How Many Unknown Unknowns Visited the White House?

No idea how many gatecrashers there were.

In the news interregnum between Thanksgiving and Christmas, America's holiday celebrations were enlivened by the tale of our latest celebrities-for-no-good-reason, Tareq and Michaele Salahi.  This pair of social-climbing poseurs managed to crash Obama's very first formal White House state dinner, held in honor of Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

As a general rule, Scragged tries to avoid saying the same thing everyone else is saying, and we really couldn't come up with anything new to say about these two.  It would appear that they have quite a track record of pretending to be above their actual station: Ms. Salahi falsely claimed to be a former Redskins cheerleader, despite her fairly obvious lack of two of the more outstanding requirements of an NFL cheerleader.  They also seem to have tried to buy their way into the glitterati on the back of bounced checks and bad debts.  Let them have their 15 minutes of fame - from someone else.

We should have paid them more attention.  There's an aspect of the Gatecrashergate fiasco that escaped us at the time: the whole incident came to public view only because the Salahis themselves posted photos of their White House visit onto their Facebook page.

See what's missing?  The Secret Service found out that they'd been gatecrashed only because the crashers boasted about their visit to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. and when a journalist compared their boast to the official guest list he found they weren't on it.

Let's restate that: the Secret Service never discovered the incident at all; they were told about it afterward by a journalist - just as the TSA had no idea there was a bomb onboard NW 235, they were told about it by a passenger after an unexpected ruckus.  Without unofficial help, neither the TSA nor the Secret Service had a clue.

Which raises an interesting question: How many other gatecrashers might there have been who did not shout their feat to the skies and chose to chortle quietly in private instead?  There could be a great many - in what should be a comfort the civil libertarians among us, our government seems utterly unable to keep track of unknown persons milling about.

After all, the TSA found out after someone crashed the security barrier at Newark Airport that their cameras had been shut off, and it took them two hours to find the phone number to call the airline and get the tapes from their cameras.  Imagine: an organization even more incompetent than an American airline!

Anyway, Reuters came through with additional facts and sure enough:

A third uninvited guest made it into a White House state dinner in honor of the Indian prime minister, but there is no evidence the person had contact with the president or first lady, the Secret Service said on Monday...The Washington Post said a congressional source identified the person as Carlos Allen, a Washington, D.C. party planner. [emphasis added]

As a professional party planner who finagled himself into the Mother of All Parties, one would think Mr. Allen would at least work the room as a source of either potential clients or Special Honored Guests.  Not so:

"This individual went through all required security measures along with the rest of the official delegation at the hotel, and boarded a bus/van with the delegation guests en route to the White House," the Secret Service said...

An Obama administration official who spoke on condition of anonymity said the man was a U.S. citizen, was not seated at the dinner, did not appear to have mingled or approached any guests and left the event early.  [emphasis added]

Doesn't this strike you as a bit odd?  This fellow seems somehow to have insinuated himself into a group of Indian diplomats and gotten swept along with them all the way into the White House.  Once there, what?  His nerve failed him?

If you sneak into a party, don't sit down for dinner, don't mingle, and don't even approach any guests... what exactly do you do?  Hang around like a wallflower?  Take snaps for your photo album?  Put saran-wrap under the toilet seats?

Light your underwear on fire?

Well, obviously he didn't do that; surely even the Secret Service would have noticed if he had.  Still, it's not absolutely necessary to approach the actual President or visiting Prime Minister in order to do them some pretty severe damage.

Was there truly nobody else of any importance there?  Heck, even if he'd bumped off a waiter, it's in the White House!  Imagine the hullabaloo and embarrassment!

We'll need to keep imagining.  There ought to be some pretty serious hullabaloo and embarrassment going on at the White House just now, given that America is realizing that it's about as secure and private a location as Grand Central Station.

Yet so far as we are aware, not one single head has rolled; is there no longer any room left under Mr. Obama's Presidential bus?  All we need is for the President to come out and say "Heck of a job, Desiree!" to the White House Social Secretary and we'll be nicely back in George W. Bush territory.

The home of our President - like him or not - should not be invaded by random persons.  We can count ourselves lucky that it's only been by Tareq, Michaele, or Carlos, with no worse intent then their own glorification.

Next time, now that the whole world knows how easily it can be done, it might be Muhammad.

Petrarch is a contributing editor for Scragged.  Read other articles by Petrarch or other articles on Bureaucracy.
Add Your Comment...
4000 characters remaining
Loading question...