It’s hard to overstate how bad February 10, 2011, will rank among the worst days of Barack Obama’s administration. Earlier today CIA Director Leon Panetta told Congress that Mubarak would announce his departure today. That didn’t happen. Now our intelligence agencies are scrambling to understand what all this means. This catastrophic intelligence failure is the worst since 9/11 (rivaling even the 2007 Iran National Intelligence Estimate).
Then Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said in response to a question by Rep. Sue Myrick (R-NC) that the Muslim Brotherhood was “largely secular,” despite the fact that the Muslim Brotherhood lists as its two “key pillars” the imposition of sharia law and the reestablishment of the global caliphate — in English on the Muslim Brotherhood’s official website. This is the same organization that has as its credo, “Allah is our goal. The Quran is our constitution. The Prophet is our model. Jihad is our way. And dying in the way of Allah is our highest hope.” A bastion of secularism, apparently. (Brian Fairchild has more of the Muslim Brotherhood’s “largely secular” greatest hits.) Understandably, Clapper’s media flacks are now trying to walk back his statement.
But you can’t blame just the intelligence community for this administration’s worst catastrophe (so far, yikes!). While many were pointing fingers at Panetta and Clapper, this is as much, if not more so, a failure of the State Department. How exactly did our embassy in Cairo not know what Mubarak was going to say? Hasn’t Hosni Mubarak been our closest ally in the Arab world? Didn’t Obama go to Cairo at the beginning of his administration and vow to improve the United States’ diplomacy in the Middle East. What’s the status of that now? Since this crisis began a few weeks ago, this administration has taken virtually every possible position including their open willingness to throw Mubarak under the bus. Is there a reason why any of our allies in the Middle East should trust a single word this administration says?
The short and long-term fallout from this diplomatic breakdown, the State Department’s ineptness, and the intelligence community’s cluelessness may be beyond estimation. Last week Sarah Palin said that Obama got the 3 a.m. phone call and it went to the answering machine. What we learned today is that the 3 a.m. phone call to Obama was met with the message, “This number has been disconnected.”
God help us all, because it could get worse.