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Feds: Couple crashed Obama's state dinner

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How did the crashers do it?
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Secret Service: Tareq and Michaele Salahi attended state dinner without invitations
  • Michaele Salahi's Facebook page shows pictures of couple with vice president
  • Couple are polo-playing socialites from northern Virginia, Washington Post reports

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

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.

"The Secret Service has tasked our Office of Professional Responsibility with conducting a comprehensive review of the incident," Donovan's statement said.

Video: Security breach at state dinner
Video: Uninvited dinner guests
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Video footage of the dinner showed the couple walking past journalists into the event. On Wednesday, Michaele Salahi's Facebook page included photos of the couple at the dinner, including two pictures with Vice President Joe Biden and another with Rahm Emanuel, the White House chief of staff, who was identified on the page as "Ron" Emanuel.

The couple's names did not appear on the guest list distributed Tuesday by the White House.

In an e-mail to CNN, Mahogany Jones, who identified herself as a publicist for the Salahis, said the couple had "full clearance to attend the state dinner."

Fran Townsend, a homeland security adviser to former President George W. Bush, said the incident likely involved a breakdown at the "perimeter" security for the event, which is the first checkpoint that guests encounter.

Lying to the Secret Service could bring a felony charge, Townsend said.

 
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