to Embassies to Silence Critics of NSA Domestic Surveillance? The Obama administration has announced it will keep 19 diplomatic posts in North Africa and the Middle East closed for up to a week, due to fears of a possible militant threat. On Sunday, Senator Saxby Chambliss, the top Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee, said the decision to close the embassies was based on information collected by the National Security Agency. "If we did not have these programs, we simply would not be able to listen in on the bad guys," Chambliss said, in a direct reference to increasing debate over widespread spying of all Americans revealed by Glenn Greenwald of the Guardian. "Nobody has ever questioned or disputed that the U.S. government, like all governments around the world, ought to be eavesdropping and monitoring the conversations of people who pose an actual threat to the United States in terms of plotting terrorist attacks, Greenwald says. Pointing to the recent revelations by leaker Edward Snowden that he has reported on, Greenwald explains, "Here we are in the midst of one of the most intense debates and sustained debates that we've had in a very long time in this country over the dangers of excess surveillance, and suddenly, an administration that has spent two years claiming that it has decimated al-Qaeda decides that there is this massive threat that involves the closing of embassies and consulates around the world. The controversy is over the fact that they are sweeping up billions and billions of emails and telephone calls every single day from people around the world and in the United States who have absolutely nothing to do with terrorism." Greenwald also discusses the NSA's XKeyscore Internet tracking program, Reuters' whistle-blower
Bradley Manning. This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form. AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, democracy now.org, The War and Peace Report. I'm Amy Goodman. I want to go back to Senator Saxby Chambliss, the top Republican on the Intelligence Committee, to get Glenn Greenwald's response. During an appearance on MSNBC's Meet the Press, he said the NSA surveillance programs had uncovered information about the threats that prompted the U.S. to close 19 embassies in North Africa and the Middle East. Senator SAXBY CHAMBLISS: These programs are controversial. We understand that. They're very sensitive. But they're also very important, because they are what lead us to have the-or allow us to have the ability to gather this chatter that I referred to. If we did not have these programs, then we simply wouldn't be able to listen in on the bad guys. And I will say that it's the 702 program that has allowed us to pick up on this chatter. That's the program that allows us to listen overseas, not on domestic soil, but overseas.