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Anchored by Jake Tapper, The Lead airs at 4 p.m. ET on CNN.

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August 15th, 2013
05:30 PM ET

Former State Department official: U.S. should have called Morsy ouster a coup six weeks ago

The Obama administration is not calling the ouster of Egyptian President Mohammed Morsy a coup. If it did, the law dictates that the U.S. would have to stop sending $1.5 billion in annual aid to Egypt.

A senior White House official told CNN Thursday the decision to cut that aid would be based on American interests, saying, "We have national security issues in Egypt – the Sinai, the security of Israel, the Suez, and other regional issues. At the same time, it's difficult to continue a relationship with a government engaging in crackdowns like we saw yesterday."

"We missed an opportunity six weeks ago to call it a coup. The fact that we haven't undermines the credibility of the United States in the region," said former State Department spokesman and George Washington University professor P.J. Crowley.

"I would have suspended military aid six weeks ago to get the Egyptian military invested in their own road map and said, 'Look, we're going to suspend it, by law we have to. On the other end of the spectrum, once you restore civilian rule, all the funding will be there,'" said Crowley.

The Obama administration did cancel joint U.S.-Egyptian military exercises known as “Bright Star.”

But while joint military exercises are very important, cancelling them is not enough of a message, said former U.S. Army general and CNN military analyst James "Spider" Marks.

"It's what do we do with $1.5 billion, because the real cost will come down the road," said Marks. "If we allow this thing to spin out of control, we're going to have a Syria in about another 12 months ... in Egypt."

For more analysis, check out the video above.

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