- The Washington Times - Monday, February 1, 2016

All eyes will be on Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara for this weekend’s Super Bowl, but football fans won’t be the only ones attentively watching the big game: National security concerns worsened by recent terror attacks in Paris and San Bernardino has prompted 60 different federal, state and local law enforcement agencies to descend on the San Francisco Bay Area, and they’re bringing surveillance gear too sensitive to even talk about.

While the Department of Homeland Security has ultimately been tasked with coordinating operations at the game as it has in years prior, the DHS will be assisted at Super Bowl 50 by the FBI, DEA, TSA, Secret Service, Coast Guard and dozens of other agencies, WIRED reported on Sunday.

Unlike previous locales that have hosted the game, however, the Bay Area already is home to an established, state-of-the-art surveillance infrastructure, the likes of which is will be augmented by equipment that will aim to ensure authorities are aware of all activity in the area, suspicious or otherwise.

Super Bowl aside, regional law enforcement already has access to an arsenal of spy gear that includes a network of thousands of cameras, license-plate readers, cell-phone surveillance systems and software capable of monitoring social media for suspicious activity, WIRED reported.

“Northern California law enforcement is always on the cutting edge of new surveillance technologies,” Matt Cagle, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union’s Northern California office, told WIRED. “With the Super Bowl in town, I would not be surprised if many of the technologies that law enforcement agencies have purchased with federal grants are are taken off the shelf and used.”

“We’re not able to speak on the technological side of what we have,” admitted Albie Esparza, an officer with the San Francisco Police Department.

“The basic bottom line,” he added, “is that our best eyes and ears are the public who come and participate. If someone sees something, we are asking people to say something.”

Following a rash of international attacks attributed to the Islamic State terror group, authorities are taking security concerns at this year’s Super Bowl as serious as ever. A federal law enforcement memo sent out last month warned regional agencies of possible threats after fiber optic lines in the Bay Area have mysteriously been severed in recent weeks.

“The FBI doesn’t take anything for granted and assume everybody knows what the targets are,” retired Assistant Special Agent In Charge Jeffrey Harp told Ars Technica at the time. “So they put these bulletins together as a reminder that there are terrorists out there targeting infrastructure.”

But with more than a million football fans slated to arrive in the Bay Area for Sunday’s game between the Carolina Panthers and Denver Broncos, the officials in charge of running things smoothly acknowledge there’s a hefty task ahead.

“I am not sure I will be able to sleep during this whole thing,” Mike Sena, the director of Northern California Regional Intelligence Center, told CNBC. “My biggest fear is we are going to have something break or not work. There’s always that Murphy’s law — what can go wrong will go wrong.”

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