Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Biden inauguration: Worries as Homeland Security chief quits



Biden inauguration: Worries as Homeland Security chief quits

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
US Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris (left) looks on as President-elect Joe Biden answers questions from the media after announcing key nominees for their economic and jobs team at The Queen theatre in Wilmington, Delaware, on Friday. AFP

Biden inauguration: Worries as Homeland Security chief quits

US Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf announced his resignation unexpectedly on January 11 as worries rose over more violence during President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration next week.

Wolf’s departure as head of the body in charge of security for the January 20 event came five days after President Donald Trump’s supporters stormed the US Capitol, hoping to prevent Biden from replacing him.

The Department of Homeland Security oversees several law enforcement bodies including the Secret Service, the point agency for security for the White House and the US president.

Wolf, who said he was stepping down for procedural reasons, named Pete Gaynor, the administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, to replace him.

But the move did not end questions over whether the US capital city would be adequately secure over the coming week.

An internal FBI document warned of the possibility that armed Trump supporters could hold protests in all 50 states between the coming weekend and January 20, according to US media.

The White House issued a statement saying that Trump had “declared that an emergency exists in the District of Columbia and ordered Federal assistance to supplement the District’s response efforts due to the emergency conditions resulting from the 59th Presidential Inauguration from January 11 to January 24, 2021”.

It said the order gave the department the authority to act “to save lives and to protect property and public health and safety, and to lessen or avert the threat of a catastrophe in the District of Columbia”.

Meanwhile, federal and city officials continued to point fingers over who was responsible for the debacle at the Capitol on January 6, when the Congressional police force was overwhelmed by thousands of Trump supporters who succeeded in shutting down the legislature.

The Pentagon on January 11 said it had authorised 15,000 National Guard troops to be deployed for Biden’s inauguration.

Already 6,200 troops are on the ground in Washington, and a total of 10,000 are planned by the coming weekend, said General Daniel Hokanson, chief of the defence department’s National Guard Bureau.

Another 5,000 could be deployed by the day of the inauguration, he said.

They will come equipped with riot gear and weapons, but so far they have not been authorised to arm themselves while on the streets of the US capital, he said.

Before he announced his departure, Wolf also ordered an acceleration of preparations by the Secret Service, citing “events of the past week and the evolving security landscape”.

Preparations for the event were moving quickly. A security fence has been built around the entire grounds of the Capitol, where Biden will take the oath of office as Trump’s successor.

MOST VIEWED

  • Cambodia on the verge of national tragedy, WHO warns

    The World Health Organisation (WHO) in Cambodia warned that the country had reached another critical point amid a sudden, huge surge in community transmission cases and deaths. “We stand on the brink of a national tragedy because of Covid-19. Despite our best efforts, we are

  • Phnom Penh curfew starts today

    A two-week curfew from 8pm to 5am starts today in Phnom Penh, a day after a sub-decree detailing administrative measures to contain Covid-19 was issued by Prime Minister Hun Sen. “Travelling in Phnom Penh is temporally banned between 8pm and 5am,” said Phnom Penh governor

  • Phnom Penh placed in two-week lockdown

    The government has decided to place Phnom Penh in lockdown for two weeks, effective April 14 midnight through April 28, as Cambodia continues to grapple with the ongoing community outbreak of Covid-19, which has seen no sign of subsiding. According to a directive signed by Prime Minister

  • Vaccination open to foreigners in Cambodia

    The Ministry of Health on April 8 issued an announcement on Covid-19 vaccination for foreigners residing and working in Cambodia, directing the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training and local authorities to register them. Health minister Mam Bun Heng, who is also head of the inter-ministerial

  • Cambodia gears up for muted New Year festival

    The recent curfew and restrictions imposed in the capital and other Covid-19 hotspots were intended to break the chain of transmission, Ministry of Health spokeswoman Or Vandine said as municipal and provincial authorities issued new directives banning certain activities during the upcoming Khmer New Year

  • Culture ministry: Take Tuol Sleng photos down, or else

    The Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts has told Irish photographer Matt Loughrey to take down the photos of Khmer Rouge victims at Tuol Sleng Genocidal Museum which he allegedly colourised and altered to show them smiling. The ministry said Loughrey's work is unacceptable, affecting