Al-Jazeera Demands Bush-Blair Transcript

The story of President Bush's alleged comment about bombing the headquarters of Arab TV network al-Jazeera continues to reverberate in the British online media.

Al-Jazeera's managing director delivered a letter to No. 10 Downing Street demanding that the British government publish a transcript of an April 2004 discussion between Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair in which Bush allegedly talked of bombing the TV network's headquarters.

Last week the tabloid Mirror headlined a world scoop, "Bush Plot to Bomb His Arab Ally," which cited unidentified sources saying that the transcript showed that Blair warned Bush against attacking the Arab TV channel, which is based in the Persian Gulf city of Doha.  Another source insisted that Bush was only speaking in jest, and Blair denied receiving any information about U.S. military action against the Arab TV channel. The White House rejected the story as "outlandish and inconceivable."

Saudi journalist Mshari Zaydi doesn't believe it either.

Writing for the London news site, Asharq Alawsat,  Zaydi laments "this immense rush by many Arabs to believe that Al-Jazeera Channel in Doha was really going to be bombed by the Americans." He chastises the Arab media for the belief that Bush is "the only fundamental enemy of the Arabs and no other, not terrorism, nor the fundamentalist culture, nor the chauvinistic speeches of the kind made by Al-Jazeera's satellite heroes."

The notion that "Bush was going to raid Doha on a dark, black night and shell Al-Jazeera headquarters," Zaydi writes, is just a "silly joke."

But Wahan Kanfar, the al-Jazeera's managing director, isn't laughing.

"Al-Jazeera's offices in Kabul and Baghdad were bombed; we were told at the time that both bombings were mistakes," he wrote in The Guardian. "We pushed for an official investigation, but thus far have received neither the findings of any investigation nor any official apology. ... The failure to disclose the contents of the memo will cause a great deal of harm and will seriously undermine relations between media and government, and between the western and Arab worlds."

Meanwhile, on Wednesday two British civil servants appeared before a U.K. court to face criminal charges over the "damaging disclosure" of a transcript of an April 2004 conversation between Bush and Blair.  (You can see them on Britain's Channel 4 here.)

By Jefferson Morley |  December 1, 2005; 5:00 PM ET  | Category:  Europe
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Saudi journalist Mshari Zaydi writes off the story of President's Bush's alleged comment about bombing the headquarters of Arab TV network al-Jazeera as a "silly joke."

But then I'm sure that a few days ago he would also have written off as a "silly joke" any story that would have claimed that the US was planting information in Iraq papers.

I wonder if the US is planting stories in Asharq Alawsat - perhaps say in his own editorial colum?

Posted by: Frenchie | December 1, 2005 05:21 PM

Not a swipe at Bush, but if an individual, organisation, or country made a "silly joke" about bombing the White House, I'm sure the Feds would be quite concerned and would not be taking it as a laughing matter.

In fact, the U.S. Threat level has been elevated for quite some time now due to these "silly jokes."

If he never made such a statement, then that's a different story and it should, indeed, be written off. But if Bush did truly joke about bombing a news station at an allied country, then that is just plain irresponsible, even for a joke.

Posted by: KJ | December 1, 2005 06:01 PM

Frenchie,

It is not surprising that it is coming from the Asharq Alawsat.

It is pretty much the Saudi Monarchy mouth-piece.

Their attacks on Al-Jazeera have a long history even before the Iraqi invasion. In 2002, Saudi Arabia recalled its ambassador from Qatar over a program aired by Al-Jazeera in which the Saudi Crown Prince was criticized (how horrible is that!!).

Posted by: Karim | December 1, 2005 06:57 PM

Take Out Al Jazeera
Monday, September 29, 2003
By Frank Gaffney, Jr.

[snip]

In the meantime, it is imperative that enemy media be taken down if they insist on using their access to the airwaves as instruments of the war against us and our allies.


http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,98621,00.html

Posted by: | December 1, 2005 08:24 PM

Take Out Al Jazeera
Monday, September 29, 2003
By Frank Gaffney, Jr.

[snip]

In the meantime, it is imperative that enemy media be taken down if they insist on using their access to the airwaves as instruments of the war against us and our allies.


http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,98621,00.html

Posted by: Sword of truth | December 1, 2005 08:26 PM

Bush has said and done so many stupid, macho things in his presidency that I find it entirely conceivable that he told Blair he wanted to bomb al-Jazeera. Your president is a dangerous moron. Al-Jazeera is not the threat to world peace; he is.

Posted by: Tim, Montreal | December 2, 2005 12:58 AM

I'd be prepared it was just an off the cuff joke. As so far, while it seems very likely that America has take advantage of a war to bomb 'enemy' reporters they've never launched an attack on a friendly country.

But the hysterical over-reaction of the British government to the two who apparently leaked the document gives the story legs. It probably was just a joke, but many people will now believe Bush was being serious.

Posted by: David Patrick, UK | December 2, 2005 04:22 AM

Why would an off the cuff joke be included in a transcript of a conversation between two leaders? It never happens, why now. It is very important for posterities sake that the recording of a conversation between two leaders is accurate, jokes are never included and never should be.I appreciate whoever leaked this because we need to get to the truth. It is the responsiblity of all of us not to be naive. Magical thinking never leads to the truth, and that is what people are demanding in greater numbers than ever.
At this time there are commercials running in New York, asking that the truth about 9/11 be investigated. There should have been a investigation that was independant and hands off from political control. There is more than enough evidence to suggest the whole 9/11 story was concocted, there are holes bigger than the hole in the ozone layer.
Professor Jones Physics Professor at Brigham Young University has done a very thorough study of the falling of the towers at 9/11. After extensive research, he and his colleagues believe explosives installed in the buildings were responsible for the collapse of the tower. It has answered questions many of us have had-how can a tower that is not hit by a plane, and has only a few small fires throughout, collapse with a basement full of melted steel. It has never happenned before, steel is stronger than a few small fires. It is highly suspicious, and his video which you can watch brings up many questions. The U.S. media is only a lapdog for the president, as we have watched over the years. If our media is silenced by other forces, it leaves the work of pressing for the truth to you and I.
The international press has been calling for an investigation of too many "accidental" killing of journalists by the U.S. Army. Some were killed after being in the field andinforming the army of the co-ordinates of where they were in order to protect themselves from accidently being considered insurgents. Within minutes of reporting their co-ordinates they were bombed by the military.Either they were deliberate or the army is incompetent, which is it? It has happenned too many times to call it a one off accident. Italy is charging the U>S> in international courts for killing an Italian security agent who had just rescueld a kidnapped journalist.
Bush saying let's bomb Aljazeera. Just an aside from a narcissistic meglomaniac who with the right investigation, that a true democracy should be able to provide, would be up on charges in the international courts. If America cannot control their leader it leaves the job to others.

Posted by: Gael | December 2, 2005 09:57 AM

Oh not that old conspiracy theory about the twin towers, please.

And in many a transcript that has been released from the British or American governments of conversations they do tend to include everything. Even Bush wouldn't have been serious about bombing a news station in a non-warzone, though I do think they've targetted news agencies they consider un-friendly in warzones. Blair wouldn't have been able to convince Bush not to do it anyway, he has no influence over the Americans. And he has proved to be more gung-ho anyway.

The only real question is why the British government got so heavy handed trying to squash the two who leaked the document? Is there something else in there of real importance?

Posted by: David Patrick, UK | December 2, 2005 01:54 PM

These people are crazy, stupid, and incompetent. We need to stay out of the Middle East until we get a sane government.
The 2006 election may give a boost for Democrats in the House and Senate, but some of them voted for the Iraq war. I don't think the Democrats who voted for the war will make it through the Democractic primaries as candidates for President in 2008. I know I will not vote for them. If they continue their "Free Trade", Globalization, State's Rights, and Republican light "policies", I'm looking for another political party or going independent.
However, in the short run, Democrats are all more inclined to work through international organizations and respect the rule of law. We might also see more investigations and indictments with a Democratic majority. I think a case could be made for impeachments with regard to hyping the war, etc. The world might be able to relax a little.

Posted by: P. J. Casey | December 2, 2005 02:09 PM

" No matter how paranoid or conspiracy-minded you are, what the government is actually doing is worse than you imagine." William Blum. Consider this, or;
" Look, if you think any American official is going to tell the truth, then you're stupid. Did you hear that?-stupid." Arthur Sylvester, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs, 1965
David is your opinion that the twin towers fell the way it was portrayed in the media, because your opinions are informed? You read the facts over a broad range of sites before you give your opinion or do you pull it out of a hat. Did you read about Professor Jones, look at his study (108 pages), and video? Or you another ostrich who is too lazy to check things out and whose life is guided by uninformed opinions? My guess is the latter.

Posted by: | December 2, 2005 02:51 PM

" No matter how paranoid or conspiracy-minded you are, what the government is actually doing is worse than you imagine." William Blum. Consider this, or;
" Look, if you think any American official is going to tell the truth, then you're stupid. Did you hear that?-stupid." Arthur Sylvester, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs, 1965
David is your opinion that the twin towers fell the way it was portrayed in the media, because your opinions are informed? You read the facts over a broad range of sites before you give your opinion or do you pull it out of a hat. Did you read about Professor Jones, look at his study (108 pages), and video? Or are you another ostrich who is too lazy to check things out and whose life is guided by uninformed opinions? My guess is the latter.

Posted by: Gael | December 2, 2005 02:52 PM

The US government, like other governments, is not a humanitarian organization run by Mother-Teresas.

It can engage in nasty things (like other governments) when it is allowed to do so. In case of the US, the government is kept in-check in terms of domestic policy but it has a free hand in foreign policy.

Madeleine Albright could starve (in terms of Medicine) Iraqi babies but she couldn't do it locally in some US state under any circumstances.

The US government, like other governments, does sometimes lie in order to "protect itself". It lies much less frequently about domestic issues because it knows it can't afford ot (it costs votes).

What they are missing though is that we are no longer in the 60s, 70s, or 80s. Their lies about their foreign adventures can now be easily exposed and broadcasted, both in print and video, across the globe.

It is much harder (and costly) to behave like an imperialist state in the 21st century. I think some US policy makers haven't realized that. Someone should explain to them that they missed the good ole days of colonialism.

Posted by: Karim | December 2, 2005 06:53 PM

I don't really want to get into the Twin Towers argument again here, but having looked at the evidence I do believe the official version is the right one. Passenger planes laden with fuel started fires which led to a cascade structual failure due to the buildings design.

Anyway, if the Americans went through all this trouble to set this up then why not frame the one country Bush has always wanted to invade? From day one they were after Saddam Hussein's Iraq. So why fake it so it looks like it's an Al Quaeda operation run mostly by Saudi Arabians?

Posted by: David Patrick, UK | December 3, 2005 06:24 AM


Just so it is clear, my previous post was not about 9-11 attacks. I do not subscribe to any of the 9-11 conspiracy theories. After all, Al-Qaeda itself did admit to it.

Posted by: Karim | December 3, 2005 02:22 PM

If, going through the airport security gate, I make a joke about bombing someone, I get sent to prison. But for Emperor Bush it's just fireside humor?

Anyway, the point is irrelevant. They've already bombed al-Jazeera twice so we know damn well Bush was deadly serious, that ****ing murderer.

I'm gonna be mad as hell if the media lets this story get away as they have so many others coming out of Britain.

Posted by: Billy-Bob | December 3, 2005 03:31 PM

The media has its own sick twisted power-hungry agendas. Cable and Network News is pitiful for the most part. Bush is an imbecile who has been lying for a long time (as coached by Rove, Rummy, and Dick). He is also the worst president in the history of the United States for his fiscal nightmares, social injustices, military misadventures, environmental rapings, educational disasters, and being the BIGGEST DIVIDER of all time, NOT a UNITER in the least. He hasn't done S*** for those affected by Katrina, yet pours $300,000,000,000 into Iraq for what? Time will judge George W. Bush for the bombed- out boob that he really is. He is the antithesis of Jesus, spirituality, Christianity, and goodness. I hear a lot of people say HE is he ANTICHRIST. Hmmmmm.

Posted by: clandestinesolvent | December 4, 2005 12:39 AM

Random comments across the thread...

*Good heavens, not more 9/11 moonbattery. Just goes to show there's delusional people on the left and the right. It always baffles me why people need to invent sinister conspiracies about the Americans when there are so many sinister things they do in the open.

*Whether Bush will go down as the worst American president is, of course, something only history will be able to tell. I expect that he will not be viewed kindly, as leaders who fail to overcome challenges to their nations seldom are, and me may (emphasis on may) be the man on who's watch the United States began its decline. Then again, a year from now Iraq may have turned around and things will be dandy. We just don't know. If his presidency ended today, I would still rate him above Buchanan, who holds the record for worst president. I would probably also rate him above Harding, who was fortunate to be president during a slow time in his nation's history. I fear I must place him below Nixon, a man of similar views and ethics but far greater competence and at times a foreign policy visionary.

Posted by: MacMorrigu | December 5, 2005 04:41 AM

MacMorrigu, I think you will like this article on History News Network:
http://hnn.us/articles/5019.html

In it, 415 US academic historians were surveyed (in Apr 2004) on how they viewed the Bush presidency and how he compared to other presidencies.

81% rated his presidency a failure. I wonder what that figure would be today?

Posted by: OD | December 5, 2005 01:53 PM

Re Al-Jazeera, I don't watch it and I don't like it! I get the facts and "the stats" from Bill O'Reilly on the "O'Reilly Factor."

Posted by: M. Henry Simonsen | December 5, 2005 03:05 PM

Bush a "failure?" I'd like to see those academics win two national elections and, I believe, two statewide in Texas! Talk about "bombing!"

Look out belowwwwwwww!

Posted by: E. Preston Thornberry IV | December 5, 2005 03:09 PM

RE: presidential Jokes about bombing stuff: I'd bet the rent on jokes about bombing newspapers being in high vavor amongst the Nazis prior to WWII.

Posted by: mikie44 | December 5, 2005 04:56 PM

They didn't say he was a bad candidate, "E. Preston Thornberry IV".

They said he was a bad president.

Posted by: OD | December 5, 2005 06:11 PM

Had they felt Bush's performance was substandard, the people could've dropped him in 04.

It is true that had Kerry not goofed by, among other things, laughably pretending to be a knowledgable hunter and failing to appear on The O'Reilly Factor, I believe he might have won. Too late the albatross....

Finally, consider the quality and biases of Bush's advisors past and present, one really would have to be impressed by his performance.

Posted by: Pres Thornberry | December 5, 2005 07:54 PM

It's one thing for Al-Jazeera to irritate Sec. Rumsfeld but they must have a lot of (optional) to do the same to Bill O'Reilly.

Posted by: Sloan F. Longstaff, Jr. | December 5, 2005 08:02 PM

Actually, Iraq did bomb the Twin Towers.... Back in 1993.... If you doubt it - Google "Ramsey Yousef"....

Posted by: Wyatt Earp | December 9, 2005 02:27 PM

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