Homeland Security chairman: Sochi Olympics 'well protected'

The head of the House Homeland Security Committee on Wednesday called the Olympic Village in Sochi “very well fortified and very well protected.” 

Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas) toured the Russian city on Tuesday and shared his observations with CNN a day later.

“What I saw was a very impressive showing of force by the Russian FSB [Federal Security Service] and military down there,” McCaul said. “I think they’re going to have to balance that military might with sort of having more of having an invisible presence so the games can go forward in a more friendly and less hostile environment.” 

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McCaul traveled to Sochi to inspect security operations and meet with officials about how the United States can contribute.

Cooperation between Russia and the U.S. has gotten better, McCaul said, but it could be improved.

“I think the area that needs to be improved is the intelligence-sharing component, which the Russians have not been as candid with us,” he said on CNN. 

The FBI has sent agents to Sochi to help in counterterrorism activities, and the Pentagon has offered to provide military assistance. Two Navy ships stationed in the Black Sea are available, if Americans need to be evacuated. 

President Obama also spoke to Russian President Vladimir Putin by phone on Tuesday to discuss security during the Olympics.

Asked if McCaul was aware of any direct threat to the U.S. Olympic team, he said, “Not to the U.S. Olympic team … there are threats; I can’t go specifically into these, but not to the American team.”

During his tour, McCaul said he saw “wanted” posters for a “black widow,” a female suicide bomber whom Russia suspects might be planning an attack during the Olympics.

At least 10,000 to 15,000 Americans are expected to attend the winter Olympic games, which begin on Feb. 7.