Secret Service Head: Guard Erred When Couple Allowed To Attend White House Dinner

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The director of the U.S. Secret Service told a House committee Thursday a preliminary investigation shows "appropriate procedures were not followed," and that allowed an apparently uninvited Virginia couple to attend a White House dinner.

Mark Sullivan, testifying at a Homeland Security Committee hearing, said some Secret Service employees have been placed on administrative leave while the investigation continues into the incident.

The couple, Tareq and Michaele Salahi, contend they did not crash the dinner to honor India's prime minister. The White House has said they were not invited. The Salahis were not at the hearing.

According to Sullivan, the Secret Service guard at the initial checkpoint should have called someone at the White House when there was a question about the guest list.

Several committee members asked why someone from the White House's Social Secretary's Office wasn't at that checkpoint to help with oversight, as has happened with events in the past.

Sullivan said those attending a planning meeting before the dinner decided that a single guard at the entry checkpoint would be sufficient. However, he said it was understood that if that person had a question involving the guest list, the guard would summon someone from the White House staff to settle the issue. White House staffers were standing by for that job, Sullivan said.

The dinner guest list came from the White House, he said.

When Sullivan said he didn't know who was in that meeting, Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Alabama, asked for a list of everyone who attended.

Rep. Dan Lungren, R-California, asked why planners decided not to have someone from the White House at the first checkpoint.

"Why did someone from the Secret Service decide that made sense?" he asked.

Sullivan replied that, to his knowledge, it was the first time there had been a procedural breakdown with a single guard.


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