Overseas interference that could be masked as home unrest is one other level of concern. If the protesters can’t get close to the inaugural occasions, Division of Homeland Safety officers are anxious they could flip to cyberinterference, in an effort to black out Mr. Biden’s first phrases to the nation, and the world. There are comparable issues about infrastructure assaults, maybe removed from the inaugural occasions, that will convey a way of chaos, at a second that Mr. Biden is asking for a restoration of order.
The choice Tuesday night time by the Military secretary to arm some of the National Guard troops deploying to Washington got here after a gathering with Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Democrat of California. Ms. Pelosi, in response to congressional workers members, demanded that the Pentagon take a extra muscular and proactive posture to the inauguration than it did final week, when Protection Division officers waited till Trump loyalists overtook the Capitol earlier than deploying further troops. And even then, these troops that confirmed up didn’t carry deadly weapons.
This contrasts sharply to the Nationwide Guard response over the spring through the Black Lives Matter protests. Many states referred to as up the Nationwide Guard troops, and in Washington, two army helicopters, in a present of power, terrified protesters in Chinatown, producing winds just like a tropical storm.
The overwhelming majority of army forces in Washington will likely be Nationwide Guard. But a small number of elite commandos from the Joint Particular Operations Command, a secretive command primarily based at Fort Bragg, N.C., will likely be readily available, as they’re for each inauguration, to assist counter any terrorist assault or different nationwide emergency, particularly any involving nuclear, chemical or organic weapons.
Pentagon officers specific deep fear about protests that are planned for the inauguration. Some 16 teams — a few of them saying they are going to be armed and most of them made up of hard-line supporters of Mr. Trump — have registered to stage protests in Washington, officers mentioned.
One Protection Division official mentioned legislation enforcement companies are planning for a variety of outcomes, together with a worse-case state of affairs during which individuals with firearms attempt to assault dignitaries, “suicide kind plane” attempt to fly into the Capitol’s restricted airspace and even remote-controlled drones that could possibly be used to assault the group.
A second Pentagon official expressed fear a few repeat of the pipe bombs that were placed in Washington final week. The official mentioned legislation enforcement companies had been additionally anxious that some protesters had threatened to point out up on the houses of lawmakers, or to focus on their households.
Zolan Kanno-Youngs contributed reporting.