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White House Posts New Rules on Guests

5780962The White House has announced new rules on guests (PDF) in the wake of revelations that Tareq and Michaele Salahi gained entry to the White House during the Obama administration's first state dinner despite not having been invited.

In a memo, Jim Messina, the White House Deputy Chief of Staff, writes that "it is clear that the White House did not do everything we could have done to assist the United States Secret Service in ensuring that only invited guests enter the complex."

"White House staff were walking back and forth outside between the check points helping guests and were available to the Secret Service throughout the evening, but clearly we can do more, and we will do more," writes Messina.

He laid out the following new procedures for official White House events in the future:

• White House staff will be stationed physically at the check points with the United States Secret Service.
• Guests will be checked off of the list by White House staff and the Secret Service will continue to ensure that all guests have been properly cleared before entering the White House.
• Guests whose names are not on the guest list will be assisted by White House staff present at the check point for appropriate resolution.
• As always, the Secret Service will provide security and remain ultimately responsible for controlling access to the White House complex.

Last Wednesday, the White House asked the Secret Service to review its security protocols in the wake of the revelations about the Salahis. Upon hearing of the preliminary findings, which included an admission that the Secret Service did not follow established protocols, the White House began its own review over the weekend, according to Messina.

"We believe White House staff can play a role in streamlining this process as a courtesy to our guests and to assist the Secret Service agents who keep us safe," he wrote in the memo. "The President believes that the men and women of the Secret Service put their lives on the line everyday to protect him, his family and many others. He thinks that they do an exceptional job and they have his full confidence. We need to do whatever we can to help them succeed in their mission."

At his daily briefing Wednesday, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said due to separation of powers, White House Social Secretary Desiree Rogers won't testify before Congress.

The House Homeland Security Committee has asked the Salahis, Secret Service Director Mark Sullivan and Rogers to testify as part of its investigation into how the Salahis gained entry to the dinner.

House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Ranking Member Darrell Issa (R-CA) released a statement saying it is "encouraging that the White House is acknowledging that parts of the process were flawed and that they can be active participants in ensuring a breach like this never happens again."

"The Secret Service briefing we received today confirmed that this was the result of human-error which means it is correctable and can be avoided in the future," he said. "Everyone takes very seriously the safety and security of the President and the foreign dignitaries they host."

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