Reality TV Wannabes: We Didn't Crash White House Party

Obama fumes over security snafu

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Michaele and Tareq Salahi arrive for their exclusive interview on Today.

    As the White House's blood boiled, the Virginia couple that crashed last week's state dinner told their tale Tuesday morning on the TODAY Show.  

    Serial fame seekers Tareq and Michaele Salahi told Matt Lauer that they are cooperating with the Secret Service's internal review, but Tareq Salahi also added, "I can tell you we did not party-crash the White House."

    The couple said they were invited to the state dinner, but would not say who offered the invite.  They said they will offer up more information to the TODAY Show after the Secret Service review. 

    "Our lives have been destroyed," Michaele Salahi said. "Everything we've worked for. For me, 44 years, just destroyed."

    Media Stakes Out Four Seasons to Catch Glimpse of Salahis

    [DC] Media Stakes Out Four Seasons to Catch Glimpse of Salahis
    The Salahis insist on "Today" that they were invited to last week's White House state dinner.

    They said they have e-mails that prove their innocence in the matter. But once again, they refused to share any details of said e-mails.

    The e-mails they're referring to could be the ones The Washington Post said the couple exchanged with a member of the Defense Department before the state dinner.  The Post reported that the couple sent e-mails to Michele S. Jones, special assistant to the secretary of defense, asking her help to get them into the event.  Jones, however, denies that she gave them the OK.

    "I did not state at any time, or imply that I had tickets for ANY portion of the evening's events," Jones said in a statement.  "I specifically stated that they did not have tickets and in fact that I did not have the authority to authorize attendance, admittance or access to any part of the evening's activities. Even though I informed them of this, they still decided to come."

    The whole incident has the president fuming. White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said both President Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle, were angry that two uninvited people were able to get into a state dinner. Interviewed Tuesday on MSNBC, Gibbs said "it's safe to say he was angry. Michelle was angry."

    Gibbs told the TODAY Show that despite the couple's claims that they didn't crash the state dinner, there was no way the incident could be called a misunderstanding.

    "This wasn't a misunderstanding," Gibbs said. "You don't show up at the White House as a misunderstanding."

    Asked by Lauer if they had been mischaracterized through the media, Tareq Salahi said, "No question ... It's been devastating what's happened to Michaele and I ... Our lives have really been destroyed."

    "We were invited, not crashers, and there isn't anyone who would have the audacity or the poor behavior to do that," Michaele Salahi said. "No one would do that, and certainly not us."

    Tareq Salahi said that the couple has been "very candid" with the Secret Service and said "we have turned over documentation to
    them."

    While the Salahis chatted on national TV, it's Homeland Security who wants to hear from them again Thursday morning.

    The House Committee on Homeland Security will invite testimony from the Salahis, as well as U.S. Secret Service Director Mark Sullivan, at a 10 a.m. hearing Thursday, according to the committee chair, Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-MS.

    The keyword, Mr. and Mrs. Salahi, is "invite."

    "My confidence in the management of the Secret Service hangs in the balance," Thompson said.

    Yikes.

    "The intent of this Administration may be openness and transparency, but a security breakdown that allowed anyone who looked the part to walk off the street into a State Dinner is a slap in the face to the Secret Service employees who put their lives on the line to protect our form of government and its leaders," he added.

    So the Salahis have identified a security problem and prompted Homeland Security to fix it. Shouldn't we be thanking them?

    The Secret Service declined to comment on whether the director would testify on Thursday.

    Meanwhile, it appears last week's White House state dinner wasn't the first time the couple and President Obama attended the same function.

    Muriel Cooper of the Congressional Black Caucus confirmed a report that the Salahis were escorted out of the CBC Annual Fundraising Dinner Sept. 26 at the Washington Convention Center -- an event where Obama gave a speech.  But before the president addressed the crowd, a CBC staff member noticed that the couple were seated at a table they were not registered to be sitting at during a VIP reception.

    Unlike the Secret Service, the CBC's security detail escorted the couple out of the event without incident.  They were there for about 45 minutes before getting the boot.

    The Salahis denied that they were kicked out of that dinner, saying they attended on behalf of a law group.

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