US tightens security ahead of Joe Biden’s inauguration
US authorities are deploying troops to safeguard Joe Biden’s inauguration ceremony days after the Capitol riot. The FBI has warned of armed protests across the country in the run-up to January 20.
US law enforcement agencies have ramped up security measures for President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration on January 20, days after supporters of outgoing President Donald Trump stormed the Capitol building in a violent attempt to overturn the results of the presidential election.
Acting DHS Secretary Chad Wolf, hours before his resignation on Monday, said that he had instructed the US Secret Service to begin National Special Security Event operations on January 13.
He cited “the events of the past week and the evolving security landscape leading up to the inauguration” for moving up special security arrangements by almost a week than originally planned.
He added that federal, state, and local agencies “will continue to coordinate their plans and position resources for this important event.”
The Secret Service heads security operations for events, including presidential inaugurations, considered to be nationally significant.
National Guard deployed
The National Guard was authorized on Monday to send up to 15,000 troops to Washington as a security measure to safeguard the capital.
General Daniel Hokanson, chief of the National Guard Bureau said 6,200 troops were already on the ground in Washington following the mob violence last week.
About 10,000 troops will arrive in the capital by Saturday to help provide security, logistics, and communications, he told reporters, adding that an additional 5,000 could be requested from other states.
In other security measures, tourists were barred from visiting the Washington Monument until January 24.
A presidential inauguration normally draws hundreds of thousands of visitors to Washington. But this time, the organizers as well as the Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser have asked Americans not to travel to the capital, which will remain on high alert until the inauguration.
The new acting Capitol police chief Yogananda Pittman said on Monday that there will be no public access to the Capitol grounds during the inauguration.
The event has already been scaled back dramatically due to the raging coronavirus pandemic and the inaugural committee said Washington’s National Mall would be covered with 191,500 flags of different sizes, to represent the missing crowds.
The organizers announced “America United” as the theme of the inauguration less than a week after a violent mob ransacked the Capitol building in an attack that left five people dead.
FBI warns of armed protests
An internal FBI bulletin on Sunday warned of planned armed protests at all 50 state capitals and in Washington DC in the run-up to the inauguration.
The nationwide protests may start later this week and extend through the inauguration ceremony in Washington.
“Armed protests are being planned at all 50 state capitols from 16 January through at least 20 January, and at the US Capitol from 17 January through 20 January,” the bulletin said, according to an official quoted by the Associated Press.
Biden ‘not afraid’
The incoming president has not expressed concern over his own security.
“I’m not afraid of taking the oath outside,” he said on Monday. “It is critically important that there’ll be a real serious focus on holding those folks who engaged in sedition and threatening the lives, defacing public property, caused great damage – that they be held accountable.”
Trump has announced that he will not be attending the ceremony, which Biden said was “a good thing.” Vice President Mike Pence will reportedly be present.
adi/aw (AP, Reuters)