Got 'Em By The Short & CurliesA report has been germinating in the UK since yesterday regarding a memo that contains information that President Bush deliberately set out to bomb Al-Jazeera to the ground but British PM Tony Blair talked him out of it. From The Daily Mirror:
PRESIDENT Bush planned to bomb Arab TV station al-Jazeera in friendly Qatar, a "Top Secret" No 10 memo reveals.
But he was talked out of it at a White House summit by Tony Blair, who said it would provoke a worldwide backlash.
A source said: "There's no doubt what Bush wanted, and no doubt Blair didn't want him to do it." Al-Jazeera is accused by the US of fuelling the Iraqi insurgency.
The attack would have led to a massacre of innocents on the territory of a key ally, enraged the Middle East and almost certainly have sparked bloody retaliation.
A source said last night: "The memo is explosive and hugely damaging to Bush."
Oh, but it gets better:
Yesterday former Labour Defence Minister Peter Kilfoyle challenged Downing Street to publish the five-page transcript of the two leaders' conversation. He said: "It's frightening to think that such a powerful man as Bush can propose such cavalier actions.
"I hope the Prime Minister insists this memo be published. It gives an insight into the mindset of those who were the architects of war."
When the news reached our shores, my fellow bloggers erupted, initially wondering if there was any truth to this damaging report. Just because we can't stand Bush doesn't mean we're going to jump the gun and believe he would be this damned stupid to consider bombing an ally in order to rid the world of Al-Jazeera. As a result, we more or less felt that The Mirror's report about this so called memo could just well be a bullshit story.
WE WERE WRONG!
The attorney general last night threatened newspapers with the Official Secrets Act if they revealed the contents of a document allegedly relating to a dispute between Tony Blair and George Bush over the conduct of military operations in Iraq.
It is believed to be the first time the Blair government has threatened newspapers in this way. Though it has obtained court injunctions against newspapers, the government has never prosecuted editors for publishing the contents of leaked documents, including highly sensitive ones about the run-up to the invasion of Iraq.
The attorney general, Lord Goldsmith, last night referred editors to newspaper reports yesterday that described the contents of a memo purporting to be at the centre of charges against two men under the secrets act.
Under the front-page headline "Bush plot to bomb his ally", the Daily Mirror reported that the US president last year planned to attack the Arabic television station al-Jazeera, which has its headquarters in Doha, the capital of Qatar, where US and British bombers were based.
Richard Wallace, editor of the Daily Mirror, said last night: "We made No 10 fully aware of the intention to publish and were given 'no comment' officially or unofficially. Suddenly 24 hours later we are threatened under section 5 [of the secrets act]".
Under section 5 it is an offence to have come into the possession of government information, or a document from a crown servant, if that person discloses it without lawful authority. The prosecution has to prove the disclosure was damaging.
That alone speaks volumes of the memo's accuracy and authenticity. If Blair's office wasn't worried about the details of this damaging memo being published, he wouldn't have sicced Goldsmith on the media. The fact that he did and now two people are being charged for violating the OSA is all the proof one needs. As a result, I must agree with John Aravosis and echo his call. My e-mail address is on the sidebar so if anyone in the UK media feels froggy, by all means leap. As John says, we're not emcumbered by a domestic equivilent of the OSA and I'll simply add that after witnessing the kabuki journalism from our corporate and print media regarding the Plame affair, I wouldn't trust any of them sorry bastards to sit the right way on a toilet seat let alone report accurately and fairly on this memo.
As a blogger, I don't have a Republican CEO (or a DINO Democrat such as Sumner Redstone) of a multinational media conclomerate breathing down my neck telling me what to write and when to write it and there isn't a single sonofabitch in either the Bush Administration or in Washington, DC that intimidates me. The way I see it, my W2s and 1099-MISC forms entitle me to the fucking truth and anybody that wants to beg to differ can stuff the following in their hashpipe while they imagine what finger I'm holding up: "Please Be Seated Here Before You Start To Spin!"