Updated at 10:23 p.m. ET on 8/6
(CNN) – The decision to close a broad swath of American embassies and diplomatic posts across the Middle East in response to a terror threat was not an overreaction, President Barack Obama said Tuesday in his first remarks on the new security precautions.
The U.S. security posture throughout the Middle East, and especially in Yemen, was heightened after officials intercepted a message from al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri to a top ally in Yemen telling him to "do something." A worldwide travel alert was issued, along with the slate of embassy and consulate closings.
The latest threat, Obama said, was a reminder that violent extremism still exists in the world. He stressed the importance of using caution and common sense while traveling abroad.
"The odds of dying in a terrorist attack are a lot lower than they are of dying in a car accident, unfortunately," Obama said.
The president spoke on NBC's "Tonight Show" with Jay Leno, which was taped in California and was to air later Tuesday evening. General notes about Obama's remarks were distributed by a pool of journalists traveling with the president.
Asked about Edward Snowden, who admitted to leaking details of U.S. classified surveillance programs, Obama said he was disappointed Russia had granted asylum to the former government contractor.
Russia's leaders, he said, have a proclivity for slipping into a Cold War mindset; though he added essential cooperation between the two nations continues.
The president will still attend September's Group of 20 summit in St. Petersburg, Russia, Obama said, though the White House has said an earlier meeting in Moscow between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Obama is under review.
Breaking: Obama cancels meeting with Putin
Discussing Russia, Obama criticized a new law in the country barring public discussion of gay rights and relationships anywhere where children might hear it. The law has been condemned by Russian and international rights groups as highly discriminatory.
President Obama: “No patience” for anti-LGBT laws in Russia
While Obama predicted Russia's treatment of gays and lesbians would not ultimately adversely affect its ability to host the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, he did say he had little tolerance for nations who intimidate or harm citizens based on their sexual orientation.
Russia, he said, has a big stake in making next year's games successful – and a crackdown on gays and lesbians would prevent a successful Olympics.
On a pair of fellow politicians - and fellow 2008 candidates for president - Obama offered laughing assessments of Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
The budding "bromance" between Obama and McCain - manifested Tuesday in the Republican senator's trip to Egypt at Obama's request - is akin to a romantic comedy, the president said.
"Initially, you're not getting along and then you keep bumping into each other," he joked.
In his opening monologue, Leno joked that McCain had been working with Egyptian leaders since "the King Tut administration."
And Clinton - enjoying a "post-administration glow" at their White House lunch last week - doesn't need to scope out the Oval Office ahead of an anticipated 2016 presidential bid. When Leno joked the former first lady may be measuring the drapes, Obama pointed out she has plenty of experience in the executive mansion.
"Keep in mind she's been there. She doesn't have to measure them," he said.
Does this guy ever stop campaigning??
Leno knows better than to believe this CHARLATAN!!!
How does this guy find time to be president between all of his TV gigs? Oh that’s right; he has all of those non-elected Zars for that stuff.
If I were on that show I would have asked this "Why are we still there?" "Why do we have military bases all over the world?"
This was entirely political theater. There wasn't one word of truth in it. It was a dictator's orchestrated play, totally rehearsed, and totally intended to deceive, and lie to the people. Leno was complicit in it, and it was totally obvious that even he, wasn't good enough, as an actor, to be convincing in his "interviewer" role,
Morsi would have LOVED it! The Ayatollah would have LOVED it. Any dictator, would have loved it.
Anyone who bought that dog and pony show.......is a complete fool.
Oh so now after Benghazi does he take threats credibly. The same information was running rampant before the Benghazi attack and he sat on his butt. His lack of leadership and false sense of security is more apparent everyday. Those who are on the ground and in the trenches know better than to believe the drivel he sprays. Al-queada and the Taliban were never on the run. You cut the head off and another one will re-appear. He never got Bin-Laden, it was the US Navy Seals. His vacations are costing us way too much money (over $110 million). People bash on Bush about his vacations but look where he went. Back to his home in Texas and he would make it a working vacation. Add insult to injury, Obama's inner circle of Hollywood elites are given free reign to do as they please. Remember Jay-Z and Beyoncé going to Cuba?! They get to go with his blessing yet we cannot legally acquire commodities like cigars from there. 2016 cannot get here soon enough.
Wait, what? Why is that unfortunate?? I'd think he'd be happy that the death rate of terror attacks is below that of car accidents. Next up, let's get that number down below the rate of fatal lightning strikes.
I like the part where he says, "The odds of dying in a terrorist attack are a lot lower than they are of dying in a car accident, unfortunately," Obama..
What, he rather it more likely we die from terrorist attack so they can keep stealing our tax money for illegal wars ?
When will we stand up as a society and have a say in our tax dollar spending?
So here we have the great campaigner once again. Over 16 trillion in debt , NO budget plan, , not that we have had any budget since he took office, government furloughs in affect, and we have time for J Leno. Next we will hear " you have to sign it to know whats in it" oops we already did that. Great leadership odummer
terror with Leno?, whats next deficits with Conan? or or IRS Scandals with Joan RIvers?
Obama does well on comedy shows.
Boy, do I feel safer now! Glad the president got all this terror stuff cleared up. To bad he didn't take terrorists actions more seriously in #Benghazi
"What difference does it make"????
The old approval rating is falling...must do some favorable photo-ops.
Another talk show appearance. WOW. A president or is he trying to be a movie star. Get to work Mr POTUS. You have been neglecting your job since you got it!!!!!! And when yu do do it, you do a lousy job....maybe thats why you "appeal" to the public as ofter as you can.
A sickeningly gushing interview with the mastermind of the US downfall!
This is a better president than he is given credit. Of course we will see the idiot knuckle draggin' Tea Turds posting hateful stuff in 5,4,3,2,1.....but this guy pays attention when told "....al qaeda is determined to attack the U.S. and/or its citizens" ....Oh Just for the Record Tea Tards, Benghazi was CIA operation.....Can you twits wrap your little minds around that? How about this (?) have you ever heard an administration speak truthfully about an exposed CIA operation? Or try this on for size, "The CIA gave Susan Rice her talking points" You people are unarmed in a battle of wits and intellect.
A country that does not allow for free speech giving asylum to someone who is making a stance on free speech is odd indeed.
how embarrassing for Obama...
..Look,...these goofballz that constantly SCREAM about every decision Obama makes is TERRIBLE, are simply the extreme radical right doing it's MO ron imitation,...........to a T.
So here we have the great campaigner once again. Over 16 trillion in debt , NO budget plan, , not that we have had any budget since he took office, government furloughs in affect, and we have time for J Leno. Next we will hear " you have to pass it to know what's in it" oops we already did that. Great leadership!
Obama makes a stand against terrorism on... The Late Show.
Next on Nickelodeon, Obama announces his plans for unemployment.
Next on Cartoon Network, Obama addresses how he will fulfill his promise to eliminate the deficit.
Next on Comedy Central, Obama announces Benghazi = phony controversy, IRS = phony controversy, NSA spying = phony controversy.
Next on the Weather Channel, the Obama international lottery! What is the next continent that is going to get $7 billion?
Obama... Hollow optimizes... Hollow President
Shouldn't this idiot be acting as president instead of going on celebrity talk shows???? This guy is the biggest socialist I have ever seen. He should be impeached for trying to hide Bengazi!
If he had closed Benghazi he would of been accuse of over reacting. You can't win Obama they will hate you either way...I wonder why ?