CIA Chief Blamed for Getting Egypt's Hopes Up

Panetta testified to 'strong likelihood' of Mubarak exit
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 11, 2011 1:46 AM CST
Updated Feb 11, 2011 2:45 AM CST
CIA Chief Blamed for Getting Egypt's Hopes Up
An Egyptian man sells flags in Tahrir Square in Cairo, Egypt, yesterday as protesters demanding Mubarak's exit gathered.   (AP Photo/Tara Todras-Whitehill)

CIA director Leon Panetta is being blamed for prematurely raising the hopes of millions of Egyptians yesterday. Panetta testified before Congress that there was a "strong likelihood"of Hosni Mubarak stepping down before the day was out. His remarks spread like wildfire, and protesters in Cairo were left stunned and furious when Mubarak refused to quit, the Washington Post reports. Panetta's aides say he was merely referring to media reports when he made his remarks to the House Intelligence Committee.

Security advisers and President Obama—who had said earlier that "we are witnessing history unfold"—appeared to be as taken aback as the protesters when Mubarak defiantly clung to power, the New York Times notes. "The administration has to put everything on the line," says the Washington director of Human Rights Watch, who has been among the outside experts advising the White House. “Whatever cards they have, this is the time to play them.” (More Tahrir Square stories.)

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