US President plans ceremony fit for a king
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House of Bush turns inauguration day into a crowning moment for reign of King George

The Independent | January 20, 2005
By Rupert Cornwell

This is the 55th inauguration day in US history, and in the Cornwell household at least it could not be more special. Our son's high school has been selected to take part in the parade after the President is sworn in. He will be marching in the school's colour guard, carrying the flag of the District of Colombia. A handsome blue uniform has been lovingly pressed, shiny military dress shoes are ready for action. This is his big day.

It is George W Bush's big day as well. An inauguration is this nation's equivalent of a coronation, a four-yearly, utterly American mix of reverent idealism, crass commercialism, noisy protest and ruthless networking. Didn't they get rid of a real King George 229 years ago? Indeed, but few historians would dispute that the office of president is more monarchical than ever. Increasingly, it is a battleground for competing dynasties. Once there were the Roosevelts and the Kennedys. Today it is the House of Bush, and who knows, the House of Clinton. In 2008, the election could pit the brother of the present incumbent against the wife of his predecessor.

But that is to get ahead of the story. The heart of today's proceedings is the address Mr Bush will deliver immediately after he takes the oath of office at noon. Its themes are already known, a ringing commitment of America's mission to spread democracy and liberty across the world, and to build an "ownership society" of enterprise and prosperity at home. He is an iconoclast, whose ambition is to enter history as one of the great transformational presidents. His first term was shaped by the terrorist attacks of September 2001. If he has his way the second will be dominated by domestic initiatives: social security reform, an overhaul of the tax code, and an effort to stamp out excesses of tort legislation.

Some inaugural addresses have been memorable; Lincoln's second in 1865 as the Civil War was ending ("with malice towards none, with charity for all") is regarded as the greatest of all. Then there was Franklin Roosevelt's 1933 call to arms in the depths of the Depression - "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself" - and JFK's stirring call in 1961: "My fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you - ask what you can do for your country." Most have been undistinguished. "Sonorous nonsense" was how H L Mencken described Warren Harding's effort in 1921. (It would be unfair this morning to recall another Mencken prophesy, that "on some great and glorious day ... the White House will be adorned by a downright moron".)

The rule is, the shorter the speech the better. In 1845, William Harrison droned on for an hour and three quarters in the bitter cold. He caught pneumonia and died a month later. This president will not make that mistake.

But his constraints are obvious. Even his excellent speechwriter Michael Gerson, so fluent in uplifting religious imagery, will find it hard to summon up a call to national unity, when almost 50 per cent of the population can barely tolerate the ground Mr Bush walks on.

So on to the fun part. The official theme is "Celebrating Freedom, and Honouring Service", but the emphasis is on celebration. At a cost of $40m plus (£21m), this inauguration is the most expensive ever. Footing the bill will be the usual suspects: wealthy Bush cronies, drug and energy companies. They will be rewarded for their contributions (up to $250,000 apiece) by candlelit dinners with George and Laura, dozens of tickets to tonight's nine official inaugural balls - and of course discreet political favours down the line). Such is the American way.

But is the lavish spending not out of place when south Asia has been overwhelmed by the deadliest natural disaster of modern times, when the US itself is up to its neck in debt, and American lives and treasure are being squandered in a bloody war? After all, in 1945, FDR (admittedly so ill he would be dead in less than three months) held his fourth inaugural in the White House, offering guests a cold chicken salad. In 1917 Woodrow Wilson decreed there would be no parties, on the grounds that jollifications were inappropriate when most of the world (though not yet the US) was at war.

Not so, insists the Bush administration, which has made a point of presenting citizens with tax cuts, not demands for sacrifice, as it wages war. Of the nine balls only one, the "Commander-in-Chief" ball reserved for service personnel, is free. For the others, tickets run at $400 upwards.

But if freedom is this inauguration's leitmotiv, the capital of the land of liberty is under unprecedented lockdown. Security around presidents has been tight before: in 1861, on the eve of the Civil War, Pinkerton guards (forerunners of the Secret Service) protected Lincoln as his train passed through Baltimore, a hotbed of secessionism.

But if America was then even more divided than today, in the mid-19th century there was no tradition of suicide bombers. Today, nothing is left to chance. Some 20,000 officers are being deployed. Anti-aircraft batteries stand guard, and Coast Guard gunboats patrol the Potomac. The latest scare (although authorities admit there is no sign of a terrorist threat) is that al- Qa'ida will use limousines filled with gas canisters as bombs.

Certainly, there will be no repeat of 1953, when the newly inaugurated Dwight Eisenhower was lassoed during the parade by a stuntman cowboy called Montie Montana. Ike knew what was going to happen, but an irritated Secret Service did not. This year, the rope would bounce off the bullet-proof glass screen protecting the presidential viewing box, while Montie would be wrestled to the ground by security men. Democrats may have left town to drown their sorrows, but thousands of protesters have arrived, even thoughwould-be egg throwers will not get within a quarter-mile of the White House.

On Friday the barricades will be removed, and normality will return. For President Bush, it will be business as usual, and perhaps a moment's reflection on recent second terms, marked by Watergate, Iran Contra, Monica Lewinsky. In politics, only the unexpected is certain. But for Cornwell Jnr, no such concerns will linger, only the memory of a once-in-a-lifetime day.
 

 

US President plans ceremony fit for a king

The Age | January 18, 2005
By Michael Gawenda

It is possible that the inauguration speech George Bush gives on Thursday will match the speeches given by three other presidents re-elected while the US was at war - Abraham Lincoln in the Civil War, Franklin Roosevelt during World War II, and Richard Nixon in the Vietnam War.

All three - yes, Nixon as well - spoke of the sacrifices made by Americans, particularly the military, in the service of freedom and democracy. The speeches were designed to heal, comfort and inspire.

The three of them could make such speeches because each of the presidents was inaugurated when the respective wars were almost over: the Civil War had been won by the Union; in January 1945, Roosevelt knew the war against Japan and Germany was virtually over; and Nixon knew his war - started by his Democrat predecessors - was lost, and was on the brink of an agreement with North Vietnam that would allow him to pull the US out of the conflict without explicitly admitting defeat.

The war that Mr Bush presides over - or, rather, the two wars that his Administration has conflated - is, by his own admission, far from over.

The war on terror has only just begun and, in a candid moment several months ago, Mr Bush told a reporter that he was not sure it could be won.

It remains unclear just what sort of war this is, and what exactly would represent a victory.

The President declared the war in Iraq won almost a year ago but, of course, it wasn't - in a sense it, too, had just begun. So Thursday's inauguration should be a sombre event at a time when the US is involved in a war that could yet be lost and when the President - despite his clear, if narrow, victory in November - has a 43 per cent approval rating, the lowest for any re-elected president in the past 60 years.

Not a bit of it. The theme of this inauguration may be "Celebrating Freedom and Honouring Service", and there are special events planned to honour the military, but this inauguration is going to be the most expensive in US history, with most of the $US40 million ($A52.6 million) being spent on - well, partying.
The inauguration, which is meant to be a celebration of democracy, a people's celebration, will be open only to those who have paid big bucks."

That does not include the $US14 million that will be spent on security. The security is understandable, but with most of central Washington closed to traffic and in many cases, pedestrians, and with police and soldiers everywhere, the inauguration, which is meant to be a celebration of democracy, a people's celebration, will be open only to those who have paid big bucks to attend one of the nine balls or the intimate dinner parties - 600 guests only at each one of these - or the rock concert hosted by the Bush twins, Jenna and Barbara.

There are tickets available for the several rows of wooden seats that have been set up along Pennsylvania Avenue for the parade on Thursday, but that's about it for ordinary folk.

Certainly, the busloads of protesters due in Washington today will get nowhere near any of the major events. In all likelihood, even the Turn Your Back on Bush crowd who intend to line the route of the parade will have to turn their backs on someone else.

Still, given that 90 per cent of the good citizens of Washington DC voted for John Kerry, and given that we can assume that the vast majority of them, at best, think Mr Bush has been a disastrous President, they may not be too concerned that they are going to be left out of the inauguration parties. Indeed, it seems that many are so unenthused by this inauguration that they plan to leave town for the four days of celebrations.

There are some members of Congress who have complained that the $40 million party is unseemly at a time when the country is at war and so soon after the tsunami disaster that has claimed so many lives.

But most of them are Democrats who know they have little support for their views in most of the country - even Bill Clinton has said that the inauguration celebrations are OK and that Mr Bush and his supporters deserve to party.

Certainly, tens of thousands of Bush supporters have begun to arrive in Washington, with their boots and hats.

Many of the better restaurants are serving special Texas fare and some of the ritzier hotels are offering packages for the four-day inauguration party that will set a Texan back $150,000 for two guests. For this he or she will get customised inauguration luggage, a champagne breakfast for 20, tickets to one of the intimate dinner parties and a chance to watch the Bushes walk by as they head to the next party.

At the first inauguration of a president, in 1789, George Washington wanted to wear a suit covered in gold leaf with a special cape, and ride to the ceremony on a white horse escorted by an honour guard on white horses. Like a coronation.

He was talked out of this, and instead wore a brown suit with gold buttons and rode to Federal Hall, in New York, on a brown horse.

The president in the new republic was not a king. Still, this inauguration, like most of the others before it, feels, to an Australian, more like a coronation than the swearing in of an elected president.

Inauguration week honors U.S. troops

CNN | January 17, 2005

(CNN) -- As the first presidential inauguration since September 11, 2001 approaches, organizers are preparing a four-day wartime salute to the U.S. armed forces -- including concerts for troops, black-tie dinners and a special inaugural ball for military personnel.

"Celebrating Freedom, Honoring Service" -- the official theme of the inauguration -- will be underscored by colorful, military-dominated events, culminating Thursday night when President Bush hosts a ball for U.S. troops who served in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Tuesday's "Saluting Those Who Serve" event at Washington's MCI Center kicks off the week's official schedule.

"It will be a diverse showcase of entertainers from people like actor Kelsey Grammer, boxing promoter Don King and Gloria Estefan," said Kevin Sheridan of the Presidential Inaugural Committee.

Thousands of U.S. military personnel have been invited to the afternoon concert, which also includes Miss USA 2004 Shandi Finnessey.

Later Tuesday, singers Hilary Duff and "American Idol" winner Ruben Studdard will rock the city's Armory. First twins Jenna and Laura Bush are expected to attend.

On Wednesday, "A Celebration of Freedom," a free, outdoor event at the Ellipse -- near the White House -- features the Gatlin Brothers, Tony award-winning actress Kristen Chenoweth, NASCAR's Dale Earnhardt Jr., Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin and actor Gary Sinise.

Past wartime inaugurals have been less celebratory, said Jim Bendat, author of "Democracy's Big Day: The Inauguration of Our President."

"In 1917 -- with President Woodrow Wilson -- we were on the eve of World War I, and it was a very solemn inauguration," Bendat said. "There was a parade, but there were no inaugural balls."

In 1945, during World War II, "for President Franklin Roosevelt's fourth inauguration, there was a very quiet inauguration at the White House that took place on one of the balconies," Bendat said. "There were people outside -- but it was a small gathering, and there was no inaugural parade, there were no inaugural balls. It was a pretty quiet and somber occasion." ( Full story )

This year, nine inaugural balls are scheduled, including the Commander-in-Chief Ball, a soiree hosting troops who are heading to -- or who have returned from -- Iraq or Afghanistan. The party appropriately will be held at the National Building Museum --- a structure that originally was built to honor Union troops of the Civil War.

Greg Jenkins, executive director of the Presidential Inauguration Committee, said about 2,000 troops will attend the ball.

"The president made it clear that he wanted to pay special tribute in a special way to those armed forces -- men and women -- who put their lives on the line every day, with particular emphasis on the war on terror," Jenkins said.

The quadrennial presidential celebration is expected to cost about $40 million, with money raised from ticket sales and private donations. Bleacher-seat tickets along the inaugural parade route cost $15, $60 or $125, and tickets to the balls are priced at $150 per person. Donations by individuals and private corporations are limited to $250,000. ( Full story )

A hastily organized inauguration in 2001 cost about the same as this year's event. In 1997, President Clinton's inauguration cost about $33 million -- although it included more inaugural balls.

Organizers expect some 500,000 spectators to watch the parade along its nearly two-mile route from the Capitol to the White House. The parade follows Bush's swearing-in ceremony at noon Thursday at the Capitol.

The U.S. Secret Service will direct an unprecedented security plan for a presidential inauguration, including Coast Guard surveillance along the Potomac River and 6,000 police and 7,000 troops spread throughout the nation's capital.

Bush on defensive over $52m party

The Austrailian | January 18, 2005
By Caren Bohan

US President George W. Bush is drawing heat over a $US40 million ($52.81m) splurge on inaugural balls, concerts and candlelight dinners while the country is in a sombre mood because of the Iraq war and Asian tsunami.

His supporters will celebrate his second-term inauguration this week with fireworks and three days of parties, including a "Black Tie and Boots" ball and nine other balls.

Critics say the lavish celebrations are unseemly when US troops face daily violence in Iraq and Americans are being urged to donate money to alleviate the suffering in Asia, where the December 26 tsunami killed more than 160,000 people.

"I just think that the sobriety of the times dictate that we be mindful of the imagery of these things," said Democratic Republican Anthony Weiner of New York.

In a letter, Mr Weiner urged Bush to ask donors to redirect their inaugural contributions to equipment for troops in Iraq, some of whom have complained of having to scrounge for scrap metal to protect their vehicles.

"Precedent suggests that inaugural festivities should be muted - if not cancelled - in wartime," his letter said.

He said the money saved could pay for 690 Humvees and a $US290 ($382.84) bonus for each soldier serving in Iraq.

Mr Weiner cited the example of President Franklin Roosevelt, who celebrated his trimmed-down 1945 inaugural with cold chicken salad and pound cake.

But Mr Bush rejected the criticism.

"It's important that we celebrate a peaceful transfer of power ... You can be equally concerned about our troops in Iraq and those who suffered at the tsunamis (and) with celebrating democracy," he said in a CBS News interview released today.

He said inauguration activities would include military-themed events such as a Commander-in-Chief Ball and a Salute to Service.

"There's ways for us to honour the soldier and, at the same time, celebrate," the president said.

President Lyndon Johnson did not eschew pageantry in 1965, racking up a $US1.6 million ($2.11 million) bill for inaugural festivities despite the Vietnam War, historian Robert Dallek said.

The tradition of inaugural balls dates back to the swearing in of James Madison in 1809.

Companies and individual donors, not taxpayers, are footing the bill for Mr Bush's festivities.

Political scientist George Edwards of Texas A & M University said he did not fault the president's supporters for indulging in a little splendour, but the huge donations fed a cynical view of the influence of special interests.

White House spokesman Scott McClellan said the events were a time to "celebrate freedom" and "pay tribute to our men and women in uniform".

Donors to the inaugural celebrations include corporations such as Ford Motor Co, Marathon Oil and Northrop Grumman as well as lobby groups like the American Bankers Association and the National Association of Home Builders.

50 Agencies join for Inagural security

The Associated Press | January 18, 2005

Jan. 18, 2005 - Miles from the Capitol where President Bush will take the oath of office, dozens of officials from 50 federal, state and local agencies will work side by side in a high-tech command center keeping close tabs on the security situation for the first presidential inauguration since the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.

At 120 work stations in the northern Virginia center and using giant video screens, law enforcement and security personnel will be able to watch from cameras that monitor downtown Washington streets, keep track of aerial surveillance flights and check sensors scanning for evidence of deadly biological or chemical agents.

"If there is a piece of technology that exists, we've put it to use for this event," said Jim Rice, the FBI supervisory agent for Thursday's inauguration.

For the first time, all the federal agencies that deal with security, law enforcement and crisis response will be housed in a single Joint Field Office for a presidential inauguration. Also new this time, under a post-Sept. 11 presidential order, the federal agencies will be under the command of a "principle federal officer" reporting directly to Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge.

For this event, that officer is Tim Koerner, a top deputy in the Secret Service, which is the lead agency for the inaugural security effort.

The idea is to improve coordination among the various federal agencies, especially if there is a terrorist attack or other major disruption and there is an immediate need for such things as medical attention for casualties, hostage rescue or SWAT teams and investigative specialists such as FBI bomb technicians.

Law enforcement officials say that locating all officials under one roof will eliminate confusion and duplication, as well as enable them to quickly determine whether there's a real threat or problem or if it's just a false alarm.

"When an incident first happens, in the first 30 minutes probably about 75 percent of the information you get is wrong," Rice said. "Being able to look the guy in the eye that you're talking to, that eliminates a lot of problems."

The field office will command Coast Guard cutters and helicopters, canine bomb-sniffing units, customs aircraft, bicycle patrols, crowd control and a host of other security and law enforcement assets.

Immigration, terrorism and criminal databases will be closely watched for any suspicious matches of people arriving in the United States or placed under arrest somewhere in the country. Commercial air traffic will be watched closely.

Despite all the preparation, U.S. officials say they have no indications that al-Qaida or any other terror group intends to attack Bush's inauguration. If anything, officials have been saying that terrorist "chatter" picked up in intelligence channels about potential attacks is at a low point compared with previous major events.

A bulletin circulated within the U.S. government on Jan. 11 by the FBI, Homeland Security Department and Defense Department cited "no credible information domestic or international terrorists" are planning to attack the inauguration, according to a federal security official with access to the bulletin.

The bulletin goes on to say, however, that al-Qaida remains determined to mount another major attack on the U.S. homeland and that Washington is obviously a prime potential target. As a high-profile symbol of American democracy, officials involved in the inauguration's security are taking no chances when it comes to preparing for the worst.

The FBI, for example, has stationed command personnel and other assets in concentric circles around Washington, each a greater distance from the nation's capital, in case terrorists manage to detonate a nuclear device or other weapon of mass destruction. That would enable the FBI, which has about 1,500 agents working the inaugural event, to remain operational to respond to such a disaster if its headquarters were wiped out.

"There are contingencies for everything," Rice said.

Officials also have thought about the possibility that terrorists might try to strike a more lightly guarded target or targets outside Washington. The Federal Emergency Management Agency, for example, has disaster teams activated around the nation and the FBI is on greater alert as well.

Even so, the goal is to make the inaugural event appear much as it has in the past, with an open-air swearing-in ceremony and an opportunity for the president to get out of his armored limousine along the parade route from the Capitol to the White House.

"This is probably the heaviest security we have ever had in D.C.," Rice said. "The president is going to get out and walk down the middle of the street, and we're at war. Security is going to be airtight."

High-Tech Center Set for Inauguration

Associated Press | January 18, 2005
By CURT ANDERSON

WASHINGTON - Miles from the Capitol where President Bush will take the oath of office, dozens of officials from 50 federal, state and local agencies will work side by side in a high-tech command center keeping close tabs on the security situation for the first presidential inauguration since the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.

At 120 work stations in the northern Virginia center and using giant video screens, law enforcement and security personnel will be able to watch from cameras that monitor downtown Washington streets, keep track of aerial surveillance flights and check sensors scanning for evidence of deadly biological or chemical agents.

``If there is a piece of technology that exists, we've put it to use for this event,'' said Jim Rice, the FBI supervisory agent for Thursday's inauguration.

For the first time, all the federal agencies that deal with security, law enforcement and crisis response will be housed in a single Joint Field Office for a presidential inauguration. Also new this time, under a post-Sept. 11 presidential order, the federal agencies will be under the command of a ``principle federal officer'' reporting directly to Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge.

For this event, that officer is Tim Koerner, a top deputy in the Secret Service, which is the lead agency for the inaugural security effort.

The idea is to improve coordination among the various federal agencies, especially if there is a terrorist attack or other major disruption and there is an immediate need for such things as medical attention for casualties, hostage rescue or SWAT teams and investigative specialists such as FBI bomb technicians.

Law enforcement officials say that locating all officials under one roof will eliminate confusion and duplication, as well as enable them to quickly determine whether there's a real threat or problem or if it's just a false alarm.

``When an incident first happens, in the first 30 minutes probably about 75 percent of the information you get is wrong,'' Rice said. ``Being able to look the guy in the eye that you're talking to, that eliminates a lot of problems.''

The field office will command Coast Guard cutters and helicopters, canine bomb-sniffing units, customs aircraft, bicycle patrols, crowd control and a host of other security and law enforcement assets.

Immigration, terrorism and criminal databases will be closely watched for any suspicious matches of people arriving in the United States or placed under arrest somewhere in the country. Commercial air traffic will be watched closely.

Despite all the preparation, U.S. officials say they have no indications that al-Qaida or any other terror group intends to attack Bush's inauguration. If anything, officials have been saying that terrorist ``chatter'' picked up in intelligence channels about potential attacks is at a low point compared with previous major events.

A bulletin circulated within the U.S. government on Jan. 11 by the FBI, Homeland Security Department and Defense Department cited ``no credible information domestic or international terrorists'' are planning to attack the inauguration, according to a federal security official with access to the bulletin.

The bulletin goes on to say, however, that al-Qaida remains determined to mount another major attack on the U.S. homeland and that Washington is obviously a prime potential target. As a high-profile symbol of American democracy, officials involved in the inauguration's security are taking no chances when it comes to preparing for the worst.

The FBI, for example, has stationed command personnel and other assets in concentric circles around Washington, each a greater distance from the nation's capital, in case terrorists manage to detonate a nuclear device or other weapon of mass destruction. That would enable the FBI, which has about 1,500 agents working the inaugural event, to remain operational to respond to such a disaster if its headquarters were wiped out.

``There are contingencies for everything,'' Rice said.

Officials also have thought about the possibility that terrorists might try to strike a more lightly guarded target or targets outside Washington. The Federal Emergency Management Agency, for example, has disaster teams activated around the nation and the FBI is on greater alert as well.

Even so, the goal is to make the inaugural event appear much as it has in the past, with an open-air swearing-in ceremony and an opportunity for the president to get out of his armored limousine along the parade route from the Capitol to the White House.

``This is probably the heaviest security we have ever had in D.C.,'' Rice said. ``The president is going to get out and walk down the middle of the street, and we're at war. Security is going to be airtight.''

D.C.has stifling security blanket

Cincinnati Post | January 18, 2005

WASHINGTON -- To celebrate President Bush's inauguration Thursday, the nation's capital has turned itself into an armed camp.

Outside of Baghdad's Green Zone, downtown Washington will be the most heavily fortified city in the world.

For Inauguration Day festivities, security officials are closing off 100 square blocks to all traffic, and in another 100 square blocks traffic will be restricted to those who live there.

This is in a city where a carelessly placed traffic cone can cause instant gridlock.

The Department of Homeland Security admits that there is no specific threat to the inauguration.

Indeed, the "chatter" had been subdued of late, but why take chances?

Private planes will be barred from a 3,000-square-mile area around the capital, and the no-fly zone will be enforced by an armada of fighter jets, Customs planes and helicopters.

It's not only airspace. Armed Coast Guard patrols will enforce a no-boat zone on the Potomac River.

The president's friends and other supporters will be welcomed to the capital by 6,000 law-enforcement agents and 7,000 troops.

Among them, adding a Fallujah-kind of feel to the fun, will be combat troops from the 3rd Infantry Division with M-4 assault rifles and night-vision goggles.

There will be a Marine Corps chemical and biological rapid-reaction force and also -- and surely this will be of some comfort -- an engineering unit specializing in rescuing people from collapsed buildings.

Those with tickets for the swearing-in and the parade will get to relive the airport experience that brought them here. There will be 22 security checkpoints around the perimeter.

The list of no-nos includes backpacks, thermoses, aerosol sprays, glass bottles, coolers, bags larger than 8 by 6 by 4 inches, strollers and -- better hope it doesn't rain -- umbrellas. You won't have to remove your shoes -- not yet, at least.

To the anguish of Christian groups, the authorities have also banned crosses.

The parade will come from the U.S. Capitol down Pennsylvania Avenue, where all the lampposts and mailboxes have been removed and manhole covers welded shut.

Sniper teams will be on rooftops, an "army" of Secret Service agents inside the buildings and plainclothesmen circulating on the sidewalks.

A cautionary word: The police are on the lookout for people who avoid eye contact, show unusual curiosity or loiter, so don't do any of that.

If you like animals, there will be police on horseback and 25 bomb-sniffing dogs.

Mobile and fixed sensors will sniff the air for poison gas, radiation, germs and explosives. Special jammers are supposed to foil any attempt to set off a bomb remotely.

From a luxurious new command post 25 safe miles out in the Virginia suburbs, the people in charge of all this security will monitor on large plasma screens feeds from fixed and chopper-born surveillance cameras. So watch your behavior. Big Brother really is watching.

Is all this security really necessary?

Probably not.

Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge couldn't even begin to estimate how many millions it will cost.

Not to diminish their dedication, but the security people have all this cool new equipment and they're loving the opportunity to show it off.

The inauguration is sort of a Smithsonian Institution Folklife Festival of Security, complete with live demonstrations.

Somewhere in there our president is being sworn in, but we'll try not to let it detract from the security.

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