Cutting off aid to Egypt is the law

The law:

"none of the funds appropriated or otherwise made available pursuant to this Act shall be obligated or expended to finance directly any assistance to any country whose duly elected head of government is deposed by a military coup or decree.”

One can argue whether cutting off aid is beneficial to our foreign policy or not, and whether it is a good thing to do in general or not, but one CANNOT argue that this law does not apply. “duly elected head of government is deposed by military coup or decree” is exactly what happened. If the President and the government get to decide, for whatever reason, which laws to follow and which not to follow, this country will be no different than any number of pseudo-democratic corrupt banana republics out there.

The situation is a little murky. The Egyptian military has specific duties and privileges spelled out in Egypt’s constitution that, by some interpretations, allow or compel them to remove a president who threatens Egypt’s security and stability. Morsi arguably fit the bill. This arguably does not meet the strict definition of a “coup,” although it kind of walks and quacks like one.

And, I don’t think we really qualify as a banana republic; you need a more tropical climate for that. Although I could use a nice white linen suit…

[QUOTE=Terr;1644797If the President and the government get to decide, for whatever reason, which laws to follow and which not to follow, this country will be no different than any number of pseudo-democratic corrupt banana republics out there.[/QUOTE]

Not really. Congress can act decisively, if it so chooses. If it doesn’t act, then the natural conclusion is they, the authors of the law, are OK with the president’s actions and consider it consistent with the law.

The aid for the year has already been paid.

From the Chicago Tribune editorial board:

Let it ride.

“coup” is not the only definition in the law.

“… whose duly elected head of government is deposed by a military coup or decree”.

The head of government was deposed by military decree. There is no wiggle room whatsoever.

There is plenty of wiggle room. You want there to be none, but thankfully, people who have to consider nuance are making the decisions.

In my opinion, Bayard is correct. The USA can ignore this until spring of 2014. The general consensus is that relatively fair and open elections will be held prior to the deadline. Thus, it appears to be a moot point.

Many analysts believe that declaring this a coup would dangerously destabilize the country, and for no purpose except to assuage the sensibilities of those who wish to follow the letter of the law rather than the spirit. It is also important to recognize the constant political undertow from the opposition in this matter.

Egypt’s GDP as of December 2012 was 257.29 USD Billion. The aid from the USA is 1.5 USD Billion. The impact of its absence would be more political than economic (if those two can be separated meaningfully). If Americans and Europeans flocked to Egypt as tourist in the coming months, that would have much more of an impact than anything done in Congress or the governments abroad. A secular and stable Egypt would be in the best interests of all concerned.

The problem here is that you have a joint action by the military, opposition leaders, and a mass movement. Does that constitute a “military decree”? Maybe it does, but it turns on the definition of “military” and “decree.” Can you point me to the part of the statute or the case law that defines the key terms?

If you can’t, then there’s plenty of wiggle room.

If within a short time (which could be days) an interim civilian leader is selected this wouldn’t properly be considered a military coup. One of the problems Egypt faced is an inability to change it’s duly elected leader when circumstances warranted it, which made Morsi more of a duly elected dictator than president. On top of all that it’s something subject to interpretation, and as an act of congress it is congress that does the interpretation through action, inaction, or modification of the law. If the president interprets this law in a manner not acceptable to congress they can impeach him, short of that there’s no way that continuing the funding to Egypt can be considered illegal.

Perfect model of reasoning by which lawlessness is conducted in corrupt pseudo-democracies.

Or, conversely, you are unable, or for partisan reasons, unwilling to examine the issue dispassionately.

You’ve taken the absurd position that there’s no room for differing interpretations of a statute that doesn’t define its own terms, and is being applied to a novel factual situation.

Based on your choice of news sources, you probably never said the same thing about John Yoo’s parsing of the prohibition on torture, and your complaints about “corrupt pseudo-democracies” will probably end when a Republican is returned to office. But if your hostility is to all legal parsing, then bless you, and good luck with that.

I don’t think anyone would be granted standing to challenge this in court, right? So, the only remedy here is for Congress to withhold funds, pass a new law specifically forbidding the president from dispersing funds, or impeachment, right? And I don’t see the remotest possibility of any of those things happening.

There are reasonable interpretations, and there are absurd ones. Egypt’s military is “military” and arguing otherwise is absurd. The decree by which they deposed Morsi is a “decree” and arguing otherwise is absurd. Especially considering that the 2011 Omnibus bill narrows it down even further as “coup d’etat or decree in which the military plays a decisive role.”. I guess now you can argue that it doesn’t define what “role” means. And if it did, it probably wouldn’t define what “means” means.

Congress could get more specific in its terms for the next appropriation, or amend this one, I suppose.

As to standing, I imagine there’s someone out there injured by the decision to send or not send the aid, but I don’t know enough about it to speculate further. That said, a Court could decline jurisdiction on other prudential grounds because this is a foreign affairs matter.

You only think it’s absurd because you haven’t considered the arguments and nuances in any detail. You might start by defining what it means, specifically, to depose a head of state by “decree.”

The head of Egypt’s armed forces, general Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, issues a declaration on Wednesday appointing an interim head of state and stating the constitution has been suspended.

Do explain by what “nuance” removal of the head of state from power by the military announcement is not a “coup” or “deposing” by “decree”. Is it because it is a “declaration” and not a “decree”? Really? This is absurd.

OK, it does look like Congress is going to address this issue:

I think this makes sense. I haven’t read the full statute, but if it doesn’t specify who is “the decider” in this instance, then I think it’s cool for the president to allow Congress to address it.

Does it count as a military decree if the decree is a statement joined by various leaders with different power bases? How do you determine if the military role is “decisive”? Who determines it?

What transforms a statement or request into a “decree”? Assuming it is the use or threat of force, must the use of force be to enforce the request rather to enforce some other existing law?

Is all police action military force in Egypt?

Must a request backed by threat of enforcement fall outside the ordinary legal framework in order to be a decree, or can it still be a decree if it was lawful under the Constitution?

If this fits the definition of deposing a leader by military decree, why did the first revolution not fit that definition?

Does the context of the law, its purpose, and the use of the phrase “military coup or decree” suggest that the action must involve the military taking power, rather than giving power to the existing head of the Supreme Court?

Do those same extra- and inter-textual factors require us to consider the extent of democratic support for the deposing of the head of state, or the existence of legal alternatives?

Does it matter if Morsi was only the titular head of state but the military had real power before and after Morsi being deposed?

Is it possible to be duly elected and then act undemocratically or unconstitutionally sufficient to remove the designation as “duly elected head of state”?

What if Morsi was thought to have been duly elected at the time but subsequent investigation revealed some degree of vote-rigging?

Again, the question is not what is the best interpretation of the statute. The question is whether there’s any good faith “wiggle room.” Your view of what is and what is not an absurd question to ask is not reasonable.

Reality determines it. Without the military, there would be no deposing.

Seriously? Morsi was “requested” to step down?

The chief of staff of the military went on TV to declare the head of state deposed. Is that not “military” enough for you?

Are you claiming Egyptian constitution allows for the military to depose the president? Really?

“duly elected head of government”.

The law talks about deposing. It doesn’t condition stuff on who the next head of government is.

Isn’t that the definition of “military coup” - that the military is in “real power”?

The question is, can the US government get out of enforcing any law at all by re-interpreting what “law” means, what “enforcing” means and what “get out” means?