Nightly News   |  February 03, 2010

Ramping up security for Winter Olympics

Counting down to the Olympic Games, Vancouver is putting safety first. NBC's Jim Maceda reports.

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This content comes from a Full-Text Transcript of the program.

BRIAN WILLIAMS, anchor: Now to securing the games. Securing the event against possible attack was the subject of a Cabinet level meeting in the White House situation room today. The Olympics are, of course, a big high-profile potential target. And NBC 's Jim Maceda is in Vancouver with the first look at how they're trying to keep all of this contained and safe. Jim , good evening.

JIM MACEDA reporting: Hi there , Brian . Well, with nine days to go before the games begin, an almost $1 billion security blanket is being put in place, with more Canadian military and police forces deployed here than at any time since World War II . Royal Canadian Mounted Police are locking down whole neighborhoods. Closed circuit cameras are hot and on the lookout. Divers sweep Vancouver 's harbor foot by foot. So far, security officials say, there is no specific threat targeting these winter games .

Mr. MIKE COTE (Canadian Integrated Security Unit): Certainly a terrorist attack , a threat, a seismic event, those are terrible and those who -- those would call for a lot of resources and a lot of deployment.

MACEDA: For added safety, metal detectors and x-ray machines, as well of dozens of sniffer dogs trained to find explosives, will be used at all Olympic venues. But these Olympics will be spread over 4,000 square miles , from the tourist-friendly Vancouver , a city of more than two million, to the resort of Whistler , venue for alpine events.

Mr. ROGER CRESSEY (NBC News Terrorism Analyst): The real problem is not the Olympic facilities, it's potential soft targets : transportation, hotels, any area where large numbers of people are going to gather.

MACEDA: This is not a soft target ?

Mr. MARK BEATY (United States Department of Homeland Security): No. We are -- we're well-postured here.

MACEDA: Here is the new $5 million Olympic Coordination Center , 35 miles away in Bellingham , Washington , where Mark Beaty , the US Department of Homeland Security 's federal coordinator and some 40 other American agents will monitor, with Canadians. traffic, crowds and the games themselves to the north, ready to move forces or equipment, if asked, on a moment's notice.

Mr. BEATY: We are here to secure the borders, protect the country, make sure that the visitors have a safe visit and come home safely.

MACEDA: One of their big concerns, Vancouver 's maze of low-flying sea planes, helicopters and ferries, all ideal terrorist targets. Canadian officials say security here will be serious but as low-profile as possible. The challenge, they say, is making these games safe without suffocating them in that security blanket . Brian , see...