Donald Lambro

Remember when President Obama was telling us in his 2012 re-election campaign that he had "decimated" al-Qaeda and they were "on the run"?

Well, it turns out that's not true and probably never was. The al-Qaeda network has grown much larger, more lethal, and more dangerous than ever, with expanded franchises in a number of Muslim countries and outposts who right now are threatening to attack us, according to "intercepted communications" by the National Security Agency.

That's right, the same National Security Agency that has been irresponsibly attacked by its critics in Congress and elsewhere for its narrowly selected, court-approved use of telecommunications data both here and abroad to protect us from another 9/11.

Despite Obama's exaggerated, swaggering claims that he had all but destroyed al-Qaeda, they are the ones who are on the offensive, targeting embassies, consulates and possibly key targets in the U.S.

And we're the ones on the defensive, shuttering our posts in foreign capitals across the Middle East and North Africa. More than 20 of them at last count.

The administration wasn't taking any chances after the severe political beating it got over its attempted cover up of terrorist attacks and massacre at our consulate in Benghazi, Libya, where our ambassador and three other Americans died in 2012.

What message does the administration's move send in response to al-Qaeda's latest terrorist threats? It only shows that they now can shut our embassies down in the Muslim world without firing a shot at a dangerous time, especially since we're rapidly pulling out of Afghanistan in the face of a reinvigorated Taliban offensive and have left Iraq to fend for itself against a growing wave of terrorist bombings by al-Qaeda.

"Four years ago President Obama gave a much heralded speech as outreach to the Muslim world. And now, four years later we are closing embassies throughout the Muslim world. A year ago, the president said al-Qaeda is on the run. And now we seem to be on the run," political analyst William Kristol, editor in chief of the Weekly Standard, said on Fox News Sunday.

Despite Obama's election year braggadocio that he'd all but crushed al-Qaeda, the lengthening list of countries where our embassies were closed shows the extent to which their forces have grown throughout the Middle East and beyond: Egypt, Yemen, Libya, Pakistan, and much if not most of North Africa, including Nairobi and Tanzania.

Notably, this week is the anniversary of the bombings of U.S. embassies in Nairobi and in Dar es Salaam in Tanzania in 1998 when more than 200 people were killed.

Donald Lambro

Donald Lambro is chief political correspondent for The Washington Times.