With friends like these …

This New York Times story details some of the routine, casual, mindless brutality of the Egyptian secret police, the Mukhabarat. Until last week, the head of the Mukhabarat was Omar Suleiman, now the Vice President.

Think about that when you read that the U.S. is pressing the Egyptian opposition to come to terms with Suleiman.

Part of the problem is that any President in such a situation has to rely in part on the CIA for information. And the CIA works hard to maintain good relations with foreign intelligence services. It wouldn’t be surprising if documents from the CIA cast Suleiman in a good light. But the fact that his agency was one of those to which the CIA outsourced torture under the “rendition” program ought to make us all a little bit ashamed, if not sick to our stomachs. The guy our government wants to put in charge of the new Egypt was the manager of the local Fingernail Factory.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com

5 thoughts on “With friends like these …”

  1. And… we must keep good relations with the intelligence community that the CIA finds useful. It worked so well with the ISI.

  2. That’s not a particularly charitable characterization of what the US is pressing for, as best I can tell. The administration seems to be operating under the premise that the interim government would be transitional and temporary. Obviously there are reasons to be suspicious as to whether it would actually turn out that way, but that appears to be their position.

  3. If, during transition, there is no clear mechanism put in place to protect the protesters, what will that say about us?

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