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I asked Hagel what Sisi was saying during this time. He rarely appeared in public, and he never joined a political party.When he ran for President, in the spring of 2014, he had no real platform. He never bothered to clarify some basic details about his life; his campaign’s official You Tube channel identified two conflicting birthplaces for him.Sisi made few public statements, but he opened a dialogue with Chuck Hagel, his counterpart at the Pentagon.In March, 2013, as the crisis was building, Hagel visited Cairo, where he met Sisi for the first time.And, at least initially, the military leaders seemed to hold up their end of the bargain.
In November, he issued a Presidential decree that granted him temporary powers beyond the reach of any court, as a way of preëmpting opposition to a new, Islamist-friendly constitution.
Sisi has four adult children, but he has rarely referred to them in public, and his wife has been all but invisible.
But since becoming President he has unwittingly revealed more about himself and Egypt’s political structures than anybody could have imagined.
“I can’t tell you I recall any kind of special attention in the intelligence summaries with regard to Sisi,” Leon Panetta, who became the U. Secretary of Defense during the year of Tahrir, and who previously directed the Central Intelligence Agency, told me.
In 2013, Chuck Hagel succeeded Panetta at the Pentagon. official told me that biographical information about Sisi had been particularly thin.