Defense officials fear “insider” attack at inauguration


Around 25,000 members of the National Guard are deployed in Washington, DC. (Image Source: Twitter/Paul McLeod)

Green zone perimeter established in Washington DC and around 25,000 members of the National Guard are deployed. 

Update: US Defence officials stated that they fear an insider attack or threat from the service members involved in securing President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration, media reports say. The concern is prompting the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to vet all of the 25,000 National Guard members who have come to Washington DC for the event. 

Unprecedented security will mark the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris Wednesday. Local and federal officials in Washington, DC, are taking stringent security measures, and have tightened security in light of the US Capitol attack despite the majority of the ceremony being virtual due to the pandemic. DC Mayor Muriel Bowser has requested people to stay out of the city during the inauguration.

As we have reported earlier, the FBI had warned of armed protests in DC and state Capitols across the United States before Biden’s inauguration. The National Guard troops pour into DC on Saturday. Around 25,000 members of the National Guard are deployed in Washington, DC, 5,000 more than they projected last week. As security intensifies in Washington, a restricted access plan is released which includes a “green zone” in the heart of DC. National Mall and iconic landmarks in Washington are closed at least until January 21. 

Following are the street closures announced in the city: 

  • Independence Avenue between Washington Avenue, SW, and Second Street SE
  • Constitution Avenue between First Street NW and Second Street NE
  • East Capitol Street between First and Second streets
  • 18th Street at Constitution Avenue NW
  • 17th Street at Independence Avenue SW
  • 11th Street at Independence Avenue SW
  • 12th Street at Independence Avenue SW
  • 7th Street at Madison Drive NW
  • 7th Street at Jefferson Drive SW
Troops deployed in DC. (Image Source: Twitter/Soumik Mondal)

The New York Times reported the Defense Department and National Guard officials as saying they were pressing governors of all 50 states for reservists to fill a growing demand for security. Some governors agreed while some have not. 

Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont, who had initially approved sending 100 Guard, agreed to send 200 more. Pennsylvania Gov Tom Wolf doubled his initial commitment and sent 2,000. Ohio Gov Mike DeWine, who earlier approved to send 700, sent around 300 more while he ordered nearly 600 to secure the Ohio statehouse in Columbus. Oregon Gov Kate Brown turned down the request to send 100 more guards to DC due to worries about the violence in Salem. 

According to Anchorage Daily News, Alaska ramped up security ahead of potential protests at the state’s Capitol building in Juneau. In California, the state Capitol remained on lockdown along with parts of downtown Sacramento as authorities braced for the possibility of violence and protests. In Connecticut, the Capitol police have stepped up security sweeps of the complex, and steel barriers were set up around the Capitol building. On Sunday, a heavy police presence, fortified by members of the Illinois National Guard called up by Governor JB Pritzker, remained at the Illinois Capitol. Kentucky National Guard members are ordered for protection of both the Kentucky state Capitol and to assist during the inauguration. The state patrol has increased its presence around Minnesota State. State, local and federal agencies are prepared to address any threat at New York’s Capitol intelligence amidst chatter targeting statehouses nationwide.

Law enforcement agencies have beefed up the security at airports. The Transportation Security Administration increased the number of federal marshalls on flights and explosive-detection dogs at airports. Screening officers will be sent to assist a militarized “green zone” in downtown Washington.

Businesses and hotels have also scaled up security measures.

Amidst the violence warnings, demonstrations and protests have remained small and peaceful as of Sunday night. 

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