Salahi business no laughing matter

The Salahis somehow, and seemingly very, very easily, making their way through what is supposed to be the toughest security in the nation is unnerving. It's scary enough that the president of the United States could be left so exposed by his own staff and security detail. But to place an entire ballroom full of lawmakers, Cabinet members, dignitaries and captains of industry at risk at the same time is downright frightening. It is right that Congress should hold hearings on the matter to get to the root of the problem.

The fact that the White House social secretary, Desiree Rogers, has refused to come to Capitol Hill to testify about this huge breach of security is bothersome. While I understand why the administration does not want to set a precedent of White House staff being hauled down Pennsylvania Avenue to testify on Capitol Hill whenever Congress requests (even though this is a Democrat-led Congress and, at least in theory, Obama-friendly), this maybe should be an exception. In other words, to the Obama White House — it's not just about you guys.

Invited guests to the state dinner last week brought their own loved ones to the event, assuming they were in a very secure environment. Instead, the Salahis proved that it is just as easy to sneak past White House security and get up close and personal with the president and vice president as it is for an investigative reporter to breach airport security in a post-Sept. 11 world, as we've learned from numerous news reports over the years.

Sending Rogers to Capitol Hill would be only slightly embarrassing for the Obama White House, but would show a good-faith effort to protect the security of the president and all who are invited to the White House in the future. Refusing to send her is uncomfortable and threatens to raise even more questions.

And, by the way, Desiree Rogers should immediately be fired as White House social secretary. While it is likely the Salahi incident ensures Rogers will tighten things up so that it never happens again, it clearly shows some serious blind spots and weaknesses in her abilities to do the job that are not going to be "fixed" simply from lessons learned from the Salahis. Rogers's firing should not be viewed as punishment, but rather part of developing the best security possible. It's not about her, but keeping her in the job does, indeed, make it about her, rather than about the safety of those attending the state dinner.


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