Tuesday, November 22, 2005
(scroll down for updates)
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."
Up till now I cannot believe this report. The Daily Mirror is a British tabloid that has publish hoaxes before. However, this report is all over the Arab media now. Al Jazeerah has been talking about it as soon as the story got published in the UK. The White House and Downing Street should come out NOW to comment. This is dead serious.
It would be an utter disaster if this "transcript" turnd out to be true even if Bush was joking about it. The meeting between Bush and Blair was during the Fallujah operation and Al Jazeerah was the terrorists' media outlet. May be Bush was joking as a way to vent off his anger at Al Jazeerah. However, this wouldn't still decrease the magnitutde of the public relations disaster that will follow.
Lets keep our fingers crossed that this story is untrue even though that will do little to convince many here.
Update: White House official: "We are not going to dignify something so outlandish with a response."
Update: Downing Street is saying that it won't comment on a memo that is subject of court action. The ones who leaked this memo are now being charged for leaking a top secret document. However, it is unknown whether the Al Jazeera thing was indeed in these leaked memo.
A Pentagon official called the Daily Mirror report "absolutely absurd."
Meanwhile, Al Jazeera is playing victim and reporting this story on all its news broadcasts.