The Washington Post

Cairo embassy staffer ignored concerns about statement

Foreign Policy's Josh Rogin has the inside story on how the U.S. Embassy in Cairo sent out a statement later disavowed by the White House. 

The statement, put out before protests in Cairo began in an effort to quell tensions around an anti-Muslim film, raised objections in the White House and the State Department. A reference to 9/11 and a line about "continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims" were considered inappropriate.

But Larry Schwartz, the Cairo senior public affairs officer, published the memo over those objections, creating a controversy that reached Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. 

"The statement was not cleared with anyone in Washington. It was sent as ‘This is what we are putting out,'" one official told Rogin. "We replied and said this was not a good statement and that it needed major revisions. The next e-mail we received from Embassy Cairo was ‘We just put this out.'"

Fact Checker Glenn Kessler, a former diplomatic correspondent for the Post, describes Schwartz as "a blunt professional who was not afraid of ruffling a few feathers every so often." 

In an interview with CBS News airing Sunday, Obama emphasized that the Cairo statement was not approved by his staff, but added that his "tendency is to cut folks a little bit of slack" in a potentially dangerous situation. 

Rachel Weiner covers local politics for The Washington Post.



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