The Edge: Time to Call a Coup a Coup

National Journal Staff

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Time to Call a Coup a Coup

The White House has spent the last month or so tying itself in knots to avoid calling the overthrow of Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi a coup. Just today, President Obama announced that the United States would not take part in a joint exercise with the Egyptian military. He didn't use the c-word.

But with the news Thursday that Egyptian military and security forces have killed more than 500 people and injured 3,700 more, it's time to call Morsi's ouster and the brutal crackdown that is accompanying it what it is, a coup.

Stating the obvious comes with a price. If the White House designates the situation a coup, it could legally trigger the end of the $1.3 billion in military aid the U.S. sends to Egypt each year—and with it, administration officials argue, any remaining leverage they still have.

But so far it doesn't appear that the aid money has bought the administration much influence with the military regime, which has ignored Washington's calls for peace and kept killing its political opposition with arms and training the U.S. likely helped to finance.

It's time for the administration to play its last card and call a coup a coup.

Chris Frates


EGYPT DEATH TOLL EXCEEDS 600; OBAMA CONDEMNS VIOLENCE. The violence in Egypt that escalated to a boiling point Wednesday has claimed at least 638 lives and wounded thousands more, the Associated Press reports. Responding to the bloodshed, President Obama condemned the violence and said that the United States is canceling next month's planned joint military exercise with Egypt. "We deplore violence against civilians. We support universal rights essential to human dignity, including the right to peaceful protest," the president said from Martha's Vineyard. Protesters, meanwhile, stormed and torched a government building in Cairo, Reuters reports. National Journal's Michael Hirsh writes that we may be witnessing the most dangerous potential for Arab radicalization since the two Palestinian intifadas. Read more

  • As conditions in Egypt and elsewhere around the Middle East continue to deteriorate, a panel of experts sounds off in The New York Times about whether we are witnessing the end of the Arab Spring. Read more

CAR BOMB KILLS SEVERAL, WOUNDS HUNDREDS IN BEIRUT SUBURBS. A car bomb exploded today in a crowded residential area in a southern Beirut suburb that Hezbollah claims as one of its strongholds, killing several and trapping others in burning buildings, the Associated Press reports. The attack is the second of its kind in over a month in south Beirut, where groups opposed to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad have made threats against Hezbollah for their support of his regime. The blast could foretell Lebanon joining Syria and Iraq in the region as a country pulled into a violent conflict between Sunni and Shiite Muslims. "I don't know what happened. It's as if we were struck by an earthquake," one wounded witness told Reuters. Read more

HAGEL: DISREGARD OBAMA'S REMARKS ON SEXUAL ASSAULT. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel issued a written directive to stop military lawyers from using comments made in May by President Obama—that sexual offenders in the military should be "prosecuted, stripped of their positions, court-martialed, fired, dishonorably discharged"—as an "unlawful command influence" they have claimed taints trials on the issue, The New York Times reports. "There are no expected or required dispositions, outcomes, or sentences in any military justice case, other than what result from the individual facts and merits of a case and the application to the case of the fundamentals of due process of law," Hagel wrote in a memorandum dated Aug. 6. Read more

  • Hagel had no choice but to send a directive telling the military to ignore Obama on sexual assault cases, The Atlantic Wire's Elspeth Reeve writes. Read more

ECONOMIC DATA COULD MEAN A FED PULLBACK ON BOND PURCHASES. The number of Americans filing new claims for jobless benefits fell to its lowest level in six years last week, and rising consumer prices in July could portend a drawback on the Federal Reserve's $85 billion-a-month bond-buying program, Reuters reports. Government data released today indicates an early-August acceleration of job growth, which could lessen worries among the central bank's leadership that inflation was too low. "It looks like the weakness in employment last month was a fluke and the breadth of gains in CPI suggest that there will be less push back against tapering because of low inflation," one economist said. "A September taper is still on the table." Read more

  • Stock and bond prices took a hit today as investors grew more anxious about a potential Fed tapering next month of its bond-buying program, The Wall Street Journal reports. Read more

SYRIAN REBELS AIDED BY MISSILES FROM SAUDI ARABIA. Syrian rebels fighting in the southern part of the war-torn country have received antitank guided missiles from Saudi Arabia, a weapons upgrade that strongly helps their cause against President Bashar al-Assad, Reuters reports. The Russian-designed weapons were used in an attack this week against an army position in a city near the Jordanian border, according to sources, and missiles were also fired in the outskirts of Damascus. "If the weapons arrive in the right quantities, they will affect the situation on the ground," said retired Jordanian Gen. Fayez al-Dwiri. But the supply of these weapons reflects growing concerns that Qaida-linked groups could use the stalemate to expand their presence in Syria. Read more

IRAQI GOVERNMENT VOWS TO KEEP COUNTRY FROM BECOMING 'ANOTHER SYRIA.' Iraqi officials said today that it would not let its country descend into sectarian chaos or let al-Qaida create "another Syria," even as a round of car bombings in Baghdad claimed at least 34 people, Reuters reports. "Iraq's streets have become a battleground for sectarian people who are motivated by hatred and religious edicts and daring to kill innocent people," the Interior Ministry said. "It is our destiny to win this battle, which is aimed at destroying the country and turning it into another Syria." The eight blasts are the latest chapter in the violence this month that has brought the death toll in Iraq to its highest level in five years. Read more

IN EXCHANGES, INSURERS MAY LIMIT CHOICES FOR DOCTORS, HOSPITALS. State health insurance marketplaces rolling out this fall will offer "tough choices" for consumers able to decide among plans from current insurers or from their primary-care physicians, The Wall Street Journal reports. Because of cost, plans offered in the state exchanges by consumers' current insurers might not include large health care providers, leaving those consumers to foot the bill if they want to continue seeing their existing physicians. Many state plans around the country will include "relatively few choices of doctors and hospitals," TheJournal reports. Read more

NAPOLITANO WANTS LONG-TERM SOLUTION TO IMMIGRATION. In a statement posted to the Homeland Security Department's website this morning, DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano said that Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals is "not a long-term solution" to immigration problems, and she called on the House to follow the Senate's lead and "fix our broken immigration system," The Huffington Post reports. Alongside President Obama, Napolitano announced last June that undocumented young people who were brought to the U.S. as children would be allowed to temporarily stay in the country as long as they meet certain criteria. However, DACA does not provide a pathway to citizenship and lasts for only a short period. Read more

HOUSE GOP WHIP TARGETED BY IMMIGRATION-REFORM ADVOCATES. No Republican has received more public pressure from immigration advocates over the recess than House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy of California, National Journal's Rebecca Kaplan reports. In a show of force Wednesday, thousands of activists rolled into McCarthy's Bakersfield-area district. Their demands: a vote on an immigration-reform bill that includes a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. And they want the vote by Sept. 30. Before the recess, advocates for citizenship had identified McCarthy—whose district has a 35 percent Hispanic population and a significant agricultural presence—as the best way to influence House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio. Read more

  • National Journal's Billy House asks what the GOP can learn from Rep. Steve Pearce, R-N.M., a white non-Hispanic lawmaker in a sprawling district that is more than half Hispanic. Read more

MICHIGAN GOP POISED TO BOTCH SENATE PICKUP OPPORTUNITY. The brain trust of the Michigan Republican Party, energized earlier this year by the surprise retirement of Democratic Sen. Carl Levin, quickly set out to accomplish twin objectives: recruit an electable, well-financed Republican candidate, and do it quickly so that Rep. Gary Peters, the de facto Democratic nominee, was not afforded a free pass to campaign uncontested, National Journal's Tim Alberta reports. With Labor Day around the corner, Republicans in Lansing are failing on both fronts. Read more


COMMERCE TO RELEASE DATA ON HOUSING STARTS. The Census Bureau will release a report on new residential construction for July 2013 at 8:30 a.m. at 1401 Constitution Ave. NW.


"Look, it's obviously a fictional show because it's also a Congress that gets s--- done. Actually, in our first season, we passed an education bill." -- actor Kevin Spacey, during an appearance on The Colbert Report, talking about his series, House of Cards (Politico)


MEMORY'S IMPACT ON HUMAN BEHAVIOR. Psychologist Elizabeth Loftus, with the University of California (Irvine), has made a name for herself by testifying in court cases about the malleability of the human memory, Moheb Costandi reports for Nature. She testified in the cases of Ted Bundy, who later confessed to murdering 30 people; George Franklin, who was accused by his daughter of raping her and murdering her friend; and a group of Los Angeles police officers accused of beating Rodney King. Loftus has been threatened and sued, but she is also reshaping the criminal-justice system. And now Loftus is going further, researching whether inventing false memories can help modify behavior. "Parents lie to their kids all the time, about Santa Claus and the tooth fairy," she said, in response to ethical concerns. "Would you rather have an unhealthy kid, or one with a few false memories?" Read more



OUTSIDE, LOOKING IN. Fast-food workers might get all the attention for not making enough to live where they work, but the same is true for many "decidedly less-maligned" jobs such as dishwashers, equipment operators, and home health aides in metropolitan areas across the country, The Atlantic Cities' Emily Badger writes. As a result, people who need to work in downtown restaurants and hospitals—or upscale neighborhoods—are often priced out of living anywhere close to their place of employment, or they're spending far more on housing than they can afford. "It's all part of this trade-off that lower-income, even moderate-income workers are having to make," says Maya Brennan, a senior research associate with the Center for Housing Policy. "What am I going to sacrifice here?" Read more


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