December 14, 2009 / 12:15 AM / 8 years ago

Gate-crasher "screw up" won't happen again: Obama

WASHINGTON (Reuters Life!) - President Barack Obama said no more uninvited guests will be getting into the White House after an embarrassing security lapse that allowed a pair of gate-crashers to slip into his first state dinner.

<p>President Barack Obama (second left) greets Michaele Salahi (C) and her husband Tareq (R) during a state dinner for Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh (L) at the White House on November 24, 2009. REUTERS/Samantha Appleton-The White House/Handout</p>

“I was unhappy with everybody who was involved in the process. And so, it was a screw up. ... It won’t happen again,” Obama said in an interview aired on Sunday on CBS’s “60 Minutes.”

The Secret Service, the agency responsible for protecting the president and his family, has taken the blame for letting the Virginia couple, Tareq and Michaele Salahi, into the November 24 state dinner for Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh without an invitation.

Obama, who was photographed smiling and shaking hands with Michaele Salahi at the event, said he was angry when he found out the two had crashed the dinner, but shed no new light on how they got past security.

<p>Tareq Salahi (R) and his wife Michaele Salahi arrive for a state dinner in honor of India's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at the White House in Washington November 24, 2009. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst</p>

“What I know is what everybody knows, which is that these people should not have gotten through the gate,” Obama said.

Some Republicans have said White House social secretary Desiree Rogers could have prevented the incident by stationing someone from her office at the gate with the Secret Service agents.

<p>Tareq and Michaele Salahi pose for a photographer as they prepare for a photo shoot with other models at Halcyon House in the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington in this December 1, 2009 file photo. REUTERS/Robert Devaney</p>

Asked if he was unhappy with Rogers, Obama said he was unhappy with everybody involved in the lapse.

The House of Representatives Homeland Security Committee voted last week to subpoena the Salahis to testify before the panel on January 20.

The couple contended in a television interview that they were invited guests. But they are expected at the hearing to invoke their constitutional right against self-incrimination.

Reporting by Doug Palmer; Editing by Will Dunham

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