Join 3,524 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Stasi, SSIS, ...
March 7, 2011 6:17 AM   Subscribe

"I almost can't believe I'm witnessing this. We're inside the fortress of terror, our very own Mordor..."

Egyptian Protestors stormed the state security services on March 5th in response to the ongoing destruction of documents incriminating security officers in crimes against humanity, invasion of privacy, etc. Protestors are now uploading many of the surviving secret documents to facebook and twitter. Egyptian ex-pats are hailing the raid as 'Bastille Day in Egypt'.

Protestors have found torture devices that confirm the stories of Egyptians tortured by the security services, evidence of massive state surveillance, and even a room full of sex tapes for blackmailing famous people, including Arab royals like Kuwait's Princess.

Among the secret papers published thus far, there is an offer by a German & U.K. company called Gamma International for their software suit FinFisher together with training. FinFisher claims the ability to hack into Yahoo, GoogleMail and Hotmail mailboxes, record Skype calls, and spy on people through their laptops' built-in microphone and camera (FinSpy). Interestingly, the German law StGB 202c prohibits the private development of software intended to permit unsolicited access to private data, although presumably U.K. laws governing spying tools may resemble the more permissive U.S. laws that commonly even permit the resale of spy tech to private enterprise.

The events are reminiscent of the destruction of records by the Stasi during the collapse of East Germany as well as corresponding raid by East German protestors. And hopefully the technology developed for reassembling the Stasi files will help the Egyptians reassemble files that've been shredded by not yet burned.

In theory, many western nations have strong data retention policies, such as the U.S.'s Presidential Records Act. Yet, we still encounter situations like the Bush email scandal even under democratic transitions of power. See also: the NSA's warrantless wiretapping scandal.
posted by jeffburdges (74 comments total) 63 users marked this as a favorite

 
There was some speculation on reddit one of the torture devices may have been a voltage regulator, still probably made in Germany but not expressly designed or sold for torture.

Still, this stuff looks pretty bad, and Wikileaks says they want to reconstruct the shredded documents. Who knows what that will reveal. Here's hoping Egypt will establish a democratic form of government with a strong enough bill of rights so that its government don't do this sort of thing.
posted by mccarty.tim at 6:31 AM on March 7, 2011


paid for by your (USA) tax dollars... I know this is echo chamber talk, but next time there is some earnest discussion about some terrible dictator/religious fanaticism/chaos etc. that demands a strong intervention by the western liberal democracies, keep in mind the sort of things we support....
posted by ennui.bz at 6:51 AM on March 7, 2011 [16 favorites]


Did the US know what Egypt was doing to her own citizens? I wonder how much of this we knew about, yet ignored for the sake of peaceful coexistence.
posted by zarq at 6:52 AM on March 7, 2011


ennui.bz: " keep in mind the sort of things we support...."

Knowingly? Unknowingly? That would seem to matter, yes?
posted by zarq at 6:52 AM on March 7, 2011


Have they uploaded the sex tapes yet?
posted by kenaldo at 6:54 AM on March 7, 2011 [8 favorites]


Thanks jeff. I was trying to put something together. You saved me the effort.
posted by nangar at 6:57 AM on March 7, 2011


This sign, with "Better Future in English," was very touching, I thought.
posted by theredpen at 6:58 AM on March 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


Wasn't Egypt one of the CIA's rendition locations in the early years of this century?
posted by infini at 7:02 AM on March 7, 2011 [7 favorites]


Knowingly? Unknowingly?

Washington is shocked - shocked! - to learn that Egypt was torturing prisoners.

If only it had known, it could have used some of its moral authority in that area to discourage them.
posted by Joe Beese at 7:03 AM on March 7, 2011 [36 favorites]


I suppose FinSpy also provides the intelligence necessary to make sense of the data so gathered? Do we have a greasemonkey script yet for brains?
posted by infini at 7:06 AM on March 7, 2011


Egyptian blogger Zeinobia's article about this: The Night the Capital of Hell Fell Down.

More coverage from Al Jazeera: Inside Story - Egypt's state security.
posted by nangar at 7:07 AM on March 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


U.S. foreign assistance to Egypt has averaged just over $2 billion every year since 1979, when Egypt struck a peace treaty with Israel following the Camp David Peace Accords. U.S. military aid to Egypt totals over $1.3 billion annually in a stream of funding known as Foreign Military Financing.

Defense Secretary Gates stated in 2009 that foreign military financing “should be without conditions.”
posted by T.D. Strange at 7:08 AM on March 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


FinFunding
posted by infini at 7:10 AM on March 7, 2011


Wasn't Egypt one of the CIA's rendition locations in the early years of this century?

Acording to Zeinobia, protesters who got inside Amn Dawla's headquarters in Nasr City said they hadn't found any documents relating to the rendition program yet. They suspected they may have been prioritized for shredding.
posted by nangar at 7:13 AM on March 7, 2011


Here's hoping Egypt will establish a democratic form of government with a strong enough bill of rights so that its government don't do this sort of thing.

Here's hoping Egypt will get out from under the thumb of the US so that its government doesn't do this sort of thing.
posted by williampratt at 7:17 AM on March 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


There is some speculation linked from the "inside" link to wlcentral.org that suggests Secretary of Defense Gates has gone to Egypt for damage control.

I ignored that link initially because it damaged it's own credibility by seriously quoting Hillary Clinton spinning some wild yarn about Iran indirectly influencing the Egyptian protestors by working through Hezbollah and the Palestinians. Umm yeeaahh, the Muslim Brotherhood is profoundly Sunni guys.
posted by jeffburdges at 7:17 AM on March 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


prioritized for shredding

---

State Security also collaborated with the United States on counterterrorism and was likely to have kept files on the rendition program under which terrorism suspects from around the world were relocated to Egypt by U.S. agents, Zarwan said.

But there were indications that some of the most sensitive documents might have been destroyed or removed, and most of the rest were taken away by prosecutors, witnesses said.

posted by Joe Beese at 7:17 AM on March 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Does anyone know if FinFisher is actually any good? Or is it just a bloated malware sold to non tech savy spooks at hilarious government purchasing prices? Can it be defeated by such cutting edge tools like AVG?
posted by Damienmce at 7:21 AM on March 7, 2011


> Knowingly? Unknowingly?

What person could read the slightest about politics in the Middle East and not know that the US's creature Mubarak was a corrupt and torturing coward?

The one thing that's coming out that's surprising is the extent of the surveillance society he ran. I hope I live to see the day that we find out what our US lords and masters have been doing...
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 7:26 AM on March 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


It appears that FinFisher consists of a trojan horse (FinSpy), a hardware USB delivery tool (FinUSB), a web proxy based delivery tool (FinFly), and the trojan's control program (FinIntrusion), i.e. think Back Orifice.
posted by jeffburdges at 7:33 AM on March 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Did the US know what Egypt was doing to her own citizens? I wonder how much of this we knew about, yet ignored for the sake of peaceful coexistence.
posted by zarq at 6:52 AM on 3/7
[+] [!]


The US government and the CIA used Egyptian prisons as "black sites" since at least 9/11. We would send troublesome people there to be murdered without trial. Ex-CIA officers have admitted as such publicly.

The only people in the world who aren't aware of what our client-states are doing are the American people themselves -- lost in a haze of reality TV and pop music -- we'll be so surprised when the next attack comes.

Why do they hate us, indeed.
posted by Avenger at 7:35 AM on March 7, 2011 [31 favorites]


So... does anyone know where Mubarak is?
posted by Leon at 7:37 AM on March 7, 2011


THEY HATES US FOR OUR FREEDUMBS.
posted by blue_beetle at 7:38 AM on March 7, 2011


Hm. WIki says he's still in the country. Here's hoping.
posted by Leon at 7:41 AM on March 7, 2011


The only people in the world who aren't aware of what our client-states are doing are the American people themselves -- lost in a haze of reality TV and pop music.

I think half of America --or thereabouts-- approves of what they were doing. I think that is more of the problem than mere ignorance.
posted by umberto at 7:43 AM on March 7, 2011 [10 favorites]


The only people in the world who aren't aware of what our client-states are doing are the American people themselves -- lost in a haze of reality TV and pop music.

I think half of America --or thereabouts-- approves of what they were doing. I think that is more of the problem than mere ignorance.


At least half. Hell, Dick Cheney and his ilk (FAUX News, Bill Kristol et al) are were openly rooting for another terrorist attack during the 2008 election to defeat Obama on the back of 911 style flagwaving. If there is another attack, we'll be in Iran faster than you can say "holy war."
posted by T.D. Strange at 7:50 AM on March 7, 2011


The only way out of this is a South African style truth and reconciliation process.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 7:52 AM on March 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


The only way out of this is a South African style truth and reconciliation process.

In the USA or Egypt?
posted by jaduncan at 7:54 AM on March 7, 2011 [22 favorites]


So our SOB was torturing people? Well add this to the list of "no shit sherlock" revelations that have been a dime a dozen since wikileaks started meddling like some kids and a dog.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 7:55 AM on March 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


The only way out of this is a South African style truth and reconciliation process.

People are so quick to discount the gallows these days.
posted by xqwzts at 7:56 AM on March 7, 2011 [12 favorites]


If we could do this will credit cards and speeding tickets the world would be better.
peopleleaks, I love it and the people are putting this stuff up pronto. Here that Julian, you got trumped by real freedom fighters.
posted by clavdivs at 8:04 AM on March 7, 2011


It's maybe worth putting this "why do they hate us" meme to rest, i.e. we should stop worrying about the opinions of violent extremists. Instead, I'd suggest that we discuss the sort of peaceful revolutionary that'd compare Amn Dawla's headquarters to Morder.

Yes, we all know U.S. military aid played an enormous role in the SSIS's eavesdropping, torture, etc. and many U.S. official should stand trial for crimes against humanity too. Yet, overall the protestors have seemed to acknowledge that externalizing the blame merely increases the chances that different thugs will come to power, ala Iran. In particular, the U.S. cannot support torturers in Egypt if the Egyptians keep the most thuggish out of power.

These protests are showing just how much closer these Arab cultures have grown to our own, thanks largely to the internet and mass media. If we acknowledge this, we'll improve our chances for prosecuting our own war criminals, however unlikely that may be given America's current downward spiral.

See also : Lessons from Brazil.
posted by jeffburdges at 8:17 AM on March 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


The only way out of this is a South African style truth and reconciliation process.
In the USA or Egypt?

It would never work in the USA. We'd find a way to turn it into some form of morality porn.
posted by lodurr at 8:21 AM on March 7, 2011


Did the US know what Egypt was doing to her own citizens?

I would like to imagine that in our endless outpouring of money on our War on Terror, that somewhere, someone flagged, "Citizens disappeared, tortured" as signs of possible terrorism and extremist behavior.

Although, I'm sure it was more noted, "Possible to outsource to contractors? Estimate contract value and contact future bidders."
posted by yeloson at 8:24 AM on March 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


Here that Julian, you got trumped by real freedom fighters.

Wha? I think having the idea of openness spread and catch on was the whole fucking point of WikiLeaks.
posted by Space Coyote at 8:28 AM on March 7, 2011 [15 favorites]


I feel like the more time passes and the deeper we get into the information age, the harder and harder it's going to be for any government to run long term torture operations like this in any kind of secret. Eventually those records will find their way into the public eye, and those in charge will be outed as monsters.

The only question then becomes if they are outed, will the population that discovers the facts really care? In Egypt that seems to be a big yes, here in the US? Maybe not so much.
posted by quin at 8:31 AM on March 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Instead, I'd suggest that we discuss the sort of peaceful revolutionary that'd compare Amn Dawla's headquarters to Morder.

Kind of a speedbump in the narrative that says unless we support dictators, Middle Eastern countries will be overrun by radical Muslims who hate everything Western.

And doubly ironic that the guy who tweeted this likely looks a lot like the Haradrim Tolkein imagined siding with Sauron in the great war.
posted by straight at 8:49 AM on March 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Wasn't Egypt one of the CIA's rendition locations in the early years of this century?.
It most certainly was. See foreignaffairs.house.gov (pdf) page 3 : -The most widely known manifestation
of rendition is the secret transfer of terror suspects into the custody of other states—including Egypt, Jordan, and Syria—where physical and psychological brutality feature prominently in interrogations. The rendition network’s aim is to use whatever means necessary to gather intelligence, and to keep detainees away from any judicial oversight.

and page 4: Egypt’s Prime Minister noted in 2005 that the United States had transferred some 60–70 detainees to Egypt alone.
posted by adamvasco at 8:51 AM on March 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


The FPP is too clever by half. It reads like a LotR post, at a glance.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 8:54 AM on March 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Mubarak sounds every bit as bad as Saddam Hussein, yet the American people were fed a steady stream of accusatory material regarding the latter and nary a peep about the former. Had he not been such a useful tool for us, he could have been made just as ripe a villain as Saddam.

I don't know about the rest of you, but I still get choked up when I read about what ordinary people are doing in Egypt. This tweet is another example that makes me marvel. I was reading an article in Newseek (which I hardly ever read anymore; I should cancel the subscription) about the so-called "hacktivists" who are preparing for the next Egypt by developing and distributing software and technological know how to create DIY mesh networks for the next time a government tries to "turn off the Internet". Egyptian geeks were able to cobble something together in reaction to that event, but the goal of this latest work is to ensure that the transition is immediate and sturdy. I tried to tell Ms Wimp about it, but couldn't get through it without choking up. I have to stop thinking about this now so I can get back to work.
posted by Mental Wimp at 8:54 AM on March 7, 2011 [11 favorites]


Newseek = Newsweek. Damn!
posted by Mental Wimp at 8:57 AM on March 7, 2011


straight: "And doubly ironic that the guy who tweeted this likely looks a lot like the Haradrim Tolkein imagined siding with Sauron in the great war."

Yeah, all that "swarthy southerner" stuff bothered me but was made up for by Gandalf's take on killing Gollum:
"Deserves it! I daresay he does. Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then do not be too eager to deal out death in judgement. For even the very wise cannot see all ends."
posted by dunkadunc at 8:58 AM on March 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


The events are reminiscent of the destruction of records by the Stasi during the collapse of East Germany as well as corresponding raid by East German protestors. And hopefully the technology developed for reassembling the Stasi files will help the Egyptians reassemble files that've been shredded by not yet burned.

Piecing Together the Dark Legacy of East Germany's Secret Police
posted by homunculus at 9:04 AM on March 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Mubarak sounds every bit as bad as Saddam Hussein, yet the American people were fed a steady stream of accusatory material regarding the latter and nary a peep about the former. Had he not been such a useful tool for us, he could have been made just as ripe a villain as Saddam.

It always a question of expediency - nothing more.

The same western leaders who happily armed and did business with the Gaddafi regime until a fortnight ago have now slapped sanctions on the discarded autocrat and blithely referred him to the international criminal court the United States won't recognise.
posted by Joe Beese at 9:09 AM on March 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


So... does anyone know where Mubarak is?

I don't know, but one report was he had a massive stroke and is hospitalized. Never saw it confirmed.
posted by rough ashlar at 9:36 AM on March 7, 2011


Wasn't Egypt one of the CIA's rendition locations in the early years of this century?

It started in the mid-90s.

The Jane Meyer article from the New Yorker--Outsourcing Torture: The Secret History of America’s “Extraordinary Rendition” Program--is a good account:

"From the beginning of the rendition program [1995], [Dan] Coleman [ex-FBI agent] said, there was no doubt that Egypt engaged in torture. He recalled the case of a suspect in the first World Trade Center bombing who fled to Egypt. The U.S. requested his return, and the Egyptians handed him over—wrapped head to toe in duct tape, like a mummy. (In another incident, an Egyptian with links to Al Qaeda who had coöperated with the U.S. government in a terrorism trial was picked up in Cairo and imprisoned by Egyptian authorities until U.S. diplomats secured his release. For days, he had been chained to a toilet, where guards had urinated on him.)

Marjorie Cohn wrote a book called The United States and Torture: Interrogation, Incarceration, and Abuse that also covers it. Interview here.
posted by mrgrimm at 9:38 AM on March 7, 2011 [5 favorites]


Yet, overall the protestors have seemed to acknowledge that externalizing the blame merely increases the chances that different thugs will come to power, ala Iran. In particular, the U.S. cannot support torturers in Egypt if the Egyptians keep the most thuggish out of power.

The South African truth and reconciliation process may be a good model.

Given institutionalized EVIL likes its paperwork - not all of the stuff will be shredded, some will be found. And if the oil producers ever get together and decide to not sell their oil - what's the US of A gonna do? Toss the people mentioned in the paperwork under the bus to get the oil? Go in guns blazing to "force open" the market?
posted by rough ashlar at 9:44 AM on March 7, 2011


The Jane Meyer article from the New Yorker--Outsourcing Torture: The Secret History of America’s “Extraordinary Rendition” Program--is a good account:

Mayer also recently pointed out Suleiman's role in the program and the invasion of Iraq.
posted by homunculus at 9:50 AM on March 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


Go in guns blazing to "force open" the market?

Jimmy Carter promised to use military force to keep the Soviets from muscling in on Persian Gulf oil. At the time, the only such force available to him was nuclear weapons.

Reagan expanded the Carter Doctrine to also include any in-region threats to Saudi stability.

If the Libya uprising was happening in Saudi Arabia, Washington would be conducting the airstrikes against them itself.
posted by Joe Beese at 9:57 AM on March 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


I continue to be impressed with the bravery and the intelligence of the protesters (that seems like an insufficient term now) in Egypt and elsewhere. Getting the security records before they're completely destroyed is a big deal.
posted by feckless at 10:01 AM on March 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


Knowingly? Unknowingly? That would seem to matter, yes?
posted by zarq at 6:52 AM on March 7 [+] [!]


knowingly or not-knowingly is not as important as the plausible deniability of knowing. but knowingly, for sure.
posted by eustatic at 10:10 AM on March 7, 2011


If the Libya uprising was happening in Saudi Arabia, Washington would be conducting the airstrikes against them itself.

That's bullshit and you know it. This administration is purposefully taking a laissez-faire attitude towards the uprisings because after 8 years of interventionist, bomb-first-ask-questions-later policies, the last thing the US needs is to be seen as "still meddling" and President Obama rightfully understands that. I think it's particularly interesting that we're starting to see some calls for American military intervention to help the rebels from all sides, and opposition leaders lambasting President Obama for not doing enough. You would think libertarian types would be shitting rainbows and unicorns because of the hands-off, words-only policy of this administration.

The countries really are falling like dominoes, and it's far too early to do anything but speculate on the resulting governments. Change is coming to the Middle East and Africa, and the best thing the US can do is to Wait and See (tm).
posted by mark242 at 10:23 AM on March 7, 2011


It started in the mid-90s.

Which goes a long way towards demonstrating the complicity of both parties in our torture program. Besides the fact that, regardless of what they claim, most high ranking democrats in the congress knew exactly what was going on(during the Bush years) and did nothing to stop it.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 10:38 AM on March 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


So if Egypt is Mordor does that make the U.S. Dor Daedeloth? Hmmm, continuing with the analogy; Cairo = Barad-dûr and Washington = Angband
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 10:43 AM on March 7, 2011


This administration is purposefully taking a laissez-faire attitude towards the uprisings because after 8 years of interventionist, bomb-first-ask-questions-later policies, the last thing the US needs is to be seen as "still meddling" and President Obama rightfully understands that.

I was not arguing on behalf of Obama getting involved in Libya. He is indeed well advised to stay out of it.

I was saying that if our supply of Saudi oil was seriously threatened by a democratic uprising, the American president - whoever that was at the time - would not hesitate to crush it mercilessly.

If you consider that "bullshit", you have a higher opinion of the American government than I do.
posted by Joe Beese at 10:44 AM on March 7, 2011


The countries really are falling like dominoes, and it's far too early to do anything but speculate on the resulting governments. Change is coming to the Middle East and Africa, and the best thing the US can do is to Wait and See (tm).
posted by mark242


Who would have ever imagined (if you're aged fortyish) that the dominoes that finally fell had nothing to do with the reds, and more to do with online social networking apparatchiks?

On a pedantic sidenote: that's North Africa, very a different kettle of fish than Sub Saharan Africa (where my head is these days with writing hence splitting fine hairs thinly)
posted by infini at 10:57 AM on March 7, 2011


There is one clever but easy approach to minimizing the chances that the U.S. ends up "on the wrong side of history" with respect to these revolutions : Identify bullshit from falling Arab leaders and tell congress it's bullshit.

We've seen how such self serving bullshit helped start the Iraq war, a criminal level of gullibility you'd hope we'd avoid in future.

Gaddafi has taken to calling the Libyan protestors al-Qaeda, but luckily we're not quite stupid enough to fall for that one. Yet, Hillary has parroted inconceivable bullshit about Iran aiding the Muslim Brother. I'd wager that garbage was wholly invented by some SSIS officer who's afraid he'll hang once the SSIS's crimes come out.

In fact, such complaints could prevent Obama from overtly aiding Saudis against their own protestors.

Btw, I'd imagine the Mordor reference stems from the Amn Dawla's headquarters being known in Egypt as "the capital of hell".
posted by jeffburdges at 11:00 AM on March 7, 2011


I was saying that if our supply of Saudi oil was seriously threatened by a democratic uprising, the American president - whoever that was at the time - would not hesitate to crush it mercilessly.

I don't believe that for one second. For one, any "democratic uprising" would necessarily seek to preserve their GDP due to self-interest. Second, "seriously threatened" would be a temporary condition at best, short of going full-Islamic-revolution-Iran-style theocracy, in which case the world has bigger problems than a temporary halt in the flow of oil. Last, look at this chart and note the relative ease at which we could weather that particular storm. I'm not saying the oil companies wouldn't increase the price of gas, of course they would, but it would certainly not be the "we must defend the house of Saud at all costs" scenario that you're envisioning.

Who would have ever imagined (if you're aged fortyish) that the dominoes that finally fell had nothing to do with the reds, and more to do with online social networking apparatchiks?

I'm thirtyish, and I still find it pretty damned amazing that the Internet is the ultimate democratizing agent. We grew up on the adage of "countries with McDonald's don't attack each other", now I'm beginning to think that our kids will grow up with the adage of "countries with Twitter don't attack each other".
posted by mark242 at 12:00 PM on March 7, 2011


most high ranking democrats in the congress knew exactly what was going on(during the Bush years) and did nothing to stop it

Most high-ranking democrats in Congress knew exactly what was going on during the Clinton administration as well. (Admittedly, GWB cranked up renditions to the extreme.)

Hell, Bill Clinton fucking invented "extraordinary rendition." Reap what ye sow ...
posted by mrgrimm at 12:38 PM on March 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


For one, any "democratic uprising" would necessarily seek to preserve their GDP due to self-interest.

Considering the general populace hardly sees a dime from it I don't see why they would care enough to preserve the current system/"GDP". Toss it all. The oil will still be there once the dust settles.

short of going full-Islamic-revolution-Iran-style theocracy,

Because House-of-Saud-Wahhabi-style theocracy is a much more comforting situation?
posted by xqwzts at 1:24 PM on March 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Did the US know what Egypt was doing to her own citizens? I wonder how much of this we knew about, yet ignored for the sake of peaceful coexistence.

WaPo editorial from March 2009:
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton continues to devalue and undermine the U.S. diplomatic tradition of human rights advocacy. On her first foreign trip, to Asia, she was dismissive about raising human rights concerns with China's communist government, saying "those issues can't interfere" with economic, security or environmental matters. In last week's visit to the Middle East and Europe, she undercut the State Department's own reporting regarding two problematic American allies: Egypt and Turkey.

According to State's latest report on Egypt, issued Feb. 25, [2009], "the government's respect for human rights remained poor" during 2008 "and serious abuses continued in many areas." It cited torture by security forces and a decline in freedom of the press, association and religion. Ms. Clinton was asked about those conclusions during an interview she gave to the al-Arabiya satellite network in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt. Her reply contained no expression of concern about the deteriorating situation. "We issue these reports on every country," she said. "We hope that it will be taken in the spirit in which it is offered, that we all have room for improvement."

Ms. Clinton was then asked whether there would be any connection between the report and a prospective invitation to President Hosni Mubarak to visit Washington. "It is not in any way connected," she replied, adding: "I really consider President and Mrs. Mubarak to be friends of my family. So I hope to see him often here in Egypt and in the United States."
posted by scody at 1:55 PM on March 7, 2011 [8 favorites]


second scody's point. Hillary & her unnamed husband have always imagined themselves to be geniuses of realpolitik, which is after all all about sacrificing idealism on the alter of practicality. So, AFAIAC, they knew, everybody knew, and not only didn't care, but found it hella convenient from time to increasingly frequent time.
posted by lodurr at 2:01 PM on March 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


Honest question: what evidence is there that economic sanctions help oust dictators? Places like Myanmar, North Korea, and Cuba appear not to have budged - indeed, the stress produced by sanctions seems to make the administration dig in their heels. Contrariwise, how much effect did the sanctions against apartheid South Africa have, as distinguished from other factors?
posted by Sticherbeast at 3:24 PM on March 7, 2011


Mental Wimp wrote: Mubarak sounds every bit as bad as Saddam Hussein, yet the American people were fed a steady stream of accusatory material regarding the latter and nary a peep about the former.

US policy in the Middle East has consistently preferred stability over democracy. Saddam threatened regional stability (and oil supplies) by invading Kuwait and threatening Saudi Arabia, so the US attacked him. He didn't learn his lesson; he started preparing for another attack; so the US deposed him. I don't think Mubarak ever attacked an oil producer or played politics with resources. He even kept supplying Israel with natural gas. More significantly, Mubarak respected the treaties protecting the Suez Canal, which is both economically and strategically important. It was very much in the US' interest to avoid any disruption.
posted by Joe in Australia at 3:35 PM on March 7, 2011


Considering the general populace hardly sees a dime from it I don't see why they would care enough to preserve the current system/"GDP".

Reuters: "Rebels urge air strikes to protect Libya oilfields" -- I can easily see the same headline in Saudi Arabia. You aren't giving the people of the Middle East and (North) Africa enough credit. People aren't so nihilistic that they don't want to, essentially, protect their country. Yes there are thugs out there who just want to go out looting and are bent on destruction, but for the most part you're talking about some very intelligent people who are coordinating democratic uprisings.

The oil will still be there once the dust settles.

That's precisely my point, and precisely why we would never bomb citizens of Saudi Arabia seeking a democratic government.
posted by mark242 at 4:16 PM on March 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


idea of openness spread and catch on

That would be "Glasnost".
posted by clavdivs at 4:28 PM on March 7, 2011


As I hinted up thread, I believe we'd only attack Saudi citizens if the Saudi royalty had deceived us about the uprising. Americans citizens can actually combat this by simply calling bullshit on any piece of news that looks like truthiness drummed up to support an established dictator, king, etc.

We've the Iraqi WMDs imagined up by an Iraqi asylum seeker in Germany, Gaddafi's bullshit about Libya's protestors being al-Quida, etc. All those past lies discredit any calls for military intervention.

I'd imagine that countries with power structures that benefit significantly from international trade will cave under sanctions, but countries who've completely consolidated their power simply don't care, ala Cuba and North Korea. We should watch how the targeted sanctions against Mugabe's crew work in Zimbabwe.
posted by jeffburdges at 4:46 PM on March 7, 2011


I'd imagine that countries with power structures that benefit significantly from international trade will cave under sanctions, but countries who've completely consolidated their power simply don't care, ala Cuba and North Korea.

Cuba has not consolidated its power supply, though. Cuba exports billions of dollars of goods to other countries and has very active tourism and medical tourism industries. I guess only having the US sanction Cuba has lessened the effects of those sanctions, but Cuba is hardly a hermit kingdom.

Meanwhile, North Korea is heavily dependent on foreign aid, although, to be sure, aid is different from trade. The theory there is that NK would go from bad to worse without some nominal support.

I don't know enough about the sanctions against Zimbabwe to have any comment on those.
posted by Sticherbeast at 5:15 PM on March 7, 2011


Tunisia dissolves secret police to meet key demand of protesters
posted by homunculus at 5:50 PM on March 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


Searching for Reda Hilal; a journalist last seen August 2003; Was he the victim of a death squad sanctioned by the Presidency?
posted by adamvasco at 3:55 AM on March 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Amndawla Leaks reveals that Gamal Mubarak and Egypt State Security were behind the Sharm el-Sheikh resort bombings in 2005 that killed 88 people and wound over 200.
posted by jeffburdges at 12:35 PM on March 8, 2011 [4 favorites]


It appears that Gamal Mubarak's motivation for the attacks was revenge against Hussein Salem who owned the resort. Salem had apparently reduced Mubarak's commission for the Israeli gas deal from 10% to 5%. And I'm sure he didn't mind drumming up more anti-terrorism money form the Americans and persecuting the Bedouins too. Israeli was not involved in the attacks, only Egyptian state security.
posted by jeffburdges at 12:51 PM on March 8, 2011


Flickr Cites “Community Guidelines” For Censorship of Egyptian Blogger’s Photos
posted by homunculus at 1:43 PM on March 13, 2011


Revolution's End: On the eve of a pivotal constitutional referendum, Egypt's young activists are struggling for direction.
posted by homunculus at 3:30 PM on March 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


« Older HBO filmed a documentary with Maurice Sendak last ...  |  Giving life after death row.... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments