Julian E. Barnes
Thursday, Dec 18, 2008
Reporting from Washington – The U.S. military will be on high alert during Barack Obama’s inauguration, increasing air defenses and deploying chemical attack experts and medical units, a general said Wednesday.
Air Force Gen. Victor E. Renuart Jr., who heads the military command that oversees security for North America, said the Defense Department had not been told of specific Inauguration Day threats. Nonetheless, he said, the armed services must be ready.
“It would make news for a terrorist element or rogue element to interrupt that event,” Renuart said. “So it is prudent to plan for the possibility of that event and to deter it or to respond to it.”
(ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW)
The preparations come amid heightened security concerns during the presidential transition. The Bush administration is planning to provide the president-elect with a series of contingency plans for potential international emergencies, including terrorist strikes and electronic attacks, that could occur after Obama takes the oath of office.
The Secret Service is in charge of security for the inauguration. The agency is coordinating with local police departments, as well as with 4,000 law enforcement officers from 96 jurisdictions. About 11,500 military personnel will take part.
Secret Service officials have established 23 planning teams but have provided few details. Inauguration organizers are considering a loudspeaker system to broadcast evacuation instructions in the event of an attack.
Renuart said the military’s preparations were meant to support civilian-led efforts.
This article was posted: Thursday, December 18, 2008 at 12:02 pm