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Secret Service beefs up White House security ahead of State of the Union truck convoy protests

Supporters wave to truckers on a cross-country trip to protest COVID-19 mandates, Golden Valley, Arizona (Mario Tama/Getty Images)

The US Secret Service has tightened security at the White House in response to heightened concerns about truck convoys heading to Washington, D.C., which are due to coincide with President Biden’s State of the Union address on March 1, Yahoo News has learned.

The Department of Homeland Security, FBI, Capitol Police and other law enforcement agencies are tracking several convoys of truckers heading to Washington to protest vaccination mandates put in place to stop the spread of COVID -19, according to five law enforcement bulletins obtained by Yahoo News.

On Thursday, DHS released a situation report detailing the movements of truck convoys heading from California and northeast toward the nation’s capital.

The DHS bulletin notes that it sees no credible threat of specific violence “associated with the planning of a First Amendment-protected trucking convoy in the United States,” but indicates that some domestic violent extremists “will likely be drawn to event and may engage in premeditated or opportunistic acts”. violence.”

“The proposed scope, scale, and locations of U.S. convoy activity may pose risks to public safety, emergency response, and DHS operations,” the bulletin said. The convoys could reach Washington before the State of the Union address on March 1, according to the bulletin.

Route of the convoy of truckers.  (Northern Virginia Regional Intelligence Center)

Route of the convoy of truckers. (Northern Virginia Regional Intelligence Center)

The latest bulletin outlines changes to the security posture ahead of the State of the Union. It says that on February 23, the Secret Service implemented additional security measures, including in and around the White House complex. State of the Union is a special national security event, a designation that requires increased federal and other resources. The Secret Service is the main agency for such events.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement is tracking four convoys that are expected to arrive in DC between Feb. 23-27 and may cause freeway blockages, the DHS Situation Report notes.

A Secret Service spokesperson said, “Due to the need to maintain operational security, the U.S. Secret Service does not comment on the means, methods, or resources used to conduct our protective operations.

The DHS bulletin notes that the department coordinates convoys of truckers with agencies like the FBI, ATF and others.

As the threat of convoys disrupting the State of the Union address and normal life in the capital became more evident, FBI and DHS officials held a meeting with 30 interagency groups and other government agencies and law enforcement to discuss the potential impact on Biden’s condition. the Union address and Washington, DC, as a whole.

“The FBI, including the Washington Field Office, respects the right of individuals to peacefully exercise their First Amendment rights. We do not initiate investigations based solely on an individual’s race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, or exercise of First Amendment rights,” an FBI spokesperson said. “We are committed to working closely with our local, state and federal law enforcement partners against anyone intending to commit acts of violence or criminal activity that constitutes a federal crime or poses a threat to national security. We remind members of the public to be aware of their surroundings and to report any suspicious activity to law enforcement.

Route of the convoy of truckers.  (Northern Virginia Regional Intelligence Center)

Route of the convoy of truckers. (Northern Virginia Regional Intelligence Center)

DHS did not immediately respond to Yahoo News’ request for comment.

The DHS bulletin says it has asked law enforcement partners across the country for information on the movements of the various convoys of truckers currently traveling in the United States.

Yahoo News has obtained detailed updates provided to DHS by law enforcement in Ohio and Arizona, where convoys of truckers passed.

Several of these documents from the regional fusion center feature maps showing past and predicted convoy movements.

Several maps, produced by the Northern Virginia Regional Intelligence Center, show the route these convoys are expected to take to Washington and include the expected time and date of their arrival. The document also identifies five truck convoy organizers. A tracked convoy is expected to travel to Scranton, Pa., then to Harrisburg, then to Washington via the I-495 Beltway.

Another convoy is scheduled to arrive at the Sylvan Theater in Washington on March 1, the State of the Union date. This convoy, notes the bulletin, arrives from Los Angeles. Its final leg, from Frederick, Md., to Washington, will bring the convoy to the intersection of Independence Ave SW and 15th St NW, just blocks from the White House.

Traffic cones close off a section of Pennsylvania Ave.

Traffic cones close off a section of Pennsylvania Ave. near the United States Capitol. (Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

On March 5 or 6, another convoy, also from the west coast, is expected to reach Washington, the Northern Virginia Regional Intelligence Center situation report says. Other tracked convoys are en route to Washington from New York, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Illinois, Wisconsin and elsewhere, according to intelligence bulletins and other updates provided by law enforcement in Ohio, Arizona and Oklahoma and disseminated by DHS. These regional reports of trucking convoys obtained by Yahoo News and widely distributed by DHS include detailed routes with times of scheduled stops at gas stations along the way.

Yahoo News previously reported that U.S. Customs and Border Protection and its umbrella agency, DHS, are tracking convoys that are expected to start in California near the Super Bowl and head toward Washington. Yahoo News later reported that the Department of Transportation was tracking planned convoys of truckers within the United States and their potential disruptions to the national highway system.

On Feb. 22, DHS and Capitol Police asked the Department of Defense National Guard troops to help manage the havoc the trucking convoys could have on traffic and ensure that the forces of order and emergency services are in place for the State of the Union address. are not diverted elsewhere.

A State of the Union threat assessment obtained by Yahoo News said trucking convoys descending on Washington could “significantly impede or disrupt State of the Union-related security operations and overwhelm government functions.” of critical responses”.

A DHS official involved in some aspects of tracking truck convoys and threats to Biden told Yahoo News that law enforcement was preparing for the worst, but added, “I don’t think the trucker will be so big, the lead got lost and stuck,” the source said, declining to provide further details.

“That said, we’re obviously monitoring,” the source said. “The potential for damage is real and we need to be prepared.”

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