Want to know why Obama was completely blindsided by Mubarak’s announcement that he wasn’t resigning?
Turns out CIA director Leon Panetta, who told lawmakers on Capitol Hill yesterday that there was “a strong likelihood that Mubarak may step down this evening” was taking many of his cues from what the American media was broadcasting.
Look at these reports from both the WSJ and the NYT.
Mr. Panetta clarified later in the hearing that the CIA had received reports that Mr. Mubarak would “possibly” resign but said he saw a transition scenario under which Mr. Mubarak would shift powers to Mr. Suleiman, something closer to what appears to have happened.
A senior intelligence official defended Mr. Panetta, saying he was referring to press reports in his comments rather than to CIA intelligence reports.
“The agency has been tracking developments very closely, and there were very real and rapidly unfolding changes over the course of the day in what has been—by any measure—an extremely fluid situation,” the official said. “That’s the nature of the intelligence business.”
American officials said Mr. Panetta was basing his statement not on secret intelligence but on media broadcasts, which began circulating before he sat down before the House Intelligence Committee. But a senior administration official said Mr. Obama had also expected that Egypt was on the cusp of dramatic change. Speaking at Northern Michigan University in Marquette, he said, “We are witnessing history unfold,” adding, “America will do everything we can to support an orderly and genuine transition to democracy.” [h/t]
Tail wag dog.
This is the same American media that jumped the gun last month and declared Gabby Giffords to be dead minutes after her shooting.
Isn’t the CIA supposed to have better resources than CNN? (That’s not to suggest that Ben Wedeman isn’t outstanding…but still).
Al Jazeera meanwhile, was not reporting Mubarak resignation was imminent. So another reason to get Al Jazeeera on cable asap: The CIA apparently needs the help.
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