The Capitol insurrection has raised fears of an inside attack at President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is vetting 25,000 National Guard troops who will be stationed in the District of Columbia as security heightens ahead of the event.
”We’re continually going through the process, and taking second, third looks at every one of the individuals assigned to this operation,” Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy told The Associated Press.
The vetting process began as soon as the National Guard was deployed a week ago and officials say they expect the process to be completed by Wednesday in time for the event.
“The question is, is that all of them? Are there others?” said McCarthy. “We need to be conscious of it and we need to put all of the mechanisms in place to thoroughly vet these men and women who would support any operations like this.”
General Daniel R. Hokanson, chief of the National Guard Bureau, also weighed in, saying that he belives his troops are well prepared.
“If there’s any indication that any of our soldiers or airmen are expressing things that are extremist views, it’s either handed over to law enforcement or dealt with the chain of command immediately,” he said.
The inauguration, normally an event attended by hundreds of thousands of people, has been largely scaled down since a mob of President Donald Trump’s supporters attacked the Capitol in a failed insurrection that claimed the lives of five people, including a Capitol Hill police officer who later died of his injuries after he was bludgeoned with a fire extinguisher. Those who participated in the attack said they did so at the president’s behest after he ordered them to march to the Capitol in a futile bid to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election, which Biden won decisively.
“The major security concern is an attack by armed groups of individuals, as well as planted explosives and other devices,” The Associated Press reported. “McCarthy said intelligence reports suggest that groups are organizing armed rallies leading up to Inauguration Day, and possibly after that.”
Last week, an official familiar with the discussions revealed that the National Mall would be closed to the public on Inauguration Day. The president-elect’s advisors intend for the event to be a virtual one though Biden has said he has no issue taking the oath of office outside.