Intel Signs of Al Qaeda Plot in the Making: U.S. Embassy Closures — Sunday, August 4

By Domani Spero

Updated August 2, 8:08 am: Additional U.S. embassies/consulates closing on August 4: Khartoum (Sudan), Basrah and Erbil (Iraq) and Amman (Jordan).

Updated August 3, 10 pm:  Other posts included in the temporary closures for August 4: Dhahran and Jeddah (Saudi Arabia), Djibouti (Djibouti) and Dubai (UAE), bringing the total closures to 23 at this time. The US Tel Aviv Embassy post closure includes the American Center in Jerusalem and the Haifa Consular Agency.

 

As of this writing, 15 embassies in Africa, Near East Asia and South Central Asia have been ordered to close on Sunday, August 4 due to a security threat attributed to Al Qaeda. CBS News reports  that U.S. intelligence has picked up signs of an al Qaeda plot against American diplomatic posts in the Middle East and other Muslim countries. The intelligence does not mention a specific location, which is why all embassies that would normally be open on Sunday have been ordered to close.

According to CBS News, officials say that this appears to be a real plot in the making and not just the normal chatter among terrorists talking about attacks they’d like to carry out. But these same officials add they are missing key pieces of information.

An unnamed senior State Department official also told CBS News: “For those who asked about which embassies and consulates we have instructed to suspend operations on August 4th, the answer is that we have instructed all U.S. Embassies and Consulates that would have normally been open on Sunday to suspend operations, specifically on August 4th. It is possible we may have additional days of closing as well.”

Below is the message posted by the affected embassies; links to the emergency message are listed at the bottom of this post:

The Department of State has instructed certain U.S. embassies and consulates to remain closed or to suspend operations on Sunday, August 4.  The Department has been apprised of information that, out of an abundance of caution and care for our employees and others who may be visiting our installations, indicates we should institute these precautionary steps. It is possible we may have additional days of closings as well, depending on our analysis.  The Department, when conditions warrant, takes steps like this to balance our continued operations with security and safety.  However, beyond this announcement we do not discuss specific threat information, security considerations or measures, or other steps we may be taking.  

We are pleased to see that they are being prudent.  While we have not been glued to the news this past few days, we heard that hundreds escape from the Abu Ghraib jail in Iraq. There seems to be a whole lot of prison breaks  lately in other parts of the region.  While these incidents may not be connected, we find it disturbing and gravely unsettling.  We are also just a few days away from the 15th anniversary of the twin U.S. embassy bombings in East Africa.  We might also remember that in the last several years, August has been a month of death and mayhem for our diplomatic posts overseas.

AUGUST 7, 1998 – EAST AFRICA BOMBINGS: Near-simultaneous truck bombs exploded and severely damaged the U.S. Embassies in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and Nairobi, Kenya, killing 291 people (including 12 Americans) and injuring nearly 5,000 (including six Americans) in Nairobi, and killing 10 people and injuring 77 (including one American) in Dar es Salaam.

AUGUST 7, 2004 – AL-JAWF, YEMEN: Angry local villagers opened fire on vehicles of the U.S. Embassy Force Protection Detachment.

AUGUST 21, 2005 – PAGHMAN, AFGHANISTAN: Assailants detonated an explosive device as a U.S. Embassy vehicle passed, wounding two Embassy employees and damaging the vehicle.

AUGUST 29, 2006 – KABUL, AFGHANISTAN: Unknown individuals detonated a remote-controlled bomb against a U.S. Embassy vehicle, damaging the vehicle but causing no injuries.

AUGUST 27, 2006 – AL-HILLAH, IRAQ: Four or five mortar rounds were fired at the Regional Embassy Office Hillah, injuring two U.S. soldiers, one U.S. contract employee, and four local employees.

AUGUST 28, 2008 – BASRAH, IRAQ: One of two rockets fired at Basrah Air Station penetrated the overhead cover of the Regional Embassy Office located at the station, and passed through two trailers before embedding in the ground. No injuries were reported.

AUGUST 26, 2008 – PESHAWAR, PAKISTAN: Gunmen opened fire on a vehicle carrying the U.S. Consulate General’s principal officer to work. She and her driver escaped injury when the driver drove the vehicle in reverse, to the safety of the officer’s residence nearby.

AUGUST 3, 2011 – BAGHDAD, IRAQ: An explosive device detonated against a U.S. Embassy protective security team, injuring five persons and damaging one vehicle.

AUGUST 8, 2012 – ASADABAD CITY, AFGHANISTAN: Two suicide bombers detonated their explosives near U.S. provincial reconstruction team members walking near Forward Operating Base Fiaz, killing three U.S. service members and one USAID employee, and wounding nine U.S. soldiers, one U.S. diplomat, four local employees, and one Afghan National Army member.

 

Below is a list of August 4, 2013 U.S. Embassy Closures:

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Here Comes the Sun: U.S. Senate Confirms A Slew of New Ambassadors as It Runs Out the Door

By Domani Spero

As it wraps up its business and heads out for its summer break, the U.S. Senate on August 1 confirmed a slew of State Department nominees.  It looks like Ambassador Nuland did not get the Senate nod at this time. We’re not sure if that means the nomination is in trouble or just needed to wait until the Senate comes back in September. We haven’t had  a chance to dig who else were not confirmed. It looks like most of the ambassadorial nominees have been confirmed and will soon be heading to posts.  Except — the Senate also left town without approving a single State Department Foreign Service tenure decision or promotion. We understand that over 800 names are pending at the Senate awaiting that nod.

According to the Majority, if the Senate receives a message that the House adoptedS.Con.Res.22, the adjournment resolution, the Senate will convene for a pro forma session only on Monday, August 12th at 12:00pm. Executive nominations are automatically returned to the White House when the Senate is adjourned for 30 days or more. Since unanimous consent was not reached to waive this requirement, this pro forma will occur in order to prevent those executive nominations from being returned.

Below are the nominations confirmed by the Senate today:

Executive Calendar #221 Samantha Power – to be Representative of the United States of America to the Sessions of the General Assembly of the United Nations during her tenure of service as Representative of the United States of America to the United Nations

Executive Calendar #217 Daniel Brooks Baer – to be U.S. Representative to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, with the rank of Ambassador

Executive Calendar #218 Douglas Edward Lute – to be United States Permanent Representative on the Council of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, with the rank and status of Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary

Executive Calendar #222 Catherine M. Russell – to be Ambassador at Large for Global Women’s Issues

Executive Calendar #286 Morrell John Berry – to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to Australia

Executive Calendar #287 Patricia Marie Haslach – to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia

Executive Calendar #288 Reuben Earl Brigety, II – to be Representative of the United States of America to the African Union, with the rank and status of Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary

Executive Calendar #289 Daniel A. Clune – to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States ofAmerica to the Lao People’s Democratic Republic

Executive Calendar #290 Patrick Hubert Gaspard – to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of South Africa

Executive Calendar #291 Stephanie Sanders Sullivan – to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of the Congo

Executive Calendar #292 Joseph Y. Yun – to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to Malaysia

Executive Calendar #293 Linda Thomas-Greenfield – to be an Assistant Secretary of State (African Affairs)

Executive Calendar #294 James F. Entwistle – to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Executive Calendar #295 David D. Pearce – to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to Greece.

Executive Calendar #296 John B. Emerson – to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Federal Republic of Germany.

Executive Calendar #297 John Rufus Gifford – to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to Denmark.

Executive Calendar #298 Denise Campbell Bauer – to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to Belgium.

Executive Calendar #299 James Costos – to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to Spain

Executive Calendar #300 James Costos – to serve concurrently and without additional compensation as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to Andorra.

Executive Calendar #312 Matthew Winthrop Barzun – to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

Executive Calendar #313 David Hale – to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Lebanon

Executive Calendar #314 Liliana Ayalde – to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Federative Republic of Brazil

Executive Calendar #315 Kirk W.B. Wagar – to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Singapore

Executive Calendar #316 Terence Patrick McCulley – to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Cote d’Ivoire

Executive Calendar #317 James C. Swan – to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Democratic Republic of the Congo

Executive Calendar #318 John R. Phillips – to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Italian Republic, and to serve concurrently and without additional compensation as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of San Marino

Executive Calendar #319 Kenneth Francis Hackett – to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Holy See

Executive Calendar #320 Alexa Lange Wesner – to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Austria

Executive Calendar #321 Daniel A. Sepulveda – for the rank of Ambassador during his tenure of service as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for International Communications and Information Policy in the Bureau of Economic, Energy, and Business Affairs and U. S. Coordinator for International Communications and Information Policy

The Senate also confirmed the nominations of the following for the Broadcasting Board of Governors:

BROADCASTING BOARD OF GOVERNORS

Executive Calendar #322 Ryan Clark Crocker – to be a Member of the Broadcasting Board of Governors for a term expiring August 13, 2013

Executive Calendar #323 Ryan Clark Crocker – to be a Member of the Broadcasting Board of Governors for a term expiring August 13, 2016 (Reappointment)

Executive Calendar #324 Matthew C. Armstrong – to be a Member of the Broadcasting Board of Governors for a term expiring August 13, 2015

Executive Calendar #325 Jeffrey Shell – to be Chairman of the Broadcasting Board of Governors

Executive Calendar #326 Jeffrey Shell – to be a Member of the Broadcasting Board of Governors for a term expiring August 13, 2015

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