Somewhere deep in the bowels of the State Department, there's got to be an office with a few Arabic-speaking folks who spend all their lives monitoring Egypt. There's got to be. Across the Potomac, there's got to be another such team in the Pentagon. Not far off there must be another such team at Langley, the CIA. If you wish to look further afield, there are scholars at universities who spend their entire lives fretting about Egypt, past and present; they're known, not hiding. I'll bet there's a staff person at the Library of Congress who knows all about Egypt. Not to mention the think tanks: there's got to be someone at a Washington think tank who spends their life think tanking about Egypt. It's a big country, a recipient of large sums of American aid, which has this canal some American merchant and military ships sometime use. Also, it's in a region which keeps intruding on the international agenda.
The NSC, if I understand its purpose, is supposed to know who all these folks are.
So doesn't it make sense that if there's a sudden dramatic event in Egypt, say, a revolution or what have you, someone in the administration probably knows how to contact all those experts, get them into a room or an undisclosed secured location, and pick their brains? They won't be offended, on the contrary, they've been spending decades accumulating knowledge that normally doesn't much interest anyone; now that someone wants to listen, they'll jump at the opportunity to tell. Not that they'll necessarily know what's going on better than your run-of-the-mill twitterers, mind you, but they probably do know a bit more about the context, and the potential pitfalls.
So how to explain that the responses of the administration are so cock-eyed?