Ex-official: Obama should've pegged Egypt as coup at once

The Obama administration should have immediately labeled the July 3 ouster of Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi a military coup and cut off aid, former State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley told CNN on Thursday.

The administration is struggling with how to respond after more than 600 people were killed when the U.S.-backed military raided the encampments of demonstrators protesting Morsi's ouster. President Obama announced Thursday he was canceling next month's joint military exercises with Egypt in response and warned of possible further steps.

“I think we missed an opportunity six weeks ago to call it a coup,” Crowley told CNN. “The fact that we haven't undermines the credibility of the United States in the region.”

The Obama administration has said it won't call Morsi's ouster a coup, which would automatically freeze the $1.3 billion in annual military aid. A number of lawmakers, including Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.), Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), have said U.S. law mandates that aid to Egypt be suspended.

“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,'” Crowley said. “On the other end of the spectrum, once you restore civilian rule, all the funding will be there."