- The Washington Times - Monday, January 28, 2002

More than 2 million spectators, along with nearly 3,500 athletes from 80 countries, are expected to attend the 2002 Olympic Winter Games in Salt Lake City beginning Feb. 8 a logistical nightmare for any law enforcement agency.
But federal, state and local law enforcement authorities believe they are well prepared for what has been described as the single most important sporting event in the world, with the FBI taking a lead role in planning for the security of a venue involving millions of visitors, thousands of athletes and 90 square miles of territory.
Since the International Olympic Committee chose Salt Lake City in June 1995 as the host city for the 2002 games, the FBI has been working with law enforcement authorities throughout the country even designating the Olympics as a national security site because of the number of international spectators, athletes, diplomats and media personnel expected to attend.
The designation, authorized by the president, names the FBI as the lead federal agency for crisis management; the U.S. Secret Service as the lead agency for security planning and execution; and the Federal Emergency Management Agency as the lead agency for consequence management.
What does that mean for the FBI? The bureau is tasked with the responsibility of crisis management, intelligence, hostage rescue and counterterrorism.
"Security preparations have been under way for more than six years, and I am confident that these plans are sound, comprehensive and effectively adjusted for the realities of September 11," FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III said.
"The full resources of the state, local and federal governments are being deployed … and I believe this team is as well-prepared and well-trained as the athletes themselves," Mr. Mueller said, adding that the FBI, the Secret Service, FEMA and other federal, state and local law enforcement are "working with dedication to ensure a safe and successful Winter Olympics."
Over the past six years, since Salt Lake City won the right to host the Winter games, the FBI has participated in several exercises aimed at preparing its agents for any type of crisis situation. Those exercises have included what are described as "tabletop" and "command post" drills, designed to focus on the command structuring of day-to-day events and crisis management for situations involving weapons of mass destruction.
An FBI domestic terrorism conference of senior SWAT team leaders was held, in addition to a field training exercise known as the Wasatch Rings, aimed at evaluating the bureau's ability to confront and react to extreme weather conditions, command and control situations, changing operational plans and interagency coordination for events ranging from day-to-day operations to critical incidents.
In July, the FBI created an intelligence center for the games, a multi-agency organization designed to assist law enforcement agencies in the prevention of terrorist and other major criminal activity directed at the games. The center will coordinate the intelligence efforts of various local, state and federal law enforcement organizations in a centralized location to facilitate the exchange of information.
FBI Headquarters in Washington and agents in the bureau's Salt Lake City field office are coordinating with other intelligence agencies to develop what authorities described as a "coordinated intelligence apparatus" that will address what the bureau called "Olympic requirements."
Invitations were sent to other federal law enforcement and intelligence agencies to staff the center during the games. Preparation of threat assessments to respond to current national and world situations as they relate to the Olympic threat situation continues.
The assessments, initially made weekly, have been conducted daily since the opening of the Olympic Village earlier this month.
FBI agents in Salt Lake City have developed and staffed an Olympic counterterrorism center, made up of two squads, one for Olympic planning and operation and a separate joint terrorism task force. Within the planning and operations squad is an intelligence component.
The goal of the two squads is to "optimally address the counterterrorism and crisis management responsibilities mandated" by the president.


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