The news of the "al-Jazeera Memo" in the UK is a transcript of a meeting between Prime Minister Blair and President Bush in April 2004. The subject of a Freedom of Information Act request in Britain, the release of the memo (that has been officially acknowledge as existing) is the subject of a case going before the court tomorrow. Two men in the UK are charged with violating the Official Secrets Act.
The memorandum is actually a five-page transcript stamped "Top Secret." It describes a meeting at the White House on April 16, 2004, between President Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair. At that meeting, which took place while desperately hard fighting was in progress in the Iraqi town of Fallujah, Bush mooted the idea of taking out the headquarters of Al Jazeera in Doha, Qatar. The network’s correspondents inside the city had been transmitting lurid footage of extreme violence. The exchange apparently puts Blair in a good light, in that he dissuaded the president from any such course of action and was assisted in this by Colin Powell, who was then secretary of state.
Slate also reports that Colin Powell may have had some difficulty later on in remembering the meeting, which BlairWatch digs on. Based on Powell’s profile and past soldierly commitment to the Chief, I would suggest that either he honestly did not remember or did not want to remember because anything he could have honestly said would have reflected poorly on his boss. The still diplomatic answers he gave a recent BBC interview continues to confirm this.
A little background on where al-Jazeera is:
The state of Qatar, which though a Wahabbi kingdom has a free press and allows women to run and to vote in elections, has not been the host of just Al Jazeera since the network’s predecessor was kicked out of Saudi Arabia. It has also been the host of United States Central Command, and of many American civilians.
This memo, if it comes out to be a)existant and b)accurate would fit in with a growing opinion of the Bush Administration’s "unitary executive" methodology in all things it does.