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Thursday, February 17, 2011

NYT spins US as prescient on Egypt. Senate shows otherwise.

From NYT:
President Obama ordered his advisers last August to produce a secret report on unrest in the Arab world, which concluded that without sweeping political changes, countries from Bahrain to Yemen were ripe for popular revolt, administration officials said Wednesday.

Mr. Obama’s order, known as a Presidential Study Directive, identified likely flashpoints, most notably Egypt, and solicited proposals for how the administration could push for political change in countries with autocratic rulers who are also valuable allies of the United States, these officials said.

The 18-page classified report, they said, grapples with a problem that has bedeviled the White House’s approach toward Egypt and other countries in recent days: how to balance American strategic interests and the desire to avert broader instability against the democratic demands of the protesters.
Sounds like the Obama administration is really on top of things, right?

Well....
A senate hearing Wednesday revealed that top US intelligence agencies are largely ignorant about the current situation in Egypt and unfamiliar with the agenda of the country’s radical Islamists.

"It's hard to at this point to point to a specific agenda of the Muslim Brotherhood as a group," National Intelligence Director James Clapper told senators. When asked about the group’s attitude to Egypt’s peace treaty with Israel, he said this was a difficult question before assessing “they are not in favor of the treaty.”

Asked about the Muslim Brotherhood’s position on weapons smuggling to Hamas in Gaza, Clapper said he was unaware of the group’s declared stance on the issue. He said that a wait-and-see attitude was also required before determining the Muslim Brotherhood’s position on Iran.

Intelligence officials also conceded in the hearing that they did not pay enough attention to social media networks, and that they were not closely monitoring Tunisia, where the wave of ongoing regional unrest started.
So who are you going to believe - an alleged secret 18-page memo whose existence is leaked to a newspaper that has a love affair with Obama, or the actual actions and words of a bumbling administration that has never considered monitoring Facebook as a potential source for information over three years after Syria recognized it as a threat and banned it?