Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 24 September 2014

Reality TV crew filmed White House gatecrashers

Michaele and Tareq Salahi with White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel

The couple who gatecrashed a White House state dinner were being filmed by a reality TV show camera crew, the network said today.

A spokeswoman for Bravo Media insisted, however, that none of the filming took place on White House grounds.

Michaele and Tareq Salahi, from Virginia, gained access to the dinner President Barack Obama hosted for Indian prime minister Manmohan Singh on Tuesday, although they had not been invited.

The incident prompted an urgent security review by the Secret Service, which admitted procedures were not followed properly.

The couple bragged about their success on their Facebook page, displacing pictures of them with government officials and even three US Marines.

"Honoured to be at the White House for the state dinner in honour of India with President Obama and our First Lady!" they wrote.

And, along with photos of the couple at the event, they wrote: "A Sensational Night honouring India."

And a posting under a picture of Mrs Salahi with Vice President Joe Biden said: "OMG! SO EXCITING!!!!!! IRISH EYES ARE SMILING TOGETHER!"

Bravo Media said Michaele Salahi was being considered as a participant in the upcoming The Real Housewives of DC TV show.

On the day of the White House dinner she was being filmed around Washington by Half Yard Productions, the producer of the programme.

"Half Yard's cameras were not inside the White House. They filmed the couple preparing for the event," Johanna Fuentes, Bravo Media's vice president, communications, said.

She said the Salahis "informed Half Yard that they were invited, the producers had no reason to believe otherwise."

The White House refused to comment on the Salahis and referred all calls to the Secret Service.

A Secret Service investigation of the security breach will help determine whether the Salahis might face prosecution, but the main focus is to find out how an uninvited person could attend such a high-profile event on the South Lawn of the White House.

Paul Morrison, a Virginia lawyer who represented the couple in the past but has not spoken to them since the dinner, said: "They just went to a party. They didn't do anything wrong.

"I know them. I'm unaware of any reason they need representation right now."

Edwin Donovan, a Secret Service spokesman, said Mr Obama was never in any danger because the Salahis went through the same security screening for weapons as the 300-plus people invited to the dinner.

He said the officers at the checkpoint involved in clearance for the dinner did not follow proper procedure when the Salahis arrived and it was discovered they had not been invited. But he refused to reveal anything the Secret Service knew about what happened next.

During President George Bush's administration, it was standard procedure to have someone from the White House social office at the gate for state dinners and other events with large groups of visitors, according to a former senior aide.

The social office was familiar with the guest list and could have been called in case of any uncertainty, this official said.

When asked whether staff from her office were at the checkpoint, White House social secretary Desiree Rogers said: "We were not."

Journalist Ronald Kessler, author of a book on the Secret Service, said: "While the couple did pass through a magnetometer to detect weapons, they could have assassinated the president or vice president using other means - anthrax, for example.

"The additional security checks referred to by the Secret Service spokesman screen for such items as radiological contamination but would not detect secreted biological weapons."

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