King: Congress should probe White House dinner crashersBy KEITH HERBERT
November 28, 2009
U.S. Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford), the ranking Republican on the House Homeland Security Committee, is calling for a congressional investigation into how a couple with reality television ambitions attended a state dinner at the White House without being on the guest list.
In an interview Friday, King said he will ask the chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, Bennie G. Thompson, (D-Miss.), to convene a hearing on the apparent White House security breach before the Homeland Security Committee.
The Secret Service is part of the Department of Homeland Security. Thompson couldn't be reached for comment on Friday.
"It could have been catastrophic," King said. "They could have brought chemical or biological weapons. I'm talking about terrorists, not these two whackos."
Michaele and Tareq Salahi penetrated layers of security Tuesday night to make it inside for a state dinner President Barack Obama hosted for Indian Prime MinisterManmohan Singh. The Virginia couple posted photos of their exploits on Facebook showing them with Vice President Joseph Biden and Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel.
King said he would ask for the committee to hold a hearing as soon as possible. At a minimum, he said, the Secret Service should provide the committee with a closed-door briefing.
"The purpose isn't to point fingers," King said. "It's to make sure that something like this never happens again."
He added that the most dangerous aspect of the apparent security breach was the nature of the state dinner, which involved invited guests mingling closely with the highest officials in the federal government, and foreign heads of state.
"Everyone is together," King said. "There are no barriers. They could have just grabbed any kind of knife or small fork."
King said he recalled that a U.S. congressman was denied access to a White House Christmas party during the Bush administration because the legislator brought his daughter, whose name wasn't on the guest list, instead of his wife.
But not everyone was eager to see a congressional hearing convened.
"We don't need a hearing," said U.S. Rep. Steve Israel (D-Huntington). "We need an investigation and someone needs to be fired."
Through a spokesman, U.S. Rep. Tim Bishop (D-Southampton) said he "didn't have anything to add" to the discussion about a congressional hearing into the apparent security lapse.
A spokesman for the Secret Service said Friday their investigation could result in criminal charges.