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US presence for 2010 Games

Uncle Sam is coming to watch all things American at the 2010 Winter Olympics.

The United States Department of State has leased a floor in a downtown building, Vancouver 2010 Integrated Security Unit chief Bud Mercer said Monday at the 12th Vancouver International Security Conference.

“We’re plugged into the operations centre not too far from this building where the U.S. state department will set up operations,” Mercer said at the Marriott Pinnacle.

Mercer said he did not know the location.

The U.S., which has a consulate at 1075 West Pender St., is expected to send the largest contingent of athletes, media and sponsors to Vancouver 2010. A 1996 Presidential directive states "the first duty of government” is to protect U.S. citizens at home and abroad.

The state department has operated in Olympic cities since Sydney 2000. At Torino 2006, 20 U.S. government agencies spent $16 million.

Mercer said he meets quarterly with Washington state’s top military official Maj. Gen. Tim Louwenberg and Laura Laughlin, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Seattle office. An RCMP officer will be embedded with the Department of Homeland Security’s Bellingham Olympic coordination centre.

U.S. ambassador to Canada David Jacobson did not mention state department plans in his Vancouver Board of Trade speech Monday, but he said “no two militaries are more integrated or more compatible than ours.”

Bob Mackin reports for Vancouver 24 hours.

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