The closure of 22 US embassies over an alleged security threat was seized on by defenders of the National Security Agency on Sunday, amid claims that its controversial surveillance programme alerted authorities to "pre-9/11" levels of terrorist chatter.
A meeting of President Barack Obama's top security officials on Saturday concluded that intelligence apparently gathered from overseas communications intercepts showed a serious but unspecified threat against Western and US interests. The administration moved to shut the embassies across North Africa and the Middle East as a precaution.
On Sunday the state department announced that diplomatic posts in 19 cities will remain closed at least until end of this week. A spokeswoman said the decision to keep the embassies and consulates closed is a sign of an "abundance of caution" and is "not an indication of a new threat."
Britain said its embassy in Yemen would stay closed until the Muslim festival of Eid on Thursday.
Intelligence committee members in Washington who had been briefed on the alert said it was the most serious they had seen for years and repeatedly cited the threat during Sunday's political talk shows as a reason to resist growing calls in Congress for reform of the NSA's sweeping powers.
"There has been an awful lot of [terrorist] chatter, which is very reminiscent of what we saw pre-9/11," said the Republican senator Saxby Chambliss on NBC's Meet the Press. "As we come to the end of Ramadan, which is always an interesting time for terrorists, and the upcoming 9/11 anniversary, this is the most serious threat that I have seen in the last several years."
~ from Terrorist Threat Followed 'Pre-9/11 Levels' of 'Chatter', Say NSA Defenders by Dan Roberts and Robert Booth ~
As The Church Lady used to say, "How convenient!" Right at the moment when more and more representatives and senators have jumped onto the "Let's Rein in the NSA" bandwagon, a rather nebulous threat is "discovered." There isn't much the talking heads will tell us except that it sounds ominous.
What is it with the Bush and Obama administrations? Why is it that these so-called threats seem to pop up at the most politically opportune times? And why are they always so vague? You know, it's as if they are just making them up! They say just enough to get the public in a tizzy and those recalcitrant lawmakers to shut up and then, when nothing happens, they shrug their shoulders as if to say, "Hey, these things happen."
These so-called nondescript threats are interesting because lately they seem to be the ONLY ones our crack intelligence community picks up on. When the embassy/CIA outpost in Benghazi was attacked, it caught these same people completely off guard. For some unknown reason, the initial demonstrations and the ouster of Mubarak in Egypt caught us off guard too. Our overarching spy operations somehow didn't pick up on the planning for the Boston Marathon Bombings until after they happened -- even then they were initially bewildered -- and the NSA somehow missed the communiques of months of planning for the recent prison breaks.
Do you see a pattern here? When it comes to the communications and planning of events that actually take place, the NSA seems asleep at the wheel. But when it comes to nebulous threats that don't turn into anything definitive, the NSA is on top of the situation!
Here's another decidedly odd thing about these supposed vague threats. On the one hand, we've been told that Edward Snowden's disclosures of classified information will cause the "terrorists" to find new and/or different ways to communicate as they plot their nefarious plans. That's what makes these leaks so dangerous, we're told.
However, the article above and many others I've read would seem to indicate that the terrorists haven't been reading about all of these revelations (or they aren't very smart) because they are communicating in the same manner they did pre-9/11. I mean, if the accusations by the Pro-NSA backers are true, wouldn't you think that the "terrorists" would know to tone down the chatter?