White House Party Crashers

White House Party Crashers

If you think the story about the White House party crashers is funny, think again. I’ve been following it a bit and watching some of the ‘crashers’ live, on-air responses on the major news networks; not sure, but don’t think they’ve been on Larry King Live…yet.

Michaele and Tareq Salahi are now the celebrities I believe they intended to be. Just Google or Bing the words White House Party Crashers and you’ll see what I mean. Whatever they were trying to prove, I think many are missing the big picture here. Pentagon e-mails show they were invited, well, sort of.Check out this link --http://media.msnbc.com/i//MSNBC/Components/Photo/_new/emails.pdf but I don’t think it vindicates them completely. From what the e-mail trail said they were invited to the reception but somehow got invited to the state dinner as well…by mistake?

And while it’s politics as usual in Washington, you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours, let’s get to the real story. And that story is how vulnerable President Obama was as he shook hands with the couple, in fact, how vulnerable the entire country is.

This is just what Francis Taylor spoke about at last year’s Electronic Security Expo in Baltimore. Taylor, who is chief security officer for General Electric Co. talked about threats and terrorists and how now, in fact from now on, attacks will come from within. He talked about how we all have to be vigilant, on guard and plan and become increasingly proactive about security. He said another attack will come on us—from within—it’s just that we don’t know when. But it will come.

Do you really think that the party crashers had a criminal background check, or for that matter, others who attended the presidential function? Maybe, maybe not. I’ve heard from readers that it often takes weeks for these checks. If they had checked on the Salahi’s maybe someone would have noticed that they really were only invited to the reception, not to the state dinner with the visiting prime minister of India. But there they are—shaking hands with the president.

What if they were terrorists? They could have been. Because the terrorists exist among all of us, every single day we may see them and not know. And our country continues to be exposed. The connection to the Fort Hood shooting is not as clear cut, but was a terrorist sympathizer the shooter?

Taylor said it best at the last ESX show. He said we have to be vigilant. We have to be proactive and plan for risks, as extreme as those risks may be. We don’t want history to repeat itself but it looks like it will. Remember the truck bombings in the World Trade Center years before our own aircraft felled the buildings? Many don’t recall that this target was a vulnerable one even before it and thousands, yes thousands, of lives were cut short.

What’s also frightening; many corporations and businesses don’t have any type of security plan in place; proactive or reactive for that matter, again, according to GE’s Taylor. As members of the security industry, we owe it to talk about this to our customers, prospects, friends and family. To show them we are concerned about their security, our security, the nations’ security. We have to take a stand, because it starts within.

So the Salahi’s weren’t terrorists, it turns out. But the story could have had a much different ending had they been.

Editor’s note: If you haven’t checked it out yet or put it on your calendar, save the dates of June 15 through 17 for the ESX show, sponsored by the Electronic Security Association. There will be lots of thought-provoking speakers at the 2010 event. See more at www.esxweb.com. – Deborah O’Mara, editor, Security Dealer & Integrator magazine.