The Pentagon and federal law enforcement are leaving “no stone unturned” as they mount an unprecedented vetting process for the 25,000 National Guard troops charged with securing Washington this week.
The massive effort, officials said, is out of an abundance of caution. There are no specific threats of an insider attack directed toward President-elect Joseph R. Biden or congressional leaders as the Jan. 20 inauguration ceremony approaches.
But Pentagon leaders say they are going to great lengths to ensure no National Guard member at or near the U.S. Capitol this week harbors extremist views or might be a threat to the nation’s elected leaders.
“As is normal for military support to large security events, the department will vet National guardsmen who are in Washington, D.C. While we have no intelligence indicating an insider threat, we are leaving no stone unturned in securing the capital,” acting Defense Secretary Christoper Miller said in a statement.
“This type of vetting often takes place by law enforcement for significant security events. However, in this case the scope of military participation is unique,” he said. “The D.C. National Guard is also providing additional training to service members as they arrive in D.C. that if they see or hear something that is not appropriate, they should report it to their chain of command. We appreciate the support of the FBI in assisting with this task and for each of the more than 25,000 guardsmen who answered their nation’s call and rapidly deployed” to Washington.
Mr. Biden’s inauguration on Wednesday will come two weeks after pro-Trump rioters stormed the Capitol, temporarily delaying lawmakers’ final affirmation of the president-elect’s victory.
Ongoing federal investigations have raised concerns about the participation of military veterans or perhaps even active-duty personnel in the violence.
Last week, the Justice Department charged Virginia police officer Jacob Fracker in connection with the Capitol riot. Mr. Fracker reportedly is a corporal in the Virginia National Guard.