U.S. defense officials, worried about a potential insider attack or other threat from service members involved in securing the event, pushed the FBI to vet all of the 25,000 National Guard troops coming into the area. Acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller said in a statement Monday that vetting of National Guard troops continues and that the Pentagon has found no intelligence so far that would indicate an insider threat.
Federal law enforcement officials have also been wary of increased surveillance of military and law enforcement checkpoints and other positions after National Guard troops reported people taking pictures and recording them, said the officials, who spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity to discuss ongoing security matters.
The Secret Service issued a bulletin over the weekend about what it sees as an “uptick” in National Guard troops posting pictures and details of their operations online.
The Associated Press obtained the “all concerned” message sent to all National Guard troops coming to Washington. Without getting into specific postings, the bulletin read: “No service members should be posting locations, pictures or descriptions online regarding current operations or the sensitive sites they are protecting” and urged them to stop immediately.
Asked about the bulletin, a spokesperson for the Secret Service issued a statement saying it “does not comment on matters of protective intelligence.”
Contacted by the AP on Tuesday morning, the National Guard Bureau referred questions to the U.S. Secret Service and said: “Due to operational security, we do not discuss the process nor the outcome of the vetting process for military members supporting the inauguration.”
During the summer, a man was arrested in Los Angeles for impersonating a National Guard member during protests in the city near Los Angeles City Hall. The man, Gregory Wong, was carrying a sidearm and assault rifle but was taken into custody after actual Guardsmen confronted him when they noticed things out of place on his uniform.
Rich Barak of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution contributed to this report.