Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

February 12, 2010

The 21st Olympic Winter Games- Coordinating Security

Filed under: Events,General Homeland Security — by Jessica Herrera-Flanigan on February 12, 2010

At 7:30 pm (EST) this evening, the 21st Olympic Winter Games will start with the official Opening Ceremony in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. The Olympic Cauldron will be lit and each delegation will enter in alphabetical order (except for Greece, which always enters first and Canada who, as host, enters last).

For the opening ceremony, Vice President Biden and Dr. Jill Biden will lead the American delegation, which will include Valerie Jarrett, U.S. Ambassador to Canada David Jacobson, and gold medalists Mike Eruzione, Peggy Fleming, and Vonetta Flowers.

For the next 16 days, athletes from around the globe will compete in 15 sports.  Several weeks later,  Vancouver will host the best of the best in five sports during the Paralympic Games.

While much attention has been paid to the preparations – both in Canada and among athletes – leading up to the games, many forget that the games also come with a significant amount of security preparations and diligence.  Currently, there are no credible threats against the Vancouver Games, according to U.S. and Canadian officials.

That said, organizers are very aware of the symbolism of the games – as well as the historic need for strong security.  The 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich, West Germany were scarred by the kidnapping and murder of some Israeli Olympic team members by the militant group Black September.  The 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta saw the bombing of Centennial Olympic Park by Eric Rudolph, which killed one person and injured 111.

For the games starting tonight, Canada has put together its biggest domestic security operation in its nation’s history – a $900 million endeavor that covers more than 3,860 square miles, requires screening of 1.6 million ticket holders, and provides protection for 5,500 athletes and officials, according to the Los Angeles Times.

In addition, DHS estimates that nearly 300,000 people might cross the border to attend events or participate in the Olympic happenings.  Given this number, Customs and Border Protection issued a release on Tuesday reminding travelers to  have approved travel documents to speed up their trip across the border.

The proximity to the U.S. border means that the Department of Homeland Security and state and local officials in Washington state also must be prepared. Much attention has been focused on Bellingham, Washington, which is home to  the $4 million Olympics Coordination Center, where law enforcement, security, health and military experts from more than 40 agencies are stationed at the center to watch for potential threats and ensure that travelers can move across the border effectively and safely.  Customs and Border Protection helicopters will stream live video from their patrols into the Center.

Other security measures include:

  • NORAD (North American Aerospace Defense Command) is providing air and marine surveillance in both the U.S. and Canada.   NORAD is enforcing a 30-mile airspace restriction around Vancouver.  Canadian CF-18 Hornets will be on call to intercept any aircraft that might wander into the restricted airspace.  In addition, all private aircraft traveling from the U.S. to Vancouver will be sent through 16 U.S. gateway airports for customs checks.
  • Last week, Secretary Napolitano issued a joint release with the Canadian Minister of Public Safety Vic Toews announcing a Shiprider pilot program designed to bolster cross-border security operations between the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and the U.S. Coast Guard to allow for cross-training, shared resources, and personnel.
  • DHS will have more than 200 additional personnel along the Northern border.
  • Military divers have set up security zones along the waterside surrounding the Olympics.
  • Cruise ships are housing a number of the security personnel assigned to the games.

These are but a few of the public efforts we know that the U.S. and Canadian governments (as well as other nations around the world) are taking to prepare for the games.  Tellingly, Secretary Napolitano will be heading the U.S. delegation attending the closing ceremonies.  While those performing “security” details for the Olympics will not leave the games with medals or honors, they certainly are owed accolades for all they have done leading up to the games and will do during the games leading up to those closing ceremonies.

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5 Comments »

Comment by Chad

February 12, 2010 @ 12:08 pm

Everyone in attendance will, of course, be very grateful for efforts by security personnel.
The housing there must be paying off well!

Comment by William R. Cumming

February 12, 2010 @ 1:54 pm

Hoping for a highly safe and secure Olympics and know it will not come without cost–hopefully only money.

A brief history-
1972–Munich, FRG summer games and many Israeli participants lost to terrorists. Jim Mckay broadcasts over 26 hours straight.
1984 L.A. Summer Games–AG of US and others recommend FEMA be broken up for interfering with law enforcement and ordering state and local law enforcement to do certain things at these games. AT the behest of DOJ the Omnibus Crime Control Act of 1984 creates something called a “Law Enforcement Emergency” to be implemented by regulation by DOJ. DOJ does so and still exists at 28 CFR Part 65. No revolving fund or permanent appropriation is ever enacted to implement this standard.

1996-Atlanta Summer Games. Actual explosive device detonated. But long before that former Senator Sam Nunn repeatedly questions Executive Branch on preparedness for terrorism and response. PD-39 issued after Murrah Bldg. explosion by Clinton Adminsitration but in fact although assigned lead by President Clinton, FEMA does almost nothing except provide communications services for the Olympics. But in run up to Olympics SAM NUNN seeks and obtains enactment of the Combatting Weapons of Mass Destruction Act (Title XIV of DOD authorization) to support STATE and LOCAL preparedness upgrade for terrorism. DOD assigned STATE and LOCAL training role later [1999] transferred to DOJ! Lisa Gordon Haggerty leads NSC/IWG on STATE and LOCAL training and preparedness for NSC! See also http://www.fas.org/irp/agency/dhs/fema/chron.pdf

The OLYMPICS have certainly been on the stage for Terrorism IMO since 1972, unfortunately.

Comment by Christopher Bellavita

February 12, 2010 @ 3:48 pm

A horrible start to the Games:
NYTimes.com News Alert
“Olympic Luger from Republic of Georgia Dies After Crash During Training Run

A luge athlete from the Republic of Georgia, Nodar
Kumaritashvili, was killed in a crash in training on the
Olympic track at the Whistler Sliding Center on Friday, an
official at the track confirmed. Kumaritashvili lost control
of his sled near the end of his run, when he was moving at 88
miles an hour, and was propelled over the track wall into a
steel pole. Training was immediately suspended on the track,
which many competitors have said may be too fast and too
dangerous.

Comment by Christopher Tingus

February 13, 2010 @ 8:51 am

Apparently opening ceremonies were spectacular and all went smoothly as all hoped and (prayed)….

Of course having the esteemd (RCMP) coordinating much of these security measures during the course of the games, Canadians remain confident that all dedicated personnel from an array of Canadian agencies supported by US peers and others will thwart any proposed attempt to disrupt the games by any patron or organized ambition.

The unfortunate breaking news story about this unusual accident yesterday was indeed tragic with nothing taken for granted as those of us who ski and/or snowboard or engaged in winter and other sports understand that dangers of accident are ever present especially when on icy surfaces. I have heard many a leg break on the slope and prefer not to recall one particular very icy day when even the expert could not manage.

God Bless this gentleman as his greatness earned through diligent and arduous training and performance will continue to mentor so many others who follow. As an individual to excel to such level requiring such discipline in so many ways is to be applauded!

My only personal concern for the opening ceremonies and the closing and given the reality in reminder which William Cumming points out in his detailed history of tragedy at games, why does the Vice President need to make such public presentation in scenarios which bring already heightened concerns as well as Madame Secretary scheduled at the closing ceremonies as their (known) and scheduled presence while yes brings with them a heightened security preparedness, yet both prime political targets as top US officials at a time when we are engaged in war and at prsent a substantial ongoing exercise with subject public appearances preferably kept to a minimum.

Just as on the slope, nothing should be taken for granted. No additional attention by those that seek our demise should be drawn to the games even if held in a US city….There are far too many people in one place and no one should be so jeopardized even with the confidence of professional security personnel.

Even you, Mr. President need not throw out the first ball at a baseball game for the exposure is far too great and we need you as President and Commander-in-Chief at the office.

As we all are aware, too many today seek dastardly actions against humanity which is of utmost concern as we must be vigilant for those whose perspective is not the same of those who understand that yes, Life is a challenge at times and personal hopes and ambitions may be dashed, yet outright killing of innocents as witnessed by the Creator is cold blooded murder and nothing less and yes, despite shortcomings, we are all striving to be responsible and to make daily contribution to improving Life especially for those in despair….

Hamas and Hezbollah as well as others who claim that they are trying to improve Life in their respective neighborhoods, many towns and cities I like many of you have walked the streets, in Hebron, Jericho and so many others, violence is not a solution desoite the frustrations and complexities of this 21st century.

We must all do our utmost to afford the dignity which every individual is owed and respect differences, not necessarily to embrace one another, but to make every effort to understand our same similarites as well and to offer a clasp in handshake conveying respect for another who God created with such splendor, such amazing beauty, ecellence like nothing else….

My perspective towards the presence of US officials is not to take anything away from these two wonderful individuals, their outgoing personalities and indeed expressing our official appreciation of our heartfelt genuine Love of our neigbors to the north, yet for those fortunate to attend, I would think they prefer either more legendary US sports figures or maybe even seeing more popular American entertainers as a good will gesture.

God Bless all that are performing in such level of competitiveness among those that have reached the height of such incredible achievement. All extend their sincere appreciation to the many folks engaged in professional commitment to public safety assuring those present and those of us with no tickets in hand watching from home enthusiastically watching such excellence! Our applause to those who through much earned accolades to those winning the medal and to those who may not….

Interestingly, Dallas had nine inches of snow yesterday, Charlotte four inches of snow while beautiful Vancouver is scratching its head as another anticipated snowfall heads towards Washington DC!

Another example why we gentleman must acknowledge Valentine’s Day tomorrow as Mother nature can be quite fickle….and even she has a long and detailed memory!

Happy Valentine’s Day to all and enjoy the sporting events these two weeks in Vancouver!

Christopher Tingus
PO Box 1612
Harwich (Cape Cod), MA USA
chris.tingus@gmail.com

Comment by George

July 19, 2010 @ 11:05 am

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