Politics

Pentagon authorizes 25,000 National Guard members for inauguration


“Every state, territory and the District of Columbia will have National Guard men and women supporting the inauguration,” the statement said.

As of Thursday, there were 7,000 Guardsmen in Washington from more than a dozen states and the DC National Guard. That number will more than triple in the next few days.

The surge in service members comes as law enforcement in the nation’s capital and around the country brace for more extremist violence after the deadly insurrection at the US Capitol last week. The FBI has received information indicating “armed protests” are being planned at all 50 state capitols and the US Capitol in Washington in the days leading up to Biden’s inauguration, according to an internal bulletin obtained by CNN.

“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 states.

The National Guard will have more than strength in numbers. The Department of Defense announced Tuesday that National Guard members will be armed as they are supporting US Capitol security in Washington, DC, ahead of Inauguration Day.

Capt. Chelsi Johnson, spokesperson for the DC National Guard, said in a statement to CNN that the move was requested by federal authorities and authorized by Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy. The first wave of National Guard troops who arrived at the Capitol were unarmed.

Different entities involved in the inauguration are preparing as well. Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser on Monday urged Americans to avoid the city during Biden’s inauguration. Speaking at a news conference Monday, Bowser, a Democrat, stressed that she was concerned about more violent actors potentially coming to the city in the run-up to the inauguration, saying, “If I’m scared of anything, it’s for our democracy, because we have very extreme factions in our country that are armed and dangerous.”
The Secret Service, which is leading the overall security effort working in coordination with federal law enforcement agencies and the Pentagon, on Wednesday officially took charge of security for Biden’s inauguration as authorities warned of new threats across the country after last week’s violence at the Capitol. The agency has been instructed to begin its preparations for the inauguration ahead of schedule.

Law enforcement is using a huge amount of surveillance, including monitoring phones and other communications, in an all-out effort to track individuals to ensure they do not travel to Washington, according to law enforcement officials.

Federal authorities are tracking dozens of people who pose potential concerns of violence who may be coming to Washington for events around the inauguration, according to a source briefed on intelligence shared among federal and local law enforcement.

Some extremists are so suspicious and obsessed with anti-government conspiracies that they’re telling associates they don’t trust some of the planned protests, fearing they are actually FBI plots to try to frame them, according to one official.

Security officials also have shared information citing specific concerns about vehicles that could be used to breach security, the source said. The information adds to the already heightened alert in the capital as authorities try to protect a central area of the city where the transfer of power will take place on January 20.

Earlier Friday, Metropolitan Police Department acting Chief Robert Contee said law enforcement has been getting a “daily download” from the FBI of the internet “chatter” of possible protests around the inauguration.

“I can assure the residents of the District of Columbia that the Metropolitan Police Department and federal partners are in a posture to respond to the information that’s out there thus far that we’ve heard,” Contee said.

MPD is coordinating with the FBI, and briefing Bowser daily on all threats, the acting police chief stated.

This story has been updated with additional reporting.

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