Thursday, November 24, 2005

AP story on report Bush talked about bombing Al-Jazeera

Posted on Wed, Nov. 23, 2005
on the website of the Fort Wayne, Indiana, Journal-Gazette

Here's also a link to a Christian Science Monitor roundup on the

Paper links Bush, plot on Al-Jazeera

By Robert Barr
Associated Press

LONDON . A civil servant has been charged under Britain.s Official Secrets Act
for allegedly leaking a government memo that a newspaper said Tuesday suggested
that Prime Minister Tony Blair persuaded President Bush not to bomb the Arab
satellite station Al-Jazeera.

The Daily Mirror reported that Bush spoke of targeting Al-Jazeera.s
headquarters in Doha, Qatar, when he met Blair at the White House on April 16,
2004. The Bush administration has regularly accused Al-Jazeera of being nothing
more than a mouthpiece for anti-American sentiments.

The Daily Mirror attributed its information to unidentified sources. One
source, said to be in the government, was quoted as saying that the alleged
threat was .humorous, not serious,. but the newspaper quoted another source as
saying that .Bush was deadly serious, as was Blair..

.We are not interested in dignifying something so outlandish and inconceivable
with a response,. White House spokesman Scott McClellan said in an e-mail.

Blair.s office declined to comment on the report, stressing it never discussed
leaked documents.

Al-Jazeera said in a statement that it was investigating the report. .If the
report is correct, then this would be both shocking and worrisome not only to
Al-Jazeera, but to media organizations across the world,. it said.

The network said that if true the report would .cast serious doubts. on the
Bush administration.s explanations of earlier cases involving Al-Jazeera
journalists and the American military.

The document was described as a transcript of a conversation between the two

Cabinet Office civil servant David Keogh is accused of passing it to Leo
O.Connor, who formerly worked for former British lawmaker Tony Clarke. Both
Keogh and O.Connor are scheduled to appear at London.s Bow Street Magistrates
Court next week.

According to the Crown Prosecution Service, Keogh was charged with an offense
under Section 3 of the Official Secrets Act relating to .a damaging disclosure.
by a servant of the Crown of information relating to international relations or
information obtained from a state other than the United Kingdom.

O.Connor was charged under Section 5, which relates to receiving and disclosing
illegally disclosed information.

According to the newspaper, Clarke returned the memo to Blair.s office. Clarke
did not respond to calls from the Associated Press seeking comment.

Press Association, the British news agency, said Clarke refused to discuss the
contents of the document. PA quoted Clarke as saying his priority was to
support O.Connor who did .exactly the right thing. in bringing it to his

Peter Kilfoyle, a former defense minister in Blair.s government, called for the
document to be made public.

.I think they ought to clarify what exactly happened on this occasion,. he
said. .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 it raises questions
about subsequent attacks that took place on the press that wasn.t embedded with
coalition forces,. the newspaper quoted Kilfoyle as saying.

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