If they knew, why didn't they do anything?The New York Times tries to convince us that the Obama administration did know that Egypt and three other countries in the Arab world were ripe for revolution because of a report that the President himself requested.
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.Read the whole thing.
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.
Administration officials did not say how the report related to intelligence analysis of the Middle East, which the director of the Central Intelligence Agency, Leon E. Panetta, acknowledged in testimony before Congress, needed to better identify “triggers” for uprisings in countries like Egypt.
Officials said Mr. Obama’s support for the crowds in Tahrir Square in Cairo, even if it followed some mixed signals by his administration, reflected his belief that there was a greater risk in not pushing for changes because Arab leaders would have to resort to ever more brutal methods to keep the lid on dissent.
“There’s no question Egypt was very much on the mind of the president,” said a senior official who helped draft the report and who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss its findings. “You had all the unknowns created by Egypt’s succession picture — and Egypt is the anchor of the region.”
At the time, officials said, President Hosni Mubarak appeared to be either digging in or grooming his son, Gamal, to succeed him. Parliamentary elections scheduled for November were widely expected to be a sham. Egyptian police were jailing bloggers, and Mohamed ElBaradei, the former chief of the International Atomic Energy Agency, had returned home to lead a nascent opposition movement.
I don't believe this report exists. I don't believe the President ordered it. Saying that it's 'classified' is a convenient way not to show it to anyone (they could at least unclassify the Egyptian part at this point). They got a friendly reporter at America's most liberal newspaper to write a story that would make Obama look like less of a fool.
The bottom line is that they knew for two years (not just since last summer) that something was coming down the pike in Egypt. And they did nothing.