KEY POINTS

  • Washington D.C. looks like Baghdad, one expert claims
  • FBI is vetting the National Guard for a possible insider attack
  • Justice Department has zero-tolerance for violence

Two National Guard members have been removed from Inauguration Day duty after ties to right-wing milita groups were exposed. The action came on Tuesday morning, just after the Justice Department vowed to secure an inaugural event for President-elect Joe Biden that would reflect the “highest values” of a nation on edge.

A U.S. Army official and a senior U.S. intelligence official both told AP the two National Guard members had "ties to fringe right group militias," but they were not found to be plotting against the President-elect. The anonymous sources did not give any further details, and the Secret Service and National Guard could not officially comment. 

Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen said there’s a zero-tolerance policy in place for violence that would interrupt Wednesday's swearing-in ceremony for President-elect Joe Biden, an event that saw dry runs canceled due to security concerns.

“The Department of Justice is committed, together with our federal, state, and local law enforcement partners, to ensuring a safe and peaceful Inauguration – one that reflects our Nation’s enduring highest values,” he said in a statement.

Fences laced with concertina wire surround many federal buildings in the nation’s capital and an estimated 25,000 National Guardsmen were already deployed to keep the peace.

Larry Sabato, the director of the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics, told the Reuters news service the security around Washington D.C. was unprecedented.

“The world will see Biden sworn in, in the middle of a military camp that’s indistinguishable from the Green Zone [in central Baghdad],” he said.

The unrest at the Capitol building just two weeks ago, Rosen said, was an “intolerable travesty” that every level of law enforcement and the National Guard would work to prevent a follow-up, not only in Washington, D.C. but across all 50 states.

On Monday, the Washington Post reported the FBI is investigating whether QAnon adherents were planning on posing as National Guardsmen to ostensibly wage an insider attack against inaugural events. Supporters of the conspiracy theory group hold that many world leaders who oppose Trump are members of a Satan-worshipping cabal of child sex traffickers.

Hundreds of people face a wide range of charges stemming from unrest at the Capitol, when lawmakers were certifying the results of the Electoral College on Jan. 6.

This week, 22-year-old Riley June Williams was the latest to face charges for her role in the violence. The FBI alleged she stole a laptop from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and planned to pass it over to Russian intelligence.

Others inside the Capitol building were more malevolent; several people who entered the building were allegedly calling to hang Vice President Mike Pence for going against the president on claims the Nov. 3 election was rigged against Trump.

US National Guard soldiers patrol the Capitol on January 14, 2020 as part of massive security measures ahead of President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration following mob violence by outgoing president Donald Trump's supporters US National Guard soldiers patrol the Capitol on January 14, 2020 as part of massive security measures ahead of President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration following mob violence by outgoing president Donald Trump's supporters Photo: AFP / Olivier DOULIERY