The White House has conducted an internal review of the security breach that allowed gate crashers Michaele and Tareq Salahi to gain entry to the president’s state dinner last week, and their verdict is that changes need to be made.
"What we've said is, yes, there's room for improvement," Senior White House Adviser Valerie Jarrett said on the Today Show.
But the White House contends that any questions about its staff will stop with this internal review, meaning Social Secretary Desiree Rogers, who has endured scrutiny for her role in the security lapse – she attended the party as a guest and didn’t assign aides to monitor the gate – won’t testify before the House Homeland Security Committee.
Jarrett said the White House denied the committee's invitation because they feel their internal review is sufficient, and the incident does not warrant Congressional inquiry.
“There is a long standing practice of confidentiality between the president and top advisers and there are only rare instances of when they actually go before Congress. We don’t feel that this incident rises to that level,” Jarrett said.
The Secret Service, meanwhile, announced today that the agents responsible for letting the Saleqs into the White House have been placed on leave.
As for the White House staff, Jarrett said the recommendations from the internal review, written by Deputy Chief of Staff Jim Messina and posted on Whitehouse.gov, will lead to security changes for future events.
The recommendations would look familiar to Cathy Hargraves, who resigned last June after Rogers stripped her of her social office responsibilities:
• White House staff will be stationed physically at the check points with the United States Secret Service.
• Guests will be checked off of the list by White House staff and the Secret Service will continue to ensure that all guests have been properly cleared before entering the White House.
• Guests whose names are not on the guest list will be assisted by White House staff present at the checkpoint for appropriate resolution.
Hargraves used to do just that.
When Rogers came to the White House, she told Hargraves, a Bush-era holdover, that those responsibilities were no longer necessary.
"In these economic times," Hargraves said Rogers told her, “I don't think we're going to have very many lavish expensive dinners. It wouldn't look very good."