Friday, November 27, 2009

The Inconvenient Guests

Let's see, a man and woman not on the guest list (presumably) for a White House state dinner are allowed in despite the man's foreign-sounding name (no profiling allowed!) and the administration is now referring all calls to the Secret Service, who isn't talking.

Some in the media are asking, though. Some even turning to recent history...
During President George W. Bush's administration, it was standard procedure to have someone from the White House social office at the gate for state dinners and other events with large groups of visitors, according to a former senior Bush aide who spoke on condition of anonymity so as not to be seen as criticizing the Obama White House.

The social office is most knowledgeable about the guest list and could have been called in case of any uncertainty, this official said.
That's gonna leave a mark. What about the risks?
However Ronald Kessler, author of a book on the Secret Service, said, "While the couple did pass through a magnetometer to detect weapons, they could have assassinated the president or vice president using other means — anthrax, for example.
So who is this Tareq Salahi? Googling finds him associated with wine (vinyards) and also a group called the "American Task Force on Palestine", an advocacy group for the rights of Palestinians, or maybe not, because access is denied when searching under his name. But the cache is still there, showing his picture and a bio on the site. What happened? Searching the site for his name now produces this:

He had an impressive list of social and philanthropic accomplishments, so maybe he scammed them, too, and they airbrushed him away. What other possibilities exist? Surely the media would have told us by now had there been any need to worry, so all's well that ends well on a holiday weekend.

MORE 11/27/09

Here's the cached page:

Also, LA in comments asks a good question--who originally leaked the story of gate crashers? The first story I saw was this one, which didn't say. Since the happy couple will be on Larry King Monday night to chat, maybe they will say.

One idea going around is that someone either called the gate and vouched for them or they name dropped an official and BS'd their way in. That's exactly what these folks (thanks Debbie) are saying, which if true is rather chilling.

The Salahis seem more like social butterfly slicksters than dangerous characters, but their penetration into the inner ring of security at the White House should certainly call for a few questions to be asked about Secret Service protocol. My fear is that someone was afraid to hassle them due to the name for a politically correct reason. If that turns out to be anywhere close to the case then we've learned absolutely nothing from the Hasan event.

MORE 11/27/09

Here's an Arab-centric web site that says the ATFP airbrushed Mr. Salahi's picture from their board of directors page, saying it was there a week ago. He then goes on to provide insight into his own feelings on the event:
From Tony Rezko to Rashid Khalidi to Major Hasan to the Iraqi resistance and to the Palestinian people — Arabs have been nothing but a sore in the side of a President still accused of being Muslim. Tareq Salahi can be added to the list. I think that’s awesome because it’s not like the man’s doing anything for us anyways.

As an aside: I still think Arab-American activists need to think about our power to hurt politicians by association. We should negotiate with presidential candidates so that we get concessions for backing their opponents. Our negative influence on electoral campaigns is power, too.
Lots of talk about Rashid Khalidi and ATFP; be was evidently a vice-president for one year after its spin off from the American Committee on Jerusalem in 2005 but doesn't appear to be associated with the group now (although if they airbrushed Mr. Salahi, they could have airbrushed others). Wonder if the LA Times might want to consider releasing that tape now? Maybe some interesting people crashed that party, too.

As to significance here, not sure whether the fallout will affect the administration or not because these Washington groups get money from all quarters in the great backscratch game and from reading various sites the ATFP is either a bunch of radical Islamists or a stealth outfit set up to hornswoggle American Palestinians. It's certainly odd, though.


Debbie said...

When I heard his name, "Tareq Salahi" I immediately wondered just who he was, what connections he might have, etc. Then I heard the Palestinian connection and wow, just wow.

They could have carried any number of things in with them in pockets or purse or attached to their bodies. Or they could have simply used things available to them.

They were snuggled up to most of the people there getting their photos taken. Anything could have happened.

Somebody goofed up BIG time. I think more need to be known about this guy also.


Debbie said...


"Did an Indian Diplomat Help the Salahis Crash the White House?

The Secret Service is currently investigating how fameballs Michaele and Tareq Salahi crashed Obama's first state dinner, Bravo camera crew in tow. We have a theory: Their polo buddy, Indian ambassador Arun K. Singh, got them in on the DL."

LASunsett said...

Goes anyone know how this story was discovered, or leaked?

I haven't had time to read much on it.

I was going to use it as fodder for my Friday Funnies feature. But the more I thought about the entire thing, the less funny it became.

I think this WH is out of control with widespread incompetency and malfeasance that goes way beyond the boundaries of relatively reasonable expectations.

In other words, Jimmy Carter's performance has just been ranked above Obama's. Carter ought to be thankful that Obama came along, as Team O will make Carter's look like a model of efficiency and intellectual integrity.

LASunsett said...

//Goes anyone know how this story was discovered, or leaked?//

should read---

DOES anyone know how this story was discovered, or leaked?

A.C. McCloud said...

I don't know, LA. I wondered myself who leaked the story that they were gate crashers. Perhaps that's part of this elaborate PR stunt.

Aside from that, my question is why the American Palestinian outfit erased him from their website. BTW, if they ever figure out how to make that cached version go away they can be assured a saved screenshot exists.. somewhere.