Cash-flow financing “appears to us to commit the Congress to large financing programs in future years to ensure that signed contracts are honored,” auditors with what is now the Government Accountability Office said in the report. State and Defense Department officials at the time told the GAO that Cairo understood that cash-flow financing did not obligate Congress to allocate money for years into the future. But the GAO argued that “it would be difficult for Egypt to interpret it any other way.”
The GAO raised the issue again in 2006 in a report that warned that policymakers had failed to “identify the risks and impacts” of a potential change in aid levels to Egypt. Defense officials told auditors at the time that they would consider a range of options if the money stopped flowing, including halting new orders and reducing the scope of contracts. But, ultimately, the U.S. government would be liable for a considerable portion of contracts placed by Egypt.
See how much U.S. military sales go to Egypt
Their attorneys said the two feared that they could face persecution and further imprisonment there.
Lack of progress in the Libya case has frustrated U.S. intelligence officials and lawmakers.
Read all of the stories in The Washington Post’s ongoing coverage of the National Security Agency’s surveillance programs.
In the wake of the coup in Cairo, members of Congress have staked out contradictory positions on whether aid must be cut off under U.S. law. Leahy and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) have insisted that it must. Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich), who heads the Armed Services Committee, believes that the U.S. law requiring a cutoff in aid in the event of a coup “does not apply to direct military-to-military assistance,” a spokesman said. His position has drawn particular attention on the Hill because a General Dynamics plant where Egypt’s tanks are produced is in his home state.
Lawmakers in the early stages of drawing up next year’s foreign operations budgets are contemplating various amendments that would place further restrictions on aid to Egypt or stop it outright. Sensing the growing angst on the Hill, President Obama on Wednesday decided to halt a scheduled delivery of four F-16s, a measure that administration officials hoped would buy them time to appease members of Congress.
The Egyptians, meanwhile, have been largely silent about the debate over U.S. aid. Their embassy in Washington did not respond to requests for an interview. A former administration official involved in Egypt policy said the Egyptians may be confident that the sturdiness of the aid structure will weather the ongoing debate.
“Don’t think the Egyptian military doesn’t know that how we provide the aid constrains us from cutting it off easily,” the former official said. “They know this stuff a hundred times better than us.”