Following the breach of the U.S. Capitol earlier this month, the FBI is vetting 25,000 National Guard troops deployed to Washington, D.C., to secure the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden taking place on Wednesday.
According to The Associated Press, U.S. defense officials say they are conducting the vetting process out of concern about an “insider attack or other threat” from service members involved in securing the inauguration.
The “threats against Biden’s inauguration,” AP underscores, “have been fueled by supporters of President Donald Trump, far-right militants, white supremacists and other radical groups”:
Insider threats have been a persistent law enforcement priority in the years after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. But in most cases, the threats are from homegrown insurgents radicalized by al-Qaida, the Islamic State group or similar groups. In contrast, the threats against 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 accusations that the election was stolen from him, a claim that has been refuted by many courts, the Justice Department and Republican officials in key battleground states.
Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy said Sunday that “officials are conscious of the potential threat, and he warned commanders to be on the lookout for any problems within their ranks as the inauguration approaches,” the report states, noting that, thus far, McCarthy and other leaders “say they have seen no evidence of any threats, and officials said the vetting hadn’t flagged any issues that they were aware of.”
”We’re continually going through the process, and taking second, third looks at every one of the individuals assigned to this operation,” McCarthy said.
The latest vetting is in addition to routine reviews for “extremist connections” of service members. The process began more than a week ago and will be completed by Wednesday.
“The question is, is that all of them? Are there others?” McCarthy said. “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.”
The FBI’s vetting reportedly involves “running peoples’ names through databases and watchlists maintained by the bureau to see if anything alarming comes up,” AP explains. “That could include involvement in prior investigations or terrorism-related concerns, said David Gomez, a former FBI national security supervisor in Seattle.”
The number of troops set for Biden’s inauguration is reportedly at least two and a half times that of the troops deployed for previous inaugurations.
Comparison of National Guard presence at inaugurations, via CBS’ David Martin: There were 9500 National Guard deployed for Obama’s first inaugural vs. 25,000 this week in DC
— Bo Erickson CBS (@BoKnowsNews) January 17, 2021
As noted by The Daily Wire, in an unprecedented move, the entire National Mall was shut to the public Friday morning as a security measure taken to secure Biden’s inauguration.