The Sunday embassy closings became part of that argument, despite questions about what role either program might have played or how real the threat will turn out to be.
The good news is that we picked up intelligence. Thats what the NSA does, said Rep. C. A. Dutch Ruppersberger, D-Md., the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee.
Speaking on ABCs This Week, he said, NSAs sole purpose is to get information intelligence to protect Americans from attack.
Chambliss had a similar view. These programs are controversial, we understand that. Theyre very sensitive. Theyre what allow us to have the ability to gather this chatter we refer to, he said.
If we did not have these programs we wouldnt be able to listen in on the bad guys. And I will say its the 702 program thats allowed us to pick up on this chatter.
Just what role the programs had in intercepting the communication is yet to be known.
The State Department list of extended closings included embassies and consulates in Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman, Yemen, Libya, Djibouti, Sudan, Madagascar, Burundi, Rwanda and Mauritius the last four of which had not been on the list announced Friday. Embassies and consulates in Afghanistan, Algeria, Bangladesh, Iraq, and Mauritania would reopen on Monday.
In Sanaa, the epicenter of concern, Yemeni officials said they were on high alert, but there was little evidence that anything was amiss. Traffic clogged major arteries as residents prepared for the end of the fasting month of Ramadan and the upcoming Eid al-Fitr holiday.
The Yemen-based AQAP has been the most active al Qaida chapter in recent years in attempting attacks on U.S. targets. In 2008, it launched an assault on the U.S. embassy in Sanaa and was responsible for the failed 2010 Christmas Day plot to detonate a bomb hidden a passengers underwear aboard a plane landing in Detroit.
But the organization is under increasing pressure. AQAP recently acknowledged the death in a January drone strike of its deputy leader, Said al-Shihri, and many in Yemen expect AQAP to try to avenge his death.
In addition, a U.S.-backed government offensive against Ansar al Shariah, an AQAP-affiliated militant group, has pushed the group from its strongholds in Abyan and Shabwa provinces though it still retains its bastion in Abyans mountainous district of al Mahfad.
Analysts say they believe the promotion of AQAPs head to a major position in the core al Qaida franchise is likely to increase pressure on the group to strike out.