12 National Guard Members Reportedly Removed from Inauguration Detail
WASHINGTON — Twelve U.S. Army National Guard members have reportedly been removed from the force providing presidential inauguration security after they were found to have ties with right-wing militia groups or posted extremist views online.
Officials have yet to provide any details on the removals, which were first reported by the Associated Press, and have since been reported by other news outlets.
However officials have stressed that there has been no threat made to President-elect Joe Biden.
There are currently about 25,000 National Guard troops in Washington, D.C., and the FBI has been working for several days to vet each and every one of them ahead of Wednesday’s inaugural ceremony.
Defense officials have been worried about a potential insider attack or other threat from service members following the deadly riot at the U.S. Capitol Jan. 6 by Trump supporters.
On Monday, in a sign of just how tense the situation remains, a fire at a homeless camp about a mile from the Capitol prompted a hurried lockdown putting a temporary end to an inauguration rehearsal.
Acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller said in a statement that vetting of National Guard troops continues and that the Pentagon has found no intelligence so far that would indicate an insider threat.
U.S. Secret Service tightened security in and around the Capitol days earlier than usual in preparation, and the city center is effectively on lockdown with streets blocked, high fencing installed and tens of thousands of troops and law enforcement officers stationed throughout the city.
Federal law enforcement officials are also said to be growing increasingly concerned about “surveillance” of military and law enforcement checkpoints as tourists and even some of the inauguration’s protectors have turned up to take pictures of the goings-on.
Over the weekend, the Secret Service issued a bulletin to National Guard troops, informing them that no service members should be posting locations, pictures or descriptions online regarding current operations or the sensitive sites they are protecting and urged them to stop immediately.