US’s new Egypt envoy linked to Mubarak regime

By Agence France-Presse
Monday, February 7, 2011 21:07 EDT
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WASHINGTON — The United States on Monday defended the choice of veteran diplomat Frank Wisner to head a mission to Egypt even though he works for a firm with past work for President Hosni Mubarak’s government.

Wisner was at the center of controversy Saturday when he suggested that Mubarak should stay in power during a democratic transition in the protest-hit nation. President Barack Obama’s administration quickly distanced itself.

The retired diplomat has served as ambassador to Egypt, India and other nations. He has worked since 2009 for Patton Boggs, a US law firm that represented interests of Egypt and several other Arab states in the past.

Read more at ThinkProgress: US envoy to Egypt Frank Wisner’s law firm has represented the Mubarak regime in the past

State Department spokesman Philip Crowley said that the administration knew of Wisner’s employment with Patton Boggs but believed he was a “distinguished diplomat” who knew Egypt.

“We felt that he was uniquely positioned to have the kind of conversation that we felt needed to be done in Egypt,” Crowley told reporters.

Asked about Wisner, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said that the State Department “selected him based on his experience with Egyptian policy.”

Ed Newberry, a spokesman for Patton Boggs, said that the firm represented Egyptian interests until the mid-1990s, well before Wisner joined.

Asked about the criticism, Newberry said: “It’s all based on the premise that we represent the government of Egypt, which is incorrect.”

Wisner’s role came under fire Monday from Robert Fisk, a veteran correspondent for the British newspaper The Independent who is often critical of US policy in the Middle East.

“Why on earth was he sent to talk to Mubarak, who is in effect a client of Mr Wisner’s current employers?” wrote Fisk, who said that Wisner’s actions shocked Egypt’s democratic opposition and raised questions on Obama’s judgment.

Despite distancing itself from Wisner’s call for Mubarak to stay for now, the Obama administration has agreed that it would be difficult to organize free elections on a tight deadline and called for an “orderly transition.”

A senior US official, speaking on condition of anonymity, suggested that Wisner was selected because he could deliver a “candid” message as current US diplomats may not have.

“He has a longstanding relationship with President Mubarak. We thought it was beneficial for him to be able to deliver the message,” the official said.

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  • Anonymous

    Great. We send an envoy who’s a pal of Mubarak. How about sending someone who is close to Obama and will strongly and powerfully follow the predident’ lead – if the president actually has something to say and wants to lead. He seems to be floating above the fray, which is something he is very accomplished at.

  • Anonymous

    Any old “ollie north” types laying around in the cockroach crevices?

  • Guest

    The/our “powers that Be” are so clueless, and that’s really the reason “they” hate us

  • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/42THFKXIPMJHQBIH6OPI4RVIDY Thebes

    This is what they mean by “qualified”.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_KUIE4VGFDNGNLBCAJIOOOBP32I rubberchickencircuit

    I’m a Jew, you double cretin—and I support neither our crazy settlers in Israel/Palestine, nor the belief that God “chose” us to be better than any other poor sods out there.

    We reasonable Jews are different from Likudniks, just like reasonable Christians and Muslims are different from Sarah Palin and Osama. We aren’t colonists. And speaking for myself—if the Obama administration was under my “whip” (inappropriate analogy much?), you’d see it supporting the protesters in Egypt.

  • Anonymous

    Yeah, and The new VP Soliman or whatever is Israel’s NUMBER ONE MAN IN EGYPT.

    It doesn’t get any more US-Israeli controlled than this.

  • Anonymous

    rcc is right, you should probably stick to hating on the Israelis, the banksters and old people. Lay off “the Jews”. According to Frank Luntz, most of the young American Jews are totally on our side: http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2010/jun/10/failure-american-jewish-establishment (Totally awesome article, btw.)

  • http://thebrainpolice.blogspot.com microdot

    The level of illogical rhetoric coming from the pro Israel intellectuals here in France, i.e. Alan Finklekraut has turned into a repietious wall of noise. They seem to be doing more to hurt their credibility by the level of aggression in public debate than garnering support. A very good example is their War against 93 year old concentration camp, human rights activist and diplomat, Stephan Hessel. Hessel has written a very short pamphlet called Indignez Vous which rails is anti Sarkozy and supports Palestinian rights and is supportive of people rising up out of their collective comas. An amazing man, read about him.
    In short, the Jewish Conservative Intellectuals here, have tried to discredit him non stop and have only succeeded in making Indignez Vous the top selling book in France for over 2 months now.
    In effect, this is what the attempts of Israel and the mis steps of the Obama administration have done in Egypt by trying to manipulate the situation. If the Egyptian uprising hasn’t been anti American up to now, by clumsy attempts to manipulate the situation, they will have succeeded in creating a more allied anti American attitude.
    We are gradually becoming aware that the basis of Israeli/American paranoia is Egypts covert program of WMDs…they have a nuclear program and expertise in chemical weaponry. Mubarak admitted so much and more in the 1990′s. ElBareidi, in his role as head of the IAEA documented and exposed the Egyptian’s covert illegal weapon grade uranium enrichment tests as recently as 2003.
    Of course, Mubarak was our trusted ally and it was ignored.

  • http://www.balmorheaprogressive.blogspot.com/ BaileyWuXiang
  • Anonymous

    Whhhheeeeeeee…here we go again, meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

  • http://thebrainpolice.blogspot.com microdot

    Bailey, thank you for the link. I did not know it was available in English and it is a powerful, concise little book that needs to read by everyone. To see Hessel, this 93 year old concentration camp survivor, hero of the Resistance, now being slandered by those who object to his humanitarian plea for Palestinian rights is truly obscene.

  • Balthazars Rebellion

    This whole thing is no longer about Mubarak. It’s about US/Israels interests Vs the Egyptian peoples. After Mubarak’s failed attempts to remain in power, it’s quite obvious now that what is being offered as a replacement for Mubarak has come from the behest of US/Israel. The desperate need to step in and control the outcome of Egypts revolution will be in front of the world, further rising the US to levels of hypocrisy once thought impossible to attain without being consider for psychological evaluation.

  • Anonymous

    What a mess, one says this the other says that !!!

    The US state department has distanced itself from comments by a US special envoy, to the effect that Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak should stay in office during a power transition.


    I figured out what the ambivalent foreign policy problem is, the person that programs Obama’s teleprompter is on vacation and they are having a hard time programming “GET OUT OF THE WAY NOW!!!” for Obama to tell the dictator but also he is kind of confused he does not know to tell that to Mubarak or Castro, on top of that, Obama is having problems distinguishing the RED BUTTON and the INTERNET KILL BUTTON recently installed by Lieberman, they think he is color blind. However his trusted and highly intellectual Vice President Biden (yes, the one that said Mubarak is not a dictator) came out with a solution that if there is a “Significant Emotional Event” to press both of them at the same time. SMART VERY SMART!!! How come we could not think about that before!!!


  • Guest

    I applaud your standing up for yourself, and for reasonable people everywhere. We don’t just have to be silent while being offhandedly lumped together with the Likudniks, the Dominionists, the Jihadists, or any other group that prejudiced people make easy and sweeping generalizations about.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_QMPOO3PZFN7XV2XZKCGSXXR3WM Joe Somebody

    In other words, the U.S. is going to send a high profile lawyer to help Mubarak hide the near $70 BILLION he’s stolen from the Egyptian people, and they need as long as they can get to do it (“Hey, stay till September.. the revolt isn’t all that bad, the people aren’t all that mad, and you have paid goons in there killing and disrupting.. relax..”).

    Hey.. America.. pay attention. They don’t hate us for our “freedoms”, they hate us because after we support vile dictators who abuse their own people for decades, we send in the lawyers to help those vile dictators keep the spoils of their abuses…. all while telling “them” to suck it until we decide it’s time for them to finally get their Democracy/Freedom.

    Sending someone based on them “knowing Egyptian policy” means you want to hold the old line, because the REVOLT is about a NEW policy. … Unless, of course, it was code speak for “knows Egyptian LAW and how to help Mubarak sneak his ill gotten fortunes out of the country”, because not much else makes sense.

  • Anonymous

    OF COURSE the Republican/Tbaggers are siding with the Dictator and his ilk.

  • Anonymous

    It is so absurd having Wisner represent the US. The fact that he supports keeping Mubarak in power another day shows where his sympathies lie.

    The protesters’ primary demand is that Mubarak must go. Nobody trusts him. This is a president who after the last election had his opponent thrown in jail. He will use any means at his disposal (appointing his replacement, maintaining control of congress, upholding the emergency law which has been in place since 1981, etc.) to maintain control.

  • Anonymous

    Obama – take a lead on this one. Be a progressive (moving toward something better) rather than a consevative (keeping things the way they are).

  • http://www.balmorheaprogressive.blogspot.com/ BaileyWuXiang

    I had to order it from the UK. The pamphlet is sold-out in the US on a limited run.