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US Congress panel to summon Salahis, Secret Service chief

Last Updated: Monday, November 30, 2009 - 23:39

Washington: A Congressional committee on Monday
said it will ask the Secret Service chief and the Virginia
couple, who gate crashed into the First State Dinner hosted in
honour of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh last week, to testify
before it on the breach of security at the White House.

The annnouncement was made by House Committee on Homeland
Security Chairman Bennie G Thompson, who ordered a full
committee hearing on Thursday, December 3.

The committee, which oversees the Secret Service, "plans
to invite testimony from (Tareq) and (Michaele) Salahi, who
managed to attend portions of the State Dinner without proper
White House and Secret Service clearance, and Secret Service
Director Mark Sullivan, who is responsible for safety of
Secret Service protectees and the plans his agency develops
and implements to secure them," Thompson said.

The Salahis gatecrashed in the State Dinner hosted in
honour of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh last Tuesday.

The hearing will focus on breakdown in security
arrangements on the evening, deficiencies in security planning
leading up to the State Dinner, actions taken to correct the
vulnerabilities and identify any violations of Secret Service
policy or management failures at the agency, a statement said.

"This is a time for answers, recognition of security
deficiencies past and present, and remedies to ensure the
strength of the Secret Service and the safety of those under
its protection," Thompson said.

"This is not the time for political games or scapegoating
to distract our attention from the careful oversight we must
apply to the Secret Service and its mission," he said.

"The intent of this Administration may be openness and
transparency, but a security breakdown that allowed anyone who
looked the part to walk off the street into a State Dinner is
a slap in the face to the Secret Service employees who put
their lives on the line to protect our form of government and
its leaders," Thompson said.

The statement said for more than two years Thompson
and the Committee on Homeland Security has investigated and
reviewed accusations of mismanagement at the Secret Service
including concerns of inadequate resources at the agency,
potential inaugural security vulnerabilities, insufficient
diversity and recruitment strategies.

Bureau Report

First Published: Monday, November 30, 2009 - 23:39

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