White House Staffers Now Posted at Checkpoints for Social Events

By Britt

Dec 2, 2009 2:14pm

Jake Tapper and Sunlen Miller report:

The impact of alleged State Dinner-crashers Tariq and Michaele Salahi has resulted in a procedural change for White House social events, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs announced Wednesday.

Last night was the first of many holiday parties at the White House that will be held over the next several weeks, he said.

And as a response to an internal White House look at procedures post-Gate-Crash-gate — and criticism that unlike in previous years, no one from the White House social office stood at security checkpoints to help the Secret Service make sure only invitees got in — White House staffers were at security.

“We had staff at the security checkpoint to ensure that if there was any confusion about lists those would be double-checked with somebody representing the Social Office," Gibbs said of last night's party security, "That was an assessment made based on something that we believed could have been added and we've made those changes as of last night.”

The White House has now posting the findings of their own investigation, as well as instructions from Messina on the policy change.

A full review of the incident was conducted by White House Deputy Chief of Staff Jim Messina, looking, "at whether we were doing enough to complement the work that the brave men and women do at the Secret Service," Gibbs said.

The answer was no, the White House was not doing enough, Messina said in a blog posted on the White House website this afternoon.

"After reviewing our actions, 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," Messina writes, "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."

The new procedure basically orders a return to the standard operating procedure in previous White Houses, requiring the Social Secretary's office to be at the checkpoints during events now.

The new protocol, as is written by Messina, are as follows:

-"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."

Social Secretary Desiree Rogers was invited to testify before Congress on the controversy tomorrow. Gibbs said she would not do so because of the separation of powers.

“I think you know that based on separation of powers staff here don't go to testify in front of Congress," Gibbs said, "she will not be testifying in front of Congress tomorrow.”

-Jake Tapper and Sunlen Miller

You are using an outdated version of Internet Explorer. Please click here to upgrade your browser in order to comment.
blog comments powered by Disqus