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Secret Service Counts 'Dozens' of Security Lapses

Monday, 07 Dec 2009 09:54 AM

WASHINGTON – The uninvited couple that sneaked into an exclusive state dinner at the White House joins a lengthy list of similar security lapses, according to a 2003 Secret Service report revealed Monday in the Washington Post.

The Secret Service -- the branch in charge of the president's security -- have mistakenly seen at least 91 breaches of their checkpoints since 1980, said the daily, adding that the report was used to train agents.

"This document reflects a proactive attempt to evaluate our security and obviously raises the awareness of uniformed division officers and agents about their jobs," Secret Service spokesman Edwin Donovan said, according to the Post.

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"We have to be concerned about the threats to our protectees at all times, whether at the White House or away from the White House."

In one of the more bizarre lapses at the president's heavily guarded mansion in Washington, an October 1982 breach known as "The Family Outing" saw a family of four in a minivan pull through the White House gates after honking their horn at agents.

They were stopped as they approached the West Wing entrance.

In a more serious example, the report highlights a 1994 incident where a man fired 29 semi-automatic rifle rounds at the White House from outside the perimeter fence before he was confronted.

Secret Service director Mark Sullivan accepted responsibility for the gatecrashed state dinner fiasco at a congressional hearing last week.

Socialites Tareq and Michaele Salahi got past several checkpoints and into the White House where they shook hands with Obama and mingled with top-level officials at the November 24 dinner honoring visiting Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

Sullivan insisted security procedures were followed "without incident" for the other 1.2 million visitors to the White House in 2009, but acknowledged his service needed a "100 percent" security standard.

Copyright © 2009 Agence France Presse. All rights reserved.

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