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Clueless? Clapper
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US clueless about Egypt?
Senate hearing turns into farce as American ignorance on Egypt situation revealed; specific agenda of Muslim Brotherhood unclear, top official says, has trouble responding to question on group’s attitude to peace with Israel
WASHINGTON – A senate hearing Wednesday revealed that top US intelligence agencies are largely ignorant about the current situation in Egypt and unfamiliar with the agenda of the country’s radical Islamists.

 

"It's hard to at this point to point to a specific agenda of the Muslim Brotherhood as a group," National Intelligence Director James Clapper told senators. When asked about the group’s attitude to Egypt’s peace treaty with Israel, he said this was a difficult question before assessing “they are not in favor of the treaty.”

 

However, he then noted that the Muslim Brotherhood was “only one voice in the emerging political milieu," adding that the group is “a large, heterogeneous global organization whose agenda and impact differ from country to country.”

 

"It also has different factions, including a conservative wing whose interpretation of Islam runs counter to broad electoral participation and a younger, more liberal wing who is more inclined to work through a secular political process," he said.

 

Arms smuggling? Not sure

 Asked about the Muslim Brotherhood’s position on weapons smuggling to Hamas in Gaza, Clapper said he was unaware of the group’s declared stance on the issue. He said that a wait-and-see attitude was also required before determining the Muslim Brotherhood’s position on Iran.

 

CIA Director Leon Panetta added: It is clear that within the Muslim brotherhood there are extremist elements that we have to pay attention to and that's something we watch very closely to make sure that they are not able to exert their influence on the directions of governments in that region."

 

Intelligence officials also conceded in the hearing that they did not pay enough attention to social media networks, and that they were not closely monitoring Tunisia, where the wave of ongoing regional unrest started.

 

“Frankly, Tunisia was probably not up there in our top 10 countries we were watching closely,” Clapper said. “So there is the aspect of the spread, the balance of our collection priorities. Obviously, we’re going to work on that. ... We’re going to pay a lot more attention to social media and what we can do to extract warning.”

 

 

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