Published November 29, 2009
The couple who crashed President Obama's first state dinner are looking to cash in on their story, but Sen. Evan Bayh on Sunday said he's more concerned about the long-term impact on U.S. security because of the duo's antics.
Bayh, D-Ind., compared the party crashing of Michaele and Tareq Salahi to would-be bomber Richard Reid, whose attempt to blow up an airplane by lighting explosives in his shoes led to travelers having to remove their footwear at security checks in U.S. airports.
"These folks could be like the -- what is the name, Richard Reid, who changed the way everybody travels through the airports because of this one guy. This couple may change the way people go to the White House," said Bayh, who is scheduled to go to the White House on Wednesday.
"I'm kind of wondering what I'm going to be facing to get into the White House this time. It's probably going to be a lot stricter than it has been," he told "Fox News Sunday."
The Salahis were uninvited guests last week at the White House state dinner in honor of Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his wife. The two managed to get through Secret Service security checks and have their picture taken with President Obama and Singh in the White House receiving line in the Blue Room. Obama and Michaele Salahi were captured smiling as she grasps his right hand with both of hers and her husband looks on. Singh is to Obama's left.
The incident led to the Secret Service admitting that it had failed to prevent the crashers' entry, even though the two were put through the magnetometers.
The publicity-seeking couple is trying to cash in on the incident. Already Michaele Salahi was vying for a spot on Bravo's "The Real Housewives of D.C." Now, the two are trying to get a paid interview for their exploit, canceling an appearance on CNN's "Larry King Live" and peddling their story to broadcast networks for hundreds of thousands of dollars.
A television network executive told The Associated Press that representatives for the Salahis requested the networks "get their bids in" for an interview that would cost somewhere in the mid-six figures range.
But the couple is as likely to face criminal charges as a pay day for the outrageous exploit.
Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., said that the couple will likely face legal action, which he said has to serve as an appropriate deterrent to others.
"If it's a federal crime to lie to a federal agent, and these people didn't tell the truth about their invitation, then they should be in some way brought to justice here, again, as an example to others not to do it," Kyl said.
And as the couple faces a possible criminal charge, the Secret Service is also facing scrutiny. The couple's attorney, Paul Gardner, posted a comment on Facebook saying his clients were cleared by the White House to be at the dinner, leading Rep. Edolphus Towns, D-NY, who chairs the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, to call Saturday for a review of Secret Service practices and a briefing this week.
Kyl said he thought the Secret Service has been embarrassed enough to fix its own security lapses -- a move that Secret Service Director Mark Sullivan has said is already under way -- and he's not certain congressional hearings are necessary.
"But clearly, the Secret Service as well as the White House protocol office have got to beef up their tactics, their procedures and protocols for dealing with this kind of a situation," he said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.