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US Lawmakers Question CIA Intel on Egypt Uprising

Friday, 04 Feb 2011 09:48 AM


Senior U.S. lawmakers questioned Thursday whether the CIA and other spy agencies failed to give President Obama adequate warning of the unfolding crisis in Egypt, using a Senate hearing to accuse American intelligence services of being slow to grasp a revolution that took root on the Internet, The Washington Post reports.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), chairman of the Intelligence Committee, said after the hearing that the intelligence community's performance had been "lacking" despite the stakes surrounding a protest that threatens to "create a major maelstrom in the Middle East."

A senior CIA official testifying at the hearing defended the intelligence community's performance, saying that the nation's spy services had warned the Obama administration late last year that Egypt's government could fall.

"We warned of instability," said Stephanie O'Sullivan, who has been nominated to become the nation's No. 2 intelligence official. The hearing was on her nomination to be principal deputy director of the Office of Director of National Intelligence. But, she added, "we didn't know what the triggering mechanism would be."

The pointed exchanges suggest emerging tensions within the administration and on Capitol Hill over the United States' handling of the turmoil in Egypt and specifically about whether U.S. spy agencies were slow to recognize the threat.

O'Sullivan deflected persistent questions from senators attempting to pin down precisely when Obama was told that budding street protests in Cairo had the potential to topple Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

"What I am interested in is when the president was told how serious this was," said Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), who noted that O'Sullivan had been warned that the question would come up during her confirmation hearing.

Read the entire story at washingtonpost.com







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2011-48-04
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