January 9th, 2009
01:00 PM ET
14 years ago

Officials on lookout for threats aimed at inauguration

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/01/09/art.inauguration.gi.jpg caption="No specific security threat has been detected thus far, according to an intelligence assessment."]WASHINGTON (CNN) - A U.S. intelligence assessment says the upcoming presidential inauguration offers an attractive target for terrorists, but it hastens to add no specific threat has been detected thus far.

Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff told CNN Thursday, "I can assure you we will be looking up until the last minute to see if there is any indication of something."

A copy of the intelligence document was obtained by CNN and says in part that the inauguration is "a potential target for a terrorist attack" because many dignitaries will be attending it, it's a high profile and symbolic event and because of "the historic significance of the Nation's first minority President."

In an interview with CNN Homeland Security Correspondent Jeanne Meserve, Chertoff said "there is a vulnerability" during such a large event with incoming and outgoing presidents in attendance along with the Congress, and the Supreme Court.

According to Chertoff, the United States will be studying electronic intelligence, reviewing human intelligence received here and abroad and has numerous security measures in place to protect the participants and the public.

The intelligence assessment was prepared by the Department of Homeland Security, FBI and other agencies. It says there are "no credible reports indicating a threat" from either international or domestic terrorists.

The document says the swearing in of the first minority president "increases the potential threat, particularly stemming from individuals on the extremist fringe of the white supremacist movement." But it adds no such groups are known to have threatened the inauguration so far.

The threat posed by "lone offenders" not connected to organized groups is named in the assessment as the "greatest potential threat."

Such offenders are often the most difficult to detect. The document says there have been some reports of lone offenders making threats but no indication that any of the potential threats "have progressed past rhetoric to operational planning."

Filed under: Inauguration
soundoff (30 Responses)
  1. Kim

    Keep him safe!

    January 9, 2009 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  2. Larry in Houston TX

    I know this sounds crazy, but I just got a call from a friend of mine, and they are taking their 2 kids, and have already booked a flight going to D.C. for the Inauguration day ceremony......not only that, but they ended up "renting" a 6' X 6' spot on a Lawn for an overnight thing.....in someone's YARD ! I was practically speechless when they told me that they spent $3500.00 (thirty five hundred dollars) for the spot......NOW, that's crazy !!

    WoW !

    January 9, 2009 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  3. Kim

    Keep him safe! And may the event go off without a hitch.

    January 9, 2009 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  4. Proud American

    Looking up? are Idiots like this on responsible for protecting the President of the United States? I say all Republicans should be banned from the inauguration, their the only threat to this country.

    January 9, 2009 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  5. Proud American

    All Republicans are asked to stay home and watch Jerry Springer on Jan. 20th 2009.

    January 9, 2009 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  6. AndyL

    Regardless of your political affiliations, let's all hope and pray for everyones safety.

    January 9, 2009 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  7. Farrell, Houston, Tx


    January 9, 2009 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  8. Jan

    Why should the American people get soaked more for Obama security? There is no indication that he has been threatened more that non-black candidates. And why is this thing so extravagant when he is already forcing the taxpayers to pay for his left wing agenda?

    January 9, 2009 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  9. Maggie from Virginia

    I'm sure they obtained a lot of leads from CNN's political ticker. There is a lot of wacko Obama bashers on here. Go get 'em!

    January 9, 2009 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  10. CanIcallyouJoe

    I am very afraid that some moron is going to try something stupid. Here in Missouri – even in the most urban setting, not only on the farms – racism against blacks is everywhere; it's shameful. There are a lot of really shallow people out there, I'm afraid. Every American should feel ashamed that we even have to form such complicated plans against such a possibility.

    Please keep the President-elect safe!!

    January 9, 2009 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  11. obama-mama

    I keep Obama and all in attendance in my prayers.

    January 9, 2009 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  12. Robin

    I pray not, but, sadly, another attack is inevitable. We need to count on PE BHO to have the correct people in place to find out where these threats are coming from and shut them down.

    Panetta as head of the CIA is not the way to go.

    January 9, 2009 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  13. Venia

    My prayers to you and your family President Elect Barack Obama.

    January 9, 2009 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  14. A Woman In California For Obama

    Not to worry. God will be with us.

    January 9, 2009 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  15. Ella

    Mr. Chertoff, it's a wise decision to "look up until the last minute...",but please don's forget to look forward, backward, left, and right. I'm sure danger can come from "all" directions.

    January 9, 2009 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  16. cat

    I have a good feeling that the anauguration will be as smooth as a babies skin. Who would dare try to harm a leader who has a 80% world wide approval rate. Barack Obama is our great hope for the future.

    January 9, 2009 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  17. Sarah, MD

    Yes, but it's the price of freedom. We can't allow the terriorist to dictate how we celebrate incoming presidents. We will have the inauguration and it will be historic and successful.

    January 9, 2009 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  18. TCM

    PSSST..........the threat's the one you're electing.....

    January 9, 2009 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  19. Nia Hussein- Phoenix, AZ

    No weapon formed against Barack Obama his family and his admin. will prosper.

    January 9, 2009 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  20. Charlie in Maine

    The Secret Service has one of the most important jobs in the world and they do it extremely well. God speed to all involved.

    January 9, 2009 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  21. Amber

    Please, God, please...

    Watch out for our President and all of America on January 20th.
    Please God, do not even give evil the tiniest opportunity to prevail...

    January 9, 2009 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  22. MAD

    I pray to God for a safe and joyous celebration.

    January 9, 2009 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  23. NiceGirl


    January 9, 2009 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  24. S.positve

    Thank you LORD that the devil and his evil hearted folks will remain weak and blinded for no weapon fashioned against our new president and the good hearted Americans, will prosper. Amen

    January 9, 2009 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  25. Miro, MI

    Maybe the Secret service should check out some blogers here. There are some who realy hate our next President.
    Just a tough.

    January 9, 2009 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
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