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Obama’s post-vacation blues: Egypt and NSA spying on Americans

As he heads home from vacation, President Obama faces two major challenges: what to do about violence in Egypt and how to handle the latest revelations about NSA spying on Americans.

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President Obama makes a statement to reporters regarding events in Egypt from his rental vacation home on Martha's Vineyard Aug. 15. Mr. Obama's response to the political unrest has been to voice support for people seeking representative governments but limit the role the United States will play to shape those efforts.

Jacquelyn Martin/AP

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As he heads home from his Martha’s Vineyard vacation Sunday night, President Obama faces two major challenges: what to do about Egypt’s violent political turmoil, and how to handle the latest revelations about National Security Agency (NSA) spying on Americans.

On Egypt, everyone in Washington agrees that the United States must respond. The question is, how?

Mr. Obama has condemned the violence, which has seen hundreds of people killed as forces of the military-backed interim government battle supporters of ousted Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood party.

“While we want to sustain our relationship with Egypt, our traditional cooperation cannot continue as usual when civilians are being killed in the streets and rights are being rolled back,” he said in a brief statement last week.

Specifically, Obama acted on that “traditional cooperation” by canceling joint military exercises scheduled for September and delaying the delivery of four F-16 fighter jets.

But on the TV talk shows Sunday, lawmakers of both parties urged him to do more, including suspending the $1.3 billion in aid the US provides to Egypt each year.

“I don’t see how we can give them aid in light of what has happened,” Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R) of New Hampshire said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “I do support suspending aid to Egypt at this time.”

Sen. Jack Reed (D) of Rhode Island agreed: “I do think we can send a strong signal by suspending aid.”

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