Monday, January 30, 2012
What self inflicted blindness!
Just a few hours ago, I reported that the Obama administration plans to reward the Muslim Brotherhood for refusing to speak with Israel by speeding up US aid to Egypt. Now, it appears that the shoe is on the other foot as well. Perhaps that will change things.
Reports out of Cairo indicate that six Americans who were working for American-funded organizations promoting democracy in Egypt have been barred from leaving the country. One of them is Sam LaHood, the son of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. Ray LaHood is a Republican and the son of a Lebanese father and an American mother. Sam (pictured with his father at the father's swearing-in ceremony) is being held in what's being called de facto detention. And the Obama administration is said to be outraged (Hat Tip: Memeorandum).
The travel ban came to light on Thursday after the International Republican Institute, an American-backed democracy-building group, disclosed that the Egyptian authorities had stopped its Egypt director, Sam LaHood, at the Cairo airport on Saturday before he could board a flight to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates.
Mr. LaHood is the son of Ray LaHood, the secretary of transportation and a former Republican congressman from Illinois. He is one of six Americans working for the Republican Institute or its sister organization, the National Democratic Institute, whom Egypt has blocked from leaving as part of a politically charged criminal investigation into their activities. ust a day before Mr. LaHood was detained temporarily, President Obama had warned Egypt�s leader, Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, that this year�s American military aid hinged on satisfying new Congressional legislation requiring that Egypt�s military government take tangible steps toward democracy, said three people briefed on the conversation.
Mr. Obama referred specifically to the criminal inquiry into several democracy-building groups with foreign financing, including the Republican Institute, the people who were briefed said, and he made clear that Egypt had not fulfilled the Congressional requirements, but Field Marshal Tantawi did not seem to believe him.
So it's Tantawi's fault and not the Brotherhood's? Of course, why didn't I think of that? But the result will be the same: This could lead to a hold-up of US aid money to Egypt.
But here's the weird part. The Obama administration seems to be wanting to play good cop, bad cop over this - and to make Congress the bad cop.
Then, after the travel ban on the Americans became public on Thursday, the administration made the warning public as well. �It is the prerogative of Congress to say that our future military aid is going to be conditioned on a democratic transition,� Michael H. Posner, an assistant secretary of state responsible for human rights issues, said at a previously scheduled press conference in Cairo on Thursday.
Boy is that one rich. Didn't Hillary Clinton argue precisely the opposite six months ago? This is from the Times:
Though members of Congress have talked this year of imposing conditions on American aid to Egypt, the Obama administration had previously opposed the idea.
The White House negotiated intensely to allow the president the option of waiving the conditions, if necessary, in the name of national security. Now Hillary Rodham Clinton, the secretary of state, is required to certify that Egypt is making democratic progress � carrying out �policies to protect freedom of expression, association and religion, and due process of law� � before releasing the aid this fiscal year.
I don't see how she can certify any of those things regardless of whether these six people are released. Freedom of religion with a parliament that's dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafists? You've got to be kidding.
Representative Frank R. Wolf, a Republican from Virginia who serves on the House Appropriations Committee, said the Egyptian government continued to flout American efforts and to undermine democratic rights. �This is out of control,� Mr. Wolf said on Thursday. �If the administration follows the law, there�s no way they can continue the aid.�
And in case you're wondering about the head count...
In addition to Mr. LaHood, four other employees from the Republican Institute, including two Americans, had been barred from travel. Officials of the National Democratic Institute said that six of its employees had been banned, including three Americans.