Secret Service counts 91 White House security breachesDecember 7th, 2009 - 9:27 pm ICT by IANS
Washington, Dec 7 (IANS) Long before a pair of gatecrashers penetrated the White House state dinner for Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, the Secret Service had counted 91 instances of security breaches since 1980 at the executive mansion, the Washington Post reported Monday.
The Secret service had detailed for its internal use a lengthy list of security breaches dating to the Carter administration - including significant failures in the agency’s protection of the president in a secret 2003 report, the influential daily said.
Tareq and Michaele Salahi are the latest additions to a rogues’ gallery of autograph hounds, publicity seekers, unstable personalities and others identified by the Secret Service as defeating its checkpoints at least 91 times since 1980, it said, citing a summary of the report obtained by the Post.
The document, the most complete accounting of recent Secret Service security breakdowns, includes officers mistakenly admitting to the White House grounds a family in a minivan, a man believed to be a delivery driver, and a woman previously known to agents after she had falsely claimed a “special relationship” with Bill Clinton.
The only assailant to injure a president in the past three decades was John W. Hinckley Jr., who shot and wounded Ronald Reagan in 1981 from outside the security perimeter established by the Secret Service.
The Post said the historical list of perimeter breaches indicates that intruders have reached the president or another person under Secret Service protection eight times since 1980, including the Salahis. Four of the incidents involved the same man.
Then director Brian Stafford commissioned the review in 2001 after the service was humiliated for a third time by the most notorious presidential gatecrasher, Richard C. Weaver, who evaded inauguration security to shake George W. Bush’s hand.
Weaver, a California minister, had previously infiltrated a 1991 prayer breakfast attended by then president George H.W. Bush, and Clinton’s 1997 inaugural luncheon. He approached the younger Bush again at a prayer breakfast in 2003 before being arrested.
“I believe god makes me invisible to the security, undetectable,” Weaver told reporters.
The Secret Service concluded that Weaver succeeded by manipulating others to obtain tickets, telling guards he was lost or looking for a restroom, and generally “appearing as [if] you are supposed to be there”, as the Salahis apparently did.
The Salahi case underscores that less-serious, lesser-known violations also persist, the Post said.
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