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Heavy Security Grips U.S. Capital on Inauguration Day

Posted by tothewire on January 19, 2009

U.S. President-elect Barack Obama and his wife Michelle arrive at the 'We Are One' Inaugural Celebration at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, January 18, 2009.

U.S. President-elect Barack Obama and his wife Michelle arrive at the 'We Are One' Inaugural Celebration at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, January 18, 2009.

As U.S. President-elect Barack Obama officially launched inauguration celebrations in the National Mall grounds in front of the Lincoln Memorial Sunday afternoon, the nation’s capital is experiencing an unprecedented security clamp-down ahead of the historic swearing-in of a first African-American president.

    The inauguration, the presence of dignitaries and the record-breaking magnitude of on-site spectators seem to best justify the creation of what will be the most extensive and toughest safety net to date for a presidential swearing-in.

In recent days, authorities have been gradually increasing measures to enforce road and bridge closures and establish security cordons across the downtown area, making throngs of people at checkpoints and mass transit systems, rarely seen on ordinary days, a sight of normalcy.

    Outgoing President George W. Bush has declared a state of emergency for the District of Columbia during Jan. 17 to 21, the first time for the United States to do so for the inauguration of a president.

FBI special force members stand guard at the "We Are One" welcome concert, attended by U.S. President-elect Barack Obama and Vice President-elect Joe Biden and kicking off the inauguration celebrations, at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C., the United States, Jan. 18, 2009.

FBI special force members stand guard at the "We Are One" welcome concert, attended by U.S. President-elect Barack Obama and Vice President-elect Joe Biden and kicking off the inauguration celebrations, at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C., the United States, Jan. 18, 2009.

The move allows the federal government to provide extra funding to the district’s government agencies, in addition to the 15 million U.S. dollars already approved by the Congress to cover inauguration security costs.

    Starting from 3 p.m. Monday, security will be at its highest intensity and stay in place until 7 a.m. Wednesday, when major inaugural activities will be considered to have concluded.

    Federal authorities said they have detected no credible and specific threats, but still they designated the inaugural as a National Special Security Event, giving the U.S. Secret Service the leading role in designing and implementing an overall security plan.

Opening Inaugural Celebration at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, January 18, 2009.

President-elect Barack Obama and his wife Michelle arrive for the We Are One: Opening Inaugural Celebration at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, January 18, 2009.

This plan, developed by the Secret Service in cooperation with over 50 local, state and federal security, public safety and military partners, includes road closures, security screenings, as well as additional air and water security measures.

    As part of security enhancements, the military has deployed anti-aircraft missiles in scattered locations in the Washington area to deter and thwart any potentially disastrous attacks from the air.

    An estimated 2 million people will swarm downtown Washington and set a record that could diminish the number of attendees at any previous presidential inaugurations.

    Struggling to meet the soaring security needs, the Secret Service has assembled a formidable security force of more than 40,000 people, including 7,500 active-duty soldiers, 10,000 National Guard troops and 25,000 law-enforcement officers.

A police officer stands guard in front of the Capitol building in Washington Jan. 18, 2009. U.S. authorities are tightening up security in the capital city ahead of the Jan. 20 inauguration of President-elect Barack Obama.

A police officer stands guard in front of the Capitol building in Washington Jan. 18, 2009. U.S. authorities are tightening up security in the capital city ahead of the Jan. 20 inauguration of President-elect Barack Obama.

They will constitute the largest-ever security force assembled in the nation’s capital, surpassing the 31,000-member U.S. troops serving in Afghanistan, according to U.S. media reports.

    With the swearing-in ceremony starting at 11 a.m. Tuesday, the authorities have advised would-be participants and spectators to arrive hours earlier for security checks.

    Check points will open at 8 a.m. for the 240,000 lucky ticket holders, who will have to go through the toughest security procedures before entering into areas right in front of the Capitol to actually watch the president in person taking the oath of office and delivering the inaugural address.

    Those without tickets, who make the bulk of the 2 million visitors, are also subject to successive security screenings before walking in designated reviewing areas and joining parades, balls and other festive celebrations.

    Besides prohibited items such as “weapons of any kind,” aerosols, backpacks, oversized bags and bicycles are also banned as part of security precaution. Signs and placards can be carried in, but they must be made of cardboard, poster board or cloth and no larger than three feet (about one meter) in width and 20 feet (about six meters) in length.

    The authorities have warned that they will confiscate any prohibited items without returning them.

A police car patrols on the street in front of the Capitol building in Washington Jan. 18, 2009. U.S. authorities are tightening up security in the capital city ahead of the Jan. 20 inauguration of President-elect Barack Obama

A police car patrols on the street in front of the Capitol building in Washington Jan. 18, 2009. U.S. authorities are tightening up security in the capital city ahead of the Jan. 20 inauguration of President-elect Barack Obama

 
      by Wang Xiangjiang, Yang Qingchuan

http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2009-01/19/content_10682881.htm

 

 

 

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3 Responses to “Heavy Security Grips U.S. Capital on Inauguration Day”

  1. Safety for Obama has been on the forefront of my mind since he came on the scene. I think the security of this President will remain ramped up throughout his term as President. He is a light to extinguish for some … we haven’t left the Middle Ages.

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  2. tothewire said

    Yes, I sadly have to agree with you. Welcome back to our little blog! I enjoy your blog! Hope others do as well:

    Iowa Compact … let’s be “Green” together @ http://iowacompact.wordpress.com/

    Like

  3. RJ said

    Yeah, I feel uneasy. That’s part of the reason I’m not attending the festivities. Check this out–even the rinky dink hotels around here (Best Western, etc) are starting at $300/night. The average price I’ve seen is $500…no that wasn’t average….even the Holiday Inn Express was more than that.

    I flight from ATL to DC.. $1100!

    Yeah, rip people off America!

    Like

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