Home News Testimony The 2002 Olympics - Cooperation Between Federal, State, Local, and Private Agencies to Address Public Safety Concerns ...
  • Dale L. Watson
  • Assistant Director, FBI
  • Federal Bureau of Investigation
  • Before the Senate Judiciary Committee
  • Washington, DC
  • May 31, 2001

Good afternoon, Senator Hatch, members of the Committee, and law enforcement colleagues. It is a pleasure to be with you today to discuss security preparations for the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, Utah. As you know from my previous briefings in Washington, D.C., major special events are a high priority for the FBI. We have been heavily involved in coordinated threat assessment and security proceedings for the 2002 Winter Olympics. Today, I'd like to concentrate my remarks on the Olympic Counterterrorism Center, the Olympic Joint Terrorism Task Force, and Command Post and Field Training exercises, as they relate to interagency cooperation and public safety.

As the lead federal agency responsible for crisis management, intelligence, hostage rescue, and the investigation of acts of terrorism, the FBI is resolved to continuing to promote effective interagency cooperation. Collectively, our goal is to ensure that all reasonable preparations and contingency plans are in place to create an environment throughout Salt Lake City, the state of Utah, and the entire nation in which we may host a safe and successful 2002 Winter Olympic Games. In that regard, let me assure you that we have been working diligently and continuously with our colleagues and counterparts at the federal, state and local levels. I am particularly pleased to be here today with representatives of two of our key federal partners, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the United States Secret Service, as well as, of course, Deputy Attorney General Thompson and United States Attorney Warner.

Since the International Olympic Committee (IOC) selected Salt Lake City to stage the 2002 Winter Olympic Games on June 19, 1995, the FBI has undertaken significant counterterrorism planning in an effort to help ensure the safety and security of this major international sporting event. Leading the FBI's planning efforts in Salt Lake City is SAC Don Johnson, an active member of the Utah Olympic Public Safety Command (UOPSC). He is assisted in this effort by the FBI's Olympic Planning Squad which addresses all matters relating to FBI involvement, interagency cooperation, and support to the Games. The members of this squad are assigned full time to Olympic planning and are directly responsible for coordinating programs in the areas of: theater wide tactical planning, public safety training, communications systems, infrastructure protection, intelligence, weapons of mass destruction, explosive ordinance disposal, aviation support, media affairs, and accreditation, as well as numerous other Olympic planning functions.

With attendance anticipated to be in the millions, the participation of some 3,500 athletes from over 80 nations, and daily support provided by over 20,000 organizers and planners, the 2002 Olympic Winter Games easily qualifies as a world class sporting event. Coverage by over 9,000 media representatives broadcasting to a television audience in excess of 3.5 billion viewers will catapult these Games onto the world stage. Planning for the public safety and security of the Games has required an unprecedented level of cooperation and coordination among the myriad of local, state and federal law enforcement entities with responsibilities associated with the Games. There exists an unquestioned consensus among these agencies that it is impossible for any single law enforcement agency to possess all the resources required and expertise necessary to accomplish this task alone.

Planning for the public safety and security essential for hosting a safe and successful Games has long been recognized as every agency's primary objective. However, in the process of planning for the realization of this goal I believe that each of the law enforcement agencies involved has already accomplished something of equal importance. I am speaking of the partnerships that have been created at all levels of law enforcement which have been required to advance the Olympic public safety and security planning process. These partnerships will exist as a legacy long after the 17 days of the XIX Olympiad have past. I would like to briefly illustrate for you today how these partnerships have been built and how they have served to create a truly integrated Olympic Public Safety and Security Plan.

The Olympic Counterterrorism Center:

From the outset each agency recognized, due to the unique jurisdictional, legislative and budgetary issues as well as widely different agency capabilities, that Olympic public safety and security planning would require an immense amount of interagency communication and cooperation. In 1998, in the spirit of interagency cooperation, the FBI entered into a multi-year lease for office space to house the Olympic Coordination Center, Olympic Counterterrorism Center, the FBI Critical Incident Command Post, and the Joint Operations Center. This facility houses representatives of state, local, and federal agencies in a coordinated effort to address Olympic planning, preparation, and execution. To further this communication, the FBI has requested Top Secret security clearances for fifty local, state and federal partners to alleviate in advance any impediment to the open and complete sharing of information which may impact Olympic public safety.

The Olympic Joint Terrorism Task Force:

Another planning and operational requirement identified early on in the process was the need to combine and coordinate law enforcement capabilities from agencies at all levels to be able to rapidly assess threats and investigate significant incidents during the games. In May 2000, the FBI established the Olympic Joint Terrorism Task Force (OJTTF). The OJTTF is currently comprised of over 40 full and part-time local, state, and federal law enforcement officers and agents representing dozens of agencies and jurisdictions. Task forces, by design, are excellent vehicles for bringing to bear the specialized resources of each member's parent agency. The OJTTF is capable of collecting and analyzing intelligence, and investigating matters in virtually any jurisdiction at any level. This ability has been proven to enhance law enforcement efforts across the country and will serve to greatly enhance Olympic public safety and security operations. Again, the FBI has requested Top Secret clearances for all members of the OJTTF to better facilitate this joint working environment.

Command Post and Field Training Exercises:

Other than the military, perhaps no other public entity understands as well as law enforcement the profound impact and absolute necessity of quality training. Moving from the conceptual stages of Olympic public safety and security planning to operational readiness demands that all plans be tested in concert in an effort to identify areas that may need to be revised or enhanced. In November 2000, the FBI in close coordination with UOPSC invited all Olympic public safety planners to participate in a Command Post Exercise (CPX) designed primarily to test interagency communications and information flow in a limited nonoperational setting. This exercise was prefaced by initial training by all agencies on advanced information systems that will be utilized during the games.

In April 2001, after analyzing lessons learned in November and improving the plan, a full scale Field Training Exercise (FTX) was again jointly hosted by the FBI and all members of UOPSC. This exercise, involving more than 1,600 persons over a three-day period, tested all aspects of the Olympic public safety and security plan. Unlike the CPX, the FTX not only tested concepts and theoretical procedures, it fully exercised actual physical responses to threats and staged incidents as may occur during the games. This afforded all participating agency personnel the opportunity to fulfill their role in the overall plan simultaneously. Tactical teams exercised strategic assaults while investigators gathered evidence and processed crime scenes. Crisis management specialists coordinated with consequence management officials to first control, then manage, then mitigate the effects of a major hazardous materials incident. Federal venue security designers and local venue commanders worked together to manage a wide variety of incidents occurring at actual Olympic venues. And, as in November, the FTX afforded personnel from all agencies the opportunity to further refine their skills on Olympic information systems which provide the backbone for interagency communication during the Games. Continuing to provide quality training, the Salt Lake City Division will be hosting a weapons of mass destruction conference in Salt Lake City in June and is contemplating hosting another command post exercise in the fall of this year.


In closing, I would like to express my sincere appreciation for the support afforded by this committee to the FBI and all law enforcement agencies engaged in the partnership that is Olympic public safety and security planning. I would also like to express my appreciation and admiration of the professionalism which law enforcement and public safety personnel at all levels have demonstrated throughout this process. With 253 days remaining before the Olympic flame enters the stadium, I believe we are already realizing one of the greatest benefits of the Games: the ability to bring people together; in this case the ability for law enforcement agencies in Utah and across the nation to exponentially magnify their effectiveness by working together. I am confident that all agencies join me in hoping that our first great dividend of this ability will be a safe and secure XIX Olympiad.

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