EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA


January 21, 2009

Inauguration security tight; cold taking a toll

WASHINGTON (AP) — Fifty-eight federal, state and local law enforcement agencies and tens of thousands of police officers secured the inauguration of Barack Obama and parade that followed — and no one got busted.

There were no arrests or major incidents the day America's first black president took the oath of office in front of more than a million people.

Secret Service Director Mark Sullivan, whose agency oversaw security, lauded the various organizations involved and "cooperative, patient and orderly citizens who attended."

A smattering of protest groups with varying issues lined the inaugural parade route. One group waved signs that read "Arrest Bush."

In contrast, eight were arrested during Bush's second inauguration when far fewer people attended. Protesters had tried to rush a security gate three blocks from the White House and a flag was burned. Police briefly locked down the area, trapping some 400 to 500 spectators.

Authorities monitored a rush of intelligence leads yesterday, including a possible threat from an East African radical Islamic terrorist group.

The authorities stressed that the warning was posted as a precaution as part of the massive effort to monitor intelligence traffic and check out all leads in advance of Obama's inauguration. Intelligence officials had warned that the inauguration posed an attractive target for terrorists because of the large crowds descending on the nation's capital and the historic significance of the country swearing in its first black president.

A senior law enforcement official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly about the terror threat, said as of yesterday morning, officials felt comfortable with security preparations.

There was no change to the terrorist threat level, which remained at yellow — or elevated.

The unprecedented amount of security drew from about 25,000 law enforcement officers from 58 federal, state and local agencies. Sirens keening, squad cars and utility vehicles swept along downtown streets even before dawn, racing to cordoned checkpoints as crowds gathered.

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