Tomorrow morning at 10am on the third floor of the Cannon House Office building, Homeland Security Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson will convene a hearing examining “the security breach at the White House State Dinner on Tuesday, Nov. 24. The committee will look at deficiencies in security planning, actions taken to correct vulnerabilities and any management failures at the Secret Service.”
Testifying before the panel will be Mark Sullivan, director of the U.S. Secret Service; the party crashers, Tareq and Michaele Salahi; and, most interestingly, White House Social Secretary Desiree Rogers. As Michael Scherer pointed out, there have been a lot of questions this week about Rogers’ role — or lack there of — in the breach. Two former White House social secretaries have said that she should’ve been working the event, instead of attending it as a guest. So far, the White House has defended Rogers, blaming the incident on the Secret Service.
While the committee will be looking at “management failures at the Secret Service,” the decision to allow Rogers to testify is a significant one: I can’t think of a White House Social Secretary that has submitted to congressional grilling. And you can be sure that the panel’s Republicans will take advantage of their rounds of questioning to do their utmost to pin the blame on Rogers and embarrass her.
As I was writing this Scherer tells me White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs was just telling reporters at the briefing that, in fact, Rogers won’t testify, “based on separation of powers,” a familiar excuse often cited by President Bush protecting Karl Rove, Josh Bolten and Harriet Miers (all of whom have since agreed to testify before the House Judiciary Committee). Though, Bush usually cited that protection so that staff might speak freely when giving crucial advice on issues of national importance — not sure how much crucial advice the social secretary usually gives. Any way, some one should probably tell Thompson’s committee not to expect her.