White House Crashers: How the Salahis Strolled Past Secret Service

New details emerge about the Salahis two-hour White House masquerade.

ByABC News via logo
November 29, 2009, 9:20 PM

Nov. 30, 2009— -- Nearly a week after aspiring reality-TV stars Tareq and Michaele Salahi crashed the Obamas' first state dinner, new details have emerged about the couple and their daring two-hour masquerade on the White House grounds.

Sources tell ABC News the leading theory in the ongoing Secret Service investigation is that officers at the initial White House checkpoint waived the couple in, assuming that their names would be checked against a guest list at the next one.

ABC News cameras first spotted the Salahis arriving at the White House with a Bravo Network TV crew in tow around 7 p.m. ET on Nov. 24.

The couple proceeded through the first checkpoint and continued several hundred yards to a second screening station, where their names should have been checked but apparently were not. The Secret Service says here the Salahis went through a metal detector and were checked for weapons.

At 7:35 p.m., a Marine announced the Salahis to the world as the glitzy couple waltzed right into the supposedly super-secure entry hall, completing an extraordinary breach of security.

"Those people could have had an outstanding arrest warrant or could have been involved with a terrorist group," said Robert Kessler, author of "In the President's Secret Service."

The Salahis then mingled at an exclusive reception in the White House East Room before proceeding at approximately 8 p.m. to the Blue Room, where they greeted President Obama and India's Prime Minister Singh.

"They are taking a tremendous risk with the life of the president of the United States," said Kessler.

But the Salahis weren't done. By 8:30 p.m. they were rubbing elbows in the dinner tent on the White House's South Lawn, meeting White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel and Vice President Joe Biden.

By 9 p.m., just as the dinner started, the Salahis exited.

The White House says flatly the couple was not invited. But Paul Gardner, the Salahi's attorney, has suggested this was a misunderstanding. "My clients were cleared, by the White House, to be there," he said.