TODAY   |  February 11, 2011

Obama slammed over tactics in Egypt crisis

Critics are calling for President Obama to take a tougher stand in backing democracy advocates in Egypt and to do more to get rid of longtime U.S. ally Hosni Mubrarak. NBC’s Andrea Mitchell reports.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> reporter: extremists flooding into egypt now. this is a delicate challenge for the administration.

>> savannah, thank you. here's meredith.

>> ann, thank you. andrea mitchell , good morning to you.

>> good morning.

>> it is a delicate situation with the administration. how does this help defuse the situation without being seen as meddling.

>> reporter: it's not clear. the u.s. was shocked by mubarak 's decision. it is raising questions about the degree of american in this part of the world. rather than trying to continue to balance democratic goals against the need to help smooth a graceful exit for a long-time ally tend the world is watching. sints this began the u.s. strategy has been to internationallize pressure on mubarak to avoid the view that u.s. is supporting change over an ale lie. the french, british, other european leaders are joining in to call for mubarak to step down. but there are divisions among other u.s. allies. israel is a long supporter of mubarak and has been concerned that the u.s. is abandoning him too quickly. other arab leaders are afraid they are seeing in liberation square could spread.

>> and there was a testy phone call where the king of saudi arabia told the president not to humiliate, embarrass his friend mubarak . according to a saudi government source with egypt in chaos, the kingdom is washington's onlile ally and the saudis want america to remember that. is that a veiled threat or posturing?

>> reporter: that's a concern for king abdullah of jordan . but the king of saudi arabia feels the u.s. abandoned mubarak too quickly. it could have long-term damaging effects on american foreign policy .

>> andrea, what does this say about our intelligence? was there a failure here?

>> that question is already being raised and it's bad timing. the nation's top intelligence officials had to report to congress yesterday for the annual briefing. they faced questions about failing to predict the uprising. they said it's like an earthquake. you can feel the tremors coming but don't know when the earthquake will hit. there is a 35-person team to try to better monitor, first of all, facebook and twitter and all these open sources to better know when this thing is reaching a critical point.