Bush wanted to bomb the headquarters of al-Jazeera, the Arab equivalent of the BBC, outside the combat zone in our ally Qatar.
This is disturbing for a couple of reasons.
Al-Jazeera's headquarters in Afghanistan and Iraq were hit by US air strikes. The incident on Iraq was caught on film. A reporter was on the roof of the Palestine hotel where most reporters in Baghdad stay. He was surrounded by satellite dishes with network logos on them. He saw and the camera caught an A-10 strafing across the river then turn toward him. He couldn't finish his commentary because he was shot by one of the milk bottle sized rounds of the A-10.
You can see the incident in the film CONTROL ROOM. The network producers were despondent; they couldn't figure out how this happened since they gave coalition forces their coordinates--just like they had in Afghanistan.
Also, more journalists have been killed during the two and a half years of the Iraq War than in all of Vietnam.
Both could be unhappy coincidences, and death of reporters could be the result of insurgent actions (though it would be to their advantage to let reporters see what's going on there), but this story makes both seem more like part of a pattern of controlling the news by killing the messenger. Literally.
At some point, Congress needs to set the policy for how journalists are treated in the combat zone and NOT leave it to the president and Pentagon to decide. As much as possible, the First Amendment should follow the flag.
Take a look at the Al Jazeera website and decide for yourself how many people should be killed for this kind of reporting:
The al-Jazeera coverage of this story:
You can also see an a summary of attacks on journalists at Reporters without Borders:
What does the rest of the world think of us when we spread democracy and freedom by killing those who practice it?
22 November 2005
EXCLUSIVE: BUSH PLOT TO BOMB HIS ARAB ALLY
Madness of war memo
By Kevin Maguire And Andy Lines
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.
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.
At the time, the US was launching an all-out assault on insurgents in the Iraqi town of Fallujah.
Al-Jazeera infuriated Washington and London by reporting from behind rebel lines and broadcasting pictures of dead soldiers, private contractors and Iraqi victims.
The station, watched by millions, has also been used by bin Laden and al-Qaeda to broadcast atrocities and to threaten the West.
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.
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.
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