Secret Service Director Joseph Clancy is losing sleep and working his agents non-stop due to the unprecedented “threat level” for President-elect Donald Trump’s inauguration this week.
“Every night I wake up and I wonder do we have some issue covered,” Clancy said.
“I think people today are willing to do things they may not have been willing to do in the past,” he added.
Clancy says part of his worry is based on incidents that happened during the campaign, such as when “people jumped over those bike racks or security zones into our buffer. In the past, it was very rare for somebody to do that. Today, in this past campaign, people were willing to do it.”
He also worries that terror groups and lone wolf terrorists may attempt to use tactics successfully employed in the past, such as the July attack in Nice, France. During a Bastille Day celebration, a terrorist drove a truck through the crowd, killing 85 people.
Clancy’s fears are seconded by others tasked with preventing terror plots against the president-elect and spectators, although along with Clancy, they are assuring the populace they have it under control.
Paul Abbate, executive assistant director of the FBI’s Criminal, Cyber and Response and Services Branch, said, “We, from the FBI standpoint, are ready to counter terrorist attacks and are working with our partners in building out the intelligence picture.”
But Abbate also said the FBI is aware that the Washington, D.C area is a “high profile target” for terrorists.
Jeh Johnson, Secretary of Homeland Security tried to be equally reassuring to the public. On Friday, he told reporters that the agency had not uncovered any “specific credible threat directed toward the inauguration.”
But he also conceded, “that is only part of the story.”
Mike Maness, director of the top security private firm Trapwire, said “that the security measures and first-responder preparations have been excellent for the event.”
But Maness said that American-based “anti-government/anarchist groups” could cause a bigger worry for the Secret Service.
“The bigger threat is probably coming from anti-government/anarchist groups who are likely to try and disrupt the inauguration,” Maness said, “and may engage in violence to do so..”
Johnson has taken measures that limit vehicle access out of fears that a terrorist truck driver might attempt to plow their way in.
Only people who work or live in the area will have vehicle access into the soft perimeter. Hard perimeters will only allow official vehicles in and will serve as a protective barrier around areas considered too close for comfort.
“The hard vehicle perimeter will be heavily fortified by trucks, dumpsters, buses and the like, given the current threat environment,” Clancy said.
The Secret Service has broken up the 1.9 mile long inaugural parade route into sectors for agents to lock down.
Clancy has agents going door to door in offices and homes in each agent’s particular sector and asking residents and workers whether they are “having activity on Inauguration Day,” followed by “if you are, who is coming?”
Agents are also relying on help from residents.
“We make sure that we give our contact information out,” Clancy said. “so if they notice any abnormal activity leading up to the inauguration” local business workers will ” know how to contact us.”
But Secret Service surveillance is not confined to stopping on-site attacks. Cyber activity will be monitored as well.
Clancy said that electronic devices such as “HVAC systems alarms, cameras” as well as other devices will be scrutinized.
Clancy is not just estimating how many people will attend the inauguration, but how many will protest.
“We know of 99 different organizations that intend to demonstrate in one form or another at the inauguration,” he said.
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