Politics & Policy

The Summit

Securing the games.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Mitt Romney, the governor of Massachusetts, previously was the president and CEO of the Organizing Committee for the Salt Lake Winter Games. He has authored the new book Turnaround: Crisis, Leadership and the Olympic Games. This is the fourth in a five-part series of excerpts to coincide with the Summer Games; the first appeared here; the second here; the third here. The excerpts comprise Chapter 15 of Turnaround.

Wednesday, October 3rd, was the date set for the Olympics security summit. Senator Hatch had obtained commitments from the attorney general, the directors of the FBI, Secret Service, FEMA, the secretary of the army, Speaker Dennis Hastert, Senator Stevens, as well as several other Washington power notables. Governor Leavitt would represent the state, Mayor Anderson would represent the city, Dave Tubbs would represent UOPSC and I would represent SLOC. Cindy spent the week before the meeting back in Washington making the rounds with Mark Camillo, Dave Tubbs, Bob Flowers, and Don Johnson to explain the revised security plan to Congressional staff and answer questions at the various federal departments. She called me one afternoon to tell me how much Washington had changed. The front lines were no longer on foreign shores; they were now in America. There would be no more lobbying for military support for Salt Lake: the military would stand with us to secure the public.

Tuesday afternoon was capped by a call from Senator Hatch informing me that he had succeeded in arranging a meeting with Senator John McCain. I drove directly to the Senate office building and met Hatch on the way. Senator McCain was waiting and ushered us into his office. Like everyone else, the events of September 11 had sobered him. He got right to the point. He told me that he believed it was important to America that the Games go on and important to the world that the nations come together in a show of peace. He made it clear there would be no problems from him when we came to Congress for the funding necessary to keep the Games secure. We would have his support, and we did. Over the years I have worked with him, I have come to understand that Senator McCain is a true fiscal watchdog but first and foremost, he is a true patriot.

The security summit on Wednesday provided the official affirmation that the federal government would do everything necessary to secure the Games. By the time the meeting was over, Secret Service Director Brian Stafford had briefed everyone on the revised security plan, the attorney general had committed the federal law enforcement agencies, the secretary of the army had committed the troops, and the Speaker of the House and Senate Appropriations Chairman Ted Stevens had committed the funding. In three short weeks, we had revised our plans, reached concurrence at the top levels of the federal government, and received Congressional commitments. Apparently government can move quickly when it needs to. And, on the flight home with the governor and mayor, we were aware that now, it was our turn. We had a lot to do in three short months.

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