Heightened vetting for troops at inauguration

Multiple National Guard troops have been excluded from inauguration duty by a security vetting process meant to weed out anyone with ties to extremist groups. 

On Tuesday morning, a list of names was sent by the FBI to the National Guard Bureau. The names on the list were identified by the FBI as “having ties to fringe right-wing groups or had posted extremist views,” reports the Associated Press. 

The capital has been in a state of heightened security since the riot at the U.S. Capitol that occurred on January 6th, and officials have assured the public that those being sent to protect the inauguration are being fully vetted. The process behind these vetting procedures is not being disclosed for security purposes, but the National Guard referred questions on the matter to the Secret Service at a press briefing. 

Secretary of Defense Christopher Miller told reporters Monday that there is no intelligence that shows there is a threat within military ranks that threatens the inauguration, but he also supported the FBI’s vetting of troops that are in charge of securing places such as the Capitol in order to ensure public safety. 

“Efforts to find and eliminate extremism within the military’s ranks, particularly among those who espouse white supremacist beliefs, began long before this month’s riot at the capitol,” CNN reports, “but have taken on increased urgency in the days since.” 

In a written statement to CNN, a spokesperson for the Army wrote that they are enacting additional training measures in order to encourage members to report any inappropriate language or behavior up their chain of command. The statement also said that any behavior that “involves violence, civil disobedience or a breach of peace” will not be tolerated and will be punishable by military and/or state and federal means. 

Guardsmen who will be working closely within inaugural proceedings will receive higher levels of behavioral and background screenings. The Washington Post reports that the background checks for these troops have increased in scope in recent years and now include social media presence. 

At least two of the members who were removed from duty had possible ties to anti-government groups and others were removed after being flagged by the FBI for reasons unknown to the military, citing an “abundance of caution.” 

“The U.S. Secret Service and our law enforcement partners will not be commenting on the means and methods used to conduct the agency mission, inclusive of protective intelligence matters,” the Secret Service wrote in a statement. The Secret Service often does not comment on operational measures in order to maintain security, and it has been working with federal, state, and local defense officials to ensure the safety of those in attendance on the 20th, as well as the general public. 

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