Guardian columnist Glenn Greenwald on Monday suggested that President Barack Obama had ordered 19 U.S. embassies in the Middle Easy closed not because of a legitimate terror threat, but to silence a debate on recently-revealed details of National Security Agency (NSA) data collection programs.

In a Sunday appearance on Meet the Press, Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) said that the embassies had been temporarily closed after the NSA learned of a terrorist plot.

Speaking to Democracy Now's Amy Goodman on Monday, Greenwald observed that the Obama administration may have shuttered the posts just to stop discussion about his reporting.

"Here we are in the midst of one the most intense debates and sustain debates that we've had in a very long time in this country over the dangers of excess surveillance, and suddenly an administration that has spent two claiming that it has decimated Al-Qaeda decides that there is this massive threat that involves the closing of embassies and consulates throughout the world," Greenwald explained. "And within literally an amount of hours, the likes of Saxby Chambliss and Lindsey Graham join with the White House and Democrats in Congress -- who, remember, are the leading defenders of the NSA at this point -- to exploit that terrorist threat, and to insist that it shows that the NSA and these programs are necessary."

Goodman pointed out Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger's (D-MD) had said on Sunday that Greenwald's reporting had been wrong and that members of Congress were being given ample opportunity to learn about the NSA programs.

"I hope Dutch Ruppersberger takes a much more prominent role in the political debate because he's basically the embodiment of the rotted soul that is become the Democratic Party," the Guardian columnist quipped.

Watch this video from Democracy Now, broadcast Aug. 5, 2013.