FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:
Congress isn't satisfied with the answers they're getting when it comes to the White House "crashers."
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/12/03/art.salahis.gi.jpg caption="The Salahis are under investigation for allegedly crashing a White House state dinner."]
The Chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee says the country is lucky the breach didn't end in a "night of horror." Congressman Bennie Thompson says they still need to talk to the Salahis - who attended the State Dinner without invitations - and to White House Social Secretary Desiree Rogers. All three of them refused to appear to today's hearing. Thompson says he's directing the panel to prepare subpoenas for the Salahis.
Republicans are accusing the White House of "stonewalling" in not letting Rogers appear. They want to subpoena her too.
The White House cites separations of power, saying there's a history of White House staff not testifying before Congress; and Senior aide Valerie Jarrett insists there's no need for Rogers to testify because "we think we've really answered the questions fully." Really?
As for the "crashers" – their publicist says they've already provided the committee with information and that there's nothing else they can do to help the inquiry. They claim they broke no laws... and are chalking the whole thing up to "honest misunderstandings and mistakes" made by all parties.
Meanwhile the head of the Secret Service, who did bother to show up at today's hearing, acknowledged mistakes were made - but insisted that the president was never at risk. He suggested that normal procedures were not followed.
After its own review - the White House says at future official events, they'll make sure staff are stationed alongside secret service agents to screen guests
Here’s my question to you: Does the White House owe an explanation about how two people crashed a state dinner?
Interested to know which ones made it on air?
Mambisa from St. Petersburg, Florida writes:
I think the Secret Service owes the president an explanation of why these two pathetic people made it past what is supposed to be impenetrable security. My guess is that some low-level government flunkie saw cameras following these wannabes and figured they were "somebodies" and let them pass. God forbid they'd brought ricin or anthrax to the dinner!
Deb from Nauvoo, Illinois writes:
Ummmm, why is this still a story? Until charges are filed, and they should be, no one should be commenting publicly. This looks to be a Secret Service blunder; let them deal with it. Let the publicity-mad couple spend a couple years in jail. They knew what they were doing.
Jane from Wisconsin writes:
The White House definitely does owe an explanation…. Other presidents have claimed executive privilege when high level staffers have been called to testify before Congress. Ms. Rogers is not what I would consider a "high level" staff member whose job requires confidential policy discussions with the president. This appears to be more giving cover to one of the many Chicago cronies in this administration.
Eric from Peterson, Florida writes:
No, I don't think the White House is required to offer an explanation about the two party crashers. This is an internal problem and I think it needs to be handled internally. They seem to have realized that they made a mistake in letting them in and I believe they will have better security in the future.
Don from Delaware writes:
Yes, they're obviously protecting someone or some office and hiding behind a vague admission of mistakes. They cut corners, changed procedure by not having White House personnel at the checkpoints, and they got bit. This is no different than the Air Force One photo over New York City debacle: someone needs to fall on their sword, take their lumps and maybe even lose their job.
Beverly from Mystic, Iowa writes:
Of course not. Why would you even ask? How has that incident (or Tiger Woods or "Balloon Boy") affected the lives of average Americans? The answer is: not at all.