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Pentagon official tied to crashers

WASHINGTON — The couple who crashed the Obama administration's first state dinner communicated with a senior Pentagon official about going to the event, but the official denies she helped the couple get in.

Michele Jones, a special assistant to Defense Secretary Robert Gates, said in a written statement issued through the White House on Monday that she never said or implied she would get Michaele and Tareq Salahi into the Nov. 24 White House dinner for Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

"I specifically stated that they did not have tickets and in fact that I did not have the authority to authorize attendance, admittance or access to any part of the evening's activities," Jones said. "Even though I informed them of this, they still decided to come."

It's the latest twist in the unfolding mystery of how the two reality show wannabes managed to get into the highly secured event and shake hands with President Barack Obama. Also on Monday, Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, asked the Virginia couple, Secret Service director Mark Sullivan and White House social secretary Desiree Rogers to testify at a hearing Thursday on the incident. The Secret Service declined to comment on whether Sullivan would testify Thursday.

The White House issued Jones' statement after questions were raised about communications between the administration and the Salahis before the dinner. It did not provide details about Jones' relationship with them.

NBC said Monday that the Salahis will be interviewed today by Today host Matt Lauer. The interview is scheduled to air in the 7 a.m. half-hour segment.

Pentagon official tied to crashers 11/30/09 [Last modified: Monday, November 30, 2009 11:45pm]
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