American officials have serious concerns over security arrangements for the London 2012 Olympics, and are planning to send as many as 1,000 U.S. security personnel to help keep American teams and diplomats safe, according to a report in The Guardian.
The article says U.S. officials have expressed mounting concern over what they view as inadequate private security staffing plans for the 32 Olympic sites in Britain, and are planning to send the additional 1,000 personnel, which could include as many as 500 FBI agents.
The American concern and the intention to send so many "boots on the ground" has, in turn, sparked indignation by British officials who resent the perceived meddling, and worry about how prominent a "footprint" U.S. security agents will have during the London games.
According to the Guardian, U.S. officials are particularly concerned with plans to ease normal "stop and search" measures implemented around the U.K. capital to try and deter terrorists and derail plots before they're executed.
At the heart of the matter is a contract the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (Locog) - which is in charge of staging the actual events and keeping those taking part safe and happy - signed with private security firm G4S. While the largest police force in the world, Scotland Yard, will be in charge of keeping the entire city of London safe during the games, security at the actual Olympic venues falls to G4S; duties like ticket checks, bag checks and event monitoring.
G4S and Locog agreed a contract which would station 10,000 security guards at and around the Olympic venues, and that is what they have budgeted for. The problem is, upon conducting a security review over the summer, and in agreement with many previous warnings, Locog now accepts that almost twice as many guards will be needed to secure the Olympics.
A British security source familiar with the Olympic security plans confirms the Guardian's report to CBS News, saying the final figure of private security guards will be closer to 20,000, rather than the budgeted 10,000.
But there's no money left in the pot to pay for another 10,000 security staff - which would likely push the bill up by hundreds of millions of dollars.
Locog is now scrambling to address the shortfall, and the security source confirms the committee has gone to Britain's military seeking any deployments available during the games, in addition to seeking private sector help and volunteers.
The source tells CBS News the military has agreed to provide about 3,000 personnel, but if they have to give more, "it will be a choice between the Olympics, or Afghanistan."
The source also confirms that American officials are not happy with the security arrangements.
"The Americans don't do risk management, they do risk elimination," the source tells CBS News in London. "They will want to track down every single lead, no matter how crazy it is, until it's bottomed out."
An official who spoke to The Guardian made it clear there were differing opinions on either side of the Atlantic, and relationships were being strained.
"The Americans are risk-averse, with a capital A and underlined. They want to see everything. We are not equal partners in this. They want to be on top of everything - building protection, counter-terrorism strategy and VIP security - everything," the official, who was not named, told the newspaper.
British government officials responded to the report Monday morning by standing by their Games planners. An official told Sky News the government still has "full confidence" in security plans for the London 2012 Olympics.
"Ministers and officials from across government are working closely with the police and Locog to ensure we have a robust safety and security strategy," a government official told The Guardian.