two wannabe reality TV stars managed to slip into last week's state dinner in honour of Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, the White House is revaluating how it will manage the crowd of visitors.

William H. Pickle Jr., a former Secret Service agent, was quoted as saying that White House security will be at its tightest this holiday season.

"Once you screw up, everyone starts looking and you redouble your efforts. If anything, this was a good training exercise. There's a good system in place," he said.

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said the administration will adopt new guidelines to increase vigilance and ensure that only invited guests enter the complex.

White House staff will now be physically stationed at various checkpoints in collaboration with the Secret Service, he added.

The Secret Service, which admitted failing to follow established procedures during the state dinner, also pledged to adhere to longstanding security protocol.

"We will ensure that our procedures in place are strictly followed. There is a system in place where all visitors to the White House are vetted," said Darrin Blackford, a Secret Service public affairs officer. (ANI)

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