November 27, 2005

That Aljazeera bombing story refuses to go away.

Despite the UK government's suppression of a memo that allegedly describes a meeting in which PM Tony Blair talked Dubya out of bombing the offices of Aljazeera, the story continues to roll on.

Protest at Aljazeera

Journalists and workers at Aljazeera's Beirut bureau protesting reports that Dubya wanted to bomb the network's offices. [Photo: Sharif Karim/Reuters]

  • The UK government is prosecuting former civil servant David Keogh and former political aide Leo O'Connor for allegedly violating the Official Secrets Act by leaking the memo to the Daily Mirror. [UK Sunday Times]

  • In Parliament, a Labour party back-bencher has filed a motion asking Tony Blair's government to release the memo publicly. [UK Guardian]

    "I would hope we can have a fair and full discussion of the very important issues that were discussed at that meeting," [MP Peter] Kilfoyle, a former defense minister, told British Broadcasting Corp. radio.

    "The information is out there in the public domain and it seems ludicrous that the media can't discuss it in its entirety," he added.

  • UK attorney general Lord Goldsmith has rejected charges that his threat to prosecute newspapers if they wrote about the memo was made in order to protect Tony Blair and Dubya. [UK Guardian]

    "I'm not acting at the request or under the instructions of anybody else in relation to this."

  • Tony Blair himself has finally broken silence on the story, calling reports that Dubya wanted to bomb Aljazeera a 'conspiracy theory.' [UK Telegraph]

    Looking tired, he appeared to lose his cool when asked about reports claiming that the memo showed him talking Mr Bush out of mounting an air raid on al-Jazeera. "Look, there's a limit to what I can say — it's all sub judice," he said. "But honestly, I mean, conspiracy theories..."

  • The head of Aljazeera has asked both Blair and Dubya for the facts about the alleged converstation about bombing his network. Wadah Khanfar says that the matter doesn't just involve Aljazeera, but is a concern of journalists around the world:

    "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."

    Tony Blair has rejected the Aljazeera request. The White House has not commented on the memo since Dubya's press secretary Scott McClellan called charges that the prez wanted to bomb Aljazeera 'outlandish and inconceivable.' [BBC, Washington Post]

For details on the memo, see this earlier post.

Posted by Magpie at November 27, 2005 12:13 PM | Media | Technorati links |