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Wired for Security

By Cynthia L. Webb
washingtonpost.com Staff Writer
Thursday, January 20, 2005; 9:50 AM

President Bush begins his second term today with an inauguration ceremony filled with pomp, circumstance, a coating of snow and the most elaborate security measures ever put in place for a presidential swearing-in.

The 55th Inaugural will be the first since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and the nation's capital has been transformed into a high-tech surveillance hub.

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The Secret Service's Timothy Koerner spoke with CNN about technology measures in place to help secure the event: "I think technology is one of those invisible assets that the Secret Service and their partners in the operational security plan utilize. It's something that, that is really stealthy in a lot of regards. It's out there but not detected or seen by the general public. But those assets from communications, from the air space security picture that we're employing, you know the security picture is 360 degrees from the top to the bottom. Underneath the ground to over in the sky. And we utilize technology to multiply the force of our individuals. So if we can utilize technology to enhance the work of the individuals, we're utilizing it."
CNN.com: Inaugural Security Chief: D.C. Prepared For All Contingencies

An Associated Press report gave details about a special high-tech center set up to monitor the event: "Miles from the Capitol where President Bush will take the oath of office, dozens of officials from 50 federal, state and local agencies will work side by side in a high-tech command center keeping close tabs on the security situation for the first presidential inauguration since the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks," the article said. "At 120 work stations in the northern Virginia center and using giant video screens, law enforcement and security personnel will be able to watch from cameras that monitor downtown Washington streets, keep track of aerial surveillance flights and check sensors scanning for evidence of deadly biological or chemical agents. 'If there is a piece of technology that exists, we've put it to use for this event,' said Jim Rice, the FBI supervisory agent for Thursday's inauguration."
The Associated Press via MyrtleBeachOnline.com: High-Tech Center Links Inaugural Security

The Washington Post reported last week about the high-tech command center and how it takes its cues from science fiction: "Inside a gleaming steel-and-marble complex, the Secret Service and 50 federal, state and local agencies will monitor action in the sky, on the ground and in the subway system. Giant plasma screens will beam in live video from helicopters and cameras at the U.S. Capitol, along the parade route and at other potential trouble spots. Officials will be able to track fighter jets patrolling the skies, call up three-dimensional maps of downtown, even project the plume of any chemical release," the article said. "One top police official likened the new facility to a set from the Star Wars' movies. It is one of many signs that Bush's second inauguration Jan. 20 will take security in Washington to a new level, using expertise and equipment developed after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. 'This is the Super Bowl for us,'" said the FBI's Rice.
The Washington Post: Inaugural Security Draws On Latest Technologies (Article is from Jan. 10; registration required)

Tech to Help Sell President's Agenda

The Wall Street Journal reports on the high-tech methods that the Bush team will employ right after the president's inaugural speech to help pump up support for the White House agenda: "Republicans plan to stage what amounts to a permanent grass-roots campaign. Restructuring Social Security is now the president's top domestic priority. It will be a broad and high-tech effort aimed at lawmakers from both parties. The centerpiece will be Mr. Bush himself, who is expected to lobby on Capitol Hill and make barnstorming speeches around the country following his speech today and the State of the Union address next month. Pressuring Congress with constant campaigning was a favorite Clinton-era tactic and prior presidents, including Ronald Reagan, loved speaking directly to voters. But the Bush effort is notable for its breadth," the Journal reported. "Republicans also are trying to organize activists who were mobilized for the 2004 presidential campaign into a standing political army. Its ranks potentially include 1.4 million volunteers and 7.5 million 'e-activists' linked to the Bush team by campaign e-mail lists. They will be urged to call radio talk shows, write to newspapers and contact their elected representatives. In return, activists can earn points, in a system akin to a frequent-flier program, which can be used to buy gear from the Republican National Committee."
The Wall Street Journal: To Enact Second-Term Agenda, Bush Keeps On Campaigning Subscription required)

Of course, this is all part of a heavily orchestrated strategy to avoid the second-term curse, where a president's second go at the office becomes a long-winded lame-duck session.

Bush's speech, by the way, will last 17 minutes, according to the White house. The Post's Robert G. Kaiser will be online after the speech to offer instant analysis. washingtonpost.com is also "blogging" the inauguration -- filing photos and text dispatches throughout the day.

Heat For a Cold Day

Technology is even helping take the chill off the event for some participants: "A Scotland-based company with offices in the Houston area is making sure that the Lone Star State's favorite son, his inaugural party and many visitors won't be catching colds or worse," The Washington Post reported. "Aggreko Inc., a Glasgow energy rental company, is providing hundreds of tons of temporary power and heating equipment for the stages and tents and trailers where officials, production crews, troops and security personnel congregate. The challenge may be little different this year than it was in inaugurations past, when simple space heaters often were employed, but security requirements make it more daunting."
The Washington Post: Chill Could Be Worse, And Has Bee (Registration required)

A Text-Filled Protest

While technology is helping to power major security efforts, high-tech gadgets and services are also being used by protestors and journalists as the inauguration gets underway. "About 400 demonstrators who plan to protest President Bush's inauguration Thursday will take their cues from a higher power -- the cellular airwaves. The organizers of Turn Your Back on Bush will use a free service called 'TxtMob' to coordinate their silent protest against the president. As the presidential motorcade travels down Pennsylvania Avenue from the Capitol to the White House after Bush's swearing-in, protesters lining the parade route are expected to turn their backs," washingtonpost.com reported yesterday.
washingtonpost.com: Text Messages To Mobilize Inauguration Protesters (Registration required)

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