Rep. Mike Rogers Praises Sochi Security
(WASHINGTON) -- Sunday on This Week -- only a few days after the start of the Sochi Winter Olympic Games -- Republican Rep. Mike Rogers praised efforts by the Russian government to secure the site, but cited intelligence sharing between the United and Russian as a point of weakness.
"First of all the guards, gates, and guns portion of this is really unparalleled for an Olympic games, so the Russians have been very good about that physical security presence, an outer ring and then you have inner rings of security so that what your reporter was discussing is the closest proximity, so you won't see the big guards, gates, and guns. That gets pushed out," Rogers, the House intelligence committee chair, said.
"The other part that I think they've done well is aggressive counterterrorism operations and I think Brian Ross talked about that earlier, they are aggressively pursuing leads that they have, some include kicking in doors and taking people down in the way that they did in Dagestan. That is a preemptive counter terrorism strike to try to secure the games.
Internationally the intelligence…is as good as I've seen it…the Brits are working with the French are working with the United States and everyone in between to try to find to try those pieces of intelligence that might help protect the games. The one last weakness, and this was the tension between Russia and the United States, was that internal sharing of intelligence that we believe would be important," he said.
Concern over security in Sochi has cast a shadow on the event for months. Just this week ABC News reported on the ongoing plot to blow up an airplane during the Olympics.
Asked by Martha Raddatz about the ability of the United States to evacuate American athletes in the event of an emergency, Rogers expressed confidence.
"I think all the preparation that can be done to protect our athletes from a United States perspective is there and it’s exceptionally well done. So I believe that if there is any event that would lead to the evacuation of our athletes, that in fact would happen and would happen orderly and in good order. Again, we were hoping that the Russians would share more internal information on security threats, so the operation in Dagestan is a great example," Rogers said.
"That obviously had some nexus to the games, it would have been helpful I think if we had a full and robust relationship that we could have shared that kind of information so we could have compared it to information that we get from all of our intelligence partners around the world," he said.
For his part, Col. Steve. Ganyard, an ABC news contributor and former Marine, said he was not confident in the ability for the United States to evacuate U.S. athletes quickly if there was a crisis in Sochi.
"I'm not confident. One of the things I think…was most disturbing to the U.S. government is when the U.S. Embassy ran a simulation back in December and said 'what if they're unable to prevent a terrorist attack? How will the Russians deal with that?'" Ganyard said.
"And the Embassy got quite nervous, because they found huge deficiencies in the Russian ability to do medical, to do evacuations, to have communications, to do interoperability. So I think there's a real concern that the Russians have put too much emphasis on prevention and not enough on what happens if something actually happens on the ground," he said.
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