Thousands of soldiers in camouflage uniforms are scattered through the streets of Washington. Monuments and public buildings are surrounded. From a distance, the White House is barely visible, protected by barriers and armed men, which prevent the approach of vehicles and people who circulate there normally.
The acute tension that has invaded the American capital is a reflection of a protective device that will be put to the test on Wednesday 20, the day Joe Biden takes office as the 46th president of the United States, and it is not not just with the external threat that the US Department of Defense is concerned with.
The possibility of an internal attack, provoked by security agents, led the FBI to investigate the 25,000 men who arrived in Washington assisted by the National Guard, with the impeachment of two of them on Tuesday (19) due to links with extreme right-wing groups. . The US Federal Police review the profile and background of federal agents and there are guidelines for all professionals to monitor and report any suspicious behavior or comments from colleagues.
Since the 6th, when supporters of Donald Trump invaded Congress in an attempt to prevent the certification of the Democrats’ victory, Washington has seen the arrival of tens of thousands of soldiers from the federal forces. The contingent is larger than the American troops in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria combined.
The central region, where the Capitol, the White House and the capital’s main tourist attractions are located, has become a militarized zone, blocked by military vehicles that share space with those who live in the neighborhood.
Residents and authorized persons must identify themselves to agents before crossing streets and blocks, in which every space has been monitored by the massive operation coordinated by the secret service.
The high alert was sounded over the threat of further acts of violence following the invasion of Congress by a crowd inflated by Trump, in an action that left five people dead. The Republican does not fully accept the defeat and insists on the false claim that the elections were rigged.
In a statement released last week, the FBI, the US federal police, warned of the risk of protests and attacks by pro-Trump armed groups in Washington and all 50 US states.
So far, there have been no significant incidents, and the promise of a large protest on Sunday (17) ended in frustration, with more journalists and federal agents than protesters.
Concerns were heightened after inquiries pointed out that several of the Capitol invaders earlier this month had military ties, reinforcing the thesis that the far right is growing within the ranks of the US military.
According to the Washington Post, the Pentagon has received reports of suspected domestic extremism among members of the military, most of whom are linked to ex-combatants, that is, those who are no longer active. .
The Secret Service is responsible for securing the presidential mandate in the United States, but several military and police officers are involved in the ceremony, ranging from the National Guard and FBI to the Washington Metropolitan Police Department and Capitol Police.
Besides Washington, the largest American cities are points of attention due to the risk of acts organized by far-right militias, such as the Boogaloo movement, which says it is preparing for an alleged second civil war in the United States.
States in which the election dispute between Trump and Biden was fiercer, such as Michigan and Pennsylvania, for example, are under special surveillance, and regions like Texas and Kentucky, with a Republican tradition, have completely closed access to their respective legislative buildings.
In April, demonstrators armed with rifles protested in Michigan’s Congress against the state government’s social isolation measures to combat the coronavirus.
Experts say this was already a harbinger of what could happen on Capitol Hill after Biden’s victory and, in fact, the escalation of acts shows far-right factions will remain strong for years to come. to come, even without the figure of Trump in power. central.
Despite all precautions, a small fire around the Capitol caused panic on Monday morning (18) and interrupted the rehearsal of the inauguration ceremony, which had already been postponed for security reasons. There was a rush and Congress was closed and isolated for about an hour.
Officers alleged “great caution” in blocking all entrances and exits to the seat of the US Legislative Assembly and, in a statement, said the measures were in response to a fire that struck a camp of people in the street a few kilometers away.
No one was injured, but the incident did not fail to cause panic and open up the social and logistical difficulties Biden faces from the moment he opens the door to the White House.