By Zachary Cohen and Geneva Sands | CNN
More than 20,000 National Guard members could be in the nation’s capital to help secure President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration, Washington, DC, Police Chief Robert Contee said Wednesday, as sources tell CNN that officials are considering raising the terrorism threat level.
Contee’s announcement also came as the US Secret Service on Wednesday officially took charge of security for Biden’s inauguration as authorities warn of new threats across the country and unfold a massive security presence in Washington after last week’s violence at the US Capitol.
There are already significantly more US troops deployed on Capitol Hill than in Afghanistan and Iraq combined, a staggering statistic that underscores just how massive the security presence already is.
The physical security perimeter around the Capitol and other key buildings also continues to expand. Road blocks and steel barriers are extending many blocks from the Capitol. Road blocks are also being set up further out from the White House and the National Naval Observatory, where the vice president lives.
The Secret Service is leading the overall security effort working in coordination with federal law enforcement agencies and the Pentagon. Multiple senior defense officials told CNN that there is a major interagency “requirements” meeting Wednesday to discuss in depth security requirements.
Asked if he’s ever seen this much law enforcement reinforcement coming to the District, the newly installed Chief Contee, who is a veteran of the Metropolitan Police Department and a lifelong DC resident, answered, “not at this level, no.”
Multiple defense officials tell CNN that the total request for National Guard is close to 30,000 guardsmen to support US Capitol Police, Park Police and Washington Metropolitan Police Department but officials believe that the actual number needed is closer to 20,000. The final numbers will be provided by the Secret Service.
The officials added that there is no concern that there will be any shortage of Guard forces to meet requirements from the 50 states and the District of Columbia.
Officials consider raising national terror threat level
Discussions are underway about raising the terrorism threat level, according to two sources familiar with the discussions, though one source cautioned no changes are expected as of now.
The National Terrorism Advisory System — which replaced color-coded alerts of the Homeland Security Advisory System — falls under the Department of Homeland Security. Advisories are pushed out in the event of an imminent or elevated threat to the public.
One of the officials said the discussions began following last week’s insurrection and was based on information that a similar attack by “armed militias” could happen at the Capitol or elsewhere.
The latest advisory issued stemmed from an Iran-related terrorism threat to the United States last January. It’s since expired. According to the DHS website, decisions about issuing an advisory, and what form it takes, are informed by “intelligence assessments and risks to the public and critical infrastructure.”
DHS did not immediately respond to CNN’s request for comment.
‘The chatter is off the charts’
The Secret Service is taking the lead of inauguration security planning efforts as there is …read more
Source:: The Mercury News – Entertainment