House panel may subpoenas White House gatecrashers


Washington : A US Congressional panel will consider Wednesday resolutions to subpoena a Virginia socialite couple who gate crashed President Barack Obama’s state dinner for Prime Minister Manmohan Singh last month.

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The resolutions authorising the issuance of subpoenas to White House party-crashers, Tareq and Micheale Salahi, are intended to compel their appearance before the House Committee on Homeland Security after their no-show at a hearing last week on the security breach.

Peter King, the top Republican member on the panel, has said he intends to attempt to subpoena White House social secretary Desiree Rogers, as well, though such a move is unlikely to succeed.

Committee’s Democratic chairman Bennie G. Thompson rebuffed an earlier move by King to subpoena her, ruling it out of order, and committee Democrats are expected to block his second try.

Three US Secret Service officers have been put on paid leave for their role in letting the Salahis breeze into Obama’s dinner where they shook hands with both Obama and Manmohan Singh and had themselves photographed with several guests, including Vice President Joe Biden.

At the last hearing Secret Service director Mark Sullivan took responsibility for the security breach calling it “unacceptable and indefensible.” Sullivan testified that at many past events there has been a White House representative present to help identify guests and it had been decided to revive the practice.

But King was not satisfied. He accused the White House of “stonewalling” as it refused to let Social Secretary Desiree Rogers, who planned the dinner, testify before the committee.

He said the only way to determine what happened in the exchange between the Salahis and the gate guard Nov 24 was to have someone from the White House fill committee members in. “We can’t do it unless we have someone from the White House having the guts to come down here and testify, instead of hiding behind a phony claim of separation of powers,” King said.