Our nation’s Capitol may look more like a military staging area than the site of a presidential inauguration. Two weeks after the deadly riots at the U.S. Capitol, the swearing in of President-elect Joe Biden will see the biggest security presence of any inauguration in U.S. history.
The National Mall, where thousands of spectators have traditionally gathered to witness the inauguration ceremony, has been closed to the public. Instead, checkpoints and barricades with barbed wire line the streets of Washington D.C., as 25,000 National Guard members flood the area. To put that in perspective, only 5,000 U.S. service members are currently stationed in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“Unprecedented times and challenges call for unprecedented solutions...The best thing we could have is that it's overkill,” Dan Linskey, managing director at Kroll and Boston’s former police chief, told Yahoo Finance Live, referring to the security measures. “We want to make sure that the nation's business goes on without a hitch. And if that means having a large visible presence to deter individuals who would engage in criminal activity is what we need, then we need it.”
Linskey said a big show of force is exactly what was needed on Jan. 6, when a mob of Trump supporters stormed the Capitol in protest of the presidential election results.
“What would have happened if there was an overwhelming show of force that would have deterred people from going up those steps?” asks Linskey. “We might have a Capitol police officer and a protester alive today... So it's unprecedented, and it's necessary. The best thing we could have happen is, in the end, we put a bunch of resources that were not needed out, and that's OK.”
On Tuesday, a dozen Army National Guard members were removed from inauguration duty after being vetted by the FBI for ties to extremist groups.
“We're dotting the I's and crossing T's to make sure that there is no concern for the physical safety of the President-elect and Vice President-elect,” Linskey said. “There are a lot of folks outside the U.S. who would love to see something happen. And we want to make sure that they don't have the opportunity to do that. We need to make sure the insider threat isn't there as well.”
Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris plan to take the oath of office on the steps of the U.S. Capitol Wednesday afternoon. Biden, who will be sworn in as the 46th U.S. president, is expected to address the nation for about 30 minutes.
“If we have to change the way we swear in our leaders for their personal safety and security, then, in fact, those who are seeking to change the vote and change the leadership have won,” said Linskey. “So I think it's important that they go forward today and that all reasonable precautions are taken to secure the Capitol.”
Alexis Christoforous is an anchor and reporter for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter @AlexisTVNews.