Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen sends ̵
The Department of Homeland Security implemented a security lock in downtown Washington, DC, nearly a week ahead of schedule following the deadly siege of the Capitol and threats of more violence leading up to the inauguration day on January 20 and the conspiracy of president-elect Joe Biden .
At the request of congressional and city officials, DHS acting secretary Pete Gaynor accelerated the rollout of a massive initial security plan on Wednesday.
“In light of these requests, recent events at the U.S. Capitol … and planned events in Washington, DC, prior to the inauguration, I have determined that it is necessary to extend (enhanced security period) to begin January 13 to give a unified command and control and ensure the safety of this particular event, ”Gaynor wrote in a note to department officials.
The early designation started a far-reaching operation that has already draped the city in fences and barricades.
Unsuspecting commuters encountered several vehicle checkpoints at major entrances to the city early Wednesday and blocked traffic while some streets were completely closed as officials pressed to implement a plan that would involve tens of thousands of law enforcement officers and National Guard troops.
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Gaynor’s action was his first as acting secretary since taking command of the department following Monday’s abrupt resignation of acting secretary Chad Wolf. Concerns about the security mission were raised at Wolf’s resignation as the inauguration weaved.
DHS oversees the Secret Service, which leads the preparations for the designated national special security event. Earlier in the week, the Secret Service expressed confidence in the plan, describing it as a “zero fail mission.”
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Michael Plati, the agent leading the effort, promised a “robust … presence” of law enforcement and the National Guard along with a layered network of fences and vehicle checkpoints to ward off potential threats.
Plati described last week’s security crash as a “sharp reminder” of the consequences of any crash.
“We have a zero-fail mission,” he said. “We feel we are ready to tackle the challenges that day.”
Although Plati did not address specific threats to the inauguration, the FBI warned authorities about the possibility of armed demonstrations on the inauguration day in Washington and in the state capitals in the run-up to the new president’s inauguration.
A suburban Chicago man, Louis Capriotti, was arrested Tuesday on a federal charge on suspicion of threatening violence at the inauguration.
Washington DC Mayor Muriel Bowser, who has urged people not to travel to Washington for the inauguration, said Wednesday that security measures could affect transportation, including the subway service operated by the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority.
This is in addition to already closed roads and future blockages that could be announced closer to the inauguration day.
“Using the overused word is not without precedent,” Bowser said, pointing to similar security measures during the 2009 inauguration of Barack Obama’s inauguration.
Earlier this week, Bowser requested that President Donald Trump declare a state of emergency prior to the inauguration, which his administration carried out on Monday. She also asked the U.S. Department of the Interior, which oversees federal parks, to cancel all public collection permits and reject all applications until Jan. 24.
“We are continuing these discussions with the Interior Ministry,” she said.
Washington DC Police Chief Robert Contee, a veteran of the department, said he has never seen the level of law enforcement expected at the inauguration. He said he expects more than 20,000 members of the National Guard in the District of Columbia.
“I am just worried. I have been worried before today and will review this weekend and beyond, ”said Contee. “We take this seriously. We’re just focused on the job that’s available. ”
Bowser was the subject of threats last week, according to a lawsuit published Wednesday in the Justice Department case against Cleveland Meredith, one of the rebels charged in the January 6 Capitol attack.
The day after the uprising, according to prosecutors, Meredith texted an unidentified person: “I can walk over to the mayor’s office and put a 5.56 in her skull …” He is accused of making similar comments about House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Bowser did not respond directly to the threat when asked by reporters. “I would say I get a lot of threats,” she said, adding that DC police will implement the necessary security measures.
The heavy security preparations were carried out across the city as the House weighed in on the second indictment by Trump, which lawmakers have accused of inciting last week’s violent attacks.
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