Story (In the News)


Dallas Morning News: House Homeland Security chairman McCaul questions security at Olympics

By Ben Kamisar -- The Dallas Morning News

WASHINGTON — Less than three weeks from the Winter Olympic Opening Ceremony, Homeland Security Chair Rep. Michael McCaul, R- Austin, said he’s still concerned about security in Sochi.

“All the briefings I’ve received from the intelligence community to the FBI and others indicate that there are serious concerns and that we need to do a lot to step up security,” he said Sunday during a trip to Russia to assess the security situation for the games. “I think the threats are real.”

One of the many members of the Texas Congressional delegation overseas, McCaul said that Russian President Vladimir Putin is taking security very seriously, but stopped short of saying that the situation was under control. He hesitated when asked by ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos if he would tell his constituents it was safe to go to the games in Sochi, Russia.

Olympic security has been a point of debate over the past few days, after purported terrorists from the Dagestan region in Russia threatened the games in a video. This weekend, NBC News reported that authorities are looking for as many as four female terrorists who could be planning an attack inside Sochi. McCaul noted that the Boston Marathon bombers had ties to Dagestan and added he believed cooperation between the Russians and the U.S. government “could be a lot better.”

The Homeland Security chair also made headlines during the interview by asserting that Edward Snowden, who leaked the National Security Agency programs to the media, was working with a foreign government.

“I don’t think Mr. Snowden woke up one day and had the wherewithal to do it all by himself,” he said. “To say definitively, I can’t answer that, but I personally believe that he was cultivated by a foreign power to do what he did.”

Other abroad Texans include Reps. Kay Granger, R-Fort Worth, and Jeb Hensarling, R-Dallas, who are part of a congressional delegation taking off tomorrow for the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. The delegation is led by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor and looks to meet with world leaders to exchange ideas on global economic growth, security, and potential partnerships.

“The World Economic Forum is an exceptional opportunity to engage directly with heads of state and business leaders from around the world,” Granger said in a statement. “This conference sets the stage for the international community to come together to discuss common challenges, exchange ideas and promote global economic growth.”

Granger chairs the House Appropriations State and Foreign Operations Subcommittee and Hensarling is chairman of the House Financial Services Committee.

Rep. Steve Stockman, R-Clear Lake, spent the weekend in Egypt with a group from the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Stockman, who is running to unseat Sen. John Cornyn, met with Egypt’s interim president and defense minister.

Nick Swartsell contributed to this story.