Mullen warns against hastily cutting off Egyptian aid

The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff warned against cutting off all aid to Egypt if the country's president does not hand over power to an interim government immediately.

Adm. Mike Mullen cautioned against the cries from lawmakers, saying on ABC's "Good Morning America" he thought the United States should have a better understanding of what's going on in Egypt before doing anything drastic.

"It is up to the Egyptian people and the Egyptian government. But we play a role here because we give about $1.5 million a year — billion a year in aid to Egypt," Mullen said Friday. "So, again, there's a lot of uncertainty out there. And I would just caution against doing anything until we really understand what's going on. I recognize that certainly is a significant investment, but it's an investment that's paid off over a long period of time."

Mullen said though that, ultimately, cutting off aid to Egypt wasn't his call.

"Well, that's obviously not mine to decide," Mullen said. "But at the same time, I'd like to understand a little bit more about what's going on before we took any specifics there."

In response to increasingly violent protests in Egypt, members of Congress have called on the U.S. to stop sending aid unless President Hosni Mubarak steps down from power. On Wednesday Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), who chairs an Appropriations subcommittee in charge of international programs, said that aid would continue only if a more credible leader than Mubarak heads the Egyptian government. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said Thursday that all options for pushing Mubarak to step down from power had to be in consideration, including cutting off aid.

Mubarak has yet to step down despite calls from President Obama to do so immediately.