FBI reports no credible threats to inauguration activities
By Carol Cratty
WASHINGTON (CNN) — As law enforcement agencies finalize security preparations for Barack Obama’s second inauguration, an FBI official said Tuesday authorities have “no credible corroborated threats to any of the activities.”
Debra Evans Smith, the FBI’s acting assistant director in charge of its Washington field office, said the FBI will have specialized personnel ready to go to meet any security challenge.
“We will have our SWAT team, pretty much all of our specialty teams will be available and on standby to include (weapons specialists), our dive team, our intelligence team — working around the clock — our hostage negotiators, (and) our special agent bomb technicians will also be available,” Smith told reporters.
Smith made her comments at an event in which the Secret Service showed the news media the Multi-Agency Communications Center known as the MACC, located in a Washington suburb. Representatives from 42 agencies including the Secret Service, FBI, U.S. Capitol Police, Washington’s Metropolitan Police Department, U.S. Park Police and the military will work at the MACC during the inauguration and share incoming information about any security issues. The room is filled with screens that will have live video feeds of key locations around the city.
A Secret Service official said it is important to have one place where all the agencies are working together. “They can give us information and then we can ensure that everybody’s reading from the same script,” said agency spokesman Ed Donovan. “And one of the goals for us is to provide as close to real-time information as we can to all these agencies.”
“Obviously there’s always some concern that something could go wrong,” said Chief Cathy Lanier of the Metropolitan Police Department. “But I feel extremely confident that if something does happen, you have the most capable people in the United States here that will respond and react quickly… but we’re hoping that nothing bad does happen.”
Donovan noted that there were no major security incidents at the last inauguration although there was a problem with people who had tickets not being able to get into the events. He said this year there will be more signage, more volunteers on site to direct people, and more information on social media sites.
Although security will be tight, authorities hope the public will not hesitate to report any suspicious activity.
“Law enforcement is limited but the public is not,” said Smith of the FBI. “And anyone who can provide information that will give us a lead on something that we should know about is really the most important thing that anyone can do in this regard.”
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