Jackson Diehl, of the Washington Post, writes about the ahead-of-the-curve Working Group on Egypt:
Caught flat-footed and totally unprepared for Egypt's uprising, the Obama administration has been offering a series of excuses. It was, officials claim, quietly supporting reform all along. The CIA never warned that Egypt might blow up. No one could have anticipated what has happened in Cairo since Jan. 25.
The claim on reform is easily dismissed. Anyone who has been following Egypt for the last two years knows the administration's record of coddling President Hosni Mubarak, cutting funds for Egyptian democracy programs, and eschewing criticism of the regime's repression.
But another part of the record also needs clearing up: In fact, the White House was warned, publicly and repeatedly, that Egypt was approaching a turning point and that the status quo was untenable -- not by an intelligence agency, but by a bipartisan group of Washington-based experts who pleaded, in vain, for a change of policy.
The Working Group on Egypt was formed a year ago this month for the purpose of raising the alarm about Mubarak's crumbling regime and pressing the administration to adopt a different approach. The first sentence of its opening statement read: "Egypt is at a critical turning point." To this day it is issuing detailed proposals about how to handle the crisis. On Monday night, it warned that the administration "may acquiesce to an inadequate and possibly fraudulent transition process in Egypt." Sadly, the administration failed to take its warnings seriously -- and it is still not listening to its good advice.