News / USA

    Upcoming US Super Bowl Causes Huge Security Concerns

    Members of the FBI SWAT team keep watch inside the NFL Experience, Feb. 2, 2016, in San Francisco.
    Members of the FBI SWAT team keep watch inside the NFL Experience, Feb. 2, 2016, in San Francisco.

    Related Articles

    Column: China, Espionage and the Law of Cyberwar

    US says hacking attack from inside China stole millions of private government documents. Is it an act of war, or just plain spying?

    Russia Plays Big Role in Cyber Spying, Hacking

    Hacking, which the White House says points to Moscow, poses growing security risk for the West, according to analysts

    China's Cyber Espionage Case a Guide to Hacking

    Lengthy US indictment reads like a teaching manual of how hackers do what they do

    Fans of American football are busily gearing up for one of the most anticipated events on this year’s sports calendar: the 50th annual Super Bowl, this year pitting Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers against Peyton Manning’s Denver Broncos.

    As the capstone event of the National Football League season, this Sunday’s Super Bowl has already drawn huge numbers of fans to host city San Francisco and will likely be among the most watched TV events in the U.S. this year. But it’s also bringing in near-record numbers of security personnel from around the country to shield the stadium and surrounding areas from any possible terrorist attack.

    “This is clearly one of the biggest security events this year,” says Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX). “It’s an event on the global stage, in the United States, and that makes it a high-profile target for a lot of terror groups.” As chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, Rep. McCaul keeps a tight watch on security threats in general, and those that surround specific events like the Super Bowl. Those threats can take nearly any form, he says, offering as an example multiple reports of fiber optic cables being severed in areas adjacent to the stadium.

    “Maybe it’s vandalism, or maybe someone is looking at cutting power or communications during the game,” McCaul told VOA. “Either way, the FBI is already looking into that.”

    The list of possible attack vectors a terrorist could use at a major event like the Super Bowl is lengthy, if a little chilling. Guns and bombs, to be sure, but what about the release of Anthrax spores in the stadium, or a drone spraying deadly Sarin gas?

    Rep. McCaul says every possibility needs to be considered. “We just saw in Paris that terrorists are very interested in targeting major sporting events,” he said, referencing the November attacks outside the Stade de France during a soccer game.

    The entrance to Levi's Stadium is decorated with images of Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning, left, and Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton, Feb 2, 2016 in Santa Clara, Calif.
    The entrance to Levi's Stadium is decorated with images of Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning, left, and Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton, Feb 2, 2016 in Santa Clara, Calif.

    Threats evolving

    Terror threats, he says, are always evolving; the key to safeguarding the nation is keeping in front of those threats. To aid that effort, McCaul has authored a newly published book titled "Failures of Imagination: The Deadliest Threats to our Homeland -- and How to Thwart Them."

    The title refers to the central conclusion of the U.S. 9/11 Commission which investigated the terror attacks of September 11th, 2001. The commission found "the most important failure [of the 9/11 attacks] was one of imagination."

    “I think the phrase itself is provocative, and there’s a reason why the 9/11 commission used it,” McCaul told VOA. “I believe we’re now in the highest threat environment since 9/11. And I think their advice is still relevant: that we need to imagine what could happen in order to prevent another attack.”

    The book explores five possible scenarios that national security analysts warn the U.S. is largely unprepared for; each capable of overwhelming the nation. Among them are a bioterror attack at Walt Disney World, a massacre at the Mall of America, and a massive cyberattack targeting the nation’s power grid. It’s this scenario, said McCaul, that keeps him awake at night.

    “Envision the power grid for the Northeast is shut down for more than a few days – that would take us back to primitive times,” McCaul said. In the book, the terrorists also used flash trades to crash the stock market – that would cause both economic chaos and physical chaos when you go dark.

    “We’ve seen Russia demonstrate this in the past. They shut down Estonia, and now they’re doing some of the same tactics in Ukraine. We don’t want to see that same aggression pointed at the U.S.,” he said.

    While tight security at large political events – like the recent U.N. Conference on Climate Change or this summer’s U.S. political conventions – has been a given for decades, increasingly it’s becoming a fact of life at numerous sporting events or music concerts as well. McCaul says he expects that will continue for some time to come.

    Rep. McCaul says, whether at airports or power grids or events like the Super Bowl, terrorists are always looking for new ways to cause damage and create havoc.

    “The threats always evolve,” he said. “It’s important that we always evolve and stay in front of the threat, and certainly cybersecurity is very much in that space.” 


    Doug Bernard

    dbjohnson+voanews.com

    Doug Bernard covers cyber-issues for VOA, focusing on Internet privacy, security and censorship circumvention. Previously he edited VOA’s “Digital Frontiers” blog, produced the “Daily Download” webcast and hosted “Talk to America”, for which he won the International Presenter of the Year award from the Association for International Broadcasting. He began his career at Michigan Public Radio, and has contributed to "The New York Times," the "Christian Science Monitor," SPIN and NPR, among others. You can follow him @dfrontiers.

    You May Like

    Post-White House, Obamas to Rent Washington Mansion

    Nine-bedroom home is 3 kilometers from Oval Office, near capital's Embassy Row; rent estimated at around $22,000 a month

    Red Planet? Not so much!

    New research suggest that Mars is in a warm period between cyclical ice ages, and that during Ice Age Maximum over 500,000 years ago, the red planet was decidedly ice, and much whiter to the naked eye.

    Taj Mahal Battles New Threat from Insects

    Swarms of insects are proliferating in the heavily contaminated waters of the Yamuna River, which flows behind the 17th century monument

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: meanbill from: USA
    February 03, 2016 10:42 AM
    Remember when the president and European leaders said Americans and Europeans would continue to live their lives like before and not let the terrorist fears change the way they lived? .. They weren't being truthful, were they? .. US and European security has improved a thousand fold, and they still fear a terrorist attack, and everybody with common sense knows that's not the way we lived before, was it?

    Since 2009 when Obama changed the US strategy to fight the terrorists, the terrorists have become a real world power with a Caliphate and are spreading everywhere, and attacking people and countries worldwide with impunity, and the only countries combating the terrorists on the battlefields now are the 3rd world armies of Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria, with close in air support from Russia and with minor air support from the US and their allies, [and after 15 years of the US war on terror], the terrorists are still undefeated and now a real world power? .. You'd think the US could've defeated some terrorist group in 15 years, wouldn't you? .. But no? .. they left that job to the 3rd world armies of Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria? .. didn't they?

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Chinese Americans for Trump Going Against National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese Americans for Trump Going Against National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnam

    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video First-generation, Afghan-American Student Sets Sights on Basketball Glory

    Their parents are immigrants to the United States. They are kids who live between two worlds -- their parents' homeland and the U.S. For many of them, they feel most "American" at school. It can be tricky balancing both worlds. In this report, produced by Beth Mendelson, Arash Arabasadi tells us about one Afghan-American student who seems to be coping -- one shot at a time.
    Video

    Video Newest US Citizens, Writing the Next Great Chapter

    While universities across the United States honor their newest graduates this Friday, many immigrants in downtown Manhattan are celebrating, too. One hundred of them, representing 31 countries across four continents, graduated as U.S. citizens, joining the ranks of 680,000 others every year in New York and cities around the country.
    Video

    Video Vietnam Sees Strong Economic Growth Despite Incomplete Reforms

    Vietnam has transformed its communist economy to become one of the world's fastest-growing nations. While the reforms are incomplete, multinational corporations see a profitable future in Vietnam and have made major investments -- as VOA's Jim Randle reports.
    Video

    Video Qatar Denies World Cup Corruption

    The head of Qatar’s organizing committee for the 2022 World Cup insists his country's bid to host the soccer tournament was completely clean, despite the corruption scandals that have rocked the sport’s governing body, FIFA. Hassan Al-Thawadi also said new laws would offer protection to migrants working on World Cup construction projects. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Infrastructure Funding Puts Cambodia on Front Line of International Politics

    When leaders of the world’s seven most developed economies meet in Japan next week, demands for infrastructure investment world wide will be high on the agenda. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push for “quality infrastructure investment” throughout Asia has been widely viewed as a counter to the rise of Chinese investment flooding into region.
    Video

    Video Democrats Fear Party Unity a Casualty in Clinton-Sanders Battle

    Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton claimed a narrow victory in Tuesday's Kentucky primary even as rival Bernie Sanders won in Oregon. Tensions between the two campaigns are rising, prompting fears that the party will have a difficult time unifying to face the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Portrait of a Transgender Marriage: Husband and Wife Navigate New Roles

    As controversy continues in North Carolina over the use of public bathrooms by transgender individuals, personal struggles with gender identity that were once secret are now coming to light. VOA’s Tina Trinh explored the ramifications for one couple as part of trans.formation, a series of stories on transgender issues.
    Video

    Video Amerikan Hero Flips Stereotype of Middle Eastern Character

    An Iranian American comedian is hoping to connect with American audiences through a film that inverts some of Hollywood's stereotypes about Middle Eastern characters. Sama Dizayee reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora