The FBI is vetting all 25,000 National Guard troops who are tasked with securing the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris on January 20 across the nation’s capital, due to fears of a coordinated insider attack. As part of an intense inauguration security effort following the lethal Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol, authorities have now launched a process to subject troops from the D.C. National Guard and some other states to additional security screening for links to extremist or other violent groups.
After the Capitol assault on January 6, the U.S. government has imposed unparalleled security surrounding the Capitol, including non-scalable fences rimmed with razor wire and a large security zone that the public is barred from. Concern arose over security as investigation into the Capitol attack showed that nearly 30 sworn officers were known to have at least participated in the rally that preceded the riot.
There is a growing list of other officers being arrested for their involvement in the insurgence itself, while a few National Guard members have been arrested in connection to the assault. It was reported that an FBI report warned law enforcement agencies that far-right extremists had discussed posing as National Guard members in Washington.
Acting Secretary of Defense Christopher Miller said in a statement on Monday the vetting is “normal for military support to large security events… While we have no intelligence indicating an insider threat, we are leaving no stone unturned in securing the capital”. While law enforcement vetting typically occurs before major security events, he added, “in this case the scope of military participation is unique.”
The U.S. Army said that it is working with the FBI to see if any attackers were current service members and with the Secret Service to see if any of the National Guard troops securing Biden’s inauguration would need additional screening.