Crime Watch Daily Inside Look: Inauguration Day security in Washington, D.C.
01/19/2017 12:33 pm PST
Crime Watch Daily takes you inside the very detailed and intricate security plan in place to protect the president and the roughly 1 million spectators expected to pack the National Mall on Inauguration Day, Jan. 20, 2017.
Why has Donald Trump's inauguration has been called the "biggest dynamic threat environment in history?"
"We saw overseas that ISIS and other groups were using drones with explosives. Could somebody buy a drone at a Walmart and attack the inauguration?" asked Nance.
"Absolutely they could, or they could build their own and then leave no trace behind," said Dr. Scott White, associate professor and Director of Cybersecurity at George Washington University.
White says with the new administration comes a whole new world of new-age terror tactics. It also comes with a number of new targets.
"What are some of the threats that could come to this city and present a challenge to them and a risk to the First Family?" Nance asked.
"We're involved with combating ISIS, and they've made it very clear on their social media that they're looking for individuals to strike," said White. "They've taken a lot of their Arabic lesson plans and converted them to English so as they can disseminate them to an English population here of American citizens."
Terror rears its ugly head in many new forms, including the significant threat of a cyberattack.
Nance: "How does that impact the security of the nation and this inauguration?"
White: "One of the things I'm concerned about in regard to cybersecurity is we have a very kind of traditional terrorist activity, whilst at the same time we have a cyber-attack against hospitals, telecommunication systems, trying to maybe take the power grid offline."
"Think about the chaos it would cause if someone hacked into the electrical grid," said former Secret Service Agent Dan Bongino. "It would frankly be very dangerous. The stampede alone to get out of there would probably be dangerous enough."
Dan Bongino was Secret Service elite during three administrations: Bill Clinton's, George W. Bush's and Barack Obama's.
"Donald Trump's inauguration is going to be a massive security effort," said Bongino. "In effect, a 'witches' brew' of security nightmares. It is the Secret Service Super Bowl. It's the most dangerous event you're probably ever going to be a part of, threat-level-wise."
In 2009, Bongino was tasked with an adrenaline-inducing responsibility. As President Obama walked part of the inauguration parade route, his life was in Bongino's hands."
"It's a zero-error environment," said Bongino. "It was probably a matter of nothing more than 10 minutes, maybe, before he was in and out of my zone. It seemed to last an eternity, because you're just saying 'Please get out of my zone with no problems!'
"You have to keep your head on straight," said Bongino. "What am I going to do now if this guy does this? What am I going to do if a chemical agent is released? What am I going to do if someone drops a grenade off that building?"
"They have to plan for what we call the 'Big Six': Tactical assaults, medical emergencies, chemical/biological attacks, explosives, airborne assaults," said Bongino.
Thirty-six separate law enforcement agencies, plus 3,000 additional police and 7,000 National Guardsmen will employ what they call a "360-degree protective sphere," an impenetrable multilayered buffer zone. Along the parade route, 1,500 buildings have been secured.
But Bongino says with Donald Trump as new commander-in-chief comes new security concerns.
"The protest activity during Trump's campaign was particularly violent," said Bongino.
Dozens of groups representing an estimated 750,000 people have applied for permits. Not all are expected to play nice.
"The Secret Service has 20 different evacuation plans for the president and president-elect on Inauguration Day," said Bongino. "It's the general population that's just going there to enjoy the event, they're the ones that get put in real danger, because it's very hard to control an out-of-control crowd with all of the police assets in the world if something were to break really bad."
On the ground, security forces have to consider radical terrorism's latest weapon of choice: The soft target tactical assault. A massive death mission with the use of trucks: We've seen it in Germany and France.
"You need high speed to use a truck to do this kind of thing," said Bongino. "So you have to create hard barriers to vehicle entry, whether it's sand trucks, whether it's vehicle-obstruction-type devices."
And there's always the threat of the lone wolf, whether it's the ISIS-inspired Orlando nightclub shooter Omar Mateen, or John Hinckley Jr., who tried to assassinate President Ronald Reagan.
"These are what I would call the unpredictables. These are the X-factor people. These are the people that never showed up on your radar before," said Bongino.
"That is the greatest threat, is someone who's experiencing a degree of mental illness that has become violent," said cybersecurity expert Dr. Scott White.
"How do you go after that individual?" asked Malcolm Nance.
"So without giving all the secrets away, they'll be bomb-sniffing dogs, counter-sniper teams, there will be observation teams posted, there'll be people working the crowd looking for behavior that's inappropriate," said White.
Yes, the threats are real. But the greater reality is this nation can boast the greatest security minds hard at work, determined at all costs to shield the public from danger.
"I can't emphasize to you enough for the security entities involved in this: This is their Super Bowl," said Dan Bongino. "They've got all, their first-string wide receiver, their best quarterback. The best players getting to play in the Super Bowl from the best teams."