Incompetence: US disowns comments by own special envoy to Mubarak

Last week, the Obama administration sent Frank Wisner, former Ambassador to Egypt, as a personal envoy from President Obama to Hosni Mubarak. The goal - ostensibly - was to get the 82 year old Egyptian president to read the writing on the wall and step aside.

Now the BBC is reporting that the State Department has been forced to disown comments made by Wisner that Mubarak should stick around. The Beeb:

Mr Wisner, a former ambassador to Egypt, was sent by President Obama to Cairo on Monday, apparently to urge Mr Mubarak to announce his departure.

"We need to get a national consensus around the pre-conditions for the next step forward. The president must stay in office to steer those changes," he told the Munich Security Conference on Saturday.

"I believe that President Mubarak's continued leadership is critical - it's his chance to write his own legacy.

"He has given 60 years of his life to the service of his country, this is an ideal moment for him to show the way forward."

But in Washington, state department spokesman PJ Crowley said: "We have great respect for Frank Wisner and we were deeply appreciative of his willingness to travel to Egypt last week."

"He has not continued in any official capacity following the trip. The views he expressed today are his own. He did not co-ordinate his comments with the US government."

Unbelievable. They sent this loose canon to Egypt as a direct representative of the President of the United States and his statements conflict with the public diplomacy of the administration 100%.

Does this seem a little amateurish to you? Of course it does. The right hand not knowing what the left hand is doing - or acting at cross purposes with what is official policy - smacks of incompetence if not cluelessness about how to handle this crisis.

No wonder all sides in Egypt are ignoring us. Our own stupidity has made us irrelevant.