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August 2nd, 2013
11:12 AM ET

State Dept. Closing Middle East Embassies Sunday

A "serious and credible" terror threat is prompting the U.S. State Department to close more than a dozen embassies and consulates in the Middle East and across the Muslim world on Sunday.

Officials say the unspecified threat is directed at U.S. targets overseas, and may not be confined to diplomatic posts.

“The move comes as the holy days that mark the end of Ramadan approach at merely a year after the deadly attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya,” reports CNN’s Barbara Starr.

“Now the embassy in the capital Tripoli will be closed.”

Embassies in Cairo, Tel Aviv, Riyadh, and Baghdad, which “would normally have been open on Sunday,” are also being shut down.

“And the closings may expand to include additional days,” Starr says.

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Filed under: Middle East • Pentagon • Security • State Department
December 14th, 2012
06:44 AM ET

Fiscal cliff fallout at Pentagon over defense spending cuts; CNN's Chris Lawrence reports: Pentagon officials on 'auto-pilot to defend their budget'

Only 18 days remain until the U.S. falls over the fiscal cliff. Without a deal to avert it, automatic tax increases and spending cuts are set to go in affect at the beginning of next year. The cliff’s cuts include a $500 billion reduction in defense spending spread out over the next ten years. CNN’s Chris Lawrence explores the fallout over this at the Pentagon.

One Pentagon official says allowing sequestration “would introduce senseless chaos”. Another likens its potential affects on the armed forces to “Armageddon”, Lawrence says. "What I worry about is being blindsided by a huge cut,” Defense Secretary Leon Panetta says, “because they don't have the strength and the courage and the guts to do what they have to." General Martin Dempsey says, "Sequestration would risk hollowing out our force." This view has Pentagon officials on full alert over fiscal cliff negotiations.

"A senior Defense official admits that everyone at the Pentagon, from the Secretary on down, is on auto-pilot to defend their budget,” Lawrence reports. "Even though he feels they need people to go in and challenge their own cost, he argues that's better done over time—not forced on them by the fiscal cliff."

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Filed under: Fiscal cliff • Pentagon