Tuesday, November 29, 2005
As seen on Al Jazeera
While we're Serious Blogging today, the facts are this:
* A source (which Maguire will not name) approached the Mirror with details
of a top secret memo, which had "accidentally" found its way into the papers of
a certain MP. Noting that the memo contained, amongst other things, details of
UK and US troop movements in Iraq, said MP turned it back to Downing
* The memo also contains details of a conversation between George W Bush,
and his London spokesman Tony Blair, in which the Leader of the Free World
reveals plans to attack Al Jazeera TV, a civilian broadcaster financed by the
government of Qatar. Mr Blair, for all his faults, tells him that this may not
be a particularly good idea, and other, unnamed officials tend to concur with
Tony's line of thinking.
* The Mirror, out of courtesy, informs Downing Street that they will be
publishing details of this memo. Downing Street has a hissy fit, and the White
House, according to Maguire "went beserk", leading to threats of the Official
Secrets Act against anybody who is even considering publishing the
* Of course," said Maguire, "the government wouldn't be using the Official
Secrets Act if the reports weren't true. This government will go to great
lengths to keep this memo secret."
* Al Jazeera is in town and they're cross. They are also not getting any
answers from a government that once prided itself for its openness and honesty.
And before you ask, no, they've never shown beheadings, referred to American
forces as "the enemy", and waited until US networks showed the Bin Laden video
before they aired it themselves. Such are urban myths, spread to good effect by
certain, otherwise respectable news outlets.
And this is despite their offices in Kabul and Baghdad being bombed by
American forces in unfortunate "accidents", a number of Al Jazeera reporters
dying in "accidental" US attacks, virtually every member of the Jazeera Baghdad
bureau having been arrested by US forces at some stage or other, and at least
two Jazeera workers imprisoned for reasons unknown in Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo
Strangely, these big-stick legal threats come from a government that has,
on more than one occasion, published Top Secret documents when it suits its own
ends, but are loathe to confirm or deny whether such a conversation took place
in a meeting between Bush and Blair, and will use the full strength of the law
to keep their embarrassment hidden.
So, a government wants to bomb civilians, and spin machines on both sides
of the Atlantic try to make out the most powerful man in the world was "joking",
much like Ronnie Reagan was when he announced "the bombing starts in five
minutes". Now, there's a role model.
More disturbing was the implication that the whole "Bomb Qatar" thing
wasn't simply Georgie Boy thinking aloud. Maguire is certain from his sources
that the tone of the memo shows Bush was indeed not joking, and this wasn't
simply one man's big idea. Indeed, Maguire implied that this policy idea must
have been passed around high level circles in the White House before Blair was
brought into the loop. If so, whose idea was it?
In 1999, NATO forces bombed the RTS studios in Belgrade as part of
operations in the Kosovo war. Sixteen civilian workers were killed in an
operation against" a source of propaganda that's prolonging this war and causing
untold new suffering to the people of Kosovo". Thank you Clare Short, it's nice
to see you've repented your sins now.
Many journalists and media workers were sickened that this kind of
slaughter was allowed to happen, even against an organisation that was
broadcasting in time of conflict from the opposing side. We thought we had seen
the last of this kind of thing from our own governments. How wrong we were. Even
if the attack on Jazeera's Doha base never happened, the fact that the so-called
defender of the free world, which had praised the channel as "a beacon of
democracy in the Middle East" right up to September 2001, was even planning to
kill and destroy to silence this voice shows the contempt they really show for
peace and democracy.
In London, we found out nothing new of the government memo, but in terms of
the secrecy and lies of modern governance, we learned volumes.
posted by Scaryduck at 8:52 AM