Politics & Policy

Gibbs Press Conference Summary

All he said: ‘We are monitoring the situation. Violence should not be used by either side. The Egyptian government should stop blocking access to the internet and social networking sites. The Egyptian people have legitimate grievances. Those grievances should be addressed. Obama has not spoken directly with Mubarak. We will review our assistance to Egypt according to how events play out.’

On the whole he was agonizingly evasive, both for the White House press corps., and all of those interested in the subject. He must have told us 30 times that they were “monitoring the situation.” He implied that U.S.’ continued aid to Egypt was contingent upon the regime’s good behavior (“we will review our aid posture”) – but would not say so explicitly, and would not define the bounds of acceptable behavior. He says Mubarak ought to forbid violence, open access to internet and social networking sites, but doesn’t answer the question “What if he doesn’t?” He ignored a question about how the U.S. balances the fact that Mubarak abuses human rights but may serve U.S. interests better than any other likely regime. 

But I did note three interesting things: Gibbs claimed that the possibility that Mubarak would fall was never discussed at a meeting at which he was present. And he said Obama has made no effort to contact Mubarak. And he has no information that Mubarak has left Cairo.

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