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Limelight-seeking couple called to testify

From NBC's Domenico Montanaro
Some might say Congress is already its own reality show, but proceedings on Thursday might actually become a scene in one.

In addition to the director of the Secret Service, the chairman of House Homeland Security Committee, Bennie Thompson (D-MS), has asked party-crashers Tareq And Michaele Salahi to testify before the committee after the state-dinner security breach.

A committee spokesman says that the Salahis have not been subpoenaed, therefore, they are not required to testify. The spokesman added that the committee should know in the next day or two whether the spotlight-seeking couple will appear.

Here's the full committee release:

Thompson to Examine White House Security Breach at Congressional Hearing Thursday

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Monday, November 30, 2009

Secret Service Director Sullivan and Mr. & Mrs. Salahi will be called to testify

(WASHINGTON) - Having reviewed preliminary findings regarding a breach of security at the White House State Dinner last Tuesday, Congressman Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS), Chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, announced his intention to hold a Full Committee Hearing on the matter this Thursday, December 3, at 10am in room 311 of the Cannon House Office Building.

Thursday's hearing will focus on the breakdown in security arrangements on the evening of Tuesday, November 24, deficiencies in security planning leading up to the State Dinner, actions taken to correct the vulnerabilities and identify any violations of Secret Service policy or management failures at the agency. The Committee plans to invite testimony from Mr. and Mrs. Salahi, who managed to attend portions of the State Dinner without proper White House and Secret Service clearance, and Secret Service Director Mark Sullivan, who is responsible for the safety of Secret Service protectees and the plans his agency develops and implements to secure them.

"This is a time for answers, recognition of security deficiencies past and present, and remedies to ensure the strength of the Secret Service and the safety of those under its protection," said Chairman Thompson. "This is not the time for political games or scapegoating to distract our attention from the careful oversight we must apply to the Secret Service and its mission," Chairman Thompson cautioned. "My confidence in the management of the Secret Service hangs in the balance."

"The intent of this Administration may be openness and transparency, but a security breakdown that allowed anyone who looked the part to walk off the street into a State Dinner is a slap in the face to the Secret Service employees who put their lives on the line to protect our form of government and its leaders," said Chairman Thompson.

For more than two years, Chairman Thompson and the Committee on Homeland Security has investigated and reviewed accusations of mismanagement at the Secret Service including concerns of inadequate resources at the agency, potential inaugural security vulnerabilities, insufficient diversity and recruitment strategies to ensure the agency is ready for its expanding mission, the appearance of discrimination, and morale issues plaguing the Service's Uniform Division.

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