National Guard troops vetted ahead of Joe Biden's inauguration over fears of 'inside attack' from service members

Security cover has been tighetened across DC and state capitals to prevent repetition of a January 6-like disturbance

                            National Guard troops vetted ahead of Joe Biden's inauguration over fears of 'inside attack' from service members
President-elect Joe Biden and Virginia National Guard soldiers standing outside the US Capitol (Getty Images)

America is tense ahead of the inauguration of Joe Biden as the 46th president on January 20, thanks to the riot that broke out at the Capitol Hill on January 6. Supporters of the incumbent president, Donald Trump, stormed the seat of the Congress on that day to protest the outcome of the 2020 presidential election. Five people, including one policeman, lost their lives in the violence that followed and Trump faced a massive backlash following the events, including an impeachment -- the second of his tenure. 

Security has been tightened to unprecedented levels ahead of Inauguration Day as fears loom over a repetition of the January 6-like incident and now, defense officials have expressed concern over a possible 'insider attack' or other threat from service members involved in securing the inauguration of Biden. The alarming forecasts have made the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) vet all of the 25,000 National Guard personnel arriving in Washington for the inauguration, Associated Press reported. That number is at least two-and-a-half times more the number seen for previous inaugurals.

Pro-Trump protesters gather in front of the U.S. Capitol Building on January 6, 2021 in Washington, DC (Getty Images)

“It also underscores fears that some of the very people assigned to protect the city over the next several days could present a threat to the incoming president and other VIPs in attendance,” the report added.

Officials conscious about potential threat, says army secretary

Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy on Sunday, January 17, told AP that the officials were conscious of the potential threat and warned commanders to look out for any problems that might exist within their ranks ahead of the high-profile event on Wednesday, Jan 20. Reports about White supremacists and radicals recruiting in the US military have already fuelled anxiety after several current or former members of the armed forces were reportedly identified at the January 6 insurrection at the Capitol, prompting the top leaders of the military to reiterate their commitment to the constitutional sanctity.  

Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy (Getty Images)

McCarthy and other leaders have, however, said that they have not noticed any evidence of threats ahead of the Inauguration Day and the officials added that the vetting hadn’t flagged issues, the AP report added. 

“We’re continually going through the process and taking second, third looks at every one of the individuals assigned to this operation,” McCarthy said in an interview after going through a three-hour security drill ahead of the January 20 event with other military officers. He also said the Guard members were also being trained on identifying potential insider threats. 

“The question is, is that all of them? Are there others?” McCarthy asked. “We need to be conscious of it and we need to put all of the mechanisms in place to thoroughly vet these men and women who would support any operations like this,” he added. AP added that in a situation like the given one, the FBI’s vetting would run people’s names through databases to detect anything alarming. 

Last week, rehearsal for Biden’s inauguration got postponed due to security concerns, Politico reported citing two informed sources.

Guard troops, meanwhile, were monitoring the situation in many state capitals besides DC after law-enforcement sources warned about possibly violent protests by Trump’s supporters who claim that the November election was stolen from the Republican. Armed supporters of the president reached state capitals on January 17 as members of the anti-government Boogaloo Boys displayed semi-automatic weapons near the Michigan State Capitol. DC, on the other hand, looked like a fortress with Guard troops and local police officials erecting checkpoints and high perimeters outside the Capitol building.