TPM News

by Marian Wang, ProPublica

The Muslim Brotherhood, a key opposition group in Egypt's anti-Mubarak protests, has long argued that the Egyptian government exaggerates the Muslim Brotherhood's positions and its likelihood of attaining power in democratic elections. As it turns out, American diplomats agree. "The Egyptians have a long history of threatening us with the MB bogeyman," wrote Ambassador Francis Ricciardone to FBI Director Robert Mueller in 2005, in a newly released U.S. embassy cable obtained by WikiLeaks. Another cable from 2006 stated:

We do not accept the proposition that Egypt's only choices are a slow-to-reform authoritarian regime or an Islamist extremist one; nor do we see greater democracy in Egypt as leading necessarily to a government under the MB.

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by Marian Wang, ProPublica

The American-made tear gas used to disperse pro-democracy protesters in Egypt earlier this week was sold to the country after government review, a State Department spokeswoman told us.

The tear gas canisters used by Egyptian police against the protesters bore the label "Made in U.S.A.," stirring controversy and bolstering the impression among Egyptians that the United States has propped up a dictatorship at the expense of its citizens.

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Neoconservative columnist Bill Kristol called out conservatives, and in particular, Glenn Beck, for fear-mongering about the unrest in Egypt, saying that "when Glenn Beck rants about the caliphate taking over the Middle East from Morocco to the Philippines, and lists (invents?) the connections between caliphate-promoters and the American left," he's "marginalizing himself."

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Sarah Palin was interviewed by a conservative media outlet, David Brody of Christian Broadcasting Network, over the weekend, and talked about President Obama's handling of the political crisis in Egypt. And while it's clear that she herself doesn't have all the answers, she's also quite miffed at Obama, saying that he doesn't have the answers -- and he's not telling us the answers he knows, either.

"Mubarak, he's gone, one way or the other. He is not going to be the leader of Egypt. That's a given," Palin said. "So now the information needs to be gathered and understood as to who it will be that fills now the void in the government. Is it going to be the Muslim Brotherhood? We should not stand for that, or with that or by that. Any radical Islamists, no that is not who we should be supporting and standing by. So we need to find out who was behind all of the turmoil and the revolt and the protests so that good decisions can be made in terms of who we will stand by and support."

But she also criticized Obama: "It's a difficult situation. This is that 3 a.m. White House phone call and it seems for many of us trying to get that information from our leader in the White House, it seems that that call went right to the answering machine. And nobody yet has explained to the American public what they know, and surely they know more than the rest of us know, who it is who will be taking the place of Mubarak."

So Palin says that Obama isn't handling the situation thoroughly -- but that he also knows more about it than we in the public are being told?

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When he's sentenced on Friday, the federal government wants former lobbyist Michael Scanlon to go to jail for at least two years.

Justice Department lawyers wrote in a 25-page filing on Friday that "respectfully requests that this court impose a sentence of 24 months in prison to be followed by a three year term of supervised release."

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A Connecticut man wasn't sure just how illegal growing a pot plant in his home is, so he did what any rational person would do: he called the authorities for more information.

"I was just growing some marijuana, and I was just wondering the... how much, you know, trouble you can get into for one plant," Robert Michelson said in a 911 call.

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Former Vice President Dick Cheney, who has not been shy about criticizing President Obama on issues of foreign policy, is now adding his voice to the discussion on Egypt. In this case, Cheney seems to be straddling the fence between pro-Mubarak and anti-Mubarak conservatives -- saying that the Egyptian strongman should be treated nicely by the United States, but perhaps it's time for him to go.

AFP reports:

"I think President Mubarak needs to be treated as he's deserved over the years, because he has been a good friend, not only to the United States but a lot of other folks that we do business with," Cheney said a gathering in Santa Barbara, California to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the birth of late US president Ronald Reagan.

"He's been a good friend and ally of the United States and we need to remember that," Cheney said.

Despite those words of support, on the issue of whether Mubarak can or should hold on to power, the former vice president added: "There comes a time for everyone to hang it up and move on."

"That's a decision only the Egyptians can make," Cheney said.

In honor of President Obama's ice-breaking speech at the Chamber of Commerce Monday, a source passed along this story from Iran's semi-official Fars News Service.

Head of Iran's Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Mines Mohammad Nahavandian underlined on Wednesday that the US and European companies and economic institutions are completely opposed to imposing sanctions against Iran.

"The economic atmosphere of the US and Europe is opposed to sanctions against Iran," Nahavandian told FNA.

Stressing that the American people are not interested in imposing sanctions against Tehran, he said that the US Chamber of Commerce along with seven other institutions recently sent a statement to Iran and underlined the US private sector's opposition to such embargoes.

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NBC News reports Rep. Jane Harman (D-CA) will announce tomorrow that she's resigning from Congress to take a job leading a Washington think tank. That move will set up a special election this year to find a replacement for Harman's southern California district.

According to NBC corespondent Andrea Mitchell, Harman will "become the president and CEO of the Woodrow Wilson Center," a bipartisan think tank currently led by former Rep. Lee Hamilton (D-IN).

Harman was first elected to Congress in 1992, leaving in 1998 to run for governor. After losing her bid for the Democratic nomination she re-won her old Congressional seat in 2000.

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