Printable Page Headline News   Return to Menu - Page 1 2 3 5 6 7 8 13
 
 
DC On Lockdown,On Edge for Inauguration01/20 06:04

   The inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden will take place in a 
Washington on edge, after the deadly riot at the U.S. Capitol unleashed a wave 
of fear and unmatched security concerns. And law enforcement officials are 
contending not only with the potential for outside threats but also with rising 
concerns about an insider attack by troops with a duty to protect him.

   WASHINGTON (AP) -- The inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden will take 
place in a Washington on edge, after the deadly riot at the U.S. Capitol 
unleashed a wave of fear and unmatched security concerns. And law enforcement 
officials are contending not only with the potential for outside threats but 
also with rising concerns about an insider attack by troops with a duty to 
protect him.

   There have been no specific threats made against Biden.

   The nation's capital is essentially on lockdown. More than 25,000 troops and 
police have been called to duty. Tanks and concrete barriers block the streets. 
The National Mall is closed. Fencing lines the perimeter of the U.S. Capitol 
complex. Checkpoints sit at intersections. The U.S. Secret Service, which is in 
charge of the event, says it is prepared.

   But law enforcement officials have been monitoring members of far-right 
extremist and militia groups. They have grown increasingly concerned about the 
possibility such groups could stream into Washington and spark violent 
confrontations, a law enforcement official said.

   Even in the hours before the event, federal agents were monitoring 
"concerning online chatter," which included an array of threats against elected 
officials and discussions about ways to infiltrate the inauguration, the 
official said.

   And 12 National Guard members were removed from the security operation after 
vetting by the FBI, including two who had made extremist statements in posts or 
texts about Wednesday's event. Pentagon officials wouldn't give details on the 
statements.

   Two other U.S. officials told The Associated Press that all 12 were found to 
have ties with right-wing militia groups or to have posted extremist views 
online. The officials, a senior intelligence official and an Army official 
briefed on the matter, did not say which fringe groups the Guard members 
belonged to or what unit they served in. The officials told the AP they had all 
been removed because of "security liabilities."

   The officials were not authorized to speak publicly and spoke on condition 
of anonymity.

   Gen. Daniel Hokanson, chief of the National Guard Bureau, confirmed that 
Guard members had been removed and sent home but said only two cases were 
related to inappropriate comments or texts related to the inauguration. He said 
the other 10 cases were for potential issues that may involve previous criminal 
behavior or activities but were not directly related to the inaugural event.

   Their removal from the massive security presence at the nation's capital 
came amid worries from U.S. defense officials about a potential insider attack 
or other threat from service members following the deadly riot at the U.S. 
Capitol on Jan. 6 by Trump supporters. The FBI has been working to vet all 
25,000 National Guard in town. Officials have said the Pentagon has found no 
intelligence so far that would indicate an insider threat.

   But the FBI has also warned law enforcement officials about the possibility 
that right-wing fringe groups could pose as members of the National Guard, 
according to two law enforcement officials familiar with the matter. Over the 
summer, a man carrying a handgun and an assault rifle was arrested in Los 
Angeles and charged with impersonating a National Guard member during a 
protest. Actual Guardsmen confronted him when they noticed things out of place 
on his uniform.

   Investigators in Washington are particularly worried that members of 
right-wing extremist groups and militias, like the Oath Keepers and Three 
Percenters, could descend on Washington to spark violence, the law enforcement 
officials said. Some of the extremist groups are known to recruit former 
military personnel and train extensively and have frequented anti-government 
and political protests.

   That concern intensified significantly after investigators identified 
members of right-wing extremist groups participating in the Capitol riot.

   The nation's capital has been on edge since the deadly insurrection. A fire 
in a homeless camp roughly a mile from the Capitol complex prompted an 
evacuation Monday during a rehearsal for the inauguration. The arrests of two 
people with guns who entered the checkpoints set off concerns, though the 
arrests had no apparent connection to the inauguration.

   Federal law enforcement officials have also been wary of increased 
surveillance of military and law enforcement checkpoints and other positions. 
Some National Guard troops have reported people taking pictures and recording 
them, said the law enforcement officials, who spoke to the AP on condition of 
anonymity to discuss ongoing security matters.

   In a related problem, the Secret Service issued a bulletin over the weekend 
about what it sees as an "uptick" in National Guard troops posting pictures and 
details of their own operations online.

   The AP obtained the message sent to all National Guard troops coming to 
Washington. The bulletin read, "No service members should be posting locations, 
pictures or descriptions online regarding current operations or the sensitive 
sites they are protecting" and urged them to stop immediately.

   Asked about the bulletin, a spokesperson for the Secret Service said the 
agency "does not comment on matters of protective intelligence."

   Neither Hokanson nor Pentagon spokesperson Jonathan Hoffman would provide 
details on the comments or texts made by the two Guard members. Speaking at a 
Pentagon news conference, Hokanson said one was identified by his chain of 
command and the other was identified through an anonymous tip.

   "Much of the information," Hoffman said, "is unrelated to the events taking 
place at the Capitol or to the concerns that many people have noted on 
extremism. These are vetting efforts that identify any questionable behavior in 
the past or any potential link to questionable behavior, not just related to 
extremism."

   Hoffman said officials aren't asking questions right now of those who were 
flagged.

   But later, he said, "we will address them, whether it's through law 
enforcement, if necessary, or through their own chain of command."

 
 
Copyright DTN. All rights reserved. Disclaimer.
Powered By DTN