Saturday, November 26, 2005

Did Bush want to blow up Al-Jazeera?

So there's reporting in the UK that in the runup to war, our fearless leader wanted to take out news entity Al-Jazeera, never mind that would mean bombing in friendly Qatar. The Bush White House is saying they won't dignify the charge with an official response, a good way to keep from lying on record, perhaps? Here's a conservative MP offering to print the memo if someone would be so kind as to pass him a copy:

Some of us feel that we have an abusive relationship with this war. Every time we get our hopes up, we get punched by some piece of bad news. We yearn to be told that we're wrong, that things are going to get better, that the glass is half full. That's why I would love to think that Dubya was just having one of his little frat-house wisecracks, when he talked of destroying the Qatar-based satellite TV station. Maybe he was only horsing around. Maybe it was a flippant one-liner, of the kind that he delivers before making one of his dramatic exits into the broom-closet. Perhaps it was a kind of Henry II moment: you know, who will rid me of this turbulent TV station? Maybe he had a burst of spacy Reagan-esque surrealism, like the time the old boy forgot that the mikes were switched on, and startled a press conference with the announcement that he was going to start bombing Russia in five minutes. Maybe Bush thought he was Kenny Everett. Perhaps he was playing Basil Brush. Boom boom.

Who knows? But if his remarks were just an innocent piece of cretinism, then why in the name of holy thunder has the British state decreed that anyone printing those remarks will be sent to prison?

We all hope and pray that the American President was engaging in nothing more than neo-con Tourette-style babble about blowing things up. We are quite prepared to believe that the Daily Mirror is wrong. We are ready to accept that the two British civil servants who have leaked the account are either malicious or mistaken. But if there is one thing that would seem to confirm the essential accuracy of the story, it is that the Attorney General has announced that he will prosecute anyone printing the exact facts.

If Bush were to do something so uncharacteristic as to read this piece, he wouldn't understand a good 30-40% of it.


At 7:02 PM, Blogger CyberKitten said...

This from the BBC today:

The head of al-Jazeera is delivering a letter to Tony Blair demanding the facts on reports that President Bush suggested bombing the Arab TV station.
He wants a memo published which is alleged to show Tony Blair dissuaded President Bush from bombing its HQ.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4's Today Programme, Mr Khanfar said: "Al- Jazeera is in the foremost of free form and democracy in the Arab world and therefore this news that we have heard is very concerning.

"So we demand a proper explanation and we would like to know the facts about this letter."

We need to know if this discussion has taken place or not...if this document exists or not.

"By banning this document from being published it does cast a lot of concerns about this issue.

"When we are talking about bombing a TV station like that I think it is of historical value to know what's happened."

He said al-Jazeera had also asked the White House for an explanation.

Downing Street said on Friday that it was quite happy to talk to al-Jazeera as it was to other broadcasters.

Clarifying his position, Lord Goldsmith said he had not been seeking to gag newspapers and had instead been urging them to take legal advice.

"I am acting in my independent role, this is not the Government acting ... it is me acting in my independent role to protect the administration of justice, because there is a live case going on at the moment which mustn't be prejudiced, and secondly to protect the law."

Lord Goldsmith also denied the Act was being used to prevent political embarrassment.

"It is not being used to save the embarrassment of a politician. That is completely not the case at all."

He also refused to confirm the contents of the memo.


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