The acting US secretary of defence has said there is ‘no intelligence indicating an insider threat’ for President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration on Wednesday. Law enforcement agencies are screening all 25,000 National Guard officers deployed for the event, after it emerged that some of those involved the deadly January 6 riot at the US Capitol had ties to security agencies.
Christopher Miller, the acting US secretary of defence said in a statement Monday that ‘this type of vetting often takes place by law enforcement for significant security events” but said the “scope of military preparation is unique”.
Thousands of US National Guard forces have entered the Washington DC in recent days, as the city prepares for a scaled-back inaugural event on January 20.
“In coordination with the Secret Service and the FBI, they’re screening all the personnel that are coming in,” General Daniel Hokanson, who heads the National Guard Bureau, told CBS News on Sunday.
The comments by the four-star general come as the capital Washington, DC, remains locked down under unprecedented security in the wake of the storming of the Capitol – the seat of the US government – by supporters of outgoing President Donald Trump. The mob wanted to prevent the Congress from certifying Biden’s election following repeated false claims by Trump that the November election was stolen.At least five people died in the worst riot in almost two centuries, and prompted the US Congress to impeach President Trump for “incitement of insurrection”.
Speaking from Washington, DC, Al Jazeera’s Shihab Rattansi said that ahead of Wednesday’s inauguration day, the National Guard is no longer relying on its usual vetting mechanisms to ensure that those within the service are not radicalised in some way.
“We’ve been told constantly from the National Guard leadership that members of the National Guard are routinely vetted for any potential dangers in their backgrounds, any links to extremism and so on,” he said.
“The new development that’s been reported is that the FBI is now getting involved.”