Unprecedented security for Olympics

(CBS News) LONDON - In London, where the Olympics begin in 83 days, tens of thousands were on hand for the opening of the stadium that will be the centerpiece of the Summer Games. The British government has been flaunting its unprecedented security. CBS News correspondent Elizabeth Palmer reports.

It was part rehearsal and part show of force -- with hardware normally reserved for the battlefield on very public display.

The message to terrorists: Don't even think about attacking the London Games.

So how seriously is the British government's commitment to Olympic security? Well, it's sailing the largest carrier in the British naval fleet, the H.M.S. Ocean, up the Thames to a berth in London to serve as a base for the operation -- one that will involve more than 13,000 soldiers and marines in the largest domestic mobilization since World War II.

"We can reassure visitors and Londoners alike that if any threat does emerge we've got the assets in place to deal with it," said British Defense Secretary Philip Hammond.

Coverage of London 2012 Summer Olympics

On July 6, 2005, the IOC announced London as the winner of the bid to host the 2012 games. The very next day, suicide bombers killed 39 people on one bus and three subways lines.

The lessons security forces learned then shape their plan now. It also includes artillery in London's parks and short-range missiles on apartment buildings.

Residents are not happy, as the only warning they got was a flyer in the mailbox. "I don't think that's any way to tell people that you're putting a missile base on their roof," said one person.

Especially as government officials believe in spite of -- or maybe because of all this -- the main threat to the Games is not terrorism, but crime and public disorder.

  • Elizabeth Palmer

    Elizabeth Palmer has been a CBS News correspondent since August 2000. She has been based in London since late 2003, after having been based in Moscow (2000-03). Palmer reports primarily for the "CBS Evening News."