Stadium Terror Propaganda

Title: Threat Of Terrorist Attacks On NFL Stadiums Deemed Not Credible by Federal Authorities
Date: October 18, 2006
Source: Washington Post

Federal agencies are expressing skepticism about the credibility of an Internet threat of terrorist attacks on NFL stadiums that was revealed today.

The warning was posted on Oct. 12 on a Website that links to multiple online conversations and cartoons. A poster said that seven NFL stadiums would be hit this weekend by bombs containing radiological material. The stadiums mentioned were in New York, Miami, Houston, Oakland, Cleveland, Seattle and Atlanta. The posting said the bombs would be delivered to the stadiums in trucks and Osama bin Laden later would claim responsibility.

Authorities alerted NFL officials to the threat but the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI indicated they doubted the credibility of it. According to the Associated Press, a Homeland Security spokesman said that members of the public should continue to go about their normal routines, including attending football games (Washington Post, 2006).

Title: Stadiums And Terrorism
Date: September 2008
Source: The Public Sphere

Abstract: The public’s right to know or the public’s right to be safe? Preserve civil liberties at all costs or err on the side of caution? These questions, honestly asked, are at the heart of debates over how best to preserve both our safety and our liberties in an age of terrorism and violence.

Some time ago, an ideal test case for these questions played out here in Texas, where the Dallas Cowboys tried to fight requests (that entered the legal system and fast became demands) for public release of the plans for their new $650 million stadium in Arlington.

Their rationale? Both security and business concerns.

The problem? At least $325 million, and likely a lot more, is coming out of taxpayer pockets, and the city used eminent domain to force homeowners to sell their property to make way for the new stadium. Whoever has their name on the lease, the stadium is in many ways public property and should be considered only nominally the Cowboys’ property.

The Cowboys and their advocates argued that both proprietary business interests and security concerns should have allowed them to keep the information secret. Yet, for the public, the Cowboys sacrificed their proprietary business claims as soon as they stuffed their snouts in the public trough. The Cowboys’ claim so reeked of arrogance that it almost overwhelmed all of the other arguments about security. It is increasingly common for professional sports teams to suckle at the public teat and then turn around and pretend that they owe that same public nothing because they are fundamentally engaged in private enterprise.

Billionaire owners want to have the public pay for their opulent facilities, in which the former will charge exorbitant prices for tickets and concessions. The public is slowly learning, just like the poor guy who stands in line at halftime to spend $60 for a gelatinous pile of food and drinks, that there is no such thing as a free lunch. Or a half-billion dollar stadium.

But the other claims, those tied to security, are less temporal and thus gave pause. After all, we now know the plans for the stadium, but security will be an enduring concern. I’ve argued for years, even before 9/11 and the occasional recent news of potential attacks at football games (always revealed to have been a hoax, but such hoaxes still remain all too credible), that stadiums on game day or concert night are among the most vulnerable targets for terrorist attacks: tens of thousands of people in a celebratory mood, unwary and focused on something else; screaming crowds; loud public address announcers; amps at rock shows; lots of drunk people; showy but largely perfunctory security. Providing diagrams and blueprints to terrorists, whether Islamist or of the home grown variety (Many in the U.S. seem to have forgotten about the Eric Rudolph, Ku Klux Klan, Tim McVeigh, Unabomber, Charles Whitman types), does appear shortsighted at first blush. The public does not have the right to know everything.

Then again, someone with malicious forethought can take plenty of time to plan an attack upon an open stadium. Providing diagrams that, once a stadium opens, will be available anyway hardly seems like a serious breach of either public safety or security. The danger will not come from terrorists simply knowing a stadium’s layout, however essential that might be to a planned attack, but rather from terrorists who are able to identify and exploit weaknesses and security flaws.

Prevention of a stadium attack will come in the form of vigilance, intelligence, and competence, rather than slapdash and showy efforts to appear tough. A little sanity would also go a long way in bringing a level of reasonableness to our discussions. When you enter a stadium on a hot day and are drinking a bottle of water, scare stories from the news notwithstanding, the odds that your water will become a deadly weapon are almost nil. It is hard not to be cynical about a policy that happens to profit the concessionaires who sell overpriced drinks without demonstrably increasing safety. It also inspires less, not more, confidence if our official approach to matters of terrorism and security seems reactive to news stories or rumors rather than part of a rational and comprehensive strategy. Meanwhile, if I had hidden a gun in my waistband, security would not have noticed because they did not bother checking. In terms of odds, I would surmise that an attack at a big game will more likely come from someone wielding a gun than someone wielding a half-empty bottle of water.

We are similarly foolish and shortsighted in our approach to security at airports, where appearing vigilant and tough on potential terrorism has taken the place of commonsense policies that will actually make us safe. A batty Englishman tries to light a shoebomb, and now we all have to take our shoes off at security. There are rumors that terrorists are going to try to use small amounts of liquid explosives, so we develop an inane policy whereby we can take on a few ounces of liquid in small containers that we must place in a plastic bag. In your shaving kit? It’s a menace to the airways. In a ziplock? We can all breathe easier. And then there is the water issue again–if you try to bring a bottle of water or juice or soda through security, you’re going to lose it. But don’t worry, you can buy any drinks you want at the usurious rates the airport concessionaires are able to get away with charging. You can even buy an extra hot venti coffee right before you board–a potentially more lethal weapon than all of the aftershave and Nikes and half-consumed Ozarka water. But woe unto you if you forget to take your laptop out of its case or if you are impatient with a security person because your child is crying and you’d rather attend to her than to the guy who randomly pulled you out of line for a perfunctory pat-down.

Texans take football seriously. They take travel seriously. They take terrorism seriously. But there is a difference between serious and foolish. The Cowboys finally released the plans to the enormous new stadium, as was inevitable. Thus far, nothing bad has happened to Jerry Jones’ gleaming jewel. And if terrorists ever do attack the new stadium, the blame will fall on our scattershot, improvised, shoddy policies and lack of foresight because we were preparing for the last attack rather than the next one (The Public Sphere, 2008).

Title: Police Prep For Stadium Security Alert
Date: September 22, 2009
Source: CW 33

Abstract: North Texas visitor, Mamie Dorris stood outside the new Cowboys Stadium in Arlington snapping pictures. She didn't know federal officials had issued a terrorist security alert for stadiums. "That is very unnerving", says Dorris.

Dorris knows the horror of a terror attack. She survived the 9/11 attack on the pentagon, after a plane piloted by al-Qaida terrorists crashed directly into her office. She says no threat can be taken lightly. "I think anytime there is a threat on our grounds, it needs to be taken seriously".

Police say they are taking notice of several security alerts issued by the FBI and Homeland Security. Officials say terrorists may attempt to use homemade backpack bombs, car bombs or even airplanes to attack crowded, public places.

Arlington police say they received the alerts and are taking that into consideration to insure the safety of fans during upcoming Cowboys games at the new stadium. Already on game days, all bags are searched. Authorities use bomb-sniffing dogs to inspect vehicles parked close to the stadium.

Security experts say they aren't surprised by the stadium alerts. "Anytime you have a large venue event that you have a lot of people then it will be attractive to terrorists", says Former FBI Special Agent in Charge, Danny Defenbaugh. The former federal agent says since 9/11 busy public places, like stadiums have been on the terror radar.

Defenbaugh says proper training for event staff members is important to protect against the threat of attack. "They need to be suspicious and look for unusual behavior", says Defenbaugh.

A few months ago, Arlington Police and several other agencies conducted a massive training exercise at the new stadium, to test out their preparedness for a real emergency.

Dorris says that everyone should learn to be on alert at all times and report anything suspicious. She says she is living proof that an attack can happen to anyone. "I was just fortunate it wasn't my time" (CW 33, 2009)

Title: U.S. Terror Alert Expands To Transit And Stadiums
September 23, 2009
Source: CBC News

Abstract: The U.S. government expanded a terrorism warning from transit systems to sports stadiums, hotels and entertainment complexes this week, as federal investigators look into a possible plot to set off bombs hidden in backpacks.

Federal bulletins were sent to police departments this week saying that while no specific plots against stadiums and other entertainment venues were known, police officers and private companies were cautioned to be vigilant.

The warnings come after the arrest on Saturday of three men, including Najibullah Zazi, a 24-year-old Denver airport-shuttle driver who authorities say received al-Qaeda training in Pakistan and who was found entering New York City two weeks ago with bomb-making instructions on his computer.

Zazi, his father and a local imam in New York face charges of lying to authorities in a continuing terrorism investigation.

'Something Very Organized was Underway'

Authorities claim in court documents that Zazi played a direct role in the alleged terror plot, although officials have said they don't know the timing or location of any planned attack.

"It's not totally clear to us at this point what it is they had in mind, though I think it is clear that something very serious and something very organized was underway," Attorney General Eric Holder told CBS.

The bulletins to stadiums note that al-Qaeda's training manual makes specific instruction for "blasting and destroying the places of amusement, immorality and sin ... and attacking vital economic centers."

Sports officials from the major hockey, football, baseball and basketball leagues in North America said they were confident they had adequate measures in place to thwart a potential attack

"We are aware of the memos from the federal government, including that there is no information specific to any sports stadium," National Football League spokesman Greg Aiello said.

"This underscores the high levels of stadium security that are maintained and will continue to be maintained at every NFL game for the safety of our fans and teams."

Sports Fans Unconcerned by Latest Warning

National Hockey League spokesman Frank Brown said security is a collaborative effort for the league.

"We work closely with our arenas and local law enforcement agencies to create a safe, secure environment for our fans at all times," he said. "We work with our partners continually to update and apply appropriate security measures to address security concerns."

Sports fans said the latest warnings wouldn't affect their plans.

"If it happens, it happens," said Lynn Calhoun, an Indianapolis computer programmer who visited Conseco Fieldhouse — the home of the Indiana Pacers — to purchase orchestra tickets.

"Where are you going to go? What are you going to do? You can't just go and hide out in Canada for a month."

At a Cleveland Indians game, Jess Pryor said she thinks most fans don't worry about their safety at games.

"It will be that way until something else happens again," she said.

New York's transit agency said it has increased police presence around the city, in part because of the meeting in the city of the United Nations General Assembly.

Thousands of visitors and politicians are also scheduled to meet in Pittsburgh on Thursday for a two-day Group of 20 economic summit (CBC News, 2009).

Title: NBA Tour Goes On Despite Terror Threat
Date: October 4, 2010
STL Today

Abstract: NBA tour goes on despite terror threat

NBA teams in Europe will continue their planned European preseason activities amid heightened terror concerns, and the league has promised to take "appropriate" security measures.

The Los Angeles Lakers and Minnesota Timberwolves are in London preparing for their preseason opener today. The New York Knicks played Olimpia Milano on Sunday in Milan.

The State Department on Sunday issued a travel alert for Europe that advises U.S. citizens living or traveling there to take more precautions about their personal security.

The trip is part of the NBA's annual European preseason tour. After the opening games, the Timberwolves and Knicks will play Wednesday in Paris. LA will play Thursday in Barcelona (STL Today, 2010).

Title: Homeland Security Secretary Inspects Super Bowl Site, Says Fans Have ‘Shared Responsibility’ For Security At Game And Across the Country
Date: February 4, 2011
CNS News

Abstract: Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano traveled to Dallas earlier this week to personally inspect the massive security operation surrounding the 45th Super Bowl game and to announce the “If You See Something, Say Something” campaign.

“We are partnering this year with the NFL on our ‘If You See Something, Say Something’ campaign and launching that NFL partnership right here at the Super Bowl,” Napolitano said during a press conference on Monday at Cowboy Stadium in Arlington, Texas where Sunday’s game will be played.

“The idea is simple,” Napolitano said. “We are simply asking the American people to be vigilant, recognizing that our security is a shared responsibility that all of us must participate in.”

“If a fan at the Super Bowl or any other American at any other place sees something that is potentially dangerous, then say something about it to local law enforcement or someone in authority,” Napolitano said.

Napolitano announced that DHS has trained some 1,200 stadium staffers as “first observers” and that cargo going into the venue also will be screened using “non-intrusive inspection equipment.”

Jerry Jones, owner of the Dallas Cowboys, told CNN that millions of dollars were spent to make the stadium secure, including perches for snipers and surveillance cameras to cover every corner of the venue.

Fans both inside the stadium and those watching it outside on big-screen telecasts will be subject to security screenings similar to those at airports.

The NFL, which will pick up half the tab, estimates it cost $10 million to secure the game, according to CNN’s report.

DHS announced in a press release posted on its Web site on Monday that the “If You See Something, Say Something” campaign will be rolled out nationally over the coming months “to help America’s businesses, communities and citizens remain vigilant and play an active role in keeping the country safe.”

Napolitano will watch the game at the White House, according to Matt Chandler, the DHS Deputy Press Secretary. Other guests invited to watch the game with President Barack Obama and his family include Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony (CNS News, 2011).

Title: 'Lone Wolf' A Big Threat To Spectators
Date: September 10, 2011
Fox Sports

Abstract: A decade’s worth of pat downs, metal detectors and Las Vegas-like video surveillance has made the millions of fans who stream into stadiums and arenas around the nation less at risk of a terrorist attack.

The same league executives, law- enforcement officials and independent security experts who make that assertion agree, however, that a new threat presents a challenge to fan safety: the lone wolf.

“We had the attacks of 9/11 where it was al Qaeda, an organized terrorist group,” NFL Director of Strategic Security Jeff Miller told “Now, if you look across the landscape you see the greatest threat to mass gatherings in the United States is the homegrown violent extremist. This is somebody who is off (law enforcement’s) grid and through the use of propaganda on the Internet is encouraged to act out.”

It’s a threat that the NFL — which has scheduled most of its teams to open regular-season play on Sunday, the 10-year anniversary of the terror attacks — and other leagues really began to hone in on since Faisal Shahzad, an American immigrant from Pakistan, attempted to set off a car bomb in Times Square in May 2010. The makeshift bomb inside Shahzad’s vehicle did not detonate, but reverberations were felt nonetheless.

“We certainly have reason to be concerned about improvised explosive devices entering one of our stadiums,” said Earnell Lucas, Major League Baseball’s senior director of security and facility management. “One person can have a device packed into a vehicle or bring an explosive device or harmful substance into a facility. This is something we look for every day to ensure our fans, players, coaches and umpires are protected in the post-9/11 world.”

Miller said that the NFL has not been told about a “specific credible threat to any of our stadiums.” A spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security refused to comment for this story.

The intelligence gathering and sharing process established in the months after the attacks on World Trade Center and Pentagon continues. League and stadium officials continually receive terror-related briefings from federal authorities, and they work closely with the Joint Terrorism Task Force, which pulls from agencies like the FBI along with state and local authorities. Conferences are offered on a regular basis at which experts from around the world gather to share new ideas to keep fans safe.

“Before 9/11, we did not have these measures in place,” said Maj. Kevin A. Putnam, who heads the special-operations division of the Prince George’s County (Md.) police that patrols the Washington Redskins’ FedEx Field. “We work with our federal partners, receive intelligence briefings and share information about a potential threat. We’re definitely safer in my opinion.”

No games have been canceled as a result of any threats since play resumed after 9/11, and the last terror-related attack on a US sporting event was carried out at the Atlanta Summer Olympics 15 years ago. (The bomb left in a backpack by domestic terrorist Eric Robert Rudolph killed two and injured more than 100.)

Joel Henry Hinrichs III, an engineering student at the University of Oklahoma, detonated a backpack bomb not far from a packed Oklahoma Memorial Stadium as the Sooners played Kansas State in 2005. Only Hinrichs died, and authorities did not consider it a terrorist act since they determined he was not motivated to harm others.

Stadiums and arenas — especially during major events like the Super Bowl and World Series — do make attractive targets for terrorists. For that reason, metal detectors are used more frequently, perimeters around the stadiums are widened, no-fly zones are implemented and leagues employ a more stringent credentialing process.

But former New York and Los Angeles police chief William Bratton said fans need only look next to them in the stands or scan the parking lot to eye a more imminent threat.

“The fact remains that the issue for most fans is the potential for fan-on-fan violence,” said Bratton, chairman of Kroll Inc., a risk-management company. “But even with the sheer magnitude of gangs who go to organized sporting events in this country, the number of incidents that make news on the local or national level are minimal. You could probably count them on one hand.”

Bratton was hired as a consultant by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the aftermath of one of the most brutal fan assaults in memory. San Francisco Giants fan Bryan Stow was left with serious brain injuries after an attack outside Dodger Stadium in April. Last month, two people were shot after an Oakland Raiders-San Francisco 49ers preseason game, and another was assaulted in the bathroom during the same game; two of the three were left with serious injuries.

MLB has used the resident security agents — off-duty law enforcement officers — since 1986. Duties for each agent ranged from policing tobacco use in the minor leagues to ensuring the overall safety of those at the ballpark. After 9/11, the security agents began to receive terrorism training.

In the NFL, a text-messaging system has been put in place so unruly fans can be reported to security. While often used to report binge-drinkers who have lost control, Miller said the system could also be utilized to flag possible terrorist activity.

“We need fans who come out to our venues to tell law enforcement if they see something that’s unusual or makes them feel uncomfortable,” said Miller, a former commissioner of the Pennsylvania State Police. “Every US citizen should have a sense of their own surroundings and take personal responsibility for their own safety and security and that of their neighbors.”

The more invasive security measures have met with some resistance. Lawsuits were brought by fans in San Francisco, Seattle and Tampa Bay after the NFL first mandated teams subject fans to pat downs in 2005, although the searches were upheld in each instance by either state or federal judges.

“There is generally a feeling of acceptance to the fact that we need to take certain steps to ensure fan safety,” Miller said. “It’s a free society and you can’t shut down every (terrorist) opportunity because people are always moving around and we have a Constitution. So, we have to do things a certain way from a law-enforcement perspective.”

That means longer lines as purses and backpacks are checked. Fans at some stadiums may be able to bring their sandwiches from home only in a clear bag instead of a paper one. Cars entering parking structures may be randomly searched.

“The good news is that security is getting better,” Bratton said. “The American sport experience is largely a safe one, and there are a lot of people out there focused on making it safer”
(Fox Sports, 2011).