September - 2000
Vol# 16 - Issue# 44
Olympics Threatened by Terrorism
After the terrorist assassination of British Army Brigadier Stephen Saunders on June 8, many critics are voicing misgivings about the wisdom of staging the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens. Some top corporate sponsors, as well as Olympic officials and terrorism experts, concede that the shooting death of Saunders, a defense attache, is causing anxiety about holding the Games in a city where the Greek terrorist group November 17 has launched rockets and bombs at the local offices of Olympic sponsors such as McDonald's and International Business Machines. In the literal definition of the word, a system is a number of related parts making up a whole. The criminal justice system, however, is far from these terms. How then is it possible for a system to be a nonsystem? Police, prosecutors, courts, and corrections make up this system, each having their own distinct functions, concerns, goals, and routines. Working independently, they foster functional fragmentation, lacking cooperation and coordination (Stinchcomb & Fox, 1994). In fact, their separate and defined missions are often contradictory. Corrections are at the downstream of the system existing as a response to the other entities. They also contain no autonomy and have the least control over their domain. Additionally, they inherit the discrimination and inequalities passed through the system while being the prey of politicians, who ultimately shape every aspect of corrections. Still, they have the awesome responsibilities of providing care, custody, and control over those accused or convicted of a criminal offense. The paradigm of corrections can be defined in terms of the physical plant, program, and people. These institutions create an artificial environment; a "barbed wire bureaucracy" of hierarchical structure, closed system operations, and classifications of control (Stinchcomb & Fox, 1994).
Although the International Olympics Committee (IOC) and Greek government officials maintain there is nothing to fear, many experts disagree. According to former director of the Central Intelligence Agency, James Woolsey, who continues to monitor trends in global terrorism, "There's little doubt U.S. Corporate Olympic sponsors in Athens are putting their people in harm's way. The chances of somebody getting killed in the run-up to the Games are pretty good." IOC President Juan Antonio Damaranch declared that terrorism would not disrupt the Athens Games. "I'm sure the Greeks can control the problem and it will not affect the Games," he said in a statement after the assassination of Saunders. However, some corporate sponsors have voiced fears that November 17 could use the Athens Games to launch a high-profile attack. Acknowledging the terrorist threat in Athens is greater than it was in previous Games, IOC's lead coordinator for the Athens Games, Jacques Rogge, stated "the security strategy in the run-up to Athens is okay." He has discussed the matter with both U.S. and European intelligence officers. A recent report from a U.S. congressional commission on terrorism goes further, advising the White House to impose sanctions on Greece for failing to do more to combat terrorism. The report states Greece "has been disturbingly passive in response to terrorist activities," and notes that the country ranked second only to Colombia in the number of anti-American terrorist strikes in 1999. Greek Information Minister Dimitris Reppas dismisses the report, calling it an "anti-Greek construct" and says the security concerns are overheated. While terrorist attacks can never be ruled out at a high-profile event like the Olympics, experts familiar with Greek terrorism note a history of targeting U.S. diplomats and Western business interests. Since 1980, the November 17 group has taken responsibility for killing four U.S. diplomats and wounding 30 other American officials, although, Greek authorities have never arrested a member of N17.