Behind the police front lines was a large group of more senior officers, many of them in plainclothes—polo shirts and flak jackets. I saw that they had arrested someone, so I walked over to see what was happening. I also wanted to ask if there was a way into Rabaa, so when I got to the group, I asked if anyone spoke English. Instantly security personnel surrounded me; forceful but not violent at first. They took my phone, my ID. Then they opened my bag and took out my laptop. They opened it, and the password screen appeared. An officer kept asking for my password and I politely refused. This went on for about five minutes intermittently, as I dealt with other officers inquiring about my job and ID. Finally the man I took to be the one in charge—a stout older guy in a black beret—stepped in and demanded the password. I apologized again and declined. So he slapped me hard. Asked for the password again, I declined again, and so he slapped me again. At one point there were several cops punching and slapping me in the head, so I relented and typed in the password. They took a special interest in the file labeled Sisi, with basic reporting on the head of the armed forces, Gen. Abdel Fatah al-Sisi. Then they took the laptop away.
@AbuAardvark, George Washington University professor and Foreign Policy blogger Marc Lynch. His observations from afar distill some of the key policy challenges that this situation poses to the Obama administration.
The hard truth is that the United States has no real influence to lose right now anyway, and immediate impact isn’t the point. Taking a (much belated) stand is the only way for the United States to regain any credibility — with Cairo, with the region, and with its own tattered democratic rhetoric.
Any other suggestions? Let me know in the comments or hit me up on Twitter @MarkLGoldberg