Three U.S. lawmakers said Sunday that they have serious concerns about the security of the upcoming Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. While they expressed hesitation to send their own families to the games, Russian President Vladimir Putin dismissed these fears, vowing to do whatever is necessary to prevent a terrorist attack.
Congressmen Mike Rogers (R-MI) and Michael McCaul (R-TX) talked about their fears, as did Maine Senator Angus King (an independent who caucuses with the Democrats). On CNN’s State of the Union, host Candy Crowley noted that Russia has seen multiple terrorist attacks by Chechen rebels. Rogers, the chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, responded that he was “very concerned about the security status of the Olympics,” and that the Russians were not providing the United States with enough information to protect its athletes:
ROGERS: They’re not giving us the full story about what are the threat streams. Who do we need to worry about? Are those groups — the terrorist groups who have had some success… are they still plotting? There’s a missing gap and you never want that when you go into something I think as important as the Olympic games and the security of the athletes, and the participants and those who come to watch the games.
CROWLEY: Just quickly if I can, if that does not change, would you worry about U.S. participation in the Olympics?
ROGERS: If I don’t see a higher level of cooperation, I’m concerned today. I don’t think anything would abate that concern short of full cooperation from the Russian security services.
Moments later, Sen. King echoed Rogers’ concerns. “It’d be a stretch,” he said, “to say I’m gonna send my family over” to Russia, given the security concerns. King added that he has similar fears for other major sporting events. “I’m kinda worried about the world cup down in Brazil as well. All it takes is one guy with a bomb.”
On ABC’s This Week, McCaul took a similar view. The chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security told host George Stephanopoulos that the threats against the Olympics “are real” and added that he was not sure he would send his own family to the games.
But in a separate interview, Russia’s president sought to allay these fears. He told Stephanopoulos he would do whatever it takes to prevent any terror threats to the Sochi games. With 40,000 Russian police and special forces dispatched to provide security for the games, Putin said the country would do its best to keep everyone safe, adding, “If anybody feels it is necessary for them to employ their own security measures, those are welcome as well, but it needs, of course, to be done in cooperation with the Olympic Games organizers and our special services.”
Russia has seen two recent bombings and a Chechen militant released a video in June threatening “maximum force” to disrupt the “Satanic dancing on the bones of our ancestors” that the Olympics would bring. A militant group posted a video this week threatening to strike the Olympics. The U.S. Department of State has issued an advisory warning that “U.S. citizens planning to attend the 2014 Olympic Games in Russia that they should remain attentive regarding their personal security at all times.”
The 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia and the 1972 games in Munich, Germany were both marred by terrorist attacks.