WASHINGTON (AP) – U.S. defense officials say they are concerned about an insider attack or other threat by service members involved in securing the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden, prompting the FBI to veterinarian 25,000 people arriving in Washington for the incident. national guard soldier. .
The huge venture reflects the extraordinary security concerns that preoccupied Washington after the January 6 Trump pro-rioters revolted deadly in the U.S. Capitol. And he underlines fears that some of the people assigned to defend the city could pose a threat to the incoming president and other VIPs present in the next few days.
Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy told the Associated Press on Sunday that officials were aware of the potential threat and warned commanders to pay attention to any problems in their ranks as the approach approached. So far, however, he and other leaders say they have not seen any threats and officials say the audit did not identify any issues he was aware of.
“We’re constantly going through the process and taking a second, third look at the individuals designated for the operation,” McCarthy said in an interview after he and other military leaders conducted an exhaustive three-hour security exercise in preparation for Wednesday’s inauguration. According to him, members of the guard also receive training on identifying insider threats.
About 25,000 members of the National Guard flow into Washington from across the country – at least two and a half times the previous inaugurations. And while the military regularly inspects members of the service for extreme contacts, the FBI is screening for any previous observations.
Several officials said the process began when the First Guard troops began settling in DC more than a week ago. And they said it was scheduled for completion on Wednesday. Several officials anonymously discussed military planning.
“The question is, is it all? Are there others? McCarthy said. “We need to be aware of this and use every mechanism to look closely at these men and women who would support such operations.”
In such a situation, an FBI check would involve running the names of the peoples through databases and watchlists maintained by the office to see if anything alarming. This could include participating in preliminary investigations or concerns about terrorism, said David Gomez, a former FBI national security inspector in Seattle.
Insider threats have been a constant priority for law enforcement in the years following the September 11, 2001 attacks. But in most cases, the threats are posed by their own military insurgents radicalized by al-Qaeda, the Islamic State group or similar groups. In contrast, threats to Biden’s inauguration have been fueled by supporters of President Donald Trump, far-right militants, white supremacists and other radical groups. Many believe Trump’s baseless allegations of stealing the election from him have been refuted by Republican officials in several courts, the Department of Justice, and key battlefield states.
The uprising began at the Capitol after Trump made an incendiary remark at the Jan. 6 demonstration. McCarthy said members of the military service attended this meeting, but it is not clear how many were or who were involved in the offense at the Capitol. So far, only a few current active-duty or National Guard members have been arrested in connection with the Capitol attack, which killed five people. Among the dead was a Capitol police officer and a woman who was shot by police officers as she climbed through a window near a chamber in the house.
General Daniel R. Hokanson, chief of the National Guard office, met with the Guard’s troops when they arrived in DC and gathered in downtown. He said he thought there were good processes in identifying potential threats.
“If there are any indications that any of our soldiers or aircraft are expressing extreme views, they will either be handed over to law enforcement or deal with the chain of command immediately,” he said.
However, the insider threat was just one of the security concerns voiced by officials on Sunday when dozens of soldiers, the National Guard, law enforcement and Washington DC officials and commanders conducted a security test in northern Virginia. With three dozen leaders lined up with tables ringing a massively depicted DC map reflected on stage. Behind them stood dozens of National Guard officers and staff, whose eyes were trained on additional maps and tables on the wall.
The Secret Service is responsible for the security of the incidents, but it involves a wide variety of military and law enforcement personnel, from the National Guard and the FBI to the Washington Metropolitan Police Department, the U.S. Capitol Police, and the U.S. Park Police.
The commanders reviewed all aspects of the city’s intricate security lockout, questioned by McCarthy and others about how the teams would react in any scenario and how well they could communicate with other law enforcement agencies scattered throughout the city.
Hokanson said he thinks his teams are properly equipped and prepared and, as far as they can, are prepared for any eventuality.
The biggest security concern is attacks by gunmen and the planting of explosives and other devices. McCarthy said intelligence reports suggest the groups will hold armed rallies until the day of the inauguration, and possibly thereafter.
Most of the members of the guard will be armed. McCarthy said units go through repetitive exercises to practice when and how to use force and how to work quickly with law enforcement partners. Law enforcement officers would arrest him.
According to him, the guard units “go through constant mental repetitions when they look at the map and talk to scenarios with leaders to understand their mission and purpose, know their route, know where they are friendly, neighboring units, have the right frequency to communicate with their law enforcement partners. “
The most important goal, he said, is for America to hand over power without incident.
“It’s a national priority. We have to be successful as an institution, ”McCarthy said. “We want to send a message to everyone in the United States and the rest of the world that we can do this safely and peacefully.”
Eric Tucker, author of the Associated Press, contributed to the report.