WASHINGTON – The couple who crashed a White House state dinner were being filmed that day by a camera crew connected with a reality television program, although none of the filming took place on White House grounds, a spokeswoman for the program's network said Thursday.
The couple, Michaele and Tareq Salahi, gained access to the dinner President Barack Obama hosted for Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Tuesday, although they had not been invited, prompting a security review by the Secret Service, which acknowledged that procedures were not followed properly.
Bravo Media confirmed late Thursday that Michaele Salahi is being considered as a participant in the upcoming "The Real Housewives of D.C." program and on the day of the dinner was being filmed around Washington by Half Yard Productions, the producer of the program.
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"Half Yard's cameras were not inside the White House. They filmed the couple preparing for the event," Johanna Fuentes, vice president, communications, for Bravo Media, said in an e-mail. She said the Salahis "informed Half Yard that they were invited, the producers had no reason to believe otherwise."
Fuentes referred further questions to the couple's attorney and publicist.
The White House on Thursday refused comment on the Salahis and referred all calls to the Secret Service.
A Secret Service investigation of the security breach, now under way, will help determine whether the Salahis might be in some legal jeopardy, although the main focus of the review is to try to find out how someone could attend such a high-profile event on the South Lawn of the White House without having been invited.
Paul Morrison, a Virginia attorney who represented the couple in the past but has not spoken to them since the dinner, told The Associated Press earlier Thursday that they shouldn't need legal help.
"They just went to a party. They didn't do anything wrong," Morrison said. "I know them. I'm unaware of any reason they need representation right now."
Edwin Donovan, a Secret Service spokesman, said Obama was never in any danger because the Salahis went through the same security screening for weapons as the 300-plus people actually invited to the dinner.
Donovan said the officers at the checkpoint involved in clearance for the dinner did not follow proper procedure when the Salahis arrived and it was determined they had not been invited. But he declined to reveal anything the Secret Service knows about what happened next.
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.
White House Social Secretary Desiree Rogers, asked by the AP on Thursday whether personnel from her office were at the checkpoint said, "We were not."
Ronald Kessler, author of a book on the Secret Service, said in an interview, "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. The additional security checks referred to by the Secret Service spokesman screen for such items as radiological contamination but would not detect secreted biological weapons."
Kessler, a journalist, wrote "In the President's Secret Service: Behind the Scenes with Agents in the Line of Fire and the Presidents They Protect."
The couple bragged about their success on their Facebook page, displacing pictures of them with government officials and even three Marines.
"Honored to be at the White House for the state dinner in honor of India with President Obama and our First Lady!" they wrote.
And, along with photos of the couple at the event, they wrote: "A Sensational Night honoring India."
And this posting under a picture of Michaele with Vice President Joe Biden: "OMG! SO EXCITING!!!!!! IRISH EYES ARE SMILING TOGETHER!"
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