Can The White House Crashers Be Criminally Charged?

Tareq and Michaele Salahi are likely to discover the meaning of the common criminal law adage “one day on the cover of Time, next day doing time.” The Secret Service is likely to push for the criminal investigation of the White House crashers this week. The question is what such charges might look like.

In criminal law, small is beautiful. While some clients come to you with established notoriety, you often work to keep clients out of the news. Many prosecutors relish publicity in criminal cases and such notoriety will often push them to seek more severe punishments. Michaele and Tareq Salahi seem to have gone out of their way to maximize their chances for a criminal charge by posting their photos on her Facebook page, click here. As with the parents of “Balloon Boy,” this apparent effort to gain access to a reality show will more likely gain access to a criminal cell. While most judges would not see this case as one requiring jail time, the likely criminal charges have maximum penalties of five years and the embarrassed Secret Service is likely to want a pound of flesh after this prank.

This is not the first time that people have entered restricted areas or entered the White House without permission. Jimmy Carter was once surprised by a wandering visitor. Most such cases are handled as harmless error or curiosity. The publicity behind this stunt, however, is likely to push prosecutors toward criminal charges to deter other social wannabes.

The charges, however, are not obvious and depend on what the couple told security to gain entrance to the White House. Yesterday, after a remarkable delay, the couple came forth with a claim that they were invited, here. Whether or not they have secured counsel, that explanation will now be their defense to any charges since public statements (like their Facebook posting) can be admitted in court.

One obvious possibility is 18 U.S.C. § 1036, “Entry by false pretenses to any real property, vessel, or aircraft of the United States or secure area of any airport or seaport.” This provision states:

Whoever, by any fraud or false pretense, enters or attempts to enter–
(1) any real property belonging in whole or in part to, or leased by, the United States;
(2) any vessel or aircraft belonging in whole or in part to, or leased by, the United States;
(3) any secure or restricted area of any seaport, designated as secure in an approved security plan, as required under section 70103 of title 46, United States Code, and the rules and regulations promulgated under that section; or
(4) any secure area of any airport,
shall be punished as provided in subsection (b) of this section.
(b) The punishment for an offense under subsection (a) of this section is–
(1) a fine under this title or imprisonment for not more than 10 years, or both, if the offense is committed with the intent to commit a felony; or
(2) a fine under this title or imprisonment for not more than 6 months, or both, in any other case.

(c) As used in this section–
(1) the term “secure area” means an area access to which is restricted by the airport authority, captain of the seaport, or a public agency; and
(2) the term “airport” has the meaning given such term in section 47102 of title 49.

The question is how the couple entered the White House. Were they simply waved in or did they lie about their status? Is it an act of “fraud or false pretense” to stand with other well-dressed people and enter the White House?

If false claims were made, the prosecutors could try to bring a charge under a favorite criminal provision for Washington scandals: 18 U.S.C. § 1001. This false statements provision is often used against political figures like Scooter Libby who tried to lie their way out of a scandal. The provision states:

Whoever, in any matter within the jurisdiction of the executive, legislative, or judicial branch of the Government of the United States, knowingly and willfully–
(1) falsifies, conceals, or covers up by any trick, scheme, or device a material fact;
(2) makes any materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent statement or representation; or
(3) makes or uses any false writing or document knowing the same to contain any materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent statement or entry;shall be fined under this title, imprisoned not more than 5 years . . .
The government might try to pair these two theories to trigger the § 1036 felony. For example, they could argue that the initial fraudulent trespass on to government property in violation of § 1036 occurred with the intent of then lying to the government to get access to Obama in violation of § 1001, triggering the felony provisions of § 1036(b)(1) in addition to the felony provisions of § 1001.

In the end, it is important to remember that, while juvenile and embarrassing, this prank was harmless and even the Secret Service admits that the President was never in harm’s way. What is most striking, however, is the fact that (but for the boastful posting of the pictures by the couple) the Secret Service would not have known that these two were in the White House. That raises obviously troubling security questions, including the danger of strangers in placing electronic devices or causing other mischief in the White House.

As with “Balloon Boy,” the incident says something quite sad about our society and the desire for celebrity status. However, there is a danger of over-reacting to the incident. Congress particularly should think hard before passing any new law, which could cause difficulties for reporters and others. This was a baffling breach by the Secret Service, which deserves every bit of the embarrassment caused by the couple. However, a senseless act of vanity and stupidity should not be the impetus for new legislation.

For the full story, click here.

16 thoughts on “Can The White House Crashers Be Criminally Charged?”

  1. More on White House Party Crashers!

    Most of his sinful life the mobster Yitzchok Feuereisen has been spying on innocent Jewish children fishing out for future blackmailing their and their families harmful personal information for the managing hucksters of Ner Israel Rabbinical College. Yet when I read this past February about a Jewish World Review reporter “Robert Feuereisen” who was detained by the Secret Service for climbing over the media cordon in a frantic attempt to get Obama’s autograph I foolishly couldn’t even dream up that he and Ner Israel scamp “Yitzchok Feuereisen” were one and the same. I kid you not: recently I had to be at Ner Israel once again and verified this thing!!!

    All of us who were at Ner Israel in Baltimore in the 70s knew a sneaky sycophant Yitzchok (Yitzchak) Feuereisen: an “alter bocher” running a “shabbos table” for yeshiva kids. Of course with a “blessing” of the Ner management. Feuereisen then moved in with his spinster sister in NYC but was making a buck as a proprietor of a bus service to Baltimore where he spent weekends. On my visits to Ner Israel after I got married I again always saw that man and his giant “shabbos table” with dozens of high school kids sitting around it. Ner Israel management never raised a finger against this obvious intrusion into THEIR right to coach THEIR kids. Guess why…..

    We then knew little of the cover-ups at Ner though we knew that some rebbeim and many guys at the office were not so ehrlich but that’s a different story. There were sickening whispers that Feuereisen had orgies with the high school children (Yitzchok Feuereisen was a perpetual “alter bocher” who had his own room in the packed Ner Israel high school dorm where he lived for years up until he was in his 40s!) and we heard that he was in bed with the compulsive liar and pedophile rabbi Moshe Eisemann and also a secret spy of the Ner mesivta principal rabbi Joseph “Yossi” Tendler & Associates and other stuff, but at that time that was weird and unbelievable at least to me.

    Thereabout in the 90s the “alter bocher” Yitzchok Feuereisen at last married a shady Australian woman but continued (and continues now!) with his shabbos-spying&grooming-table: this time both at yeshiva and his newly built lavish mansion located one minute walking distance from the yeshiva dorm. This White House jumping incident first made me think what the hell else we could be expecting from a philanderer who was never able to hold his dick in his pants, who spied on kids wholly screwing their innocent lives and families with his falsified dossiers, who never kept shabbos while hiding behind his “shabbos table”: to uncivilly chase after President Obama to fetch his autograph!

    Yet I spoke about this stuff with my good buddy who has worked for the military for the past 20 years and knows Feuereisen too. This is what I heard: “Yitzchok (Feuereisen) has always been a bozo racist and sexist. Of course he came up to Mr. President whose skin color he absolutely loathes just because he wanted Obama to remember him and so have a trouble-free access to him or his team in the future. In matter of fact “journalism” is just a cover for Feuereisen: like the “vending machines” he has to let others see that his riches don’t appear out of thin air. And yes he is spying: maybe for NIRC, maybe for some intelligence agency, or maybe even for himself: big-time trading of the White House insider secrets to the Mafia or fat cats of Big Business.”

    There is something spooky that for more than 10 years that Feuereisen was a JWR reporter at the White House (JWR editor is one more Ner affiliate Binyamin Jolkovsky) no pieces of writing came out in print under the name “Robert Feuereisen”!!! So what was he actually doing at the White House all that years, how did he even get into the White House??? For Feuereisen spying on powerless yeshiva kids was NOT enough, molesting kids at the dorm was NOT enough, covering up for super bastards was NOT enough: Ner Israel has to have their FBI man inside the White House!

    NOBODY DARES TO SAY IT SO I WILL: IF YOU STILL HAVE A CHILD AT NER ISRAEL TELL HIM TO STAY AWAY FROM THE DANGEROUS PHONY RABBI YITZCHOK ROBERT FEUEREISEN AND HIS “FREE” COKE AND CAKE: UNLESS YOU WANT TO FIND OUT FOR YOURSELF WHAT IN REALITY THE WORD “FREE” MEANS AT NER ISRAEL!!!

  2. Diogenes,

    Ah but the safety of the inhabitants is paramount to its stability. Would you like someone coming to your house somewhat uninvited? Just give me your address and let me see what I can arrange for you.

  3. WH gate-crashers went without confirmed invitation (Associated Press, 12/2/2009)

    WASHINGTON – Copies of e-mails between the White House party crashers and a Pentagon official undermine their claims that they were invited to President Barack Obama’s first state dinner.

    Tareq and Michaele Salahi pressed the friendly Pentagon aide for four days to score tickets to the big event. By their own admission in the e-mails, they showed up at the White House gates at 6:30 p.m. on Nov. 24 without an invitation — “to just check in, in case it got approved since we didn’t know, and our name was indeed on the list!”

    But the Secret Service has said they weren’t on that list and that it erred by letting them in anyway.

    In an e-mail sent just hours after last week’s dinner to Pentagon official Michele Jones, the Salahis claimed a dead cell phone battery prevented them from hearing Jones’ voice mail earlier that day advising them they did not make the guest list.

    You can read the rest of the article here:
    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/us_uninvited_guests

  4. These two crashers are really dirty. I would expect charges to be brought and I would also expect some Secret Service heads rolling because this kind of crack in White House security is unacceptable. Buddha, is it Troll season already??

  5. Well if it isn’t Tokyo Troll, propagating propaganda and racial stereotypes in one hugely blathering package.

  6. The Salahis say that the truth will come out eventually.
    We will see. So far the state-run media has been pretty quiet about their radical associations.

    The Washington DC couple denied Tuesday on “The Today Show” that they were gatecrashers. Michaele Salahi insisted that they did not party-crash the White House.

    Maybe the truth is on their side? Maybe the party-goers were invited to the White House on purpose?
    As reported earlier… American Power discovered this on the White House party crashers- They belong to a radical anti-Israeli group:

    Tareq Salahi, the polo-playing intruder, is a Palestinian nationalist with ties to the American Task Force on Palestine (ATFP) , a pro-Palestine lobby demanding the “right of return” for all Palestinian refugees and their descendants. The “right of return” has long been considered the backdoor to Israel’s destruction. But not only that: ATFP President Ziad Asali is an America-basher who blamed 9/11 on U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East. Asali was a lead U.S. official to PLO terrorist Yassir Arafat’s funeral in 2004. And in a position paper in 2007, the ATFP called for a power-sharing agreement at the Palestinian Authority, which would have included the State Department’s designated-terrorist group, Hamas.

    And, there’s more…
    Canada Free Press reported that the American Task Force for Palestine (ATFP) has airbrushed references to Salahi from its website:

    We do know for a fact that among the slew of memberships on charitable boards, Tareq Salahi is a former member of The American Task Force on Palestine (ATFP). The only way to know for a fact is because even though ATFP scrubbed all references to Salahi as a board member, he can still be found on Google cache. (Canada Free Press)

    Sad that White House Secret Service are looking like Keystone Kops in the aftermath of Obama’s very first state house dinner in the tent.

    While the media is fixated on the hitch in Michaele Salahi’s git-along, there can be no doubt that these recently minted “party crashers” really get around.

    American Power has more on the Salahi’s leadership role with the the American Task Force on Palestinian, the “moderate” rights groups pushing a thinly-veiled program of Palestinian nationalism and the “right of return” (the backdoor destruction of Israel).

    According to Discover the Networks, ATFP’s former vice president is Rashid Khalidi, the Columbia University Middle East Studies professor and militant Palestinian rights activist. Khalidi cites the late Edward Said as his major influence, and according to the entry cited, “As with Said before him, Khalidi’s involvement with the Palestinian cause goes beyond mere support.” And, “Khalidi so strongly identified with the aims of the PLO, which was designated as a terrorist group by the State Department during Khalidi’s affiliation with it in the 1980s, that he repeatedly referred to himself as ‘we’ when expounding on the PLO’s agenda.” Also, according to Campus Watch, ATFP remains in full support Kahlidi, for example, during charges of academic misconduct in 2005, at the time of Senator Barack Obama’s meeting with Tareq Salahi. See, “ATFP EXPRESSES FULL SUPPORT FOR COLUMBIA PROFESSOR RASHID KHALIDI.

    Note too that Obama’s ties to the Palestinian community became something of an issue during the 2008 campaign. See, the Los Angeles Times, “Allies of Palestinians See a Friend in Obama.” Plus, from Andrew C. McCarthy and Claudia Rosett, “In Obama’s Hyde Park, It’s All in the Family: Passing Anti-American Radicalism From Generation to Generation.

    As you may recall. The LA Times hid the tape of Barack Obama attending a 2003 Jew-bash where he praised and toasted the former PLO operative Rashid Khalidi.

    Maybe the Salahis were just the latest radicals to be invited to the Obama White House?
    They weren’t the first. And won’t be the last.

  7. Mike S.–

    “As far as prosecuting them goes I believe that if the true story is as presented they should be severely prosecuted. If this was a self promotion stunt to enhance their reality TV chance, they are self centered morons and deserve harsh punishment.”

    Right you are! Maybe a little public humiliation might be in order for these two narcissistic, self-absorbed, preening publicity seekers. I think they should be required to attend the next presidential state dinner dressed in non-designer duds that they actually have to shop for themselves at one of those big-box stores. Just think of how embarrassed the Salahis would be when pictures of them not looking so fashionable and “tony” went viral on the Internet.

  8. Obama is the most threatened President EVER, the Secret Service needs to step up their game. Whether or not these folks were harmless as far as not being a threat to Obama is not the issue. They did us a favor by exposing the security weakness, but there should be consequences so that others don’t get the wrong idea, that it’s ok to do these pranks to get on TV or to become famous. I want my President to be secure and safe!

  9. If, in fact, these folks were invited it would seem to be a pretty simple thing for them to state who invited them and then confirm that with the person.

  10. Complete Presidential protection given the various public responsibilities of the job can never be perfect in our system. That said, one would hope the White House grounds would be one of the places where a security breech would be impossible. This couple indicates it isn’t and appropriate heads should roll.

    As far as prosecuting them goes I believe that if the true story is as presented they should be severely prosecuted. If this was a self promotion stunt to enhance their reality TV chance, they are self centered morons and deserve harsh punishment.

  11. Some commoners get access to the castle and the royalty is all in a huff. Don’t these mud-covered proles know that access to the politically important is only granted to those with extremely high wealth and title? OFF WITH THEIR HEADS!!!!

    Seriously, though, all this criticism reeks of elitism.

  12. Buddha,

    When you are the King, you can do no wrong. Have you had your best dress made by the local tailor? We have a party to go to.

    Another thing the Damn Arabs and Jews did to us was this story. See they don’t contribute anything useful.

    “The Emperor’s New Clothes” is loosely based on a story from Libro de Patronio (or Conda Lucanor, 1328–35), a medieval Spanish collection of fifty-one cautionary tales with Arab and Jewish sources by Infante don Juan Manuel (1282–c.1349).

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Emperor%27s_New_Clothes

    The above was meant only as humor. If it offends you, thank me. One, for not being Andrew Dice Clay or two, it upset an unresolved feeling within you that needs resolving. So deal with it, Lucy.

  13. These half-wits are looking at charges, yet Cheney still walks free.

    That makes a lot of sense.

  14. That is the dilemma for the SS and High Society Folks. Do you deny them entrance when they should have been allowed in and risk job loss or do you deny everyone.

    I think it is great and shows how creative these folks are. Rather than beat them up and make others feel like doing the same thing, Why not find out where the security folks were lacking and create a better system.

    Now I bet, because of all of this exposure more people are going to try it. Hmm, Salahi is now a name in a lot of households that would never be there if and but for the SS security breach.

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