Did Bush want to bomb al-Jazeera?
PRESIDENT Bush planned to bomb Arab TV station al-Jazeera in friendly Qatar, a "Top Secret" No 10 memo reveals.al-Jazeera headquarters were bombed in both Iraq and Afghanistan, killing one of their reporters. The U.S. has said it was accidental in one case and maintained there were insurgents firing from the building housing al-Jazeera in the other. It is widely believed that both assertions were preposterous.
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.
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."
Yesterday former Labour Defence Minister Peter Kilfoyle challenged Downing Street to publish the five-page transcript of the two leaders' conversation. He said: "It's frightening to think that such a powerful man as Bush can propose such cavalier actions.
"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."
Bush disclosed his plan to target al-Jazeera, a civilian station with a huge Mid-East following, at a White House face-to-face with Mr Blair on April 16 last year.
al-Jazeera, as revealed in the superb documentary "Control Room", is an independent and responsible Arabic news channel.
If Bush indeed wanted to bomb their headquarters in Qatar, a U.S. ally, it's insane.
Since the story broke, the Mirror has had the British equivalent of the Attorney General threaten them with charges if they revealed further details of the memo. Does that sound like something that's false or made up, as the White House says it is?