About Those Embassy Closings

I have a question about the closings of U. S. MENA embassies. Are the closings in response to real terrorist threats, more imminent than the threats they’ve faced over the last dozen years if not more, because following the Benghazi incident the State Department has become sensitized to terrorist threats in a way they weren’t before, or because, in the wake of the relentless Republican hectoring about Benghazi, the Obama Administration has become sensitized to the political hazards of not appearing to take terrorist threats in its MENA embassies seriously? All of the above? Something else?

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Dave Schuler
About Dave Schuler
Over the years Dave Schuler has worked as a martial arts instructor, a handyman, a musician, a cook, and a translator. He's owned his own company for the last thirty years and has a post-graduate degree in his field. He comes from a family of politicians, teachers, and vaudeville entertainers. All-in-all a pretty good preparation for blogging. He has contributed to OTB since November 2006 but mostly writes at his own blog, The Glittering Eye, which he started in March 2004.


  1. beth says:

    I seriously think we’ve become too cynical to effectively run this country.

  2. Dave Schuler says:


    There are more than 400 kinds of cheese produced in the United States.

    (If that puzzles you, see here)

  3. Todd says:

    One of two things:

    1) They are truly concerned that there will be an attack sometime soon, and want to appear to be doing “something”.

    2) We actually have more information than is being made public, and these embassy closings are some sort of misdirection. (anytime “intelligence” issues are in the news, the possibility that the information is out there for a reason always has to be considered)

  4. beth says:

    @Dave Schuler: 401 with your answer. (just kidding)

  5. James Joyner says:

    I think it’s a combination. It’s not just us doing it; the Brits, Canadians, Germans, and others are also closing their embassies. So, I’m inclined to believe that the policy is driven by our intelligence gathering, such as it is. But, surely, Benghazi! plays a role, too. Politics doesn’t stop at the water’s edge.

  6. C. Clavin says:

    I am almost positive that President Obama is so spooked by Jenos’s constant chanting of


    that he had no choice but to take this step…while waiting anxiously for the NSA to analyze and narrow down the metadata in order to locate Jenos’s underground lair (his mother’s basement) so that CENTCOM can take him out with a drone strike.

  7. Jen says:

    All of the above, with a heavy dose of Benghazi!, IMHO. We’ve had awful embassy attacks in the past, and I can’t recall at any other time the president getting attacked as relentlessly after the fact–we used to focus our anger on those who attacked us. Overt politics used to stop at the water’s edge, especially when we were attacked.

    We also have the breathless, near-constant cable/TV coverage of same, which makes the threat our embassies face overseas more relevant, or at least more obvious to, the general public.

  8. al-Ameda says:

    Two words: Ben … Ghazi … (not to be confused with Ben Gazarra, Ben Gurion, or Ben Gordon)

    This is a side effect of having Republicans ‘participate’ in the running of our country – our expectations are very, very low.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if Darrell Issa opens a new investigation based on a need to know why the president ordered these closings – I’m sure if he tries hard enough he can link Obama to Neville Chamberlain (you know, appeasement and all that).

  9. gVOR08 says:

    This does smell of W Bush’s Orange alerts whenever there was an upcoming election. However, while this may be inflated, I believe there’s something there. They’ve now been explicit that they’re reacting to communication between Zawahiri and the head of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. Presumably those two guys know if they’ve been in communication and would be much encouraged by evidence of faulty US intelligence. That said, if we’re going to speculate about venal motives, wouldn’t the most likely culprit be the NSA, trying to show the value of their eavesdropping?

    Bureaucracies don’t deal well with novel threats. They overreact to familiar threats. Politics aside, no one wants to be the official who didn’t stop another attack after Benghazi made it clear an attack was possible.

  10. Mikey says:

    @Dave Schuler: Germany has 1200 varieties of sausage and 5000 brands of beer, and that country seems quite governable.

    It’s also an utterly glorious place to eat and drink. All the food there is better than all the food here.

  11. Ben Wolf says:

    @Dave Schuler: The goal is to misdirect attention away from ongoing revelations regarding domestic and international surveillance, the latest of which is, of course, that the DEA is sharing data not admissible in court with law enforcement agencies and covering up the source so defense lawyers and judges can’t object. Just like Dubya hit the orange button when torture and illegal wiretapping were being talked about and just like Clinton vaporized the majority of Sudan’s medical supplies to get Lewinski off the front pages (which we never reimbursed the Sudanese people for by the way, even after it was confirmed the factory was making aspirin).

  12. Franklin says:

    @Dave Schuler: Geez, and we picked the absolutely WORST one to call “American” cheese.