Sunday, November 27, 2005

It's only going to get better

Now that, based on past experience, we know that the "bomb Al Jazeera" story must be true -- because it was so vehemently denied by Scotty McSpokesman -- the British Press will not let go of it, meaning it will eventually make its way over here.

Though once again, the difference between the relatively unsueable "American" press and the less protected British Press is noticeable. The latter is still far more aggressive in pursuing stories that might be "upsetting" to those in power or the public. The American press is far too much like an uncle that won't tell you all it knows -- or just doesn't want to know, because it won't be profitable.

But, like the Downing Street documents earlier this year, this story will not go away and its very bizarre nature will require that eventually even Matt Drudge will have to inform the media it is a story:

The one indisputable fact, though, is that part of the memo - 10 lines to be precise - concerns a conversation between Bush and Blair regarding Al Jazeera, the Arabic satellite television station that the US accuses of being a mouthpiece for al-Qaeda. According to those familiar with the memo's contents, Bush floated the idea of bombing the Qatar-based station. The Daily Mirror, which ran the story last Tuesday, claimed the Prime Minister talked Bush out of the plan.

As they attempted damage limitation last week, government officials suggested Bush's comments were nothing more than a joke. It was preposterous to suggest Bush would countenance such an idea, the officials said. The White House described the allegations as 'unfathomable' although according to those who have seen the memo 'there is no question Bush was serious.'


It was a Friday afternoon in early June last year when a five-page document lying in his pigeon-hole in his constituency office caught the attention of Tony Clarke, the then Labour MP for Northampton South. It was immediately clear to him this was no ordinary party political memo. As he began to read the document, it became apparent it contained extraordinary details of a discussion between the British Prime Minister and the US President during Tony Blair's visit to the White House the previous April.

Written by a Blair aide who accompanied the Prime Minister to Washington it was headed 'top secret'. It is understood that on the five pages there were details of troop deployments and movements. Lurking within the pages were also frank discussions over the US assault on Fallujah. It was clear from the tone of the memo that Blair was far from happy at the tactics used by American forces.

Then, within a few short lines, came the bombshell: documentary evidence the US president had openly talked about bombing Al Jazeera. Clarke, who had voted against military intervention in Iraq believed he had no choice but to call Downing Street and reveal what he had been sent. The next day officers from Special Branch interviewed him at his home.

Clarke's trusted 42-year-old political researcher, Leo O'Connor, was also questioned. Detectives investigating the leak searched Clarke's offices in the House of Commons. It was not long before they had set their sights on the potential leaker as David Keogh, a 49-year old civil servant who had been seconded from the Foreign Office to the Cabinet Office.

Keogh lives alone in Northampton, not far from O'Connor, and was a member of the Labour Party and an occasional member of a dining club that Clarke and other senior members of the local Labour Party attended.

More shitstorm coming.

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