If reports circulating in the British press today turn out to be true, there could be another smoking gun memo floating around across the Atlantic. The Daily Mirror reports that, during a White House meeting with Prime Minister Tony Blair last April, President Bush proposed bombing the Qatar-based international headquarters of Arab TV channel al Jazeera. "The memo is explosive and hugely damaging to Bush," The Mirror quotes a source as saying. "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."
Bush's suggestion reportedly came during the US onslaught of Fallujah. al Jazeera, which is considered by many in the Arab world to be too pro-American or pro-Israel, is characterized by the administration as being anti-American because it shows the civilian face of the occupations in Iraq and Afghanistan. The White House has shown a passionate obsession for attacking the network.
Former Labor Defense Minister Peter Kilfoyle challenged Downing Street to publish the five-page transcript of the Bush/Blair meeting. "It's frightening to think that such a powerful man as Bush can propose such cavalier actions," he said. "I hope the Prime Minister insists this memo be published. It gives an insight into the mindset of those who were the architects of war." If this report proves true, this would significantly bolster the case of those that charge that Washington has deliberately targeted al Jazeera and other news outlets and journalists during the so-called "War on Terror."
The US military has killed more than a dozen journalists in Iraq and the Pentagon has ruled all of those that it has investigated either accidents or justified killings. Among the "mistakes" that al Jazeera has endured: the US bombing of the network's Afghanistan offices in 2001, the killing of its Baghdad correspondent, Tareq Ayoub, by a US missile during the siege of Baghdad in 2003 and the torture of several of its journalists in Iraq, among them Salah Hassan and Suheib Badr Darwish, by US forces. And this is just one news outlet. The Committee to Protect Journalists says 58 journalists and 22 other media workers have been killed in Iraq since March 2003.