Friday, November 27, 2009

The 'Gate Crashers' at the State Dinner....symptom of something more serious?

Remember this?

Now, I was never a fan of Dubya, but fact is...he was President of the United States. And, I never could get the explanation as to why this man wasn't riddled full of bullets. The first shoe was bad enough, but that he was allowed to get off the second one without a bullet in him made no sense. There could have been any kind of chemical or biological weapon on the shoe. I know, I sound like an episode of 24, but you know these types of weapons exist.

Maybe it was because Bush's popularity was so low by that point that the seriousness of the situation didn't get the attention it deserved. Maybe I missed it, but I don't remember reading about any inquiries where the Secret Service is concerned. Maybe there was, and someone lost their job on the Presidential Detail - I hope so.

Which brings me to the ' Gate Crashers' at the State Dinner.

In case you don't know the story, two folks wound up 'CRASHING' the State Dinner. Whether they are reality show contestants or not, they were able to crash the State Dinner. This story has never been funny or amusing to me. It's dangerous.

The more benign conspiracy theory is that someone wants to make the Obama White House look incompetent. And, that someone inside the White House, who wants the same, helped them.

It's obvious that someone INSIDE HELPED THEM.

Now, you have the more sinister conspiracy theory of that this is a 'dry run' for something altogether more heinous, and there is a leak in the Secret Service.

You can choose either one, but both are disturbing.


Who was at the State Dinner, and why was this breach a threat to national security?

Here is the Presidential Line of Succession
1 Vice President -- Joe Biden
2 Speaker of the House of Representatives-- Nancy Pelosi
3 President pro tempore of the Senate -- Robert Byrd
4 Secretary of State -- Hillary Clinton
5 Secretary of the Treasury-- Timothy Geithner
6 Secretary of Defense -- Robert Gates
7 Attorney General -- Eric Holder

Outside of Senator Byrd, everyone else was at the State Dinner.

There were two of them, and if they had more sinister motives, they could have divvied up the list, and set about causing instability in the United States Executive Branch.

So now, today, we have an apology from the Secret Service.

From the NYTimes:
Secret Service Apologizes for Allowing Pair at State Dinner
Published: November 27, 2009

WASHINGTON — The celebrity-seeking couple who sneaked into a state dinner this week came face-to-face with President Obama and his wife, Michelle, the White House said Friday in a disclosure that 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 the president and first lady in a receiving line at their first state dinner, honoring Prime Minister Manmohan Singh of India. That disclosure coincided with a statement in which the director of the Secret Service, Mark Sullivan, said his agency was “deeply concerned and embarrassed” by the events at the dinner Tuesday night.

“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,” Mr. Sullivan said.

“Although these individuals went through magnetometers and other levels of screening, they should have been prohibited from entering the event entirely,” Mr. Sullivan said. “That failing is ours.”

You've got that right. It IS your responsibility. Yes, you're overtaxed. Yes, you're working under the pressure of having a President with more threats than any in history. Maybe there needs to be a reshuffling of responsibilities so that there is a specific unit dedicated to Presidential threats.

The thought, that they shouldn't be charged with something, is ridiculous. They BREACHED SECURITY AT THE WHITE HOUSE! I don't know which laws they broke, but if you and I had breached White House Security, you wanna bet that nobody would be listening to an 'OOOPS, my bad' from us?

Would anyone have uttered the words that 'you don't know if they broke any laws', if the Gate Crashers looked like this:

--Photo by 7x7/San Francisco

Yeah, I don't think so either.


The Angry Independent said...

How much 24 have you been watching? :)

Regarding Bush... apparently his detail was in an adjacent room... the media pool had a certain level of clearance. Only the security chief was in the immediate vicinity.... so it took a while to get to the reporter.

Plus, when the President is overseas, in most cases, the host Country (yes, even Iraq) is allowed to take more of a role in security since he is the visiting head of State.

Obama's State dinner is another matter. It receives the highest security designation from the USSS....for the reasons you mention... with the leadership being in one place, plus the visiting head of State and his well as all the other dignitaries and guests.

I don't think there was anything malicious here on the part of authorities... They just didn't pay attention to detail (not unusual under stressful conditions). Most federal law enforcement agencies are geared towards boot camp style military training... emphasizing physical fitness over brains. That's basically the culture in these agencies. Which is why they hire a lot of former military...athletes, etc..(taking nothing away from them.... but not all are meant for law enforcement). This breach is no real surprise...and they have happened before.

The Angry Independent said...

You mentioned:

"a specific unit dedicated to Presidential threats."

Actually there is such a unit. All they do is follow up on threats.

The USSS has three major branches...(1) Protection (2) Investigations (3) The Uniformed Division

Protection is of course responsible for the President, VP, families, and former Presidents, etc. They even have their own protection zones across the Country... New York (Clintons), Georgia (Carters), Maine (Bush 1), Texas (Bush 2), California (Nancy Reagan), etc...with their own leadership. There are several more...but the above are the major zones...all publicly known.

The investigations division has field offices across the Country...and they follow up on threats...and also investigate financial crimes, counterfeiting, and certain forms of fraud & ID theft. They also help the Protection division by assisting with the preparation for a Presidential visit in their area.

The Uniform Div... assists with protecting fixed assets... such as the White House, Chicago, etc. Some of the special units operate within this division...certain SWAT units, etc. (and they are a part of the motorcade..and are in full SWAT gear, but stay out of sight.) This is the crew that springs to action to fend off threats to the building itself. I suspect it was the Uniform division that may have screwed up...since they typically handle dealing with the crowds at the White House...and working the checkpoints. They basically take care of the perimeter.

The Secretary of State has her own Protection... under the DSS (Defense Security Service)...they basically do the same thing that the USSS does.

The Capital Police and the Supreme Court have pretty much the same thing for certain members of Congress...and Supreme Court personnel.

My concern is... the nutcases may be paying attention...and thinking that they could try the same thing. Or worse... Int'l extremists could be taking note.

They should be charged with something ...but will likely get a slap on the wrist. This couple may have actually done Obama a favor... by exposing weaknesses in security (that will hopefully be fixed).