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November 26th, 2009
06:00 AM ET

Feds: Couple crashed Obama's state dinner

Washington (CNN) - Two people without invitations crashed President Obama's first White House state dinner, the U.S. Secret Service said Wednesday.

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="A photo shown on Michaele Salahi's Facebook page shows her, Tareq Salahi and Vice President Joe Biden."]

The Secret Service confirmed a Washington Post report that the couple who crashed Tuesday night's dinner were Tareq and Michaele Salahi. The Post described the couple as polo-playing socialites from northern Virginia.

A Secret Service checkpoint "did not follow proper procedures" to determine if the two were on the guest list for the dinner, said Edwin M. Donovan, a Secret Service special agent, in a statement.

Playing down any security threat, Donovan's statement said: "It is important to note that these individuals went through magnetometers and other levels of security, as did all guests attending the dinner."

The incident represents a security breach for the White House at the Obama administration's biggest social event to date. More than 300 guests, including Cabinet members, diplomats and Hollywood celebrities, attended the dinner in honor of visiting Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

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Filed under: White House
soundoff (21 Responses)
  1. Jessica*

    Oh, and I don't care if these people save birds from oil spills and spend days taking care of homeless people – they still CRASHED the White House dinner and should still face charges. Seriously – how delusional can you be to think that you were invited to a dinner at the White House and no one even knows who you are!?!?!

    December 3, 2009 at 1:08 am |
  2. Jessica*

    Justin – this wasn't a run of the mill weekend party. AND the Secret Service isn't trying to place blame on anyone else – they admitted they messed up and apologized. Even though an apology doesn't even begin to resolve what happened.

    December 3, 2009 at 1:06 am |
  3. Donna W

    Telling this story over and over again is ridiculous. You are giving these idiots exactly what they want, air time. Stop talking about them and let the Feds put them away like they should be. And as for the person that said they were thinking of stopping by the white house for a visit, get a life. It is the peoples house but you still need to be invited for gods sakes.

    December 2, 2009 at 9:16 am |
  4. Stan

    I can't wait to see them on Real Housewives of Leavenworth

    November 30, 2009 at 10:31 am |
  5. Mariann Pepitone

    Gary Meyers: Your right. But I am also blaming the Feds for not taken action immediately. They need to be brought to justice and I believe she was the one that wanted to crash that party. Whatever could she have told the security? She lost her invitation card? They should have checked it out immediately before passing them thru. Obama's whole security setup was done wrong. Someone should have been at the gate with the list of quests invited and checked them off the list as they came in. The card doesn't mean anything. The list does. That's how the crashers got away with it. They didn't check.

    November 30, 2009 at 8:43 am |
  6. Mariann Pepitone

    Harriett Lupo: You are absolutely right. I thought their interview with Larry King was cancelled. They should not be treated like stars. They should be arrested and brought before a judge and I don't know why the Feds haven't acted on that already. They certainly acted fast on the Balloon Boy. These crashers showed disrespect for our president and action should have been taken immediately.

    November 30, 2009 at 8:38 am |
  7. Mariann Pepitone

    Ron Bitter: Don't be a joker. You know better than that. Don't you have respect for our president. They certainly didn't. I don't know what is taking the Feds so long in issuing a warrant. They need to go before a judge and what a good photo that would be. Her real show would be a photo of her behind prison bars.

    November 30, 2009 at 8:30 am |
  8. Mariann Pepitone

    William Loiry: You are so wrong about those two crashers. They are disrespectful people that are out to make any headlines they can because she wants to be in pictures. Give me a break. They should spend 6 months behind bars to wake them up that they cannot do what they want. She is a complete showoff and wants to be in movies. They are thousands of dollars in debt which means they are living day to day on other's money.

    November 30, 2009 at 8:26 am |
  9. Stan

    Lock these terrorists up! Also arrest her stylist, those dark roots made her look wretched and stringy, straight lifeless hair. Dress was bad, too. These are the real issues we care about...

    November 30, 2009 at 8:26 am |
  10. Mariann Pepitone

    What is taking the Feds so long to issue a warrant for their arrest? They should be tried before a judge and sentenced to 6 months in jail. Since she wants to be on TV show, having her picture taken behind bars would be the real show. They showed no respect for Obama. I also believe it was her idea and Obama's security is a joke.

    November 30, 2009 at 8:21 am |
  11. Loraine Antrim

    It was far too easy for the White House crashers to get past security check points. What this tells me is that there was NOT a team effort–everyone on the security team was not playing by the same playbook. In business when sales teams are not coordinated, a multi million dollar sale can be in jeopardy. In this case, the President could have been in jeopardy. Advice to the Secret Service: One team, one mission, one playbook, everybody on the same page. Loraine Antrim

    November 28, 2009 at 6:21 pm |
  12. Ron Bitter

    I thought the White House was the people's house? I was thinking of stopping by myself!

    November 28, 2009 at 3:25 pm |
  13. Justin

    The Secret Service drops the ball big time on this one. Now they say the couple should face charges, because it is a crie to walk into a party without an invit. Don't think it would be the same if an every day person walked into a run of the mill weekend party. If you called the police they would tell you no crime was comitted. The service put our leader in danger, and they are trying to place blame off them. Bring charges against the right party.

    November 28, 2009 at 11:16 am |
  14. William Loiry

    I have been involved in developing homeland security since 1998 and it is a pleasure for me to confirm that Tareq and Michaele Salahi are fine public servants who give of themselves selflessly. They both were a major sponsor of The Presidential Inauguration VIP Ball and Conference in January ( and now I am glad to see that they are with our leaders making a difference. - William Loiry

    November 27, 2009 at 5:10 pm |
  15. mary Bryant

    they are just looking to tv coverage. why even talk about it ? then they get what they want. These people are publicity junkies

    November 27, 2009 at 12:32 pm |
  16. Harriett Lupo

    When is CNN, and Larry King – especially – going to quit rewarding bad behavior? By interviewing the couple (tonight), that crashed a state dinner, he, and CNN, are doing just that. And its scary; too many nuts are out there already making too many threats against our much loved President, and not only do we send them a message that one can get past the Secret Service, Larry King rewards their shameless, and disgusting behavior. Me, my family and friends have discussed this subject in the past, and we will no longer be watching that show if those horrible people are brought on to be interviewed. I hope heads at the Secret Service and Social Secretarys' office roll, too!
    We teach our children by example, and with the help, and lack of conscious, by too many talk show hosts, this is now another reflection of what poor behavior is being condoned.

    November 27, 2009 at 10:38 am |
  17. Gary Meyers

    Concerning the two attention getting socialites crashing the white house dinner, they are pathetic. Their 15 minutes of fame are going to cost some poor secret service employees their job, along with someone from the white house social secretarys office. They apparently could care less about the "little people". They should be prosecuted for the security breach.

    November 27, 2009 at 10:34 am |
  18. ChicagoGuy

    I hope that these people spend time in prison for the blatant disregard of Whitehouse protocol and the potential safety of the President. It appears that they felt above the rules that apply to all Americans; you must be invited to the Whitehouse, it is not a "stop on by for dinner" residence. I bet I would be in jail today if I were to have party crashed.

    November 27, 2009 at 10:07 am |
  19. christa

    I guess any american would like to go to a state dinner, but we the people are not invited. So this couple tried to get in and they did. This is not their fault, but the fault of the Secret Service. If they cannot protect our president, they should be fired. The person who hired them should also be fired, they probably hire their families, thats the way it is with the Government, lots of nepotism. The Secret Service agents need to be trained, because we have enough crazy people in this country and if something happend to our president we would have a race war here in the USA. Anyway changes need to be made and this couple should not be penalized, they showed us how vurneable the situation is. Secret Services is like a mall cop, fat and lazy, by the way I have nothing against a mall cop, because they do not get paid enough.

    November 27, 2009 at 7:21 am |
  20. Jeff Burns

    Ummm, maybe RFID chips in a trinket to carry in your pocket, or a proximity card,,, Anything to know that when someone walks through a gate without it, an alarm sounds.

    We put them in our pets, they are only a couple dollars each, and in their pocket they could be scanned without embarrassment.

    The serial number is then flushed and it could never be used again, so they could still take it home as a souvenir.

    With all of the technology we have, there is no excuse for that. Send them the key to the gate, if they don’t have it, they won’t get in.

    November 26, 2009 at 6:41 pm |
  21. Ted

    I`m laughiung my butt off, Obama the self proclaimed rico sauve now has pictures of his vice president apparently being chummy chummy with totally uninvited guest! So much for all that big talk of this country being more secure than when Dubya was Prez! First the terrorist attack at Ft. Hood and now this, he should be ashamed of himself for talking all that smack about how he is so much better of a leader than Dubya was....boooooooooooooo, 2012 cant get here soon enough! One final thing, for a country in so much financial trouble he is sure living it up and taking advantage of every opportunity he can to wine and dine and jet set all over the world when people in this country are suffering badly! You think Obama being such the moral guy would realize this instead of taking advantage of the American people!

    November 26, 2009 at 8:18 am |