White House Party Crashers Wow and Appall the Nation

How did two DC socialites slip past the Secret Service to snap photos for Facebook?

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President Obama's first official state dinner for Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh took an unexpected turn when Michaele and Tareq Salahi showed up. The Salahis snapped photos with Vice President Joe Biden, Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel and others, which they later posted to Facebook. The only problem: The Salahis weren't invited. Subsequent revelations about the suddenly-high-profile party crashers include: White House security should not have let them pass; they are established DC socialites; and they are leading candidates for Bravo's forthcoming "Real Housewives of Washington DC," for which they were filmed that day. What does this mean for the Salahis and for the Secret Service tasked with protecting the President?

  • Dangerous Precedent  Representative Peter King, a New York Republican and ranking member of the House Homeland Security Committee, plans for a Congressional investigation. "Obviously, somebody dropped the ball. I mean, you’re talking about the president of the United States and the vice president and a powerful world leader, the prime minister of India," he told the New York Times. "The fact they went through the magnometer is incidental. They could have had anthrax on them. They could have grabbed a knife from the dining room table."
  • 'Awesome and Sad'  Gawker's Adrian Chen tells the Salahis, "You inspire and sadden us in almost equal measure." Chen writes, "It is pretty ridiculous (and scary) that on this night—Obama's special night!—these two fameballs showed up and successfully used an important geopolitical event as a launching pad for their now inevitable reality show/string of late-night television interviews. But also kind of awesome. Go (to Hell) Salahis!"
  • Weak White House 'Security'  Glenn "Instapundit" Reynolds writes, "This isn’t a huge shock to me, though. I visited the White House back in the '90s and they took my Tennessee driver's license as ID. Back then, when it expired, you got a renewal sticker that went on the back. The security guy looked at the front of my license, which showed an expiration date a year in the past, but never looked at the back. Not long after I noticed that when I bought beer at a Weigel’s convenience store, the guy immediately looked at the back...One hopes the White House security will get an upgrade."
  • Where Was Secret Service?  The New York Times's Helene Cooper struggles to contain her exasperation. "While the question of how well the president is protected is never a casual one, it has taken on special resonance with Mr. Obama, the nation’s first black president. Even when he was a candidate, his security rivaled that of a sitting president, because of both the size of the crowds he attracted and the number of threats. Secret Service agents began guarding him 18 months before the November 2008 election, the earliest a candidate has ever been provided protection. It was not clear how close the couple got to the Obamas."
  • Invite Them Back!  The U.K. Independent marvels at how well-behaved they were. "But we say: the Obamas got off lightly. After all, the Salahis didn't drink all the booze; they didn't gorge themselves; they left well before the end of the party. And unless the reports are missing something, they didn't urinate on the White House lawn, waking up the neighbours in the process. If only all gatecrashers trod so lightly. In fact, one might even argue that the Salahis deserve an invitation next time."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.