With just 19 days to go until the Opening Ceremonies of the 2014 Sochi Winter Games, security at the event remains a hot topic. In their respective appearances on various Sunday shows today, three members of Congress joined the conversation and voiced concern of their own.
Previous concerns over security threats in Sochi include the resort town's proximity to the Caucasus Mountains and the Islamist insurgency centered in the province of Dagestan, about 300 miles east of the coastal host city. Chechen rebel leader Doku Umarov, the highly-sought terrorist who was supposedly killed on Friday (though it has not been verified), called on his followers to disrupt the Games with "maximum force."
Two bombings also occurred late last month in Volgograd, located about 430 miles northeast of Sochi. No group has claimed responsibility for the attacks, but The Washington Post notes that they followed Umarov's call to followers. Today, a video that was posted on a Jihadi forum website surfaced in which the two men shown level a direct threat to tourists coming to Sochi.
Representative Mike Rogers (MI), chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, appeared on CNN's State of the Union today and said that Russians working with the committee are "not giving us the full story" about threat streams and whether terrorist groups who have successfully carried out plans are still plotting.
Sochi 2014 Organizing Committee head Dmitry Chernyshenko, however, has said that despite the threat of terrorism, security is a top priority and promised "here in Sochi everybody will be protected.”
Also appearing on State of the Union Sunday was Senator Angus King (I-ME), who said “I would not go and I don’t think I would send my family.” King also called Sochi a "rich target" in an area that's been directly threatened.
House Homeland Security Committee chairman Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX), meanwhile, is planning to be in Sochi tomorrow to take a look at the security situation and said that though Russian cooperation on safety measures is good, there's room for improvement and some "serious concerns" from briefings he's read.
McCaul claims "we need to do a lot to step up security" but added that he believes Russian President Vladimir Putin is "doing a lot of that."
The Opening Ceremony for the Sochi Olympiad will air on NBC in primetime on Feb. 7.