12 National Guard members removed from DC mission
WASHINGTON (FOX 5 DC) - Twelve U.S. Army National Guard members have been removed from the presidential inauguration security mission.
Two guard members were found to have ties with right-wing militia groups or posted extremist views online, according to two U.S. officials.
The other 10 showed "questionable behavior" unrelated to extremism, but they were flagged by the FBI, Pentagon officials said.
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There was no threat to President-elect Joe Biden, they said.
Their removal from the massive security presence at the nation's capital comes as the FBI worked to vet all of the 25,000 National Guard troops headed to the area for Biden's inauguration Wednesday.
U.S. defense officials have been worried about a potential insider attack or other threat from service members following the deadly riot at the U.S. Capitol Jan. 6 by Trump supporters that shocked the nation.
Pentagon officials today made clear that while 12 is a very small number compared to 25,000, that extremism is not tolerated in any branch of the U.S. military.
Pentagon heads also said today that this shows the vetting and system of reporting is working – emphasizing that if you see something, say something.
Of the first two guard members removed, FOX 5 has been told one was flagged through chain of command and the other through a tip.
READ MORE: FBI vetting National Guard troops in nation’s capital amid fears of insider attack at inauguration
Acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller said in a statement Monday that vetting of National Guard troops continues and that the Pentagon has found no intelligence so far that would indicate an insider threat.
Washington has been on edge since the deadly insurrection at the Capitol, which has prompted extraordinary security measures ahead of Biden's inauguration.
A fire in a homeless camp roughly a mile from the Capitol complex prompted a lockdown Monday during a rehearsal for the inauguration.
U.S. Secret Service tightened security in and around the Capitol days earlier than usual in preparation, and the city center is essentially on lockdown with streets blocked, high fencing installed and tens of thousands of troops and law enforcement officers stationed around the area.
Federal law enforcement officials have also been wary of increased surveillance of military and law enforcement checkpoints and other positions after National Guard troops reported people taking pictures and recording them, said the law enforcement officials, who spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity to discuss ongoing security matters.
RELATED: Lockdown lifted at US Capitol after nearby fire prompted 'shelter in place’ during inauguration rehearsal
The Secret Service issued a bulletin over the weekend about what it sees as an "uptick" in National Guard troops posting pictures and details of their operations online.
The Associated Press obtained the "all concerned" message sent to all National Guard troops coming to Washington. Without getting into specific postings, the bulletin read: "No service members should be posting locations, pictures or descriptions online regarding current operations or the sensitive sites they are protecting" and urged them to stop immediately.
Asked about the bulletin, a spokesperson for the Secret Service issued a statement saying it "does not comment on matters of protective intelligence."
Contacted by the AP Tuesday morning, the National Guard Bureau referred questions to the U.S. Secret Service and said: "Due to operational security, we do not discuss the process nor the outcome of the vetting process for military members supporting the inauguration."
The Associated Press contributed to this report