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National security expert weighs in on Sochi concerns

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CNY/NNY/S. Tier: National security expert weighs in on Sochi concerns
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Russia is increasing security in Sochi ahead of the winter Olympics. Our Sarah Blazonis tells us why the U.S. may face limits when it comes to protecting American spectators in case of an emergency.

WORLDWIDE -- Video threats made against the Sochi games by suicide bombers who struck a nearby city. Fliers warning hotels and tourists to keep an eye out for three potential female suicide bombers. These are some of the reasons for security concerns ahead of the Olympics, but Bill Smullen says it's areas surround the games that could be the most vulnerable.

"It would be a soft target outside the Olympic Village. Doesn't say they can't attack the Olympic Village, too, but I think that's going to be a lot more difficult," said Smullen, a retired Army Colonel, former State Dept. Chief of Staff, and current Director of National Security Studies at SU's Maxwell School.

Smullen says members of the American Olympic team will be heavily guarded, with U.S. forces on standby to evacuate them in case of an emergency. But they'd need the okay from Moscow before they could act.

"The United States could not just unilaterally just impose its support or its personnel on the ground if not allowed access to the ground," Smullen said.

The State Department issued a travel advisory for spectators headed to the games, but Smullen says how much the U.S. could protect residents in the event of an attack would again be up to the Russian government.

"Heretofore, they have been rather reluctant to share information, they have been very reluctant to accept offers of support," said Smullen.

Smullen says the current situation wouldn't stop him from attending the games, and while threats against Sochi should be taken seriously, they may not be the last to get this kind of attention.

"We need to be strong, we need to be vigilant, we need to put our best foot forward with regard to good security, and this is going to be true wherever the Olympic Games are held in years to come," he said.

Smullen also notes that no specific threats were made against Americans but again, it's urged that all tourists in that region use extra caution.

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