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.
obama says that since most of america is out of work he is not going to do anything either!!!
Why is our president acting more like a celebrity than the commander in cheif? He has no reason to be on late night TV.
@ Rudy NYC
Does it help if I told that the reason I cited yesterday, to show a unified political front to the MB, came from an "unnamed source" within the Obama administration? At least that was the idea. Letting them know that waiting for political tides to change in the US doesn't change how the US regards the MB
No it wouldn't help and I'll tell you the reason why: I value and respect your insights; when you speak you generally have the data to back it up. You've been at this much, much longer than I.
I was and stil am somewhat passionate about my distrust of anything that involves McCain (and Graham),
Sniffit speculations made sense to a certain extent. Your explanation makes sense as well. It is just that I don't trust McCain to be able to "stick to the script" or not be inclined to go rogue no matter how clear his instructions.
His ego is non-compliant.
The puppet appeared on Leno's comedy show last night. What a venue for the president of the United States and supposed leader of the world.
Oh golly gee I can't wait to read the rabid responses from the Party of family values.........
THE TYRANT WOLF-IN-CHIEF
"Cherish, therefore, the spirit of our people, and keep alive their attention. Do not be too severe upon their errors, but reclaim them by enlightening them. If once they become inattentive to the public affairs, you and I, and Congress, and Assemblies, Judges, and Governors, shall all become wolves."
–Thomas Jefferson, letter to Edward Carrington, 1787
Wait a minute, didn't Obama say not too long ago that "Al Qaeda was on the run"?????? So I guess they aren't now right? ANOTHER FAIL from this administration....Obama is a DISASTER. Can't wait till 2016.....get this guy OUT.
Thank goodness that, with our crumbling economy and everything falling apart, the POTUS has nothing better to do than talk show appearances. He belongs in prison.
Whatever happened to the word "terrorism"? Now everything's a "terror threat" or a "war on terror". C'mon now, can't we be a little more articulate than that?
Obama is so full of it. What a pathetic president.
How long before we read the word Benghazi in this thread? This POTUS is damned if he do, damned if he don't. I guess that's why they started throwing around the phrase, worst President in history, within 2 weeks of him taking office.....
"President Obama: “No patience” for anti-LGBT laws in Russia" – Apparently that kind of nonsense is occupying Obama vs. working on the problems in America that he created. Pathetic.
What a disgrace as president Obama is! He goes on an entertainment "talk" show to address such issues, yet he's a total coward to do anything concrete about anything!
He also said that there is no domestic spying program on the Leno show. Another outright lie from one of the best liars there is. Unfit for office. Needs to be impeached.
Something is wrong with a president who goes on late night tv with Leno and also text messages rappers.. He isn't president material, not at all.
Obama wants Leno's job obviously and I think he should get it.
Great and eloquent interview, I especially liked it when Jay leno thanked Obama for the providing health care for his employees.
I hate it when my wife says "Do Something". I always leave the house.
I guess Obama is the same way.
If there is such an imminent threat, why is he in LA schmoozing w/Leno??? Shouldn't he be, oh, I don't know, acting like the PRESIDENT?
Obama said the govt doesn't spy on americans? I am always disappointed when liars pants don't catch on fire.
A bigger question: Why on earth is the President of the United States spending tax payer dollars to appear on a talk show??? And shame on the networks for conintuing to make a mockery of the Presidency by hosting him? Even if Obaman doesn't have the common sense to stay off talk show TV, maybe the networks and the likes of Jay Leno could step up and recognize that this is just not the way things should be done. Obama makes a mockery of everything that has heretofore made this country great. And I wholeheartedly agree with Beni, hopefully after Jan 2016 American can be taken seriously again. The monarchy will be over...... Unfortunately where are the LEADERS? \
Let's see, the GOP is ridiculed by CNN posters for not going on CNN or NBC with their debates, even though the moderators clearly aren't interested in asking illuminating questions, only gotcha questions to make the GOP candidates look bad.
So where's the outrage that Obama won't go on FOXNews or even have a press conference before his fawning press, but, instead, goes on an entertainment program, where he can control the questions and the host will NOT give him a hard time?
Proudly I can say, I never voted for this threat to this Country in either election. I'm amazed at the people that still support this failed Politician......enjoy your future, it will be costly ...thanks to your Obama votes.
So he has time to talk to Leno, but canceled his trip to see Putin. Great priorities.
Let see Obama won't talk to the real press but a talk show comedian. Well I guess that sums up his whole presidency. It is just a Bad Comedy show to him.