Inauguration planners reassessing security after Capitol siege

They declined to comment on details until this assessment is complete.

“The great American tradition of an opening ceremony has taken place in times of peace, in times of turmoil, in times of prosperity and in times of need,” said Sens Roy Blunt and Amy Klobuchar of the committee, reaffirming their commitment to the ceremony on the Western Front of the Capitol.

Transitional officials and Democrats close to the president, meanwhile, stressed that maintaining public safety and repelling angry mobs was their top priority as they asked questions from anxious supporters. Biden himself told reporters on Wednesday he was confident that the housewarming events would be safe and secure.

“The American people will stand up. Enough is enough is enough, ”he said after brief remarks on Wednesday.

In interviews, law enforcement experts tried to draw a sharp contrast between inauguration day and this week’s disruption, which saw a crowd of violent Trump supporters breaking through the Capitol and bringing lawmakers to safety.

“These events are so much more specific that I think they’re going to be pretty tightly buttoned,” said a former US intelligence veteran, knowing the planning for the upcoming inauguration. “There will be barriers that you didn’t have yesterday. And I think instead of just having the Capitol Police there to protect the Capitol [to start]You will have thousands of other law enforcement officials elbow to elbow. “

A senior Biden inaugural official repeated this, noting that their security partners had begun preparations for the inauguration ceremonies months ago.

In fact, federal agencies have spent more than a year planning a national special security event involving United States Intelligence, FEMA, the Department of Defense, intelligence and other departments that set security areas and respond to terrorist threats and Crises coordinate management. Such events usually include a multi-agency coordination center with numerous officials representing the departments to manage coordination and communication.

Some recalled Barack Obama’s inauguration in 2009, the first for a new president in the post-9/11 period, when officers planned well over 1 million visitors. In preparation for the massive crowds, federal and law enforcement officials examined what damage could be done from miles away from the Capitol – including the types of weapons that could be used – and put considerable information to use over nearly a year.

“We continue to work with them to ensure the greatest possible safety for the President-Elect, Vice-President-Elect, attendees and the public during this historic event,” Biden’s inauguration official said in a statement, adding that this was the case a chance for Americans and the world to witness a peaceful change of power.

“This will be a new day for the American people focused on healing our nation, bringing our country together, and better rebuilding our country.”

Even so, the chaos and lack of control over Wednesday’s events, which stretched for hours before the police and military finally evacuated the Capitol, couldn’t be missed.

In the hours following the chaos, some Biden aides and allies privately voiced their concerns about how to ensure similar threats do not disrupt the inauguration. Their concern was confirmed by Democrats across the country, who pointed to invitations from Trump organizers on social media urging their allies to stay in town or return armed – and in large numbers – to Washington later this month .

“You can imagine the inauguration will provide security at Fort Knox level, only the people who need to be there,” a source close to Biden told POLITICO after the mobs stormed the Capitol.

Some changes are already visible: Military personnel have put up a seven-foot fence around the Capitol. The “non-scalable” fence will remain open for a month. And Mayor Muriel Bowser issued a public emergency decree through January 21, the day after the inauguration, allowing her to take various security measures.

Even before the attempted takeover process, attendance at the inauguration was cut back considerably, as congress members were only allowed to bring one guest and not the “ticket bundles” that members received from the 200,000 ticket organizers that were distributed for past ceremonies.

Inauguration organizers and transition officials are confident that Republicans can help put out the flames Trump started, and some said they saw encouraging signs on Wednesday, including Republicans withdrawing objections to the confirmation of Biden’s election victory.

Several top Republicans have also pledged to attend the inauguration, with more expected. On Thursday, an aide to the House minority leader Kevin McCarthy, who sits on the Congressional Inauguration Committee, said he expected to attend. Vice President Mike Pence is also expected to show up after overseeing the chaotic certification of Biden’s electoral college victory. Former President George W. Bush and his wife said this week they would be in Washington for the ceremony.

Paige Waltz, spokeswoman for the Joint Congressional Committee, said the president and vice president would never be formally invited to the opening ceremonies.

“The president or the vice president didn’t tell us if they would be there,” said Waltz.

Invitations and attendance logistics for the outgoing executives are traditionally carried out at staff level – and historically there is no question of whether they would attend. This time, as the election results were challenged, the Joint Committee of Congress staff planned to contact and start coordinating after certification was completed, which took place on Thursday.

Alice Miranda Ollstein contributed to this report.

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