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by Florian Roetzer
Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2005 at 8:21 PM
According to the memo, Blair dissuaded Bush from the plan that would make the position of the US and Great Britian completely incredible and provoke a worldwide storm of protest.
BUSH WANTED TO BOMB THE AL-JAZEERA BROADCASTING CENTER IN KATAR
According to a secret memo known to the Mirror, Blair dissuaded the US president from the plan to destroy the annoying television station
By Florian Roetzer
[This article published in the German-English cyber journal Telepolis 11/22/2005 is translated from the German on the World Wide Web, http://www.telepolis.de/r4/artikel/21/21410/1.html.]
The British Mirror newspaper reports (1) on a memo about a meeting of the British head of government Tony Blair and US president Bush that took place on April 16, 2004 in the White House. In the memo, Bush pleaded for the bombing of the headquarters of the Al Jazeera broadcasting station in Doha, Katar. According to this memo, Blair talked Bush out of this reckless plan.
The project was not completely improbable even if one government official told the newspaper this was “not a serious” idea but was meant humorously. Another explained Bush wanted to do this while Blair rejected the idea and described it as a great error.
That Bush could have played with this idea is not bizarre since a bomb “accidentally” struck the house in Kabul where the editors of Al Jazeera were domiciled in the Afghanistan war. As the only television station in the country, it brought different information and pictures from Afghanistan. Regarding as a disturbing medium by the US government, it was suspected of working together with the Taliban and al Qaida or in any case fomenting anti-American sentiment. The rulers in Katar, a close ally of the US, founded the television station. It was soon described as a kind of Arab CNN and gained a great influence [Al Jazeera: Propaganda Machine or Pioneer of Arab Media Freedom? (2), Sex, Religion and Politics (3)].
During the invasion of Iraq, the television station spoilt the concept of the “embedded” reporter. It published videos and addresses of Bin Laden and also pictures of American prisoners of war. Thereupon some demanded the prohibition of the television station that uncovered some propaganda tricks of the allied invaders [War of Pictures (4) (5) (6) (7)]
At the beginning of April, just before Baghdad’s occupation, the editorial building of al Jazeera in Baghdad was destroyed by an American bomb. One co-worker was killed and another wounded [Bomb censorship or “Collateral damage”? (8)]. Shortly afterwards, a tank bombarded the Palestine Hotel where all the foreign journalists stayed [Removal and Intimidation of the Eyes of the World Public (9)]. Two journalists were killed and three wounded. The US army claimed the tank was shot at from the hotel. The testimony of the journalists did not confirm this [International arrest warrants for US soldiers (10)].
After the overthrow of the Hussein regime, the US government threatened the Arab television station – and its rival al Arabiya – because they allegedly cooperated with the insurgents [Responsible for Chaos and Rebellion (11), Media war in Iraq (12)]. The work of the television station was blocked and its offices in Iraq closed (13). To fight against the television station, an American television station for the region was established. At the end of March, American mercenaries in Falludscha were murdered. Their corpses were dragged through the streets in a triumphal procession that called to mind in the US the events from Somalia [Triumph of Cruelty (14)]. This was the time of the nascent city battles [War in the Cities (15)] when it became clear that the rapid regime change did not represent any victory. In April, US troops tried for the first time to capture Falludscha that was regarded as a stronghold of the rebels. Attacks of the American government were directed against Falludscha because the two Arab television stations showed pictures of the devastation and casualties of the attacks [“False reporting is not allowed in this country” (16)]. At the end of April 2004, the first pictures of the abuses in Abu Ghraib were published.
Bush and Blair were under great pressure in April 2004. The occupation seemed to slip from their hands. People spoke of the beginning of the end. The coalition threatened to collapse with the withdrawal of the Spaniards after the attacks in Madrid. The undesirable and uncontrollable information and pictures from Iraq were made responsible for the strengthened rebellion and anti-Americanism in the whole Moslem world. That Bush in this situation could have considered solving the problem by destroying the television station is very plausible.
The “top-secret” memo of the conversation between Blair and Bush was given to the Labor delegate Tony Clarke in May. David Keogh who works as an employee in the British cabinet slipped it to Leo O’Connor, Clarke’s colleague (17). After Clarke was reelected, he returned the memo to the British government. A lawsuit was filed against Keogh and O’Connor (18) according to the Official Secrets Act for passing on secret documents. For a long time there were only rumors about the contents of the memo.
The broadcast center of Al Jazeera was suitable for a bombardment, the memo said. The center is outside the residential area in the business quarter of the city so “collateral damage” could be kept within reasonable limits. According to the memo, Blair dissuaded Bush from the plan that would make the position of the US and Great Britain completely incredible and provoke a worldwide storm of protest. The bombardment on the territory of a friendly land could not have been passed off as an error.
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