National Security Brief: Egyptian Soldiers Opened Fire On Morsi Supporters

Members of the Egyptian military reportedly opened fire on unarmed demonstrators protesting against President Muhammad Morsi’s ouster last week. The New York Times reports that “[a]t least 43 civilians were killed, all or most of them shot, and more than 300 wounded”:

The attack marked a sharp escalation in the confrontation between the generals who forced out the president and his Islamist supporters in the streets.

Dozens of Islamists who had gathered in vigil for Mr. Morsi denied there was any provocation for the attack. Two bystanders who had supported Mr. Morsi’s ouster also said that the demonstrators were unarmed and ran in terror as the attack began.

The Los Angeles Times has more on the clashes between the Army and the Muslim Brotherhood.

Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal reports that “a rhetorical battle over how to characterize the Egyptian military’s role in the ouster of President Mohammed Morsi is heating up — with potentially billion-dollar stakes for Cairo”:

At issue is the fate of about $1.56 billion in annual U.S. aid to Egypt, which mostly goes to support the Egyptian military. Under U.S. law, that foreign aid can’t be sent to a government installed by way of a military coup. While a portion of U.S. aid for this fiscal year has already been allocated, future payments could be deemed illegal if the U.S. determines that Mr. Morsi’s ouster constituted a coup.

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) said on Sunday that the U.S. should suspend the aid “until such time as there is a new constitution and free and fair election,” while Sen. Robert Mendendez (D-NJ) said the U.S. should use the assistance as leverage to get the Egyptians back on track.


House Intelligence Committee chairman Mike Rogers (R-MI) said on CNN that he “would not try to circumvent the law by calling this something it is not,” adding: “I think there’s a great case to be made here that we should continue to support the military, the one stabilizing force in Egypt.”

In other news:

  • The Wall Street Journal reports: The National Security Agency’s ability to gather phone data on millions of Americans hinges on a secret court ruling that redefined a single word: “relevant.” This change — which specifically enabled the surveillance recently revealed by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden — was made by the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, a group of judges responsible for making decisions about government surveillance in national-security cases. In classified orders starting in the mid-2000s, the court accepted that “relevant” could be broadened to permit an entire database of records on millions of people, in contrast to a more conservative interpretation widely applied in criminal cases, in which only some of those records would likely be allowed, according to people familiar with the ruling.
  • The New York Times reports: The deadly clashes that raged between rival rebel factions in Syria over the weekend accentuated the divisions hampering opponents of President Bashar al-Assad as they try to halt his forces’ recent gains on the battlefield and persuade the West to supply the insurgency with weapons.
  • The AP reports: The nation’s top special operations commander ordered military files about the Navy SEAL raid on Osama bin Laden’s hideout to be purged from Defense Department computers and sent to the CIA, where they could be more easily shielded from ever being made public.