Iowa Congressman Steve King opposes the Obama Administration’s decision to close 19 U.S. embassies in Northern Africa and the Middle East all week due to terror threats.
“We should not be pulling out of our embassies because of a threat of al Qaeda. We should be reinforcing our embassies,” King said on KSCJ Radio. “We are the United States of America. We should be able to bring the force to bear to defend them.”
Prison breaks in Iraq, Libya and Pakistan in late July freed hundreds of terrorists linked to al Qaeda. U.S. intelligence agencies reported heightened internet chatter about attacks on Western targets planned for this week, at the end of Ramadan, a month-long period of fasting and self-reflection for Muslims. King, a Republican, said the embassy closings were the wrong move.
“If we build a reputation that we’re going to retreat from internet chatter, what kind of a country are we?” King asked.
King suggested Obama has inappropriately sent “signals” to the enemy.
“I wouldn’t be telling ’em any of this,” King said. “If I made a decision to have an ambassador someplace else, I wouldn’t tell the world that.”
The decision to close the embassies has generally met with widespread approval from Democrats and Republicans in congress. Some Republicans argue the decision showed the Obama Administration had learned from last year’s deadly attack at a U.S. outpost in Libya. King is not convinced the closures are the right move.
“If you announce that it’s too dangerous now, pull everybody out of the multiple embassies and if you just look at the map of the Middle East and then when are we going to declare that it’s safe enough to come back?” King asked.
Americans traveling overseas have been told to take additional security precautions and be wary of the dangers of public transportation. Interpol — an international police agency based in France — issued a global security alert on Saturday, warning of attacks on westerners in Northern Africa and the Middle East. Several European nations — including Britian, Germany and France — closed their embassies in Yemen as a precaution.
(Reporting by Woody Gottburg, KSCJ, Sioux City; additional reporting by Radio Iowa’s O. Kay Henderson)