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. Simmy

    Thank God for all of the security, etc., but I pray for Divine protection for President-Elect Obama, VP Biden, their families, and all participating in the awesome events on 12009. God please watch over him, and keep him and our country safe, in Jesus's name. Ps. 91, 27 ,23. "Lo I am with you always..."

    January 9, 2009 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  2. pam Eugene OR

    I pray all will be safe at this historic event. It does make a very big target that would be impossible to police.

    January 9, 2009 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  3. Felonious Monk

    If they can't keep a man from throwing a second shoe at our president, how can we expect them to fully protect our president. The man threw two shoes at our president. My dislike for our current president is intense, and Bush has done more harm to this country than any other individual I can remember in history. Feel free to give examples to inform me of a more self destructive American.
    The Secret Service should never have allowed that man to throw a second shoe. If they cannot protect our president then what purpose do they serve? I realize it is impossible to stop a mad man with a gun, but we are talking shoes here. A joke is what the Secret Service looked liked when the shoes began to fly.

    January 9, 2009 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  4. Arkansas Undertaker

    I agree Amen.......Amber!

    January 9, 2009 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  5. single mom

    No matter who we voted for, no American wants harm to come to OUR President. We all know, or at least should know, that an attack on OUR President is an attack on the country.
    My prayers are with all our elected officials and all those who will be attending any inaugural celebrations.

    January 9, 2009 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
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