Counter-Terrorism: November 24, 2004

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Security measures for President Bush's second inauguration are going to extremely high, with several thousand additional police officers coming into the area to provide support, new screening measures at inaugural events, and a military contingent that may include a brigade of up to 4,000 additional troops. 

Already, Washington D.C. has the tightest security measures of any city in the nation, with anti-aircraft missiles positioned around the city, a region-wide no-fly zone for general aviation, and sensors around the area to detect biological, chemical, or radiological materials. DC's subway is "wired" for video surveillance and detection of chemical or radiological threats and the District's first responders are testing a high-speed wireless network capable of transmitting and delivering video to and from vehicles to area command posts. Civilian and military agencies in the area have conducted several exercises to prepare for the inauguration from a Northern Virginia headquarters. Scenarios have included suicide bombs, truck bombs, and chemical releases.

Around 2,000 out-of-town police officers will assist with security and traffic details, undercover officers will be in the crowds, and D.C. police officers will be posted every six to eight feet along the parade route. Sturdier barriers and more checkpoints and metal detectors will be deployed along the parade route than in previous years. A high-security ticketing and credentialing system will be put into place for some events to prevent people from using counterfeit materials to get into balls and restricted areas. At the recent Republican National Convention there were several incidents where protestors were able to make their way onto the convention floor by obtaining official credentials. 

The new Joint Forces Headquarters-National Capital Region is prepared to pre-deploy 4,000 active-duty combat troops in the District. The Military District of Washington Engineering Company and the Marine Corps Chemical Biological Incident Response Force will also be on alert in the area; the former unit specializes in rescuing survivors from building collapses. A maritime security force will be lead by the Coast Guard and includes FBI and Department of Energy personnel on boats along the Potomac and Anacostia rivers to guard approaches in the city. Traditionally, uniformed troops have played a ceremonial role and specialized response teams have remained backstage. Around 2,000 troops were flown into Washington for Nixon's 1969 inauguration, with some troops along the parade route. 

Antiwar demonstrators are likely to be the biggest threat to disrupting activities. Organizers have said they plan to bring thousands into the city to protest Bush's second term, but cities are much less tolerant of such activities than they were prior to 9/11. The City of New York took active and aggressive measures to disrupt protestor activities during the Republican National Convention, including limiting protestors to specific areas in the city and delaying the processing of arrested protestors for as long as possible. Doug Mohney

 


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