January 19th, 2014
11:40 AM ET
9 years ago

U.S. lawmakers: Winter Olympics aren’t safe

Washington (CNN) - Members of both the House and Senate Intelligence Committees say they are extremely concerned about security surrounding next month’s Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said he wouldn’t go to the games himself – “and I don't think I would send my family,” he told CNN’s State of the Union.

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Russia has created a large security zone around the games, brought in thousands of extra police and troops to provide security and is spending billions of dollars to try and keep the games safe. But a pair of December bombings in the city of Volgograd that killed more than 30 people have raised concerns about attacks on the games.

“It's a very serious fear because the Olympics are being held in an area where there's a history of terrorist activity, where there's been a lot of tension between Islamists in that area and the government of Russia,” King said.

Former director of the Central Intelligence and National Security agencies, Michael Hayden, however, disagrees with King's assessment. When pressed if he thought Americans would be safe at the upcoming games, Hayden said he trusts Russia's ability to provide security.

"I think Americans will be quite safe," he said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has pledged that visitors will be kept safe at the Olympics, due to start in less than three weeks. In an interview with half a dozen Russian and international broadcasters, Putin said about 40,000 members of Russia’s police and security forces would be guarding the events.

"We will try to make certain that the security measures are not intrusive or too conspicuous, so they are not too noticeable for the athletes, the Olympics' guests or journalists," Putin said.

"But at the same time, we will do our utmost to ensure that they are effective."

The FBI announced earlier this month they would be sending special agents to Sochi to assist the Russians in counterterrorism. Rep. Mike Rogers, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, also called on the Russian government to be more cooperative with the United States on intelligence sharing ahead of the games.

“Their level of concern is great, but we don't seem to be getting all of the information we need to protect our athletes in the games. I think this needs to change, and it should change soon,” Rogers told CNN's "State of the Union."

Former C.I.A. Director Michael Hayden, however, disagrees with King's assessment.

When asked if he thought Americans would be safe at the upcoming games, Hayden said he trusts Russia's ability to provide security.

Filed under: Angus King • Mike Rogers • Russia
soundoff (47 Responses)
  1. Thomas

    I hope and pray nothing dose happen .

    There is a lot of revenge mindset going around . It's as if we are incapable of living in a world without violence .

    January 19, 2014 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  2. Mart

    Didnt Rommney make an embrasssament of himself by making similar comments at the London games. Since Munich there has only been one bombing at the Olympics and where was that oh yea in the US.

    January 19, 2014 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  3. Eardley Ham Woodbury, MN

    One point–Russia has a record of catching and then executing terrorists. How many terrorist have faced the death penalty in the US?

    January 19, 2014 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  4. midgick

    who the hell are we to tell the Russians that our athletes are not safe when we can't even protect our children in our Public Schools.

    January 19, 2014 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  5. DB Cooper

    Who in their right mind would trust the Russian government do anything right?

    January 19, 2014 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  6. GOP = Greed Over People

    I would be very cautious using perceived/actual crime statistics as a reason not to visit a country.

    In this country, we are immune to the violence, 2 shot at a school on a Tuesday, 4 shot at a shopping mall on a Thursday, 3 shot at a distribution warehouse on a Friday, 3 more shot at a movie theater on Saturday and top it all off, with a killing in church on Sunday morning.

    It happens so often, it no longer even merits a "breaking news" banner in this country.

    Plus, using the "lawmaker's" logic, no elementary school in America is safe!

    January 19, 2014 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  7. Gretchen

    How come so many members on the House and Senate Intelligence committees have none?

    January 19, 2014 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  8. Sig_Adams

    What about the Atlantic Olympics? I seem to recall terrorist bombings there...

    Is the United States too unsafe to host them?

    January 19, 2014 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  9. t

    ....Do ya think Putin is using NSA style tactics to protect the Olympics?...........

    ... and do you think the ATHLETES are ok with it?

    January 19, 2014 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  10. sumedha

    I am a American , we do not give in to terrorists. May be we have some differences with Russia.
    But when it comes to terrorist we are family.
    If we are concern about our Athlete, I think we should talk to president Putin and provide extra security for our athletes.

    January 19, 2014 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  11. don in albuquerque

    @Tampa Tim–Asking any more of Yo would require her to have firing synapses. I think you expect too much.

    January 19, 2014 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  12. J Robinson

    I feel safe because I am free to carry a gun into a movie theater.

    January 19, 2014 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  13. sumedha

    President Putin is a cowboy , He is capable of handling the safety of winter game athletes.
    I think we should ask President Putin, how we can help them to make it a safe game.
    Pls do not give in to terrorists who kill innocent people.

    message from united states of America

    January 19, 2014 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  14. rs

    It is hard to believe Republicans have fallen so out of love with Putin so fast and want to deprive him of a successful show. It really must be noted that no event the size of the Olympics can be made completely safe. Our own Atlanta event, and the German Olympics prove that.
    I just think back to the bravery of nations and the athletes that went to Hitler's Germany, and the valor and strength that athletes like Jesse Owens showed against the face of Nazi racial purity philosophies. Our athletes, and athletes of all nations need to be present to show Putin's anti-gay philosophies for what they are.

    January 19, 2014 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  15. musclecar61

    I would like to think Russia has a handle on security, but I honestly have my doubts and the closer it gets to the games the more I worry for the athletes safety and the visitors. I am inclined to think the US shouldn't sent our people there.

    January 19, 2014 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  16. Synenergy

    Is the United States planning a terrorist attack on the winter Olympics in Sochi Russia?

    January 19, 2014 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  17. musclecar61

    I really have my doubts on the ability to secure the Winter Games I can only hope and pray the athletes and visitors will be safe.

    January 19, 2014 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  18. libs arethick

    America knew there was going to be an attack before 9/11........................but it STILL happened. You were warned about Benghazi but it still happened. You Yanks should know better than any other country that security is NEVER watertight.
    Stop blaming Putin until you can BEGIN to get it right yourselves!

    January 19, 2014 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  19. NameRebecca

    I just can't understand why Russia? Many other Places to hold the winter olympics in America!!! Im very angry... after all the violence to America?????

    January 19, 2014 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  20. DR

    So, he definitely wouldn't go to the Games himself, but he "doesn't think" he'd send his family? Truly a politician. Personal safety first, family second.

    January 19, 2014 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  21. dwicjan

    If I were able, could stand the cold weather and could afford it, I'd love to be there. I'll be watching on TV and praying that the terrorists are kept at bay. Putin is not a very nice person. Remember he is an ex-KBG official Hope he isn't given too much more press coverage. The athletes are the ones I want to see and hear about.

    January 19, 2014 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  22. Jeffery

    Nowhere is "safe". Acts of violence can appear anytime and anywhere. Respect for life is a value disappearing, more and more, everyday.

    January 19, 2014 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
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