More questions about Jeff Gannon

In the post-9/11 world, how is it possible that the Secret Service doesn't know who's inside the White House?

Published April 27, 2005 4:06PM (EDT)

The Secret Service may have thought it was clearing things up when it turned over to Reps. John Conyers and Louise Slaughter security logs showing Jeff Gannon's comings and goings from the White House. It hasn't worked out that way.

As Raw Story noted almost immediately, there are all sorts of holes in the documents the Secret Service released. The documents show that Gannon got access to the White House roughly 200 times in less than two years, but they also show days in which Gannon is listed as arriving but not leaving and leaving but not arriving. Our inbox is full of hopeful speculation: Was Gannon somebody's overnight guest at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.?

It's not impossible, we suppose, but we'll assume, until we see some evidence to the contrary, that the Secret Service just did a bad job of keeping track of who was coming and going at the White House. That's not exactly a comforting thought, either -- especially given Gannon's rather tawdry background -- and a group of internet sleuths calling themselves ePluribus Media have just raised a whole new set of questions about the matter. They've compared the Secret Service "access control" records with video clips of White House press briefings, and they say they've found five tapes that show Gannon at briefings inside the White House on days that the Secret Service says he wasn't there at all. The group asks: Did the Secret Service screw up that much on its own, or did someone at the White House figure out a way to help Gannon get in without appearing on the Secret Service logs?

Meanwhile, Conyers and Slaughter are asking some questions of their own. When Scott McClellan was pressed on Gannon's access back in February, he said: "Well, let me explain a few things. First, as the press secretary, I don't think it's the role of the press secretary to get into picking or choosing who gets press credentials. Also, I don't think it's the role of the Press Secretary to get into being a media critic, and I think there are very good reasons for that. I've never inserted myself into the process." But according to Conyers and Slaughter, the Secret Service documents show that McClellan's media assistant, Lois Cassano, requested 48 of the day passes Gannon used to get into the White House. In a letter they sent to McClellan this week, Conyers and Slaughter ask whether he'd like to "revise" his claim about not getting involved in the process.

By Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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