The violent protest at the US Capitol Hill on January 6 may not be the last. Chris Krebs, former US Cybersecurity chief, who was recently fired by President Donald Trump, said that there would be more bloodshed before the inauguration of Joe Biden on January 20.
Krebs, who said the 2020 Election was the most secure in decades, was fired in November 2020 after publicly debunking Trump's claims. He said that there was no question that there could be violence at Capitol Hill and the same will continue.
"There is going to be more violence in the run-up to the inauguration. This is not over. There will be more," said Krebs, who was appointed by Trump to head the US Department of Homeland Security's Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency in 2018. The lifelong Republican called the Capitol Hill protest-turned riot was an insurrection from Trump supporters.
National Security Special Event
While the inauguration on January 20 is generally considered as a national security special event, this year, after the violent protest, security alert has been elevated. With social media chatter — especially on Parler — indicating another protest march, things could get ugly.
The inauguration event will see hundreds of high-profile leaders attending, including new cabinet members, most of the Senate and Congress, nine members of the Supreme Court besides three former Presidents and the newly elected President and Vice President. Such an event exposes them to a potential attack.
"There's going to have to be major, major reviews of what happened and changes made in terms of beefing up security," Amy Klobuchar, a Democratic senator who is a member of the joint congressional committee overseeing inauguration ceremonies, told CBS News.
Security Beefed Up
However, in the wake of the Capitol attack, security has already been beefed up in Washington DC. A 7ft-tall fence has been erected around the Capitol grounds. It will remain at the place for at least 30 days pending security assessment. Apart from that, Washington DC mayor, Muriel Bowser, said there will be a state of emergency in place for at least until a day after the inauguration with over 6,000 national guard personnel protecting the city by this weekend.
Michael Chertoff, who served as the homeland security secretary under President George W Bush, said despite security measures, the inauguration will be a different challenge. He explained that the nature of the threat had changed from foreign terrorism like 9/11 to domestic terrorism perpetrated on social media.
"Getting people wound up through conspiracy theories or ideological extremism, and encouraging them to use whatever they have to hand to carry out a terrorist act. It creates a different kind of security challenge – you have to screen for a lot of different kinds of people and threats," he said.
But with COVID-19 measures forcing the congressional committee to reduce the number of attendees from some 200,000 to only 3,000, it will help the security agencies manage the event better. Every one of the 3,000 attendees who will be allowed inside the security perimeter will be fully vetted to reduce threats, Roy Blunt, a Republican senator, who will chair the congressional committee preparing inaugural ceremonies, told Guardian.
However, Krebs believes that such a security threat could be prevented if President Trump declares that this was a free and fair election. "There are steps that can be taken by various individuals, and I hate using the passive voice there, so I'm just going to call it out. The president has to declare that this was a free and fair election. He lost. He still has time to do what's right. It has to happen. There will be more bloodshed," said Krebs.