Valdosta Daily Times

National, International News

August 5, 2013

U.S. posts in Muslim world will remain closed

WASHINGTON — U.S. diplomatic posts in 19 cities in the Muslim world will be closed at least through the end of this week, the State Department said Sunday, citing “an abundance of caution.”

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the decision to keep the embassies and consulates closed is “not an indication of a new threat.”

She said the continued closures are “merely an indication of our commitment to exercise caution and take appropriate steps to protect our employees, including local employees, and visitors to our facilities.”

Diplomatic facilities will remain closed in Egypt, Jordan, Libya, Yemen, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, among other countries, through Saturday, Aug. 10. The U.S. has decided to reopen some posts on Monday, including those in Kabul, Afghanistan and Baghdad.

The Obama administration announced Friday that the posts would be closed over the weekend and the State Department announced a global travel alert, warning that al-Qaida or its allies might target either U.S. government or private American interests.

The weekend closure of nearly two dozen U.S. diplomatic posts resulted from the gravest terrorist threat seen in years, the top Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee said Sunday.

Sen. Saxby Chambliss said “the chatter” intercepted by U.S. intelligence agencies led the Obama administration to shutter the embassies and consulates and issue a global travel warning to Americans.

“Chatter means conversation among terrorists about the planning that’s going on — very reminiscent of what we saw pre-9/11,” Chambliss, R-Ga., told NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

“This is the most serious threat that I’ve seen in the last several years,” he said.

Rep. C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger of Maryland, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, told ABC’s “This Week” that the threat intercepted from “high-level people in al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula” was about a “major attack.”

Yemen is home to al-Qaida’s most dangerous affiliate, blamed for several notable terrorist plots on the United States. They include the foiled Christmas Day 2009 effort to bomb an airliner over Detroit and the explosives-laden parcels intercepted the following year aboard cargo flights.

Rep. Peter King, who leads the House Homeland Security subcommittee on counterterrorism and intelligence, said the threat included dates but not locations of possible attacks.

“The threat was specific as to how enormous it was going to be and also that certain dates were given,” King, R-N.Y., said on ABC.

Rep. Adam Schiff, a House Intelligence Committee member, said the “breadth” of the closures suggests U.S. authorities are concerned about a potential repeat of last year’s riots and attacks at multiple embassies, including the deadly assault in Benghazi, Libya, where the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans were killed.

In addition, Interpol, the French-based international policy agency, has issued a global security alert in connection with suspected al-Qaida involvement in several recent prison escapes including those in Iraq, Libya and Pakistan.

Those prison breaks add to the concerns about an attack, said Schiff, D-Calif., also noting the approaching end of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.

“So you have a lot things coming together. ... But all of that would not be enough without having some particularly specific information,” he said.

The Obama administration’s decision to close the embassies and the lawmakers’ general discussion about the threats come at a sensitive time as the government tries to defend recently disclosed surveillance programs that have stirred deep privacy concerns and raised the potential of the first serious retrenchment in terrorism-fighting efforts since Sept. 11.

The Senate Judiciary Committee chairman has scoffed at the assertion by the head of the National Security Agency that government methods used to collect telephone and email data have helped foil 54 terror plots.

Schiff said he has seen no evidence linking the latest warnings to that agency’s collection of “vast amounts of domestic data.”

Other lawmakers defended the administration’s response and promoted the work of the NSA in unearthing the intelligence that lead to the security warnings.

“The bottom line is ... that the NSA’s job is to do foreign intelligence,” Ruppersburger said. “The whole purpose is to collect information to protect us.”

Added King, a frequent critic of President Barack Obama, “Whether or not there was any controversy over the NSA at all, all these actions would have been taken.”

Friday’s warning from the State Department urged American travelers to take extra precautions overseas, citing potential dangers involved with public transportation systems and other prime sites for tourists. It noted that previous terrorist attacks have centered on subway and rail networks as well as airplanes and boats. It suggested travelers sign up for State Department alerts and register with U.S. consulates in the countries they visit. The alert expires Aug. 31.

The statement said al-Qaida or its allies might target either U.S. government or private American interests.

1
Text Only
National, International News
  • Tentative deal reached on VA reform

    The chairmen of the House and Senate Veterans Affairs committees have reached a tentative agreement on a plan to fix a veterans’ health program scandalized by long patient wait times and falsified records covering up delays.

    July 27, 2014

  • United States-Libya_Rich.jpg US evacuates embassy in Libya amid clashes

    The United States shuttered its embassy in Libya on Saturday and evacuated its diplomats to neighboring Tunisia under U.S. military escort as fighting intensified between rival militias. Secretary of State John Kerry said “free-wheeling militia violence” prompted the move.

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • AP9607270692 copy.jpg Today in History for Sunday, July 27, 2014

    Today is Sunday, July 27, the 208th day of 2014. There are 157 days left in the year.

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • No ticket for Shrek over loud musical, chief says

    A musical being performed in a New Hampshire park has drawn some noise complaints, but the deputy police chief says he’s “not giving Shrek a ticket.”

    July 26, 2014

  • Arizona Execution Dru_Rich copy.jpg Arizona’s McCain: Execution was torture

    U.S. Sen. John McCain says the execution of an Arizona inmate that lasted two hours was torture.

    July 26, 2014 1 Photo

  • Ukraine Plane_Rich copy.jpg US: Russia firing into Ukraine

    Russia is launching artillery attacks from its soil on Ukrainian troops and preparing to move heavier weaponry across the border, the U.S. and Ukraine charged Friday in what appeared to be an ominous escalation of the crisis.
    Russia accused Washington of lying and charged Ukraine with firing across the border on a Russian village. It also toughened its economic measures against Ukraine by banning dairy imports.

    July 26, 2014 1 Photo

  • AP7107260254 copy.jpg Today in History for Saturday, July 26, 2014

    Today is Saturday, July 26, the 207th day of 2014. There are 158 days left in the year.

    July 26, 2014 1 Photo

  • Mideast Iraq_Rich copy.jpg Iraq elects new president amid attacks

    Iraqi lawmakers elected a veteran Kurdish politician on Thursday to replace long-serving Jalal Talabani as the country’s new president in the latest step toward forming a new government. But a series of attacks killed dozens of people and Islamic militants destroyed a Muslim shrine traditionally said to be the burial place of the Prophet Jonah, underscoring the overwhelming challenges facing the divided nation.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • Hong Kong Shutdown_Rich copy.jpg Hong Kong firms on edge as blockade looms

    As activists vow to shut down Hong Kong’s financial district in protest at China’s attempt to hobble democratic elections in the city, businessman Bernard Chan is preparing for the worst.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • Mideast Israel Palest_Rich copy.jpg UN school in Gaza caught in cross-fire; 15 killed

    A U.N. school in Gaza crowded with hundreds of Palestinians seeking refuge from fierce fighting came under fire Thursday, killing at least 15 civilians and leaving a sad tableau of blood-spattered pillows, blankets and children’s clothing scattered in the courtyard.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

Top News
Poll

Do you agree with the millage rate increases?

Yes. We need to maintain services
No. Services should have been cut.
     View Results