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'Criminal probe into White House gate crash going on'

June 30, 2010 11:20 IST

A criminal investigation is going on into the gate crashing incident by a Virginia couple at the White House in November last year, when United States President Barack Obama hosted a state dinner for Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, the US Secret Service told lawmakers recently.

"This continues to be under criminal investigation," Mark Sullivan, director of the US Secret Service said in reply to a question from Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee during a hearing of 'Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security Subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee'.

Sullivan said the Secret Service had learnt lessons from the incident and taken appropriate measures to make sure that such an incident does not occur again.

"This was a mistake. This was our fault that it happened. Somebody made a judgment call, and it wasn't the right judgment call. Some individuals got into the White House, who shouldn't have got in there," he said.

"One thing I do want to make clear is these people that did get in, did go through every level of security that all the other individuals went through. But it was a mistake in judgment. It never should have happened," Sullivan added.

"And nobody was more disappointed than me. And believe me, nobody has been more difficult or harder on us than ourselves, regarding those people getting into the White House on that evening," he observed.

Noting that the matter continues to be under criminal investigation, he said the Secret Service reviewed all its policies and procedures in the wake of the incident.

"You know, at the White House, we put close to 1,00,000 people through there every month. We have thousands of pass holders at the White House. We have all kinds of workers coming and going from the White House every day," he said.

"We have worked with our partners at the White House. We have worked with our partners at the State Department. We have worked with all of our partners when it comes to granting access to the White House. I can tell you since that time, we have had numerous events at the White House," he said.

"Right after that state dinner, we had numerous Christmas parties at the White House. We've had numerous events at the White House. We had a state dinner, the Mexican state dinner back in May. All of these have gone off without a flaw," Sullivan said.

Lalit K Jha In Washington
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