LONDON, Nov. 14 (UPI) -- Washington plans to send 1,000 counterterrorism agents to the London Olympics to protect U.S. athletes and envoys amid rising security concerns, officials said.
The plans -- and Washington's demands for reassurances after the London Organizing Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games conceded it underestimated the number of security guards needed by 50 percent -- irked British officials and anti-terrorism officials, who considered Washington demanding and meddling, Britain's Guardian reported.
"The Americans are risk-averse, with a capital A and underlined. They want to see everything," a British official told the newspaper. "We are not equal partners in this. They want to be on top of everything -- building protection, counterterrorism strategy and VIP security -- everything."
Asked about the size of the planned U.S. security contingent -- which is to include about 500 FBI agents and an equal number of diplomatic security officials, some armed -- the official said, "They don't do things by halves."
U.S. officials expressed concern after assessing Britain's police response to its August riots. Also at issue were a female security guard's arrest near London's 80,000-seat Olympic Stadium in March for having explosives, and the arrest of five street cleaners in an alleged terrorist plot against Pope Benedict XVI shortly before the pope's September 2010 visit to England and Scotland, The Guardian said.
Adding to the U.S. alarm is the European Court of Human Rights' repeal of a section of Britain's 2000 Terrorism Act that had let police stop and search suspects without having to have "reasonable suspicion" an offense had been committed, officials said.
Western intelligence agencies fear al-Qaida or one of its affiliates may try to disrupt the Olympics, and especially target the U.S. team, The Guardian said.
The London Organizing Committee originally said 10,000 security guards were enough to protect the 2012 Summer Olympic Games' 32 sites nationwide. But it now says it will need 20,000 to 21,000.
A problem is, the committee does not have the money to pay for the additional security, The Guardian reported.
The committee contracted with global security-services giant G4S PLC to provide security during the games, which run from July 27 through Aug. 12.
G4S is the world's largest security company, with more than 630,000 employees and operations in more than 125 countries. It is the world's largest private-sector employer after Walmart.
British defense officials believed G4S does not have enough time to qualify 11,000 guards, so they offered 3,000 soldiers and another 2,000 in reserve -- but that's half the number needed to reach 20,000, The Guardian said.
The undercounting also rankled some British officials.
"What have they been doing for the last five years?" one official told the newspaper. "There is less than a year to go and they've only just realized they need twice the number of security guards they first thought? Where is the money to pay for this coming from? It is an extra burden on the defense budget that we could well do without."
London was selected as the host city July 6, 2005.
Adding to British officials' frustration -- senior police had said 10,000 guards were too few, but this fell on deaf ears because of the costs involved, The Guardian said.
The U.S. State Department declined to comment about the matter.
|Additional Sports News Stories|
BURBANK, Calif., May 24 (UPI) --Baz Luhrmann's big-screen adaptation of the classic novel, "The Great Gatsby," has crossed the $100 million mark at the North American box office.
WASHINGTON, May 24 (UPI) --The U.S. Food and Drug Administration says it's taken a close look at a mobile app that analyzes photos of urine samples and has been in contact with its maker.