Vancouver Olympics: Security Concerns VS Conspiracy Theories

Safety measures during The Games already in question

by: James Di Fiore

Let’s imagine for a moment a young woman was hired to babysit a couple of kids in England. She had a decent reputation, seemed to know what she was doing and came recommended. Unfortunately, she also had a habit of leaving the children unattended. While babysitting a brother and sister in downtown London, a criminal broke into the house and kidnapped the two kids while the woman was asleep at the switch.

Would you then hire this woman to take care of an entire nursery school in Canada? Probably not.

With the Vancouver Olympics kicking off today, organizers have hired Verint Systems Inc. to handle all security for The Games. On the surface, Verint seems like a solid pick. They are at the forefront of video and communications solutions, providing what they call “optimization and security intelligence.” The parent company, Comverse, had a plummeting stock value over the last few years and was seen as a has-been in the world of top-tier security systems. Why? They were responsible for the faulty surveillance equipment in the London Underground during the terrorist attacks on 7/7. The worst terror attack on British soil since the IRA’s heyday and Verint was essentially responsible for a complete system failure, preventing authorities from accessing crucial images and footage of the alleged bombers. The failure, which authorities have declined to explain ever since the attack, made investors nervous and almost dismantled the company’s security division.

That is, until Canada came calling.

Verint was given the contract to handle airport security during the Games, a curious decision given the systemic failures in London. The Internet is now loaded with posts from a litany of conspiracy theorists who are claiming this decision means Vancouver is now a target of what’s called a false flag operation – a government staged terror attack meant to mislead citizens into believing their country is under attack, likely by Muslim extremists. One must be careful however, as these same X-Files junkies will cling to just about anything to believe their liberties are under attack. One quick example is the often cited no-bid contract awarded to Verint for Montreal’s Metro system. Conspiracy theorists claim this is the handiwork of Mossad and the CIA to continue state terror attacks like the 7/7 bombings. A quick search, however, reveals that this contract was given way back in 2004, a full year before 7/7.

An easier angle to take is this: why on Earth would officials award the most important security project in recent Canadian history to a company that has proven itself unreliable during an actual security crisis? Forget conspiracy theories, this just doesn’t make practical sense.

Adding to the flavour is the recent discovery of 2 tons of missing ammonium nitrate from a shipyard in Surrey, British Columbia – the same explosive used to bomb federal building in Oklahoma City in 1995. Authorities believe the material went missing last fall and have stated they have no leads in the case.

While conspiracy theorists do their best to connect dots that may or may not exist, reasonable people still have legitimate reasons to be concerned about security in Vancouver. Estimates for costs of overall security during the Olympics ranges from $250 million to over $4 billion, depending on who and when you ask.

Whatever the costs, there is already good reason to worry about the safety of the people and reliability those in charge of protecting them.

Time will tell if the babysitter hired to take care of the kiddies has learned from her past mistakes.



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