The Cable

Cairo Embassy tweeter warns of ‘dictatorship’ in Egypt

The Cairo Embassy Twitter feed is at it again.

Today, the embassy implied via social media that Egyptian President Mohamed Morsy was on the road to becoming a new dictator.

"The Egyptian people made clear in the January 25th revolution that they have had enough of dictatorship #tahrir," @USEmbassyCairo tweeted Tuesday morning in a not-so-subtle reference to Morsy's decree that his edicts are no longer subject to judicial review.

The tweet was retweeted 160 times and elicited a discussion over social media in which @USEmbassyCairo was actively engaged.

"@USEmbassyCairo So why did you support the brotherhood regime along this period and you admit now it is dictatorial ?," tweeted Amr Alaa (@amralaa_2008).

"@amralaa_2008 We never supported any individual group or politician and we will not do so," the embassy tweeted back.

The embassy's reference to "dictatorship" seemed much stronger than the State Department's carefully worded statement reacting to Morsy's decree, in which Spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said, "One of the aspirations of the revolution was to ensure that power would not be overly concentrated in the hands of any one person or institution."

The Cable asked Edgar Vasquez, spokesperson for the State Department's Near Eastern Affairs bureau, whether the Cairo embassy's tweet reflected administration policy.

"Let's not take too much liberty with this tweet," he said. "Our position is and has been that one of the aspirations of the Egyptian revolution was to ensure that power is not overly concentrated in the hands of any one person or institution. That is essentially what the tweet is saying in tweet speak."

This is not the first time this year the Cairo embassy's press team has gotten out ahead of the Washington bureaucracy. The embassy's press release and tweets on Sept. 11 became a huge headache for the administration when the Mitt Romney campaign seized on them to argue that the administration was mishandling the protests against an anti-Islam video.

The head Cairo embassy tweeter at that time, PAO Larry Schwartz, has since been recalled to Washington. But the independent spirit of the Cairo embassy social media team continues without him, it seems.

The Cable

Corker: Rice would make a better DNC chair than Secretary of State

Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN), the presumptive next Republican leader on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said today that U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice is too political and not independent enough to be secretary of state.

"I've had warm relations with Susan Rice, and to me, if you look at what happened that day, I think she would be an outstanding head of the [Democratic National Committee]," Corker told The Cable in a short interview today, referring to Rice's Sept. 16 statements on the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi.

Corker said he will meet with Rice at the Capitol tomorrow. Today, Rice met with Sens. John McCain (R-AZ), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), and Joe Lieberman (I-CT). After their meetings, McCain, Graham, and Ayotte said they were not satisfied with Rice's answers regarding her Benghazi statements. Rice said in a statement afterwards that the intelligence community erred by originally saying there was a protest outside the U.S. mission that day, information Rice repeated on several talk shows.

Corker said the issue for him is not whether the intelligence community got it wrong, but the fact that Rice went along with the intelligence community's talking points without checking them independently against the classified information that was available to her at the time.

"She strikes me as someone who is always on message, someone who is always exactly parroting whatever it is the administration's position is. And I think most of us want someone who is more independent minded. And I think that's how she got herself in trouble that Sunday morning, by coming on and being the head of the DNC instead of really showing that independence - and that's of great concern to me," Corker said. "It's my understanding that she had access to the classified materials before she went on the air that morning. And it just fuels the perception that I have that she's far better for the administration as a political operative than she is as a secretary of state."

If chosen to replace Sen. Richard Lugar (R-IN) as the ranking Republican on SFRC, Corker's first major decision will be whether to mount a fight against the president's pending nominee for secretary of state. Rice is widely believed to be the front runner, although SFRC Chairman John Kerry (D-MA) and National Security Advisor Tom Donilon are also rumored to be in contention. A nomination announcement could come as early as this week.

"I think all of us hold the secretary of state and secretary of the treasury to a different standard, meaning we want people who are very independent in those positions," Corker said, again referring to RIce. "We know that they are not going to publicly confront the people they are serving - we're talking about the president - but we want to know that we have people there that when they really have strong policy beliefs they are going to argue for those and try to put good policies in place for our country."

Unlike McCain, Graham, and Ayotte, who have pledged to oppose Rice if she is nominated, Corker said he hasn't made up his mind. But he is leaning against supporting Rice.

"I will give her a fair hearing, I always do. I don't make up my mind until I've heard everything," he said. "But I'm pretty skeptical."