August 26, 2002


When the Terror Began : Thirty years later, the hostage drama that left 11 Israeli Olympians dead seems even more chilling and offers grim reminders to today's security experts (Alexander Wolff, August 26, 2002, Sports Illustrated)
With security tossed aside, the Olympics became one big party. Mimes, jugglers, bands and Waldi, the dachshund mascot, gamboled through the Village, while uncredentialed interlopers slipped easily past its gates. After late-night runs to the HofbrÅ uhaus, why would virile young athletes bother to detour to an official entrance when they could scale a chain-link fence only 6 1/2 feet high? The Olys learned to look the other way. A police inspector supervising security in the Village eventually cut back nighttime patrols because, as he put it, "at night nothing happens." Early in the Games, when several hundred young Maoist demonstrators congregated on a hill in the Olympic Park, guards dispersed them by distributing candy. Indeed, in a storeroom in the Olympic Stadium, police kept bouquets of flowers in case of another such incident. Hans-Jochen Vogel, who as mayor had led Munich's campaign to land the Games, today recalls the prevailing atmosphere: "People stood on the small hills that had been carved out of the rubble from the war. They could see into some of the venues without a ticket. And then this fifth of September happened. Nobody foresaw such an attack."

Nobody except Stoiber.

Though this is an infuriating story, one of the most remarkable differences between then and now is that then we truly thought the world was slipping beyond our control, whereas now we view the terrorist threat as merely another problem that we'll deal with in due course. If you didn't live through them it must be hard to imagine that sense of desperation that pervaded the 70s. Meanwhile, the restoration of American confidence is the signal contribution of Ronald Reagan. Posted by Orrin Judd at August 26, 2002 9:25 PM
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