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TSA security agents to be deployed in UK airports for Olympics

Published time: July 17, 2012 00:57
Edited time: July 18, 2012 04:24
Reuters / Jason Reed

Reuters / Jason Reed

The US Transport Security Administration has reportedly prepared its personnel to be deployed in UK airports for the Olympic Games. The US agents will apply their skills to help their UK colleagues bolster security during the event.

­TSA personnel are to arrive at UK air hubs a week before and stay a week after the London Olympics, according to a newly reached agreement between UK’s Department of Transport and the US Transportation Security Administration, Sky News reports.

"This is an added security layer that has been done to help boost and aid the American airlines in particular that fly in and out of the likes of Heathrow and other airports,” says Sky's correspondent.

The agents are not permitted beyond boarding gates or onto UK aircraft. The action is aimed at aiding the US carriers’ security and also that of UK airlines flying in and out of America.

UK’s Olympic security has been questioned on a number of occasions. 

The latest on July 15th, the Observer newspaper reported that since the start of the month, Heathrow immigration staff have missed a number of people on a security watch list whose arrival must be reported to counter-terrorism police or Britain's domestic intelligence service.

Authorities in London are under extreme pressure to provide the necessary security staff after the failure of the private security contractor G4S to deliver personnel to protect Olympic venues. The security personnel provided have had insufficient training and failed to adequately conduct body searches or operate scanners, according to reports.

"I can see so many security loopholes for this event. Security staff are given a very short time for their training and there is a very slack approach," said a whistleblower, an expert in weapons and explosives detection.

Now the UK government has called in an extra 3,500 troops to guard the events in addition to the 7,500 troops already scheduled to provide security at some 100 sensitive sites.

­‘US security presence proves UK's vulnerability’

­The American security presence during the Olympics is fairly insulting to the British government and its security apparatus, Phil Rees, a security expert, told RT.

“It has been such a culture of cutbacks, such a culture of privatizations here, that I think it has left Britain very vulnerable,” he said.

The fact that TSA agents age being brought to British airports makes one wonder about the real threat, he added. British authorities said there is no intelligence on any specific security threat – besides a constant Islamic terror threat, Rees explained. But putting armed soldiers on the streets is not a proper way to combat terrorism, he said.

“If you look at combating terrorism, it’s intelligence that breaks it down – it’s informers, it’s not having a vast number of soldiers on the street,” he said. “I think that’s how the focus should have been on specific threats, and on those people who might endanger those at the games rather than grand security jamboree."

The Olympics should be a celebration of athletics, but have been transformed into the celebration of an international security industry, Rees told RT.

“It was meant to be a sporting occasion that celebrates man’s achievement. What kind of achievement is this if we have got to be almost in a state of war to host it?”

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