In case you haven't noticed, Tunisia's fallen apart. Its president just fled the country after weeks of riots, and the military has taken control. The U.S. Embassy will still be closed on Martin Luther King Day, though. Holidays are holidays!
He got an auto-respond e-mail, sent at noon eastern time, saying that Ashby was out of the office and that the embassy will be closed on January 17, 2010 to honor Martin Luther King Day.
Meanwhile, England is busy evacuating 2,000 vacationers. The U.S. Embassy's latest alert to travelers, dated yesterday, urges them to stay away from demonstrations and says "suspicious incidents or problems should be reported immediately to Tunisian authorities and to the U.S. Embassy." It also gives the embassy's address and phone number. But don't bother stopping by on Monday; they'll all probably be at barbecues or something.
We e-mailed Ashby for comment and haven't heard back.
UPDATE: Ashby didn't write back (we got the auto-responder too), but a State Department spokeswoman did send us a statement. Curiously, it doesn't say whether the embassy will be open on Monday. Or, for that matter, whether the embassy's third-ranking staffer will be in his office over the next couple days.
Protection of U.S. citizens overseas is of utmost importance to the State Department, and we are always prepared to assist U.S. citizens in the event of an emergency. I can assure you that our colleagues at the Embassy in Tunis will be available over the weekend and through the Martin Luther King Day holiday, as they are over every weekend and holiday throughout the year.
The U.S. Embassy in Tunisia is located in the Les Berges du Lac suburb of Tunis. The Embassy telephone number is +216 71 107 000 and the Embassy fax number is +216 71 963 263. The Consular section can also be contacted by email at ConsularTunis@state.gov.
Updated information on travel and security in Tunisia may be obtained from the Department of State by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada or, for callers outside the United States and Canada, at 1-202-501-4444.
[Photo of Tunis via AP]