In the wake of the terrorist attacks in Paris, France in November and the shooting deaths of 14 people in San Bernardino, California earlier this month, US officials have announced massive security buildups in preparation for celebrations set to occur for New Year’s celebrations.
Despite the lack of known threats, officials have worked to stoke fears of a possible terrorist threat lurking around every corner among in order to pursue military operations around the globe as well as to further attacks against basic democratic rights at home.
The instituting of police state mechanisms in preparation for the New Year’s celebrations makes a mockery of claims made by public officials in the wake of the Paris shootings, in which they declared “Americans’ way of life” would not be disrupted.
In New York City, where as many as 1 million people are expected to fill Times Square to watch the annual ball drop, city officials have announced plans for a massive police presence.
Speaking before news cameras on Tuesday, Democratic Mayor Bill de Blasio and New York law enforcement officials took turns addressing reporters and insisting that there were no shortages in security for the New Year.
“We are very very confident that New Year’s Eve in New York City will be the safest place in the world to be,” remarked NYPD’s Chief of Counterterrorism James Waters cynically. Attendees will be forced to brave a network of police checkpoints manned by heavily armed police with radiation detection devices, bomb sniffing dogs, rifles and other gear, before being cordoned off into a pen, where they will be again scanned for any banned items.
Additionally, as many as 6,000 police officers will be stationed at the Times Square event, along with thousands more monitoring the surrounding area.
Similarly, the city plans to mobilize 500 members of the NYPD’s Critical Response Command (CRC) who will be armed with long guns and stationed atop buildings adjacent to the festivities. “I want everyone to understand and to hear that the NYPD is ready… preparations for New Year’s Eve are more extensive than ever,” de Blasio declared early Tuesday morning on a local AM radio talk show.
In Washington, DC, event hosting companies Lindy Promotions and Joonbug Events canceled their annual “Downtown Countdown,” held in the Washington Hilton, citing “recent world events” as their justification. In Las Vegas, Nevada, where 300,000 are expected to attend festivities, the city announced bans on “bulky items,” including bags, backpacks and strollers.
In Pasadena, California an unprecedented security operation is being rolled out for the Tournament of the Roses Parade and the accompanying Rose Bowl college football championship on New Year’s Day. There, over 700,000 parade-goers will encounter federal agents from an estimated two dozen government departments working in collaboration with local police.
“On New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, federal personnel will be employing a variety of explosive-detection methods, as well as at key venues across the city from bomb-sniffing dogs to sophisticated devices that register even minute amounts of radiation,” stated Mark Selby, special deputy agent for the Department of Homeland Security in Los Angeles County, to CBS News, though he could cite no specific threat to the parade.
Reuters notes that this will be the first year that the Rose Bowl and its accompanying parade will be placed upon a list of top national security concerns by the Department of Homeland Security. In addition to clearly marked federal agents involved in the operation, posted along the parade route will be over a dozen heavily armed “rapid response” teams monitoring the event. Also involved will be dozens of undercover officers and surveillance cameras, as well as a US Customs and Border Protection aircraft.
Federal officials plan to make massive military-style mobilizations at public events a commonplace in 2016. Plans for the security lockdown of the NFL Super Bowl 50, scheduled for February 7 in Santa Clara, California, will entail an unprecedented showing of armed force.
A training exercise for a mock-terrorist attack held at Santa Clara’s Levi’s Stadium in November featured officials from local, state and federal agencies, along with emergency vehicles and a CH-47 Chinook personnel transport helicopter. An FBI invitation to media outlets to cover the training was rescinded at the last moment, with Santa Clara Police Department Captain Phil Cooke explaining to ABC News, “We try to keep this discreet, so there are certain things that we don't want filmed.”
According to the Mercury News, security preparations for Super Bowl 50 will include “Bomb-sniffing dogs at train stations. Metal-detectors in every doorway. Police sharpshooters perched on rooftops. High-tech sensors and cameras capturing every move,” as well as a mobilization of personnel that includes “everyone from the National Joint Terrorism Task Force and Department of Homeland Security all the way down to Chief Mike Sellers, the host city’s top cop and the designated commander of this pop-up law-enforcement juggernaut.”
“Paris? Nope. Super Bowl 50 in Santa Clara,” the publication added ironically.