***More updates below***
Kevin Maguire And Andy Lines of the Daily Mirror from the UK broke this story today – apparently Bush planned to bomb the Al Jazeera HQ in Qatar:
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."
Hmmm… No Comments!
Update 1: The five-page transcript of a conversation between Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair reveals that Blair talked Bush out of launching a military strike on the station, unnamed sources told the anti-war-in-Iraq daily.
The transcript of the pair’s talks during Blair’s April 16, 2004 visit to Washington allegedly shows Bush wanted to attack the satellite channel’s headquarters.
Update 2: Targeting Journalists? Nah…
Former defence minister Peter Kilfoyle – a leading Labour opponent of the Iraq War – called for the document to be made public.
"I believe that Downing Street ought to publish this memo in the interests of transparency, given that much of the detail appears to be in the public domain," he said.
"I think they ought to clarify what exactly happened on this occasion.
"If it was the case that President Bush wanted to bomb Al-Jazeera in what is after all a friendly country, it speaks volumes and raises questions about subsequent attacks that took place on the press that wasn’t embedded with coalition forces."
Update 3: LAW CHIEF GAGS THE MIRROR ON BUSH LEAK
THE Daily Mirror was yesterday told not to publish further details from a top secret memo, which revealed that President Bush wanted to bomb an Arab TV station.
The gag by the Attorney General Lord Goldsmith came nearly 24 hours after the Mirror informed Downing Street of its intention to reveal how Tony Blair talked Bush out of attacking satellite station al-Jazeera’s HQ in friendly Qatar.
Update 4: UK- 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.
SOURCE: International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), Brussels
**Updates IFEX alerts on the Tariq Ayyoub case of 14 April 2004, 10 October and 8 April 2003**
(IFJ/IFEX) – The following is a 23 November 2005 IFJ media release:
IFJ Accuses US Over Killing of Al-Jazeera Journalist in Baghdad: "It Could be Murder"
Reports that President Bush and British Prime Minister discussed a plan to bomb the Arab TV station Al-Jazeera add to concerns among journalists world-wide that the United States attack on the stationï¿½s Baghdad office on 8 April 2003 in which a reporter was killed was deliberate targeting of media.
"If that is the case, then the US is guilty of the murder of an innocent journalist," said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary. "It is time for the United States to tell the truth about this attack and to take responsibility for its actions which appear to be a gross violation of international humanitarian law."
According to the IFJ, which has been campaigning for justice in some 16 cases where journalists and media staff have died at the hands of US troops in the Iraq conflict, there was no US investigation or proper report on why the attack in which journalist Tareq Ayyoub was killed took place.
"It now looks that more and more this was a vindictive and deliberate attack on a media outlet and one that should not go unpunished," said White. The aircraft missile strike on the Al-Jazeera office took place despite the fact that US officials were informed in advance of the exact location of the office because Al-Jazeera feared a repeat of an earlier US army strike in Kabul during the Afghanistan conflict in 2001, in which the Al-Jazeera offices were destroyed. No one was hurt in that attack.
The controversy over the Tareq Ayyoub case erupted again this week following reports in the British newspaper the Daily Mirror that a secret memo from the Prime Ministerï¿½s office in London revealing how US President George Bush was talked out of a military strike on the headquarters of Al-Jazeera in Qatar last year by Tony Blair, who feared a worldwide backlash. Yesterday British parliamentarians called for the publication of the five-page transcript of the two leadersï¿½ conversation.
The IFJ supports full disclosure of this conversation as well as the re-opening of an investigation into the attack in Baghdad in April 2003.
The network Al-Jazeera has angered the Bush administration by its frank reporting of the Iraq conflict and its broadcasting of pictures of the victims of violence. The station has also been used regularly as a drop-off point for video messages by the terrorist group al-Qaeda. Some of these have been broadcast by Al-Jazeera and most have been rebroadcast by western media outlets.
"The staff of Al-Jazeera are not a bunch of terrorists who can be regarded as legitimate targets," said White. "They are respected and highly trained technicians and journalists. One look at the professional names who have signed up to work on the new English-language version of Al-Jazeera reveals that this is a media outlet that is taken seriously by serious journalists. To consider bombing them would be as appalling as any similar action by terrorists against the BBC or CNN."
The IFJ says that the British media should not be intimidated by officialsï¿½ attempts to prevent full disclosure of the memo because a civil servant connected with the case is being prosecuted under the UKï¿½s notorious Official Secrets Act.
"The public have a right to know whether politicians would seriously consider killing journalists to stifle independent and critical voices," said White. "And the family, friends and colleagues of the victims have a right to justice for their loved ones."
The IFJ is supporting a global inquiry into impunity in the killing of journalists by the International News Safety Institute.
Last week the IFJ General Secretary presented to United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan a draft resolution against impunity in the killing of journalists in conflict zones. Under that resolution governments that fail to hunt down the killers of journalists could end up before the International Criminal Court.
The United States is already accused of covering up the facts about attacks on journalists after another attack on 8 April 2003 in Baghdad, within hours of the Al-Jazeera attack, when a US tank fired on the journalistsï¿½ hotel in
Baghdad killing two journalists, Taras Protsyiuk of Reuters and Jose Cuoso of Telecinco, the Spanish TV network.
In September a Spanish judge issued arrest warrants for three US soldiers involved in the attack because the US has ignored appeals to co-operate in an inquiry over the circumstances.
Proposed resolution to the US Security Council (PDF Download):
Link to IFJ Report on Justice Denied on the Road to Baghdad:
The IFJ represents over 500,000 journalists in more than 110 countries.
For further information, contact the IFJ, International Press Centre,
Residence Palace, Block C, 15 Rue de la Loi, B-1040 Brussels, Belgium, tel:
+322 235 2200 or +322 235 2207, fax: +322 235 2219, e-mail:
firstname.lastname@example.org, Internet: http://www.ifj.org/