judicial independence, which can uphold the society’s rule of law and hold other branches of government to account, has been “a strength of the Egyptian system,” citing recent judicial reviews of the country’s electoral process.
Does McCormack not know that one of the most controversial aspects of the proposed Constitutional changes is the removal of judicial oversight of elections? Does he not know that the Egyptian regime has been engaged in a brutal political struggle with the Judge's Association for the last year and a half? Of all the many infuriating parts of his comments on Egypt - "a general trend towards greater political reform"?!? - this statement about the judiciary is perhaps the most astonishing.
But there's a chance for something positive to come out of this. McCormack did say this:
Egyptians must “be able to freely express themselves and their views through the media and in public”... "you do fundamentally need to maintain the ability of people to freely express themselves in a system without fear of arrest or retribution. That is fundamental to any democracy.”
Okay. Can we agree, then, that should Egyptians find themselves unable to freely express themselves without fear of arrest or retribution, then the United States should begin to have a problem here? Should, say, the Kefaya movement organize a protest in Tahrir Square on Sunday afternoon, and should this peaceful protest encounter a harsh response from the security services... can we expect a State Department response?
UPDATE: The judges, whose judicial oversight the State Department values so highly, have announced a boycott of this referendum. Just in case you were wondering.