5803574The director of the Secret Service today disputed widely-reported claims that President Obama is receiving more death threats than previous presidents.
At a congressional hearing into the White House security breach that took place last week, when Tareq and Michaele Salahi "crashed" the White House state dinner, Secret Service Director Mark Sullivan said the current threat level against the president is normal.
"The threats right now ... is the same level as it has been for the previous two presidents at this point in their administrations," Sullivan said.
Sullivan was the only requested witness who agreed to testify today before the House Homeland Security Committee, and he said the Secret Service takes responsibility for allowing the Salahis to enter the state dinner uninvited. Three Secret Service officers are currently under suspension because of the incident, he said.
Since news of the security breach broke, members of Congress have commented that the incident was particularly troubling in light of the number of threats against the first African-American president.
"It is well known, it's been in the press over and over again, that this president has received far more death threats than any president in the history of the United States," Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton, the congressional delegate for the District of Columbia, said at today's hearing.
The Boston Globe report last month noting that the threats against Mr. Obama have fallen back to typical levels, Mark Hosenball of Newsweek writes that the reports of a 400 percent increase in threats can be traced back to a book about the Secret Service published earlier this year by author Ronald Kessler.
Sullivan said today that the president was not at risk the night of the state dinner.