Washington: Tareq and Michaele Salahi may have become the world's most famous gatecrashers for tricking their way into the White House's state dinner for Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh last month, but they are not the first people to breach the US president's security.
A secret report compiled by the Secret Service reveals the security surrounding America's President has been breached at least 91 times since 1980, 'The Washington Post' reported.
A summary of the 2003 report, obtained by the leading US newspaper, contains accounts of many breaches, including a family who were allowed to the White House grounds in minivan, a man believed to be a delivery driver, and a woman previously known to Secret Service agents after she had falsely claimed a "special relationship" with Bill Clinton.
The report states that the list of security breaches exposes significant gaps that could be exploited by "would-be assassins" and erodes "one of the best tools for deterring future attempts" -- the aura of invulnerability around the White House.
A Secret Service official confirmed the authenticity of the "unclassified document" and said it was used to train agents and officers in an effort to improve agency operations.
"This document reflects a proactive attempt to evaluate our security and obviously raises the awareness of uniformed division officers and agents about their jobs. We have to be concerned about the threats to our protectees at all times, whether at the White House or away from the White House," Spokesman Edwin Donovan was quoted as saying.
After the appearance at last month's state dinner by the Salahis, the Secret Service has launched a criminal investigation into the couple and a sweeping internal review of security procedures.
Offering a rare public apology for the incident, the agency's director, Mark Sullivan, characterised it as a "pure and simple... case of human error" in which three uniformed officers let the well-dressed Salahis pass through gates on a
rainy night without confirming their names on a guest list.
First Published: Monday, December 07, 2009, 15:37