Obama’s post-vacation blues: Egypt and NSA spying on Americans
As he heads home from vacation, President Obama faces two major challenges: what to do about violence in Egypt and how to handle the latest revelations about NSA spying on Americans.
As he heads home from his Martha’s Vineyard vacation Sunday night, President Obama faces two major challenges: what to do about Egypt’s violent political turmoil, and how to handle the latest revelations about National Security Agency (NSA) spying on Americans.Skip to next paragraph
In Pictures Continued Turmoil in Egypt
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On Egypt, everyone in Washington agrees that the United States must respond. The question is, how?
Mr. Obama has condemned the violence, which has seen hundreds of people killed as forces of the military-backed interim government battle supporters of ousted Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood party.
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“While we want to sustain our relationship with Egypt, our traditional cooperation cannot continue as usual when civilians are being killed in the streets and rights are being rolled back,” he said in a brief statement last week.
Specifically, Obama acted on that “traditional cooperation” by canceling joint military exercises scheduled for September and delaying the delivery of four F-16 fighter jets.
But on the TV talk shows Sunday, lawmakers of both parties urged him to do more, including suspending the $1.3 billion in aid the US provides to Egypt each year.
“I don’t see how we can give them aid in light of what has happened,” Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R) of New Hampshire said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “I do support suspending aid to Egypt at this time.”
Sen. Jack Reed (D) of Rhode Island agreed: “I do think we can send a strong signal by suspending aid.”
Sen. Bob Corker (R) of Tennessee had resisted calls to cut off aid. But on Sunday, he switched positions. "I think we need to look at the tiers of our aid," he said on ABC’s “This Week.”
Sen. John McCain (R) of Arizona took the hardest line.
"We have no credibility,” he said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” "For us to sit by and watch this happen is a violation of everything that we stand for.”
Meanwhile, Obama is having to deal with the latest revelation about the NSA: that the electronic spy agency regularly collected e-mails and telephone metadata on Americans without first obtaining legal authorization.