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Unrivaled Security Planned for Inauguration

Military Muscle, High-Tech Screening Are Features of First Swearing In Since 9/11

By Sari Horwitz and Spencer S. Hsu
Washington Post Staff Writers
Sunday, November 7, 2004; Page A10

An unprecedented level of security will frame President Bush's second inauguration, with officials planning to use thousands of police from across the country, new screening technology for inaugural guests and a military contingent that could include a combat brigade of up to 4,000 troops.

Security is always tight on Inauguration Day, but it will be magnified for the first inauguration since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Law enforcement officials have been preparing for months to protect U.S. and world leaders and citizens who attend.


Organizers are planning to follow the traditional parade route that was used in President Bush's first inauguration, but security will be heightened. (Tracy A. Woodward -- The Washington Post)

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Organizers are planning a traditional inauguration capped by a parade down Pennsylvania Avenue and the usual evening balls. Bush has yet to name his inauguration committee, which will oversee planning of the pageantry and festivities, but law enforcement agencies are in high gear.

As tens of thousands of people come to Washington to watch the Jan. 20 swearing in, the city will be filled with military personnel, FBI agents in full SWAT outfitting, snipers on rooftops and scores of bomb-detecting dogs. The region's air defenses have been strengthened to prevent intruder aircraft, and sensors will be deployed throughout the area to detect biological, chemical or radiological material.

About 2,000 out-of-town officers will help with security and traffic details. Undercover officers will work the crowds, and D.C. police officers will be posted every six to eight feet along the parade route.

Plans call for sturdier barriers and more checkpoints and metal detectors along the parade route than in previous years. Officials also are setting up a higher-security ticketing and credentialing system for some events, to prevent people from using counterfeit materials to get into the balls and more restricted areas.

"There will be far more security and more police than four years ago," said Terrance W. Gainer, chief of the U.S. Capitol Police, the agency charged with protecting the Capitol, where Bush will be sworn in. "Everything has changed since 9/11, so there is a different context in which this inauguration is being planned."

Law enforcement authorities do not have specific information that al Qaeda or another terrorist group is targeting the inauguration. But the events will attract political leaders from throughout the country and the world and will be staged outside symbols of American democracy, officials said.

"The inaugural is a rich, symbolic, highly visible target," said Jim Rice, the FBI supervisory special agent who overseas the National Capital Response Squad. Rice's squad works closely with the Joint Terrorism Task Force in the FBI's Washington field office to monitor and respond to terrorist threats.

This will be the first inauguration since creation of the Homeland Security Department, which also is a central part of the security planning.

The Secret Service is the lead agency for the inauguration because the ceremony and celebrations are considered a National Special Security Event, a designation that brings with it heightened federal planning and resources.

Officials said the inauguration will be the culmination of a series of high-security events, including the summer political conventions, the Sea Island, Ga., summit of leaders from industrialized nations in June and the funeral in Washington that month of former president Ronald Reagan.

In Northern Virginia, a temporary joint command center is being set up in a federal facility. It will include representatives from other law enforcement agencies, including the D.C. police department, U.S. Park Police, Capitol Police and the FBI.

In addition, officials said the new Joint Forces Headquarters-National Capital Region is prepared to pre-deploy 4,000 active-duty combat forces in the District -- a significant departure from past inaugurations.


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