U.S. Secretly Cuts Aid to Egypt as Brotherhood Leader Arrested

The U.S. has reportedly cut all aid to Egypt, but hasn't yet publicly declared the military removal of democratically elected president Mohamed Morsi a coup—even as the new government continues its crackdown on Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood, to the point of arresting its 70-year-old leader Mohamed Badie.

The Daily Beast reports that the office of Sen. Patrick Leahy (D - Vt.) is saying that "aid to the Egyptian military has been halted, as required by law." (By law, the U.S. government cannot provide aid to countries whose governments took power in a coup—though, of course, what "coup" means is up to administration lawyers.) The official Obama administration line is that the aid money isn't due until September 30, and that no determinations have been made:

“The decision was we’re going to avoid saying it was a coup, but to stay on the safe side of the law, we are going to act as if the designation has been made for now,” said one administration official. “By not announcing the decision, it gives the administration the flexibility to reverse it.”

The decision may not carry much weight: Saudi Arabia has willingly and loudly stepped up with financial support, as have Israel and the United Arab Emirates, "effectively neutralizing the West's main leverage over Cairo." "Our ability to influence the outcome in Egypt is limited," Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel said. "It’s up to the Egyptian people. And they are a large, great, sovereign nation. And it will be their responsibility to sort this out."

In Egypt, police arrested Muslim Brotherhood "supreme guide" Mohamed Badie after being charged for "incitement to murder":

Footage circulated on local media showed the bearded Brotherhood leader sitting grim-faced on a sofa in a grey robe, hands folded in his lap, while a man with a rifle stands by.

The release of the images seemed designed to humiliate the Brotherhood's most senior chief, whose arrest means the top echelon of the Islamist movement is now behind bars.