Jan
24
2014

Concerns over Americans’ safety at Sochi Winter games. #olympics

I find this simultaneously depressing and confusing:

The Wall Street Journal reports that the State Department is “telling American athletes competing in the upcoming Sochi Winter Olympics to avoid wearing team gear outside the games’ venues amid growing concerns over terrorist threats in the Russian resort town.”

According to the Washington Post, the FBI thinks the Russians aren’t listening to their suggestions or accepting their help: “David Rubincam, who served as the FBI’s top representative in Moscow from May 2011 to October 2012, said the Russians have been reluctant to accept American aid in securing Sochi and are suspicious of the offers of assistance.”

Depressing, because I don’t like hearing about how American lives could be at risk. Confusing, because you would think that Vladimir Putin would be sufficiently concerned about getting a black eye at the Games to make sure that every potential troublemaker within a hundred miles would be on ice between now and the closing ceremonies. I mean, he’s a strongman, right? What’s the point of being the Big Boss if you can’t handle the duties?

Moe Lane

PS: This is, by the way, a rare case where the administration’s hands are kind of tied. The Russians are apparently not operating in their own best interests, and they’d probably be just as stupidly touchy if a Republican was in the White House. Treasure this moment of me giving the Obama administration the benefit of the doubt here, folks: it doesn’t happen very often.

11 Comments

  • Luke says:

    Just noting that Putin deals with terrorism rather more seriously, and ruthlessly, than our own President.
    .
    I’ll also note that FBI agents don’t likely have much to offer the the fricking KGB (sorry, NKGB) when it comes to counter-terrorism strategies.
    .
    Putin is a truly evil *bleep*. And I can think of no one else in the world more qualified to arrange security for the Olympics.

  • sicsemperstolidissimum says:

    http://justbarkingmad.com/?p=12679
    .
    Russia has ruthless counter terrorism, and counter intel, yes.
    .
    This probably isn’t what the link is talking about, but there is another factor. Security set up by the Russians can be compromised by Russian intelligence. It isn’t clear to me that they don’t have a substantial number of hold overs from the days when Russia was a state sponsor of terrorism.
    .
    As for Putin, and Russia’s interests, the Russian intelligence services maybe have decided what of their people they are willing to risk. They may not care squat what happens to non-Russians.
    .
    This Administration could have boycotted the Olympics if they were not proper assured that the security would be good enough. Of course, this would require sound risk assessment.
    .
    A strongman might have less rather than more ability to clamp down on terrorism effectively. A security organization that is politically motivated for the purpose of maintaining power will be less effective at counter terrorism, because of splitting of focus, corruption, and internal politics getting to be a matter of higher stakes.

    • jetty says:

      Security can be compromised by the Americans as well. If I was in Putin’s position, I’d keep the Obama Administration at arm’s length.

  • jetty says:

    A bomb went off at the Atlanta Olympics, and more recently, at the Boston Marathon. And with regards to the Boston bombing, it was the Russians that gave the Americans intelligence about Mat and Joker Tsarnaev.

  • acat says:

    There’s a real basic point here y’all overlook.
    .
    Terrorist scum attack *soft* targets, targets they know won’t retaliate either with brutal efficiency or even with poorly-aimed ridiculously overpowered flailing.
    .
    In short, terrorists won’t hit regimes they *fear*.
    .
    Obama has taught them that there’s nothing to fear, other than a few surgical-strike drones.
    .
    Until we change that out for either Russian-style brutal efficiency (Terrorist was from {Village}? Level {Village}) or poorly-aimed flailing (Terrorists were from Saudi? Send troops to occupy Iraq!) that make things *significantly worse* for supporters of terrorism, we’re stuck with hiding.
    .
    Nobody else here remember when American kids were told to wear Canadian flags in Europe?
    .
    Mew

    • Moe_Lane says:

      …I would point out that there was a remarkable shortage of terrorist attacks directed at this country once GWB demonstrated that he was perfectly happy to pick up various regimes and smash them against the wall until all the other regional strongmen got the point. There is something to be said for ‘poorly-aimed flailing,’ in other words.

      • acat says:

        I do hope my desire for marginally more precise aim than GWB achieved wasn’t taken as a condemnation of him or his overall foreign policies.
        .
        Mew

  • bensdad00 says:

    Its ever so misleading to keep comparing the numbers of FBI personnel present at Games held on US soil to the possible Russian contingent. Almost like the FBI had an agenda beyond keeping people safe…
    Nowhere are numbers for Greece or London mentioned in the article…seems that information would be more relevant than dredging up Salt Lake City and Atlanta.

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