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FBI Vetting Leads to Removal of 12 National Guard Members From Inauguration Duty

Two were removed due to their ties with far-right militias.

Members of the National Guard leave the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center after a security threat during a dress rehearsal ahead of the 59th Inaugural Ceremonies on the West Front at the U.S. Capitol on January 18, 2021, in Washington, D.C.

Twelve members of the National Guard were removed from inaugural duty, AP reported on Tuesday, the day before President-elect Joe Biden is slated to be sworn in.

Two National Guard members were recused from inauguration duty specifically for ties to far right militias. Because of information safeguards, it is unclear why the others were removed from Wednesday’s duty. MSNBC reports that the removals were due to routine background checks, and due to concerns raised by fellow guard members. AP reports that early Tuesday morning the FBI sent information to the National Guard Bureau with a list of names of people with ties to extremist views or right-wing groups.

The FBI is currently investigating the attempted coup on January 6, where Donald Trump loyalists, incited by the president, breached the Capitol building and caused multiple deaths.

Last week, federal prosecutors submitted then clarified a claim that the mob had the intention to assassinate lawmakers that day, saying that they “may very well” save the claim for the trial. Though that claim is yet to be cemented in a court of law, one Georgia man has been charged with showing up in D.C. heavily armed with a reported intent to kill Nancy Pelosi.

Over 100 others have also been charged with crimes related to the attempted coup, and the FBI has identified more than six people with military ties who were involved in the attack. D.C.’s top federal prosecutor said that he expects the number of people charged to rise into the hundreds.

At least 32 police officers have also been identified so far as having participated in the mob, which had deep ties to white supremacy. Three Capitol Police officers have been suspended or arrested due to their interactions with the militants, and one Democratic lawmaker said that she saw GOP Representatives giving “reconnaissance” tours of the Capitol before the attempted coup.

The events of January 6 were foreshadowed by intelligence documents as well as open threats on internet forums and by Republican lawmakers. Now, more threats have emerged of more violence on Inauguration Day, including plans for the “largest armed protest ever to take place on American soil,” HuffPost reports, and a plot to form a perimeter around the Capitol to prevent Democrats from entering.

Due partially to a failure to take threats about January 6 seriously, security surrounding Washington, D.C., and around the country has been amping up. The dozen National Guard soldiers who were suspended were identified through vetting prior to Wednesday; the Transportation Security Administration has been vetting airline passengers with extra scrutiny; one hotel in Maryland is conducting daily searches of guest’s rooms; and much of D.C. around Capitol Hill has been cordoned off with guards and high fences.

Whether or not the extra security cautions are sufficient, as Truthout has reported, increasing security and surveillance is not necessarily the solution that many claim it is. “Law enforcement is part of the problem. So empowering law enforcement is not the solution,” former FBI agent Michael German told Truthout’s Candice Bernd. “Law enforcement already has the power to address violent crime. They’re choosing not to.”

While current infrastructure may dictate that more surveillance and law enforcement is equivalent to more safety, the presence of law enforcement does not mean safety for all in practice. Recent data has shown that police are three times more likely to use violence against left-wing protesters than right-wing protesters, for instance — which, as many have pointed out, was on full display on January 6.

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