Terror threat: Senator cites increased 'chatter'

Sen. Saxby Chambliss said "the chatter" intercepted by U.S. intelligence agencies led the Obama administration to shutter 22 embassies and consulates and issue a global travel warning to Americans.
Associated Press
Aug 4, 2013

The weekend closure of almost two dozen U.S. diplomatic posts in the Muslim world 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 22 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. Pete 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."

On Friday the Obama administration announced the weekend closures and the State Department announced a global travel alert.

The warning 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 on Aug. 31.

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

The intelligence intercepts also prompted Britain, Germany and France to close their embassies in Yemen on Sunday and Monday. British authorities said some embassy staff in Yemen had been withdrawn "due to security concerns."

Canada also announced it was closing its embassy in Dhaka, Bangladesh.




This comment thread seems heavily focused on the liberal vs. conservative Democrat vs. Republican topic.

In reality it has nothing to do with that. Obama = Bush - Clinton = Reagan etc....

What it's really about is our federal government being a giant sock puppet for corporate war and global hegemony. The U.S. government alphabet agencies do not release info about so called terrorists and tracking them unless they absolutely want us to know. There is no reason why the government needed to even bother telling us they were going to close embassies. Who cares? Let the bureaucrats have a day off, it's summer ya know.

What's more important is to really pay attention to what they say and do. JudgeMeNot pays attention and pointed out all the doublespeak of the president and his sycophants. It goes on around us all day, everyday 24/7/365. All you have to do is turn on the TeeVee and your bombarded with their propaganda. It matters not what party affiliation the person talking has, they are all working the same. Problem is they mask it all quite cleverly with Dem vs. Repub. Liberal vs. Conservative.

Wake up people, set aside the parties and lib vs. cons, that is sooooooo not important! Just look at the big picture of what goes on year after year after year.

The U.S. spends billions more than ANY other country on the planet for it's War Department. Notice, I didn't use defense dept., which is because it's no longer about "defense" it's now about planning, seeking and engaging in war.

Our country has more military bases spread all over the world than any other country.

The USA is involved with more military conflicts than any other nation on this planet.

The U.S. government spends billions and billions on military toys for killing.

Is all that necessary?

AND.....now (like they weren't before 911) they openly are supporting Al CIAda! Oops...I meant al Qeada....

Yeah, that's right people, do some research and find out who these "rebels" in Syria really are. Do more research pre-9/11 and find out how "the base" was actually created and which global power supported them.

The "enemy" is now our "friend" and vice versa. It's 1984 doublespeak but you all are so wrapped up in Democrat vs. Republican you aren't seeing this .


You make strong points except I can't dismiss the liberal vs conservative battle. The liberal agenda has built up a lot of momentum as people struggle more everyday. It is a road to socialism and if it starts taking hold, it'll be hard to stop.
The more noise liberals make, the harder the conservatives will fight back. Unfortunately the conservative mouth pieces come in the form of folks like Sean hannity, rush, Ann coultier, and so on. Their message would be a lot more valuable if they dropped the hi-test emotional rhetoric


Re: "What it's really about is our federal government being a giant sock puppet for corporate war and global hegemony."

Good post.

They are inseparable - fascism/corporatism.

The Iron Triangle: