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Embassy closures – really?

There’s been a lot of uproar about the NSA surveillance of phone and internet usage of practically everyone in the world.  It began to look like the argument in favor of limiting those secret powers and providing for greater transparency and legality was winning the day.  Then comes this announcement on Thursday that 21 American embassies around the globe will be closed for the immediate future because of some “credible” but unspecified “threat”.

Now there are worries about prison breaks:

“Prison breaks took place in Pakistan on July 31 in a Taliban-led operation, and in Iraq at the Abu Ghraib prison overnight on July 22. Some 500 convicts, among them senior al Qaeda operatives, escaped from Abu Ghraib.

More than 1,100 inmates broke out of a prison on the outskirts of Benghazi on July 27.

Interpol also noted that August was the anniversary of several violent attacks over the past years, including in Mumbai and Nairobi.”

We are also coming to the end of Ramadan (August 7), a time when some attacks in the past have happened, and the beginning of Eid-al-Fitr, a time for Muslims of charity giving and family celebration lasting 3 days.

Is any of this stuff related, or are we seeing something to justify the previous actions of our intelligence agencies?  Cynical? Yes!  It’s happened so many times before.  Someone on NPR last night even mentioned code Orange and code Red in connection with airports, the infamous codes to frighten everyone introduced during the Bush administration that brought us the TSA, its searches, its scan machines, etc.  It just smells like a change-the-subject operation to makes us forget about losing our privacy rights.

These are are the countries so far where Embassies and/or consulates will be closed (they are all Muslim countries, except Israel):

“Algiers, Algeria, Sana’a, Yemen; Tel Aviv, Israel; Riyadh, Saudi Arabia; Dhaka, Bangladesh; Kuwait City, Kuwait; Ankara, Turkey; Muscat, Oman; Doha, Qatar; Cairo, Egypt; Kabul, Afghanistan; Baghdad, Iraq; Amman, Jordan; Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates; Manama, Bahrain; Tripoli, Libya; Nouakchott, Mauritania.”


That’s just 18 different countries from a list that supposedly came from an NBC report.  You have to watch the news clip to see the list of countries.  It certainly sounds a bit scary, but how do we know for sure?  Our intelligence folks have cried wolf so many times before.  And, in light of the NSA fiasco, how do we know the government is telling us or the world the truth?  It’s a stretch.

Here’s the entire list of travel warnings from the State Department:

U.S. Embassy Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

U.S. Embassy Algiers, Algeria

U.S. Embassy Amman, Jordan

U.S. Embassy Baghdad, Iraq

U.S. Consulate Basrah, Iraq

U.S. Embassy Cairo, Egypt

U.S. Consulate Dhahran, Saudi Arabia

U.S. Embassy Djibouti, Djibouti

U.S. Embassy Dhaka, Bangladesh

U.S. Embassy Doha, Qatar

U.S. Consulate Dubai, United Arab Emirates

U.S. Consulate Erbil, Iraq

U.S. Consulate Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

U.S. Embassy Kabul, Afghanistan

U.S. Embassy Khartoum, Sudan

U.S. Embassy Kuwait City, Kuwait

U.S. Embassy Manama, Bahrain

U.S. Embassy Muscat, Oman

U.S. Embassy Nouakchott, Mauritania

U.S. Embassy Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

U.S. Embassy Sana’a, Yemen

U.S. Embassy Tripoli, Libya

It includes the consulates and also Jordan, Algeria and Sudan.

That just looks like over wrought self-justification for the “security” agencies to me.