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EXCLUSIVE: China gets U.S. Olympics help
Jennifer Windsor, director of Freedom House in New York, said the U.S. government should not be helping China’s military and security forces because of the handling of protests in Tibet.
“Chinese citizens are in prison right now specifically because they dared to criticize the decision to allow a brutal dictatorship to host the games. It would be a shame if U.S. technology, meant to protect our athletes, was instead used to tighten the screws on pro-democracy dissidents,” she said.
Mr. Gallegos said the United States has urged China “to seize the opportunity to put its best face forward and respect universal principles of human rights, including freedom of expression.”
“The games provide China with an opportunity to demonstrate greater openness and tolerance,” he said. “We continue to call on China to respect the human rights of its citizens and to carry out its commitments as host of the games.”
Mary Beth Markey, a vice president with the International Campaign for Tibet, said protecting the security of athletes at the Olympics is “paramount,” considering the use of terrorism in Munich, where 11 Israeli athletes and coaches were slain in 1972.
“Having said that, I also think that we have to be very careful with sharing sensitive technology with China,” she said.
Some U.S. officials, including those who question the legality and ethics of the support, said China plans to dispatch the 38th Group Army to Beijing for the games. The army group, with about 25,000 troops, took part in the 1989 crackdown in Tiananmen Square, when troops opened fired on unarmed pro-democracy protesters, killing hundreds or thousands.
One defense official said three of the 38th’s divisions have been moved to the Beijing area in case of violent protests. The divisions were identified as the 112th, 113th and 114th divisions. The total number of soldiers from the three divisions is about 30,000 troops.
The U.S. security support began in February after eight FBI agents were dispatched to Beijing to assess China’s Olympic security efforts. Several of them had taken part in the federal security effort for the 2002 Olympics in Utah, during which about 5,000 U.S. Army troops were on standby to respond to any mass-casualty attack.
The FBI agents in Beijing discovered shortly after arriving that they would be working with the Chinese military, specifically the General Staff Department of the People’s Liberation Army, raising questions about violations of the 2000 law limiting military exchanges with China.
Homeland Security spokesman Russ Knocke said that while security will overwhelmingly be handled by Chinese authorities, the department will provide security specialists from several agencies.
“The U.S. Secret Service is expected to have the largest presence, in terms of personnel, on the ground for dignitary protection,” he said.
The Transportation Security Administration will help the Chinese coordinate with local authorities and airlines for Federal Air Marshals coverage on various flights.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement attaches will have a presence, and the U.S. Coast Guard will have a liaison officer in Beijing to provide assistance and expertise if requested by local authorities.
“From an intelligence perspective, we will be watching the threat picture very closely, as always, from our headquarters in Washington, D.C.,” Mr. Knocke said.