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Booger
November 22nd, 2005, 12:21 PM
The UK is reporting that Bush planned to bomb Al Jazeera in Qatar:


EXCLUSIVE: BUSH PLOT TO BOMB HIS ARAB ALLY
Madness of war memo
By Kevin Maguire And Andy Lines

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.

"He made clear he wanted to bomb al-Jazeera in Qatar and elsewhere. Blair replied that would cause a big problem. "There's no doubt what Bush wanted to do - and no doubt Blair didn't want him to do it."

A Government official suggested that the Bush threat had been "humorous, not serious".

But another source declared: "Bush was deadly serious, as was Blair. That much is absolutely clear from the language used by both men."

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."

Bush disclosed his plan to target al-Jazeera, a civilian station with a huge Mid-East following, at a White House face-to-face with Mr Blair on April 16 last year.

At the time, the US was launching an all-out assault on insurgents in the Iraqi town of Fallujah.

Al-Jazeera infuriated Washington and London by reporting from behind rebel lines and broadcasting pictures of dead soldiers, private contractors and Iraqi victims.

The station, watched by millions, has also been used by bin Laden and al-Qaeda to broadcast atrocities and to threaten the West.

Al-Jazeera's HQ is in the business district of Qatar's capital, Doha.

Its single-storey buildings would have made an easy target for bombers. As it is sited away from residential areas, and more than 10 miles from the US's desert base in Qatar, there would have been no danger of "collateral damage".

Dozens of al-Jazeera staff at the HQ are not, as many believe, Islamic fanatics. Instead, most are respected and highly trained technicians and journalists.

To have wiped them out would have been equivalent to bombing the BBC in London and the most spectacular foreign policy disaster since the Iraq War itself.

The No 10 memo now raises fresh doubts over US claims that previous attacks against al-Jazeera staff were military errors.

In 2001 the station's Kabul office was knocked out by two "smart" bombs. In 2003, al-Jazeera reporter Tareq Ayyoub was killed in a US missile strike on the station's Baghdad centre.

The memo, which also included details of troop deployments, turned up in May last year at the Northampton constituency office of then Labour MP Tony Clarke.

Cabinet Office civil servant David Keogh, 49, is accused under the Official Secrets Act of passing it to Leo O'Connor, 42, who used to work for Mr Clarke. Both are bailed to appear at Bow Street court next week.

Mr Clarke, who lost at the election, returned the memo to No 10.

He said Mr O'Connor had behaved "perfectly correctly".

Neither Mr O'Connor or Mr Keogh were available. No 10 did not comment. http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/tm_objectid=16397937&method=full&siteid=94762&headline=exclusive--bush-plot-to-bomb-his-arab-ally-name_page.html

The White House has issued only this response: "We are not interested in dignifying something so outlandish and inconceivable with a response." (email from Scott McClellan (White House spokesman) to The Associated Press). As msnbc reports, however, such a notion (bombing Al Jazeera) is not as proposterous as it seems:


NBC News analyst Bill Arkin says that while there is no military order to bomb any media outlet, the U.S. Strategic Command in Omaha has been given responsibility for exploiting and disrupting the communications and computer systems of news media outlets worldwide. Arkin says the center of this effort is the Network Attack Support Staff, which while assigned to Stratcom, is headquartered at Ft. Meade, Md. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/10153489/

I find this to be exceedingly troubling. First, the White House will undoubtedly attempt to dismiss this as another of Bush's "jokes," but as indicated above, the U.S. military has targeted Al Jazeera in both Iraq and Afghanistan, in each instance as a result of an ostensible mistake. So the first issue for debate is whether the leaked memo (I haven't been able to locate an actual copy of the memo; perhaps someone with more savvy internet searching skills can locate a copy and post it here) indicates that Bush seriously discussed intentionally bombing Al Jazeera. Second, I thought we stood for freedom of the press?? As msnbc reports, even if the sentiments expressed by Bush for bombing Al Jazeera were in jest, the United States has in place the means and capability for exploiting and disrupting media outlets worldwide. Does this trouble you? How do we appear to the rest of the world when at once we talk of the "march of freedom" yet put in place a mechanism by which we can unilaterally disrupt the free flow of information worldwide?

FruitandNut
November 22nd, 2005, 12:54 PM
Booger - Speaking as a Brit who is fairly in touch with the quality of journalism over in these parts, I would rather the article was not in one of the 'lighter weight' newspapers - the Mirror has been known to overhype and sensationalise on quite a number of occasions. Truth will only be stretched and twisted so far before it looks like something else. I will check out the likes of the 'Independent', the 'Times, the 'Guardian' or the BBC before I would care to comment. I shouldn't be at all surprised though when looking at the past history of attacks on Al Jazeera.

KevinBrowning
November 22nd, 2005, 12:56 PM
I find this to be exceedingly troubling. First, the White House will undoubtedly attempt to dismiss this as another of Bush's "jokes," but as indicated above, the U.S. military has targeted Al Jazeera in both Iraq and Afghanistan, in each instance as a result of an ostensible mistake.

There is not enough information to know whether it is a joke or not. I find it highly unlikely that Bush would seriously contemplate bombing civilians in an allied country. We also don't know whether bombing the al-Jazeera buildings in Afghanistan and Iraq were mistakes, but if they were aiding and abetting the enemy in those countries, we would have been justified.


So the first issue for debate is whether the leaked memo (I haven't been able to locate an actual copy of the memo; perhaps someone with more savvy internet searching skills can locate a copy and post it here) indicates that Bush seriously discussed intentionally bombing Al Jazeera.

I can't find it either. We don't know.


Second, I thought we stood for freedom of the press?? As msnbc reports, even if the sentiments expressed by Bush for bombing Al Jazeera were in jest, the United States has in place the means and capability for exploiting and disrupting media outlets worldwide. Does this trouble you? How do we appear to the rest of the world when at once we talk of the "march of freedom" yet put in place a mechanism by which we can unilaterally disrupt the free flow of information worldwide?

Targeting media and communications is an elementary strategy in war. If the enemy is confused and uninformed, a huge advantage is gained. We do stand for freedom of the press; it is constitutionally guaranteed. However, we recognize no freedom of the press for our enemies during wartime. That would be self-defeating.

Booger
November 22nd, 2005, 02:01 PM
There is not enough information to know whether it is a joke or not.

Agreed. I suppose we'll need to defer debate on that until we get more info, although F&N's commentary on the quality of the reporting by the Mirror does raise some doubt.


I find it highly unlikely that Bush would seriously contemplate bombing civilians in an allied country.

But what if those civilians were deemed by the Administration to be aiding and abetting the enemy by fueling the insurgency with their reporting of our conduct of the war? I thought you said:


We also don't know whether bombing the al-Jazeera buildings in Afghanistan and Iraq were mistakes, but if they were aiding and abetting the enemy in those countries, we would have been justified.

Were not the journalists inside the buildings in Afghanistan and Iraq civilians who worked for Al Jazeera, which is based in an allied country? If the U.S. would have been justified for taking out Al Jazeera buildings in Iraq and Afghanistan for the charge of fueling the insurgency, then why wouldn't the U.S. be justified for taking out Al Jazeera HQ in Qatar?


Targeting media and communications is an elementary strategy in war. If the enemy is confused and uninformed, a huge advantage is gained. We do stand for freedom of the press; it is constitutionally guaranteed. However, we recognize no freedom of the press for our enemies during wartime. That would be self-defeating.

OK, fair enough. But what about the freedom of press of our allies (or those who are neutral) who are reporting on our conduct of the war? I agree that we should have the means to disrupt the communications of our enemy, but should we be in the business of distrupting foreign media who are reporting on the war in a manner in which we do not approve if they are allies or neutral?

mog
November 22nd, 2005, 06:56 PM
I would rather the article was not in one of the 'lighter weight' newspapers - the Mirror has been known to overhype and sensationalise on quite a number of occasions.
This was my reaction too. Most of the Mirror articles I've read have been almost Pravda-esque in their complete lack of journalistic integrity.