But what was this document whose
very existence posed such a dire threat to the life of the nation that
its contents could not even be hinted at in public? It was a four-page
record of a White House meeting between George W. Bush and Tony Blair
on April 16, 2004. It is known in the trade as the “al-Jazeera Bombing
Memo” because in those early news reports — after Keogh had leaked the
document in May 2004 to O’Connor, in the hopes that it would be brought
before the people’s representatives in Parliament — at least one part
of its contents became widely known; to wit, that Bush had proposed to
Blair that they bomb the headquarters of the independent Arabic news
agency al-Jazeera in Qatar, as well as agency offices elsewhere.

The context of this criminal
proposal is important. In April 2004, the grand Babylonian Conquest was turning into a
nightmare. The tortures at Abu Ghraib had just been exposed. (Outrages
which, as we now know, were just the barest tip of a massive iceberg:
the vast gulag of secret prisons, “disappeared” captives, and
“strenuous interrogation techniques” specifically approved by Bush and
Rumsfeld). But beyond that scandal — which was being successfully
fobbed off with the “bad apple” defense, and would never be in an issue
in the coming presidential election — there was also, more glaringly,
the ongoing bloodfest in Fallujah: the Guernica of the Iraq War.

The attack was launched in
retaliation for the killing of four American mercenaries from the
politically-wired firm of Blackwater on March 31, 2004 — another PR
hit for the “Mission Accomplished” team in the White House. Fallujah —
a once quiet city whose citizens had rebelled against Saddam Hussein —
had been turned into a hotbed of unrest over the course of the previous
year by a heavy-handed American occupation, which included several
civilian deaths after occupation troops fired into crowds exercising
what they believed was their liberated right to protest. Anger and
insurgency took hold in the city, leading to the “Black Hawk Down”
style despoliation of the dead mercenaries a year later.

Against the advice of military
commanders on the scene, Bush ordered the “pacification” of the city a
few days later. But the L’il Commander’s attack turned into yet another
PR nightmare, spreading death and destruction through civilian areas,
causing hundreds of deaths, launching airstrikes into residential
areas, closing the city’s main hospitals while thousands were suffering
— and failing to dislodge the insurgents who were the ostensible
target of the operation. (There were two other main targets, of course:
the American people, who were meant to be seduced by the man-musk of the
War Leader, and the Iraqi people, who were meant to be terrorized into
submission by the shock-and-awe of Fallujah’s decimation.)

In addition to the lack of progress
on the battleground, Bush was beset by the presence of al-Jazeera
correspondents in the city. The agency — headquartered in Qatar, a
staunch U.S. ally — was a rare independent voice in the Arab world,
reporting from all sides and offering a platform for all sides,
including Israeli and American officials. It was, in fact, the very
kind of thing that Bush claimed he wanted to instill in the Middle East
through his invasion of Iraq. But of course, this was just another lie.
Al-Jazeera’s independence proved inconvenient for the Bushists, who in
both Iraq and Afghanistan had sought to impose the greatest degree of
message control (and “psy-ops” spin) ever seen in an American war. For
both the Bushists and the Blairites, truth was not the first casualty
of war; it was a deadly enemy — an enemy combatant, in fact, to be
rendered, disappeared, tortured, killed, like any other gulag captive.

So it was no surprise at all that
Bush and Blair would be discussing al-Jazeera during that fretful
confab in April 2004. Nor is it any surprise that Bush’s answer to the
“problem” of an independent Arab news agency would be to kill the
ragheads where they stand. He had already demonstrated that wanton
violence and mass murder was his preferred option for dealing with
problems in the Middle East.

The contents of the controversial
memo were actually well-known after it came to light — and before
Blair’s buddy Goldsmith lowered the boom. The Daily Mirror, for
example, had this report in November 2005:

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…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

A source said last night: “The memo
is explosive and hugely damaging to Bush. 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.”

Al-Jazeera’s HQ is in the business
district of Qatar’s capital, Doha. Its single-storey buildings would
have made an easy target for bombers. As it is sited away from
residential areas, and more than 10 miles from the US’s desert base in
Qatar, there would have been no danger of “collateral damage”.

Dozens of al-Jazeera staff at the
HQ are not, as many believe, Islamic fanatics. Instead, most are
respected and highly trained technicians and journalists. To have wiped
them out would have been equivalent to bombing the BBC in London and
the most spectacular foreign policy disaster since the Iraq War itself.

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. The
memo, which also included details of troop deployments, turned up in
May last year at the Northampton constituency office of then Labour MP
Tony Clarke.

This is the kind of thing that
filled British papers for weeks. But now, in the brave new world of
unfree freedom that Bush and Blair have bestowed upon their subjects,
Britons can no longer mention any of this in public. Indeed, the judge
in the Keogh case reinforced Goldsmith’s earlier ban with a new gag
order, decreeing “that allegations already in the public domain could
not be repeated if there was any suggestion they related to the
contents of the document,” the Guardian reports. Anyone who does so can
be jailed for contempt. Yes, jailed for repeating in public what has
already been published.

During the trial, Blair’s top
foreign policy wonk, Sir Nigel Sheinwald, offered this notable
justification for jailing faithful government servants whose
consciences had been shocked into action by the discovery of a plot for
mass murder by the “leader of the free world”:

In evidence at the trial, Sir Nigel
Sheinwald..said private talks between world leaders must remain
confidential however illegal or morally abhorrent aspects of their
discussions might be.

Quite right, too. After all, if a
memo of, say, a summit meeting between Hitler and Mussolini had come to
light in, say, 1938, detailing how Hitler had told Mussolini that he
was going to, say, kill a few million Jews just as soon as he could lay
his hands on them, then obviously such confidences between statesmen
should be respected — and any civil servant who tried to warn the
world about this “madman” should obviously be prosecuted.

Blair — who in his lachrymose and
self-pitying resignation speech yesterday again reiterated his pride in
standing “shoulder-to-shoulder” with Bush in the slaughter of more than
600,000 innocent human beings in Iraq — obviously talked his pal down
from his murderous rage at al-Jazeera, which is now so respectable that
it appears on American cable TV systems. But there was no such
consideration for the people of Fallujah. Bush soon called off the
attack as the bad PR mounted, but promised that the city would be
“pacified” in the end — after the election. And so it was, without
demur from Blair. Just days after Bush had procured office again in
November 2004, a second assault — even more savage than the first, was
launched, destroying the city with bombs, shells and chemical fire.

It is entirely typical of our
strange days that the arbitrary, draconian power that now characterizes
the Anglo-American “democracies” would be used here in an attempt to
suppress a political embarrassment — the revelation of a barbaric idea
that never came to fruition — while the actual physical slaughter of
hundreds of thousands of people is openly and unashamedly embraced —
even championed as an act of moral courage, as in Blair’s unctuous
parting bromide, “Hand on my heart, I did what I thought was right.”

So did Pol Pot. So did Stalin. So
did Osama bin Laden. So does every madman who vaunts himself beyond the
law, and kills in the name of a “higher cause.”

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