News reports claim that CIA operatives are now on the ground in Libya gathering information about the rebel forces: Who are they? What are their goals? What role are Islamist terrorists -- especially those who have fought against us in Afghanistan and Iraq -- playing in this rebellion? Will a post-Gadhafi Libya be a secular or an Islamist state?
Some of these questions apply not just to Libya but more importantly to Egypt. Libya and Tunisia are far less significant to U.S. interests than Egypt is. But we have no idea what will happen in Egypt once the military relinquishes control. Opinion is, at best, divided on what role the Muslim Brotherhood will play in upcoming Egyptian elections. And the administration can't even seem to make up its mind about whether the Muslim Brotherhood is a secular organization with a terrorist past or an increasingly Islamist outfit.
You can bet that even if U.S. intelligence agencies don't know what's happening on the ground in Egypt, Israel certainly does. The fate of Egypt poses a direct threat to the existence of Israel. But Obama has so soured relations with America's one true ally in the Middle East that it cannot help but affect cooperation on intelligence-sharing. This is the time when we most need Israel's insights, but is the Obama administration too worried about how such cooperation would be perceived to even ask for Israel's help? And how willing would the Israelis be to share such information given the administration's lukewarm support of Israel and its inability to control leaks?
The president cannot afford to fly by the seat of his pants. He needs answers -- and so do the American people.
Linda Chavez is the author of "An Unlikely Conservative: The Transformation of an Ex-Liberal." To find out more about Linda Chavez, visit the Creators Syndicate web page at www.creators.com.
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Linda Chavez is chairman of the Center for Equal Opportunity and author of Betrayal: How Union Bosses Shake Down Their Members and Corrupt American Politics .
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