Secret Service offers apology for security lapse

Secret Service offers apology for security lapse

Secret Service offers apology for security lapse

This photo released by the White House shows President Barack Obama greeting Michaele and Tareq Salahi (right) at a state dinner hosted by Obama for Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at the White House in Washington on Tuesday. AP

The revelation underscored the seriousness of the security breach and prompted an abject apology from the Secret Service. A White House spokesman said the couple, 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 on Tuesday night before moving to a tent on the South Lawn for dinner.

That disclosure coincided with a statement from the director of the Secret Service, Mark Sullivan, saying that his agency was “deeply concerned and embarrassed” by the events. 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 preliminary findings of our internal investigation have determined established that 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,”  Sullivan said. “That failing is ours.” On Friday night, the White House released a photograph of the couple in the receiving line, being greeted by Obama.

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

The couple’s lawyer Paul W Gardner of Baltimore asserts that the Salahis had been “cleared, by the White House,” to be at the event, and so were not really “crashing.”