- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 19, 2014

There was a Cold War chill in the air Sunday as members of Congress raised questions about safety at the Sochi Olympics and then suggested Russia may have been involved in the leaking of sensitive intelligence data.

Sen. Angus King said that the threat of a terror attack at the Sochi Olympics in Russia is high enough that he wouldn’t want his family to attend the games.

“I would not go, and I don’t think I would send my family,” the Maine independent said in an appearance Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “It’s just such a rich target.”

The first-term senator, who serves on the Senate’s Select Committee on Intelligence, said terrorists have “almost broadcast that they’re going to try to do something there.”

Meanwhile, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers suggested that former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden may have been aided by Russians in leaking agency secrets.

“I believe there’s a reason he ended up in the hands, the loving arms, of an FSB agent in Moscow,” said the Michigan Republican on CBS’s “Meet the Press,” adding, “I believe there’s questions to be answered there. I don’t think it was a gee-whiz luck event that he ended up in Moscow under the handling of the FSB.”

Asked if she agreed with Mr. Rogers, Sen. Diane Feinstein, who heads the Senate Intelligence Committee, didn’t rule out the possibility that Mr. Snowden may have received help from the Russians.

“He may well have. We don’t know at this stage. But I think to glorify this act is really to set sort of a new level of dishonor,” said Mrs. Feinstein on “Meet the Press.”

Mr. Rogers also echoed Mr. King’s concerns about the Olympics, which begin Feb. 7, saying, “I am very concerned about the security status of the Olympics.”

“I do believe that the Russian government needs to be more cooperative with the United States when it comes to the security of the games. We have found a departure of cooperation that’s very concerning to me,” said Mr. Rogers on “State of the Union.”

The skepticism on the part of U.S. lawmakers comes as recent bombings in Russia have raised questions about Russian security preparations.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, in an interview Sunday on ABC’s “This Week with George Stephanopoulos,” brushed aside such concerns, saying that some 40,000 law-enforcement personnel will be deployed during the Winter Games.

He said Russian security forces have a “clear understanding of on-the-ground situation that is evolving around Sochi and, overall, in this whole region.”

“We’ll definitely take advantage of all the experience amassed in conducting similar events in other parts of the world and in other countries,” said Mr. Putin. “That means that we’ll protect the air space and the marine water area and the mountainous cluster.”

Concerns over terrorism have prompted the State Department to issue a travel advisory for those planning to attend the Sochi games. Some athletes have prepared by hiring private security teams and setting up their own evacuation plans.

Mr. Putin assured those attending the Winter Games that the security will be stringent, saying that the country has “vast experience” in hosting international events.

“Just like we operated fairly efficiently while holding major political events, meaning G20 and G8, conducting major international sports events such as a recent world track and field meet in Moscow,” said Mr. Putin. “We have vast experience, while we appreciate that we have many diverse challenges to security, we have massive experience in providing security at this kind of event, and we put our experience to good use.”



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