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When Thin-Skinned Parents Attack! | Main | CNN Launches Investigation Into Cheney "X"
November 22, 2005

Bush Argued For Bombing Al Jazeera HQ?

So says the UK Mirror, which I would usually deeply discount as regards credibility, but their sourcing seems to be legit:

PRESIDENT Bush planned to bomb Arab TV station al-Jazeera in friendly Qatar, a "Top Secret" No 10 memo reveals.

But he was talked out of it at a White House summit by Tony Blair, who said it would provoke a worldwide backlash.

A source said: "There's no doubt what Bush wanted, and no doubt Blair didn't want him to do it." Al-Jazeera is accused by the US of fuelling the Iraqi insurgency.

The attack would have led to a massacre of innocents on the territory of a key ally, enraged the Middle East and almost certainly have sparked bloody retaliation.

From Al Jazeera's famous Republican Guards? No, of course from Al Jazeera's direct-action wing, Al Qaeda.

...

"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."

A Government official suggested that the Bush threat had been "humorous, not serious".

But another source declared: "Bush was deadly serious, as was Blair. That much is absolutely clear from the language used by both men."

At first blush, I'm inclined to believe this happened, more or less. Although I'd guess it was more ranting by Bush in frustration than a serious plan.

The strike would have been pretty ill-advised, even if one could make a fair case that Al Jazeera is part of the communications effort of Al Qaeda.

One thing that makes me think this is less-than-serious is my assumption that there are less dramatic ways to take a station off the air. Couldn't a ship sitting off the coast of Qatar have jammed Al Jazeera's signal as it beamed it up to a satellite? Or beamed its own gibberish signal to the satellite on the same frequency as Al Jazeera, overwhelming the AJ signal? Or perhaps we could have parked a nice big blocking satellite right in the path from Al Jazeera to its satellite.

In all likelihood, there are treaties forbidding this, and there would have been repercussions for taking such actions... but then, there are treaties forbidding attacking the sovereign territory of an ally (and Qatar, despite the odious presence of Al Jazeera, is as close to a good ally in the region as we have). So I'm sort of torn between respecting the source and thinking this is crap.

This was inevitable:

The No 10 memo now raises fresh doubts over US claims that previous attacks against al-Jazeera staff were military errors.

In 2001 the station's Kabul office was knocked out by two "smart" bombs. In 2003, al-Jazeera reporter Tareq Ayyoub was killed in a US missile strike on the station's Baghdad centre.

It pains me to admit this, but I have to say I have fresh doubts about these being accidents myself.

Not that I'll cry myself to sleep over the strikes tonight.


digg this
posted by Ace at 11:49 AM

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