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Gatecrashers revel in publicity, furore

world Updated: Nov 28, 2009 00:17 IST

The Secret Service maintains President Barack Obama was never in danger at a state dinner after an uninvited couple got through security, but it wouldn’t comment on whether anyone is screened for radiological or biological weapons.

Edwin Donovan, a Secret Service spokesman, said on Thursday the agency doesn’t discuss the levels of security screening at the White House.

Donovan had said earlier that Michaele and Tareq Salahi went through the same security screening for weapons as the 300-plus people invited to the dinner on Tuesday for Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

Bravo Media confirmed that on the day of the dinner Michaele Salahi was being filmed around Washington and while she prepared for the dinner by a film crew connected with the network’s reality show, The Real Housewives of D.C., because she is being considered for the upcoming TV programme.

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

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.”

He added the Secret Service would not detect secreted biological weapons.

He said it’s unlikely the Secret Service performed the usual background check to ensure that the crashers were not possible threats.

“The party crashers could have had outstanding arrest warrants for murder. They could have been involved with terrorists. They could have been agents of Iran or North Korea. The Secret Service would never have known,” he said.

Donovan said the officers at the checkpoint did not follow proper procedure when the Salahis arrived and it was determined they had not been invited. But he declined to reveal anything the Secret Service knows about what happened next.