Unprecedented Security Planned for Inauguration

When President Bush stands on the west front of the Capitol, raises his right hand and takes the oath of office to begin his second term, it will be the 55th time a president has been sworn in. But the security arrangements for this inaugural are unlike any other.

"The levels of security for this inauguration have been enhanced," said U.S. Secret Service Special Agent Tom Mazur. "Some will be noticed and others will not be noticed."

About 50 federal, state and local agencies and the Pentagon are banding together to protect the first post-9/11 inaugural. There will be 6,000 police officers from across the country and 7,000 military troops, including a Marine unit primed to deal with biological and chemical threats and soldiers trained in pulling people out of bombed buildings.

There'll be snipers on rooftops, police patrolling on bicycle and horseback. On the water, the Coast Guard will patrol the Potomac River. In the air, there'll be combat air patrols and even anti-aircraft missiles placed around the city. Underground is covered, too -- manhole covers will be welded shut and subway tunnels secured.

"You'll see explosive-detection canines ... and a large number of law enforcement officers," says Metro Transit Police Chief Polly Hanson.

Hanson's force will be augmented with officers from Atlanta's mass transit system and airport security screeners from Boston, Dallas and St. Louis trained to spot explosives.

Security Goes High-Tech

The precautions being taken are unprecedented. In hopes of avoiding a food-borne attack, caterers for inaugural events are being told to report to work at 7 p.m. Wednesday -- 17 hours before the swearing in.

About 100 square blocks of downtown Washington between the Capitol and the White House will be closed to traffic, and vehicles will be restricted in another 100 square blocks surrounding it. Everyone going to the ceremony or the parade will pass through metal detectors manned by airport security screeners.

The 250,000 tickets for the ceremony even have anti-counterfeiting features. "There's as many sophisticated things in there as there might be in on a $1 or $20 bill," said U.S.Capitol Police Chief Terrance Gainer.

Watching over it all are cutting edge high-tech surveillance cameras, sending pictures to a state-of-the art communications center in suburban Virginia.

"This gives us the opportunity to have up-to-the-moment, up-to-the-minute, up-to-the-second information that we can share between all the partners," said the Secret Service's Mazur.

Keeping an Eye on Protesters

The Secret Service will be keeping a special eye on protesters. Groups including the National Alliance of Black Panthers, the D.C. Anarchist Resistance and Act Now to Stop War and End Racism are planning anti-Bush rallies, marches and a bicycle ride.

The D.C. Anti-War Network plans a "die-in," carrying 1,000 cardboard coffins, representing people killed in recent U.S. military operations, into Lafayette Park, across Pennsylvania Avenue from the White House and the presidential reviewing stand.

Another group, Turn Your Back on Bush, is organizing people to find spaces on the inaugural parade route along Pennsylvania Avenue and turn their backs when the president's limousine goes by.

In 2001, Bush's limousine was pelted by eggs and stopped for several minutes by a large crowd of protesters. The limousine was forced to turn a sharp corner and speed by the crowd.

Some protesters are complaining about the security regulations, which prohibit signs or placards carried on sticks.

Authorities say they are prepared for anything.

"We pride ourselves on being able to handle large crowds," said U.S. Park Police Chief Dwight Pettiford, whose force is responsible for crowd control for such major events as the Fourth of July fireworks display on the National Mall and last year handled the dedication of the World War II Memorial and President Reagan's funeral. "That's something we've become very proficient at."

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