U.S. Shuts Down 21 Embassies Amid Al Qaeda Threat

U.S. Shuts Down 21 Embassies Amid Al Qaeda ThreatA global travel alert issued Friday by the State Department warned al Qaeda may launch attacks in the Middle East, North Africa and beyond in coming weeks, a threat that prompted Sunday’s closure of 21 embassies and consulates.

‘Muslim holy month’

One of the sources said that such preparations appeared to have increased in recent days with the approaching end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. In particular, Sunday is Laylet al-Qadr, or the Night of Power, which is one of the holiest moments on the Muslim calendar.

Based on intelligence, U.S. officials said, there was particular concern about the U.S. Embassy in Yemen between Saturday and Tuesday.  Still, it’s unclear whether the apparent plot targets that Arabian nation or one elsewhere — which is why the travel alert applies so broadly, and why embassies from Bangladesh to Libya are being closed. The expected time of an attack also isn’t known, with the U.S. travel alert noting the threat extends through the end of August.


‘Shut down’

The 17 affected U.S. embassies are in Afghanistan, Algeria, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Djibouti, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Libya, Mauritania, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Sudan and Yemen. The U.S. embassy in Israel will be closed as normal Sunday. Consulates in Iraq, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are also being shut down for the day. Embassies and consulates in the region typically close their doors or operate with minimal staff on Fridays and Saturdays.

Where do you think is the main target of this Al Qaeda threat? And for how long will this alert last?

Source: Chris Lawrence. Barbara Starr and Tom Cohen | CNN

Image: Al Arabiya

Report: Obama Administration Spied On Fox News Reporter

Report Obama Administration Spied On Fox News ReporterThe Justice Department spied extensively on Fox News reporter James Rosen in 2010, collecting his telephone records, tracking his movements in and out of the State Department and seizing two days of Rosen’s personal emails,the Washington Post reported on Monday.

‘Breaking anti-espionage law’

In a chilling move sure to rile defenders of civil liberties, an FBI agent also accused Rosen of breaking anti-espionage law with behavior that—as described in the agent’s own affidavit—falls well inside the bounds of traditional news reporting.

Fox News responds with a blistering statement that asserts Rosen was “simply doing his job” in his role as “a member of what up until now has always been a free press.”


‘Unconstitutional’

The revelations surfaced with President Barack Obama’s administration already under fire for seizing two months of telephone records of reporters and editors at the Associated Press. Obama last week said he makes “no apologies” for investigations into national security-related leaks. The AP’s CEO, Gray Pruitt, said Sunday that the seizure was “unconstitutional.”

The case began when Rosen reported on June 11, 2009, that U.S. intelligence believed North Korea might respond to tighter United Nations sanctions with new nuclear tests. Rosen reported that the information came from CIA sources inside the hermetic Stalinist state. FBI agent Reginald Reyes wrote that there was evidence Rosen had broken the law, “at the very least, either as an aider, abettor and/or co-conspirator,” the Post said.

Do you think James Rosen indeed broke the law in the course of his information research? Is spying on a reporter counted as an “unconstitutional” act?

Source: Olivier Knox, Yahoo News

Image: Daily Tech