White House Party Crashers Met Obama (Photo)

The two pranksters who crashed the White House party the other night managed to meet President Obama. The photographic proof is on the White House Flickr page:

President Barack Obama greets Michaele and Tareq Salahi during a receiving line in the Blue Room of the White House before the State Dinner with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh of India, Nov. 24, 2009. (Official White House Photo by Samantha Appleton)  This official White House photograph is being made available only for publication by news organizations and/or for personal use printing by the subject(s) of the photograph. The photograph may not be manipulated in any way and may not be used in commercial or political materials, advertisements, emails, products, promotions that in any way suggests approval or endorsement of the President, the First Family, or the White House.

President Barack Obama greets Michaele and Tareq Salahi during a receiving line in the Blue Room of the White House before the State Dinner with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh of India, Nov. 24, 2009. (Official White House Photo by Samantha Appleton)

I love the legal disclaimer that comes with the release:

This official White House photograph is being made available only for publication by news organizations and/or for personal use printing by the subject(s) of the photograph.

The photograph may not be manipulated in any way and may not be used in commercial or political materials, advertisements, emails, products, promotions that in any way suggests approval or endorsement of the President, the First Family, or the White House.

IANAL but I’m rather sure photos taken by the taxpayers and released to the media are in the public domain and can therefore be used by anybody for whatever reason they damned well please.

On the more serious subject of the epic security lapse at the White House, Jake Tapper has this:

The White House would not comment on the meeting between the reality-tv seeking couple and the leader of the free world.  White House spokesman Nick Shapiro said the Secret Service has the confidence of the President.

“The United States Secret Service said they made a mistake and they are taking action to identify exactly what happened and they will take the appropriate measures pending the results of their investigation,” Shapiro said.

Indeed, tonight in a written statement Secret Service Director Mark Sullivan said his agency is “concerned and embarrassed” for allowing the Virginia couple to slip through their security.

“The preliminary findings of our internal investigation have determined established protocols were not followed at an initial checkpoint, verifying that two individuals were on the guest list,” Sullivan said, “Although these individuals went through magnetometers and other levels of screening, they should have been prohibited from entering the event entirely. That failing is ours.”

The most likely outcome is that some decent folks at the Secret Service will have their careers ruined, which is truly a shame.  But considering the security just to get into the White House gift shop — which is across the street from the White House! — it’s mindboggling that these guys managed to not only get into the doors but shake the president’s hand.  The good news is that this was a lark and that neither the president nor his guests were in danger; but that’s just good fortune.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. The most likely outcome is that some decent folks at the Secret Service will have their careers ruined, which is truly a shame.

    Is it? How badly do you have to mess up before you can be fired for incompetence?

  2. John Burgess says:

    I’m pretty sure there’s a series of court cases supporting the proposition that photos of the President may not be used for commercial purposes. That’s usually interpreted to mean used to imply an endorsement of a product or service, but it’s still a limitation.

    If you want to run off a few thousand t-shirts with the image and sell them, though, you’re probably in the clear.

    And the photo will certainly be making its way through various caption contests, no?

  3. rodney dill says:

    A couple of pretenders meeting the Great Pretender.

  4. JKB says:

    So I’m wondering if the failure to check the guest list was a Secret Service issue or a WH Staff issue. Given that the physical security of the White House is reported to have remained intact, we have a risk that was more in the realm of political/social, i.e., the wrong people photographed with dignitaries. We’ll never know since the Secret Service doesn’t comment on such details.

  5. Triumph says:

    This is to be expected by Hussein. We all knew he was a novice and inexperienced. I guess this is what “community organizers” do–subvert the security of the country for they ideology.

    The only thing that is surprising is that Hussein didn’t bow to his criminal friends.

    This episode was entirely predictable and is reminiscent of the scene in Birth of a Nation where Silas Lynch sponsors a free-for-all at the South Carolina state house.

    The parallels between Lynch and Hussein are eerie.