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US lawmakers raise safety concerns about Olympics


WASHINGTON (AP) - Members of Congress expressed serious concerns Sunday about the safety of Americans at next month's Olympics in Russia and said Moscow needs to cooperate more on security.

Suicide bombings last month in the southern Russian city of Volgograd, about 400 miles from where the Sochi Games will be held, have contributed to the safety anxiety. Russian President Vladimir Putin has promised that his country will do all it can to ensure a safe Olympics without imposing security measures that are too intrusive.

The State Department has advised Americans who plan to attend the Olympics, which run Feb. 7-23, that they should keep vigilant about security because of potential terrorist threats, crime and uncertain medical care.

"We don't seem to be getting all of the information we need to protect our athletes in the games," said Rep. Mike Rogers, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee. "I think this needs to change, and it should change soon."

But FBI Director James Comey said earlier in January that the Russian government "understands the threat and is devoting the resources to address it."

Rogers, R-Mich., contended that the Russians "aren't giving us the full story about what are the threat streams, who do we need to worry about, are those groups, the terrorist groups who have had some success, are they still plotting? There's a missing gap, and you never want that when you go into something I think as important as the Olympic Games and the security of the athletes, and the participants and those who come to watch."

Rep. Michael McCaul, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, said from Moscow that he planned to be in Sochi on Monday to assess the security situation.

"All the briefings that I've received, from the intelligence community to the FBI and others, indicate that there are serious concerns, and that we need to do a lot to step up security. I do believe Putin is doing a lot of that," said McCaul, R-Texas.

While he said diplomatic security has declared Russian cooperation on safety measures is good, he said "it could be a lot better, and that's one thing I want to press while I'm over here."

Comey, the FBI head, told reporters this month in Washington that "we have been in regular communication - including me personally - with their security organizations to make sure we're coordinating well. I think that we are. We've improved our information sharing on counterterrorism and it's important."

No one has claimed responsibility for the December bombings in Volgograd. But the blasts followed Chechen warlord Doku Umarov's call to launch attacks on the Olympics.

"I would not go, and I don't think I would send my family," said Sen. Angus King, I-Maine.

An insurgency seeking to create an independent Islamic state in the Caucasus has swept the region after two separatist wars in Chechnya. Chechnya's Moscow-backed strongman, Ramzan Kadyrov, claimed Thursday that Umarov was dead, but he offered no proof to the claim he had repeatedly made in the past.

The province of Dagestan, located between Chechnya and the Caspian Sea, about 300 miles east of Sochi, has become the center of the rebellion, with daily shootings and bombings of police and other officials.

Rogers appeared on CNN's "State of the Union" and CBS' "Face the Nation." King was on CNN and McCaul spoke on ABC's "This Week."

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adika3z January 21 2014 at 3:28 AM

hello americans and foreigns people,
do NOT going to ussr russia sochi winter olympics 2014,
forget it about ussr russia,
remember that ussr russia is a very bad evil empire country in the world,
cancelled now,

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harri82856 January 20 2014 at 4:52 PM

You walk outside, you risk your life. You take a drink of water, you risk your life. Nowadays you breath and you risk your life. You don’t have a choice. The only thing you can choose is what you’re risking it for. -

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stukk January 20 2014 at 4:11 PM

I think it would be safer in Russia than in the states because they will be on high alert and I bet Putin has ordered his security forces to shoot first and ask questions later. While here in the US our security has to "respect" the bomber's feelings. They have to cuddle and kissy the terrorist before taking action. And no profiling. If you are a 90 year old granny get ready to be searched while the bearded man in a robe can't be questioned because of possible profiling. I bet Putin's people are allowed to question the guys in robes that look like they're pregnant from the bombs strapped on. And leave old grannys alone! Yep Putin knows how to deal with terrorists... Siberian prision or if they're lucky... firing squad!

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ngagnon558 January 20 2014 at 1:01 PM

if Congress is so concerned about the security, don't allow the athletes to go there.
the russians don't want you opinion on security any more than you would want theirs is the Olympics were here

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memaamber January 20 2014 at 1:01 PM

If you are afraid of terroist ,then they have won ,
stay in your house and cringe when ever some wacked out terroist makes a threat ?that is not the american way ,stand up and be counted ,not whimps like these lawmarkers

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cwebuilder January 20 2014 at 12:53 PM

"We don't seem to be getting all of the information we need to protect our athletes in the games," said Rep. Mike Rogers, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee. "I think this needs to change, and it should change soon."
I as sure they can get all they from Obama.

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cwebuilder January 20 2014 at 12:01 PM

Looks like Putin needs to learn from Obama and Clinton, take out a whole town in order to get one terrorist. Something tells me they will learn fast. and if anyone says anything, he can just say, hey I am president so F.... off.

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John January 20 2014 at 11:21 AM

I wish all the athletes the very best but I will neither be attending OR watching from afar. The games should have been moved for human rights issues purposes. Some may justify the hypocricy but I can't. This news reminds us even more of past terrorist attacks on athletes...shame on the OIC and NBC for not insisting the games be moved.

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cnmcnm January 20 2014 at 10:07 AM

I think it would be BETTER if We - USA - did NOT enter into the Olympics. Safety for our childrent comes FIRST.........

I know this is HARD to understand BUT our country comes FIRST,

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palakers2 January 20 2014 at 10:24 AM

I TOTALLY agree. I have had a bad feeling about this Olympics. I wish the US would drop out !!!

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georgessc January 20 2014 at 9:30 AM

I like that, destroying Mecca, might sugar the bitter taste of the two towers in '91.

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