Troops boosted as minister denies surveillance glitch
Athens ordered a major boost in military involvement in security for the Olympic Games, as Greece’s public order minister denied reports yesterday of problems with its massive Olympic surveillance system. An additional 35,000 military personnel have been assigned for «secondary» duties to free up the 70,000 police and soldiers already detailed to guard Olympic sites in Athens and three other Greek cities. Police spokesman Col. Lefteris Economou told The Associated Press the additional manpower will be used to guard railroad stations, borders and other areas, mainly outside Athens. «The theater of operations is the entire country… the entire military is on alert,» Economou said. Public Order Minister Giorgos Voulgarakis denied reports that the city’s elaborate surveillance system is not fully operational. The Athens daily Ta Nea reported that 20 percent of surveillance images from street cameras and other sensors will be lost because of delays in wiring up the monitoring equipment and problems with the command center created to gather all the information. «There is no problem with the system,» Public Order Minister Giorgos Voulgarakis said after an Olympic planning meeting with Premier Costas Karamanlis as well as Games and city officials. «The security systems that Greece has purchased are in full deployment, they are all working smoothly, and the personnel who are using them have become familiarized with them,» he said. Athens’s massive surveillance grid, with 1,300 cameras, spy vans, underwater sensors, chemical «sniffers» and an airship, is at the heart of the security program. The San Diego-based Science Applications International Corp, or SAIC, is heading the security contract. «I want to say that for security issues we have done whatever is humanly possible to offer the appropriate environment for a grand sporting event,» Voulgarakis said.