By Elise Labott
Fearing protests after Friday Muslim prayers could turn violent, the Obama administration is engaged in an all-out effort to secure American diplomatic facilities overseas.
In the wake of Tuesday's attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, and protests at U.S. embassies in Cairo, Egypt, and Yemen in response to a video by an American filmmaker, officials say all diplomatic posts overseas have been instructed to beef up security in advance of Friday's prayers
"We are in a full-court press at every single one of the posts in the Middle East and anywhere else there is any chance of demonstrations after Friday services to make sure nothing bad happens. And to have the security in place in case bad things do happen," one senior official said. "We are talking to every senior person, in Washington and at post to make certain as much security is in place any place we think there could be a threat or a demonstration."
Friday prayers have consistently been a flashpoint for protests throughout the Arab spring.
President Obama said Wednesday he instructed all diplomatic posts to review their security posture and ensure they have the resources they need. Such reviews are common before holidays, such as the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.
"But we are looking at our security again in light of all of these events, the post-9/11 environment, the video that has been on the Internet, the protests and of course Libya with an eye toward Friday protests," the official said.
Officials said that in the wake of the Libya attack and the embassy protests, numerous high-level meetings have taken place over the past 36 hours addressing embassy security, including at the cabinet level including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta.
"We are holding a review and making assessments based on the posts and the intelligence community," the senior administration official said. "And we are telling them if you need anything, speak up."
Officials said the administration is also casting a wide net to send messages of calm, reaching out to imams and other credible voices in the United States and abroad. The administration is also engaged in an extensive campaign to inform Muslims that the video was not endorsed by the United States government. The effort began Thursday morning with a statement from Clinton denouncing the film as "disgusting and reprehensible."
Diplomats have also taken to social media and online Arabic websites to speak about Washington's rejection of the film within the context of freedom of expression.