Obama gutted funding for Egypt human rights activists

Obama gutted funding for Egypt human rights activists

Ed Lasky


President Obama has all but ignored human rights in
developing his foreign policy. He stood down when Iranians were protesting
against the regime that oppresses them. He has shafted
the Tibetans
when it comes to standing with them against their Chinese
overlords. He has ignored Russian depredations against its neighbors.
Recently, it has come to light that he slashed funding for Egyptian human
rights groups that could have empowered democracy activists.
From the Los
Angeles Times:

Early in Obama’s presidency, officials cut in half funding to promote
democracy in Egypt. They also agreed to restrict certain grants only to
organizations licensed by President Hosni Mubarak’s authoritarian regime,
reversing a Bush administration policy of funding groups at odds with the
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, at a March 2009 meeting with
Mubarak at an Egyptian resort on the Red Sea, seemed to downplay a State
Department report documenting torture, rape and political detentions in
“We issue these reports on every country,” Clinton told a television
interviewer. “And so we hope that it will be taken in the spirit in which it is
offered, that we all have room for improvement.”
Egyptian dissidents were distressed by the administration’s message.
“All this sent a signal that was very damaging,” said Stephen McInerney,
executive director of the Project on Middle East Democracy, a Washington
advocacy group.

These are people who could have been our friends and allies and might have
played a role in forming the next Egyptian government. Now the field is much
more open for extremist groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood to take control.
This would give rise to a radical regime in a vital part of the world.
Why did “President Spendthrift” find this one budget item to cut? Perhaps his
lobbyist pals played a role.
From Business

Until a popular revolt put his control of Egypt in jeopardy, President Hosni
Mubarak had kept a tight grip on power and billions of dollars in U.S. aid
flowing with few strings attached, in part by retaining three of Washington’s
most high-powered lobbyists.
Since Egypt hired the lobbyists in 2007, Congress softened a condition on the
foreign aid, added in 2005 over Mubarak’s objections, that barred his government
from choosing which pro-democracy groups should receive $20 million of Egypt’s
$1.8 billion in U.S. aid. That restriction became harder to enforce in 2009 when
Congress barred all foreign governments from determining who could get such
grants. U.S. pro-democracy programs in Egypt ultimately had little effect, a
2009 Agency for International Development audit concluded, because of a “lack of
cooperation” by the Egyptian government.
The three lobbyists are Tony Podesta, who has close ties to the Obama
Administration, former Republican representative Bob Livingston, and former
Democratic representative Toby Moffett. The three formed a joint venture, PLM
Group, to represent Egypt in Washington, according to foreign-agent records at
the Justice Dept. They were paid $1.1 million a year, says a person familiar
with the company.

The kingpin of this trio would be Tony Podesta who has built a powerhouse
lobbyist firm in Washington. His brother is John Podesta who  heads the Center
for American Progress – a think tank and activist group with very close ties to
the White House. John Podesta headed the transition team for President-elect
Obama and his Center for American Progress is not only Obama’s “Idea factory”
but also has placed many of its employees into key positions of power in the
administration (Van Jones was one of them until he was “resigned” in the wake of
controversies regarding his views. He found a comfortable sinecure back at the
Obama has made a mockery of his no lobbyist pledge through various loopholes
(one of my favorites was having White House officials meet lobbyists at the Caribous
close to the White House so their names do not show up on the White
House logs).
The Podesta brothers (John and Tony) are frequent guests in
the Obama White House.
Did a few million dollars of lucre flowing to Obama’s lobbyist friends gut
the pro-democracy movement in Egypt and leave a vacuum for the radical group the
Muslim Brotherhood to fill? Egypt might soon be ruled by a very anti-American
regime in a very key part of the world (The Suez Canal is only one reason we
need friends over there; a radicalized Egypt can spread terror throughout the
world and extremist Muslims have been killing Coptic Christians throughout
Has an ally been lost because of the machinations of lobbyists and their
friend in the Oval Office?
Who sold out Egypt? Who sold out America?

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at February 09, 2011 – 10:30:28 AM CST

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