Six Americans working for publicly funded U.S. organizations promoting democracy in Egypt have been barred from leaving the country, provoking angry demands in Washington that Cairo's new military rulers stop "endangering American lives".You know, in the context of the history of Western involvement in the affairs of Arab states, and American invlovement in particular, you have to wonder about the meaning of weaselly euphemisms like "publicly funded U.S. organizations promoting democracy in Egypt." Just what the hell does that mean, anyway? What concrete, behavioral actions do you take, if you're a publicly funded U.S. organization promoting democracy in Egypt? Do you buy commercials on Egyptian TV? What do they say? "Be a democratic sort of Egyptian guy, and all the Egyptian women will go crazy over you?" I'm not at all sure I could blame Egyptians who might be wondering what these fine organizations are really up to. Funding terrorists, maybe? Perish the thought! We're Americans -- we don't fund terrorists! If we fund 'em, they must be freedom fighters. Or maybe democracy activists or something. But not terrorists, that's for sure.
Among those hit by travel bans - one of those targeted called it "de facto detention" - is a son of U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, as well as other foreign staffers of the International Republican Institute and National Democratic Institute, officials at the two organizations said on Thursday.
The United States said Egypt should reverse them: "We are urging the government of Egypt to lift these restrictions immediately and allow these folks to come home as soon as possible," State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said.
A month after police raided the Cairo offices of the IRI, NDI and eight other non-governmental organizations, it raises the stakes for Washington, which had already indicated it may review the $1.3 billion it gives the Egyptian military each year if the probe into alleged breaches of local regulations went on.
Some see it as a poor omen for Egypt's fledgling democracy following last year's overthrow of Hosni Mubarak.
John McCain, the leading Republican senator who chairs the IRI, voiced "alarm and outrage" at a "new and disturbing turn" which included a travel ban on Sam LaHood, the group's Egypt director and son of President Barack Obama's transport chief.
(Side note: there's my old buddy again -- State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland! Clearly, she knows she's working for the Obama regime: she wants those restrictions lifted, so those folks can come home. "Folks" ... no doubt about it, she got the memo. And read it, too.)
How is it that this "IRI" outfit is described as a "non-governmental organization," after being described as "publicly funded?" And it's chaired by John Freakin' McCain? And Ray LaHood's boy is the "Egypt director?" Yup, sure sounds non-governmental to me, yessir. Nothing to see here. Move along, folks, move along.
I have some free advice for those Egyptian "Islamists" who, being all evil and everything, are presumably holding our folks. Don't just travel-restrict them; detain them, indefinitely, without charges, in some warm-weather Egyptian paradise that you rename "Al-Gitmo." Don't let a lawyer or a court within hundreds of miles of them. Let 'em ride the waterboard while you inquire, again and again and again, about their nefarious activities. When they've said what you want to hear (and they will!), announce it. Then tell Washington that you'll close your Gitmo when they close theirs. As for young Mr. LaHood: after he's been imprisoned without charges for a decade or two, you'll have to decide that he's become radicalized, and can never be released, for fear that he'll "return to the battlefield" and do some harm to the Prophet's Islamic Republic of Egypt, or whatever you're calling it by then. It would have a certain pleasing symmetry to it, yes?