The U.S. government is assembling a massive security force to protect the 1996 Summer Olympic Games in Atlanta from domestic and foreign attacks, an FBI official said Tuesday.
“Expertise in intelligence gathering, terrorist threats, chemical and biological warfare, will all be required if we are to provide for the public safety at the Summer Olympics,” Robert Blitzer, the FBI’s Domestic Terrorism/Counterterrorism Planning Section chief told the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Security has been a top concern at the Olympics since 11 Israeli athletes were killed at the 1972 games in Munich by members of the Black September group who captured them in the Olympic village.
About 2,500 federal law enforcement officials will watch for the athletes’ security, including 900 from the FBI, and 11,000 military personnel, Blitzer said.
About that use of the military . . .
An Arizona senator who has led a one-man campaign to limit Pentagon involvement in the Olympics charged Tuesday that the organizers of the games are “ripping off the American taxpayers.”
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., told a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing that using soldiers for such tasks as chauffeuring athletes and bringing water to irrigate the turf at a field hockey arena is “demeaning and degrading” to military personnel.
“Security is the last refuge of the scoundrels running these Olympic Games and ripping off the American taxpayers,” said McCain.
Congress has provided about $51 million to the Defense Department in the past several years for security assistance to the Atlanta Olympics.
With little more than five weeks to go before the Atlanta Games, organizers are $150 million in the hole--and optimistic they’ll raise the cash.
“We have a few more tickets left to sell,” said Billy Payne, head of the Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games. “Much of the remaining revenue is sales of beverages and food and the like.”
“We’ll pay our bills,” Payne said.
Last call for Olympic visitors will remain at 4 a.m. Mayor Bill Campbell vetoed an ordinance allowing 24-hour alcohol sales during the Games.
The ordinance would have allowed bars and restaurants with liquor licenses to get special permits for round-the-clock sales beginning June 15 and running through Aug. 31, past the end of the Paralympic Games.
Campbell said Tuesday he vetoed the ordinance because it set a bad example for children.