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September 13th, 2012
10:44 AM ET

Congressman Rogers: Attack on US compound in Libya 'has all the hallmarks of an al Qaeda operation'

CNN is following the attacks against U.S. embassies in the Middle East from all angles this morning. From Cairo, Egypt to Benghazi, Libya, protests have now erupted at the U.S. Embassy in Sanaa, Yemen. Republican Congressman Mike Rogers from Michigan is the Chair of the Intelligence Committee. He is thoroughly briefed about the situation developing in the Middle East and joins Brooke Baldwin and John Berman on “Starting Point” this morning with the latest.

Congressman Rogers describes the series of attacks as “opportunities that are stacking up for individuals who want to go after American stations abroad.” “This is a very important time for us to have a very clear sense and communicate that to across the Middle East what U.S. policy is, how we’re going to handle people who cross the wall," he says. "This is a pretty serious matter. We’ve gotta stop it now. If we’re still talking about other embassies in several weeks, we’ve got a real trouble.”

Congressman Rogers cannot say whether the attacks were made by groups working together, but “the effort on the compound in Benghazi clearly was a coordinated type effort.” “It certainly has all the hallmarks of an al Qaeda operation, or an al Qaeda affiliate,” Congressman Rogers says.

Rogers also comments on the protests in Egypt and recent statements made by both Egyptian President Mohamed Morsy and President Obama. President Morsy condemned the anti-Muslim film that sparked the attack, but not the embassy attack itself. President Obama called Egypt neither an “ally” nor an “enemy”. Congressman Rogers says about Egypt, “They have a little bit of anti-Israeli rhetoric, a little bit of anti-American rhetoric weaved through some of their speeches and some of their policies in Egypt. So that’s why, right now, there is a question mark. Which direction is Egypt going to go? Are they going to be a friend and ally of the United States? Or are they going to go off in their own path, which is going to set up a whole new set of problems for Egypt?”

Baldwin refers to the images of protests, last perceived as celebratory, and asks the congressman if the Arab Spring is now coming back to haunt us. Congressman Rogers says it is too early to tell. He explains that those who were responsible for the revolution in Egypt were the youth, the highly educated and the disenfranchised, who very well connected to social media, but they “aren’t really part of the government now.”

Congressman Rogers says that this is the problem filtering around the Arab Spring. “You see these changes where people still, on the day of the free election, still feel disenfranchised,” he says, “and that’s something we haven’t quite gotten our arms around yet.”

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