Ridge: Security Unprecedented for Inauguration

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Security for President Bush's (search) inauguration -- the first swearing-in since the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks -- will be unprecedented with some 6,000 law enforcement personnel, canine bomb teams and close monitoring of transportation.

In describing the plans for the Jan. 20 event, Department of Homeland Security (search) Secretary Tom Ridge said that while the decibel level was down on terrorism chatter, the 55th quadrennial presidential inauguration (search) was such a high-profile event that security would be at its highest level.

"This is the most visible manifestation of our democracy," Ridge said at a news conference near the Capitol where Bush will take the oath on the West Front.

Ridge said the inauguration has been designated a National Security Event and the Secret Service will be the lead law enforcement agency. The military, the FBI, state police, even Federal Emergency Management Agency (search) disaster response teams will be deployed throughout the nation's capital for the Jan. 20 event.

Officials from the Transportation Security Administration have been training police who will screen the crowd attending President Bush's second swearing-in.

Other security plans Ridge detailed include patrols of harbors, mobile command vehicles and round-the-clock surveillance of key facilities. He likened the resources to those used during the political conventions last year.

"Security will be at the highest levels of any inauguration," said Ridge, describing it as unprecedented.

The Federal Aviation Administration (search) has announced that it will expand the no-fly zone, now a 15-3/4-mile radius around the Washington Monument, to a 23-mile radius around Reagan National, Dulles and Baltimore-Washington International airports.

The temporary flight restrictions will be in effect from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Jan. 20.

Roughly 2,500 military personnel will also be on hand to bolster security, with another 4,700 involved in ceremonial duties, said Maj. Gen. Galen Jackman, who commands the Army's military district of Washington.

Jackman said he did not think all the security would detract from the experience of the 250,000 people expected to watch the swearing-in and the estimated 500,000 expected along the parade route from the Capitol to the White House.

"I don't think people will notice kind of an encampment mentality here," Jackman said. "I think they'll feel very comfortable with what we've arranged."

Ridge noted that intelligence picked up in March and April suggested terrorists may be interested in attacking during the election year. He and other counterterrorism officials have said that threat could extend through the inauguration.

On Tuesday, he sought to play down the warnings issued last year. "There is no specific threat directed toward the inaugural or inaugural activities," he said.

City officials in Washington are still working with the Homeland Security Department to sort out who will pay some of the bills. The district's total cost for the event is expected to be $17.3 million, which includes overtime for members of the more than 60 law enforcement agencies that will be brought in to help.

Among other charges: almost $3 million to build viewing stands and $43,260 to develop special license tags, according to a letter Washington Mayor Anthony Williams (search) sent to federal officials late last month.

City officials are seeking permission to dip into the district's $240 million allotment from the federal government to pay for other costs it will incur during the inauguration.

When asked if he thought it was appropriate to use city dollars for basics such as bleachers, Ridge said he was not aware of city money going toward infrastructure improvements, but said the district is eligible for federal reimbursement for overtime expenses.

"We believe there are significant resources available to help the district with costs associated with increased security," Homeland Security spokesman Brian Roehrkasse said.

The Secret Service is urging people attending the ceremony and other inaugural events to visit its Web site -- www.secretservice.gov -- to find out what they can and cannot bring along with them.