You don’t need 25,000 armed National Guard troops to protect an inauguration, and you certainly don’t need that and more to protect a mostly virtual inauguration.

The riot at the Capitol on January 6, 2021, likely could have been contained and people kept out of the building with a couple hundred more riot police, or maybe a few hundred.

The failure to have any semblance of adequate security, despite apparent FBI warnings of possible trouble, is one of the baffling aspects of that day. It’s why the Chief of the Capitol Police has resigned, and there needs to be a thorough investigation of how the Mayor of D.C. and others rejected requests for additional help.

Yet what is happening in D.C. now looks more like a military defensive posture than riot control or even an attempt to defend against small groups planning violence.

There are the National Guard troops, and bridges to the city will be shut on Tuesday. The 8-ft non-scalable fences around the Capitol are being replaced with 12-foot fencing. US Citizen and Immigration Services is closing its offices for two days.

AirBnb has declared a moratorium on people coming into the city using their services. Facebook has banned the creation of new event pages for D.C. It’s likely these private entities took these actions at the request of security agencies.

The Secret Service has a page devoted to security planning for the Inauguration. They designate the center of the city near the Capitol as the “Green Zone” — reminiscent of the terminology for the area in Baghdad where the U.S. and other embassies are located.

There were many street closures for Trump’s January 2017 inauguration, and police called up for protection, in the face of threatened and actual widespread rioting.

But there was nothing like this military buildup. WaPo reported at the time in 2017:

An estimated 700,000 to 900,000 people are expected to watch Donald Trump become president. Security officials said there are 63 demonstration groups, pro and con, expected on Jan. 20, and an additional 36 on other days. Those include groups with permits and others who have signaled participation through social media.

To accomplish having a tranquil event amid worries of terrorist attacks and threats by some groups to disrupt the celebration requires bringing in 3,000 police officers from across the nation and 5,000 members of the National Guard, bolstering the already large law enforcement footprint imposed on everyday Washington. The numbers this year are the same as in years past.

There are some possibilities. One is that this is a deliberate overreaction as a show of force to deter anyone even thinking about causing a problem. In a rational world, given the Capitol Hill riot, that would be an obvious explanation.

But this massive military show of force smacks of protecting against a threat that has not yet been disclosed publicly. They seem to be planning against a military mutiny. That’s how it feels.

Something’s happening here, what it is ain’t exactly clear.

 

 
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