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Did the Muslim Brotherhood Take Money From Obama? The Egyptian Judiciary Wants To Know.

January 28, 2013

Here’s a fun one.

Did you know that President Obama is giving 1.3 billion dollars of your tax money to the Muslim Brotherhood? Or maybe it’s 1.5 billion, depending on which person is telling the story. Anyway it’s a lot.

It must be true. Romney said it , the National Review‘s Andrew McCarthy says so, and Rep. Louie Gohmert (TX-01) said so on the House floor in front of C-Span and everybody:

And now the Egyptian judiciary is looking into the claim. Last week (Jan 20th), the Saudi owned Asharq al-Awsat newspaper reported: “The Egyptian judicial authorities started to investigate applications accusing the Muslim Brotherhood Group, to which President Muhammad Mursi belongs, of receiving US financing to practice its activities in the country.”

Citing “judicial sources,” the newspaper said:

“The Higher State Security Prosecution Authority has started investigating the seriousness of applications accusing the Muslim Brotherhood Group of receiving funds estimated at 1.5 billion dollars from the US Administration, which is a violation of the law.”

How do they know? According to the news account, the accusing lawyers

“presented to the investigation authorities video clips of US President Barack Obama and former US Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney that confirm the truth of the accusations, and they also presented video clips of some US programs to support their viewpoint of the issue.”

In other words, the case is based primarily on selected U.S. media reports like those mentioned above (Hey, Rep. Goehmert, you’re a global star!).

However, Asharq al-Awsat reported that the Muslim Brotherhood’s lawyer in the case, Abd-al-Mun’im Abd-al-Maqsud, said the case lacked evidence, and “will not lead to any legal consequences.”

He’s almost certainly right. Here’s why:

The original article that started all this was an AP report published March 22, 2012 in which reporter Matthew Lee, citing an unnamed State Department source, noted that the Obama Administration planned to waive Egypt’s requirement to show that they were meeting democracy-building standards before sending US aid, and were going to send it to them anyway.

He wrote:

U.S officials and lawmakers said Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has determined that it was in the U.S. national interest to allow $1.3 billion in military assistance to flow. She also certified that Egypt is meeting its obligations to the Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty, which frees up an additional $200 million in economic aid, they said.

and

All of the $1.3 billion in foreign military financing is obligated to pay U.S. defense and security companies for contracts they have to supply equipment and support for the Egyptian military.Unless Clinton had issued a certification or waiver, those contracts could have been abrogated. The State Department official said there would be significant fees and penalties due to canceled contracts.

In other words:

  1. The money is not going to the Muslim Brotherhood, or even the Egyptian government headed by Muslim Brotherhood member Muhammed Morsi–it’s going to the Egyptian military. It’s the same money we have given the Egyptian military ever since the Camp David Accords.
  2. The money isn’t really even going to the Egyptian military; it’s going to U.S. contractors who have outstanding contracts with the Egyptian military, and would probably have to lay off (U.S.) workers if they weren’t paid.

Here’s what’s so interesting about all this.

  1. A story comes out on a particular topic–the administration waiving Congressionally-mandated “democracy requirements” in order to maintain our relationship with the Egyptian military and ensure US defense contracters get paid.
  2. In order to embarass the Obama administration, his opponents reframe the story to be about Obama giving money to the Muslim Brotherhood.

This is done through selective silence, and through a kind of indexical chaining: Egyptian military = Egyptian government = Egyptian president = Freedom and Justice Party = Muslim Brotherhood.

The logic is that the Egyptian military is part of the Egyptian government which is headed by the Egyptian president who was the candidate of the Freedom and Justice Party which is the party of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Couple this with selective silence–we don’t want to confuse our readers and constituents with the fact that the money is actually going to US defense contractors who won’t get paid if we don’t carry out our financial aid commitment to Egypt.

3. Opponents to Morsi see these peculiarly constructed media accounts and use them as “evidence” to file an annoyance brief against the Egyptian president.

Thus do stories travel and change across the global mediascape.

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