An unprecedented level of security is planned for George W. Bush’s inauguration on Jan. 20, including six thousand police officers, 2,500 military personnel, and dozens of federal security agencies on patrol. [includes rush transcript]
Outgoing Homeland Security Chief Tom Ridge has promised an unprecedented level of security for George W Bush’s inauguration on Jan. 20. He spoke to reporters yesterday at a news conference near the Capitol, where Bush will take the oath on the West Front.
- Tom Ridge, outgoing Homeland Security adviser speaking in Washington DC, January 11, 2005.
Ridge went on the detail some of the security plans for the inauguration which include six thousand police officers, 2,500 military personnel, and dozens of federal security agencies on patrol. Mobile command vehicles will also be set up along with round-the-clock surveillance of key facilities and a record number of canine bomb teams. Blackhawk helicopters and fighters will patrol the skies, and the Coast Guard plans to step up security on the Potomac River. Ridge likened the resources to those used during the political conventions last year.
The Federal Aviation Administration announced a 23-mile radius no-fly zone around Reagan National, Dulles and Baltimore-Washington International airports.
Protest groups complain that the security arrangements are preventing them from mounting effective demonstrations. Even a pro-Bush group, freerepublic.com, yesterday criticized a Secret Service edict that prevented members from waving miniature American flags during the inaugural parade.
- Elaine Cassel, lawyer practicing in Virginia and Washington D.C. She is a frequent contributor to the legal website FindLaw and Counterpunch. In 2003 she wrote an article for Counterpunch titled "Michael Chertoff: Ashcroft"s Top Gremlin Spreading Mischief from DOJ to the Federal Bench."
- * Doug Ireland*, longtime radical political journalist and media critic. He has been a columnist for The Nation magazine, Village Voice, the New York Observer and the Paris daily Liberation. He is also a contributing editor of POZ, the monthly for the HIV-positive community.
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.
AMY GOODMAN: Elaine Cassel, I wanted to ask you about Tom Ridge, the outgoing Homeland Security Chief yesterday, promising an unprecedented level of security for the Bush inauguration on January 20. Ridge spoke with reporters yesterday at a news conference near the capitol where Bush will take the oath on the West Front.
ELAINE CASSEL: Yes. Well, it’s going to be —
AMY GOODMAN: This is what he had to say.
TOM RIDGE: Today as we prepare for the 55th inaugural, we wanted to convene publicly to assure all of you that the local, state, and federal government is as prepared as possible to thwart any attempts at disruption of this celebration of democracy, to thwart terrorists and protect the hallmark of our democratic and constitutional traditions.
AMY GOODMAN: Ridge went on to detail some of the security plans for the inauguration, 6,000 police officers, 2500 military personnel, dozens of federal security agencies on patrol. Mobile command vehicles will also be set up along with round-the-clock surveillance of key facilities, a record number of canine bomb teams, blackhawk helicopters and fighters will patrol the skies. The coast guard plans to step up security on the Potomac. Ridge likened the resources to those used during the political conventions last year. The Federal Aviation Administration announced a 23-mile radius no-fly zone around Reagan, National, Dulles and Baltimore-Washington international airports. Protest groups complain the security arrangements are preventing them from mounting effective demonstrations. Even a pro-Bush group, Freerepublic.com criticized the Secret Service edict that prevented members from waving miniature American flags during the inaugural parade. Elaine Cassel, your response.
ELAINE CASSEL: Let me, because I live across the river and I journey into DC almost daily and see this, I can tell you that I’m appalled and disgusted and I have to laugh at the term "celebration of democracy". Even if we set aside the election in which there were more voting irregularities than have ever been reported in history, this inauguration is a joke. I don’t know that there are any everyday citizens who are able to — are going to be able to get near the place. I understand that it’s invitation-only to the swearing in at the Capitol. The city is going to be closed down for I think 100 square blocks. I don’t know exactly how many miles that is. People who live and work within that perimeter are going to have to be constantly searched to go into and out of their places of employment and their — where they live and park their cars. You cannot take your canoe out on the Potomac. In fact, that prohibition is going to extend for five days after the inauguration. I think it’s — I think it’s an outrage, and every American ought to be absolutely repulsed not only by the display of opulence at this inauguration, which is supposed to be even more glitzy than the previous one, but at the fact that it is absolutely closed to American citizens. People who in the past, the bleachers for the parade route, have been open to the public on a first-come, first-serve basis–I understand that now, if you have to pay $60 to get a bleacher seat, and of course, you have got to get those bleachers seats through the office of Senator Tom Delay or Hastert, sorry I can’t remember which one, who is the head of the Inaugural Committee. So, I mean it’s absolutely disgusting and I don’t think there’s anything that has — has ever been anything remotely like it in American history. The only thing I can say is in reading the list of prohibitions I hope that it rains. I hope we have a monsoon or a blizzard on that day, because no umbrellas are allowed. I’m assuming that rule will enforced against all of the hoi polloi who are there, and they will not be allowed to shield their faces and heads from umbrellas. That’s the best I can hope for.