US: Unprecedented Security As Obama Set For White House
WASHINGTON, DC: An unprecedented security blanket has been draped over the US capital for Barack Obama's inauguration next week, and the threat level to the country's first black president is expected to remain high well beyond his swearing-in.
More than 12,500 active troops and military reservists, thousands of metropolitan police as well as personnel from 57 departments around the nation are descending on Washington to protect against any potential terrorist attack during Tuesday's historic ceremony, according to officials.
With estimates of up to a record two million people attending, the Department of Homeland Security has designated Obama's inauguration a national special security event.
"I think we all have to be concerned about a chemical, biological, radiological potential attack," Major General Richard Rowe, head of the Armed Forces Inaugural Committee, said Wednesday.
To counter the threat, officials are putting in place what is likely to be the biggest and most advanced inaugural security operation ever.
The US military will fly air patrols, man surface-to-air weapons systems, ply the Potomac River with gunboats, assess chemical and biological threats, organise large-scale medical support in the event of an attack, and provide visible and undercover on-the-ground security.
"Emergency" Declaration Makes DC Eligible For Federal Aid For Inauguration
(RTTNews) - President George W. Bush formally declared a state of emergency in Washington, DC on Tuesday, clearing the way for federal aid to assist local authorities with the upcoming 56th Presidential Inauguration.
The action, a technicality, makes federal funding available for the District during the January 17 through 21 time period. The Inauguration of President-elect Barack Obama is scheduled for January 20.
President Bush's emergency declaration opens the door for the Federal Emergency Management Agency-y (FEMA) to reimburse DC for any "protective measures" on Inauguration day if the cost of those measures exceeds the $15 million already appropriated for "Emergency Planning and Security Costs" by Congress.