Unprecedented Security Watches Over DC

Record staff, supplies needed to counter crowds, threats
By Gabriel Winant,  Newser User
Posted Jan 20, 2009 10:07 AM CST
Thousands of people wait to enter through a security checkpoint at 7th Street to attend the Inaugural celebration in Washington on the National Mall Tuesday, Jan. 20, 2009.   (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
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(Newser) – It is an almost unimaginably difficult job: as Washington floods with millions of visitors, the Secret Service has to comb through and pick out all potential sources of danger to the new president. This means, as the London Times reports, a record five tons of bulletproof glass, tens of thousands of security forces, and near-invincible vehicles. The Secret Service even removed the doorknobs from buildings overlooking Pennsylvania Avenue.

No credible threats have emerged, but the agency is paid to be paranoid, and the emphasis seems to be on domestic racist-hate groups rather than foreigners. One Mississippi man was arrested for threatening in a chatroom to kill Barack Obama. Fear of assassination was a quiet theme throughout the campaign, and Obama employed private security before his Secret Service protection. The head of his private guards called him “one of the best protectees I ever worked with. He listened to us."