If CNN did more of this (and fired Erick Erickson) I would have a lot more respect for them. Anderson Cooper is on fire in this segment, calling out the Egyptian government on their lies, their violence, and their patronizing attitude toward the thousands of people in Tahrir Square.
In this segment, Cooper is full of facts and righteous indignation. He's the guy I remember from tsunami coverage, and the Haiti earthquake coverage, but with more of an edge. You can almost feel the anger in his voice as he names the lies, one by one, and then names the liars.
As he moves through the lies and threats of Omar Suleiman, Cooper mentions journalists who have been detained and harassed, protesters who have died at the hands of government thugs, and others who risk their freedom and lives just coming and going through Tahrir Square. ABC is keeping a list of all journalists harassed, detained, intimidated or threatened by the government. Human Rights Watch has published reports of journalists harassed, and also says the death toll is now over 300.
As an aside, this Pew Research poll is really not a positive sign for the health of this nation. According to the poll, 52% -- FIFTY-TWO PERCENT -- of Americans polled have heard little or nothing about the protests. How is that even possible?
Cooper begins with Egyptian Vice President Suleiman's veiled, but crystal-clear threat to the protesters of 'police action', and takes down the rest of the lies from there.
Despite the predictions of many that the protest would shrink in size or simply go away, today the exact opposite happened. Take a look at this. The largest protest yet filled liberation square and for the first time, spilled out of the square. And look, I know you've seen pictures like this before, and think it's all starting to look the same, but this is not the same. Each day is different, each day the people coming to the square are risking arrest, risking attack, risking their lives. And yet, they are still coming. In fact more people came to the square today, more than ever before. People who had never been there, I'm told, today they decided enough is enough.
Imagine that courage. They've seen the violence, they've seen the blood spill, people mained and wounded, they've seen peaceful demonstrators attacked with rocks and clubs and Molotov cocktails and yet they still came, demanding freedom, demanding change. We're going to talk to one of the protesters in a moment but I also want to show you this video taken last Wednesday just outside Liberation Square, captured by a European cameraman and broadcast on Al-Jazeera.
Take a look at this. The picture you see -- the pickup -- is carrying government loyalists, throwing rocks, trying to run down anti-Mubarak demonstrators on the streets, trying to hit those guys. Their plan goes awry, the pickup crashes, guys fall out of the vehicle, and the anti-government drags them away, beating them as they go. Those anti-government forces later coming under rifle fire, we don't know who was shooting at them. One of the men we saw was hit.
We begin though tonight as always keeping them honest and again tonight it is the Mubarak regime we hope to keep honest by pointing out the lies they continue to tell, statements they make that are not supported by facts and are in fact contradicted by facts.
Today, some chilling words by Egypt's Vice President -- this man -- the man who has run for years the feared Intelligence Services. He told Egyptian media that the government, and I quote, "can't put up with the continued protests for a long time." He says while he wants dialogue he warned quote "the regime doesn't want to deal with Egyptian society with police tools."
Well the truth is police tools is exactly how that man and the Egyptian government have dealt with the Egyptian people for the 30 years of the Mubarak regime. And despite talks of reforms and changes to the Constitution, Vice President Suleiman continues to blame protesters and blame foreign reporters for creating a crisis.
Suleiman said today that the quote "presence of the protesters in Liberation Square and some satellite stations, insulting Egypt and belittling it makes citizens hesitant to go to work." So let's just look at that statement, because that statement is frankly a lie.
The truth is, the Egyptian government itself has tried to create a crisis atmosphere. It wasn't protesters who shut down the stock market and the banks and the train service and for a time the Internet. It was the Egyptian government. And they did that in part to make ordinary Egyptians believe the Mubarak regime is the only way to maintain stability.
It didn't work. Now the banks are reopening and trains are running and the government strategy of manipulating a crisis has so far failed.
Also in that statement he blames the protesters and reporters, satellite news stations, saying we're insulting Egypt, belittling it. For many days now he's blamed the foreigners and reporters for being behind the protest. Now he says we and the protesters are insulting Egypt. Belittling it. Hoping to play into people's sense of national pride.
These protesters are not insulting Egypt, belittling it. The Mubarak regime has done that for 30 years. They've insulted people by lying to them. They've insulted their people by arresting them, by torturing them, by not allowing them to express themselves.
That is insulting Egypt. That is belittling Egypt.
Take a look at these pictures from Liberation Square today. Young and old, Muslim and Christian, men and women from all walks of life standing shoulder to shoulder crying out for freedom, celebrating the freedom that they can now only experience in that one square in Cairo. This is Egypt at its best.
Do you honestly believe that these people who simply want what we all have, does the Vice President really believe they are insulting Egypt, belittling it? Those are the words of a man who believes his regime is Egypt and it is not.
That is the message of these protesters. Egypt is not a government, it is not a dictator, it is not a regime. It is a proud country and a proud country and millions of them are calling for change even though the Vice President says the Egyptians aren't ready for democracy.
They're certainly not ready for transparency, or openness or an honest picture of what's been going on. That's what the regime believes. The Egyptian government continues to claim that only eleven people have been killed in the uprising so far. Eleven people. According to Human Rights Watch, the estimate is 297 and they got that by canvassing hospitals in Suez, in Cairo and Alexandria.
Government hasn't done that. They've also got new numbers on arrests and detentions but before we give them to you I just want you to hear what Vice President Suleiman said recently, stating what he said came straight from President Mubarak.
(voice over) The President stressed that the Egyptian youth deserve the appreciation of the nation, and issued orders not to prosecute them, harass them, or deprive them of their right to freedom of expression. (end voice over)
Not to pursue, harass or deprive them of their right to freedom of expression? According to late word from Human Rights Watch, Egyptian army officers and military police have arbitrarily detained at least 119 people since the 28th of January. At least 20 were picked up heading to or leaving Liberation Square.
Those who have been released said they were held incommunicado, not allowed access to a lawyer, not even letting their families know they were in custody. They were held blindfolded.
Five say they were tortured, beaten with clubs, rifle butts, threatened with electricity or being violated with bottles. Now remember, this is from a government promising not to pursue, harass or deprive protesters of their right to freedom of expression.
It's also a government that has promised not to harass journalists reporting the story. According to Human Rights Watch, they've detained 62 in the last week alone.
Later you're going to hear from one of them that was picked up just in the last 24 hours, and you'll hear from the Google executive who was detained for more than a week. His emotional words re-energized Liberation Square today and seemed to really breathe new life into the pro-democracy movement.
So far, Vice President Suleiman's only answer to that is a veiled threat of police action.
And there's something else he recently said, that Egypt is not yet ready for democracy.