I couldn’t read this on Haitham’s blog and NOT blog about it myself. You’ve got to spread the word on things like this, it’s like some unwritten law in the blogosphere. And I’ll tell you why…
This all started on Tuesday the 22nd, when Britain’s Daily Mirror published a startling allegation: In an April 2004 White House meeting with British Prime Minister Tony Blair, President Bush proposed bombing the Arab TV network Al Jazeera’s international headquarters in Qatar. The report was based on a memo stamped “Top Secret” that had been leaked by a Cabinet official in Blair’s government.
Official Bush administration response has been that these allegations are “outlandish”. I think that’s the word they used before the Abu Ghrieb photos were released. Meanwhile the British government has warned the media not to publish any secret documents.
Today Al-Jazeera staff staged a protest to “demand the truth”.
Two things should be noted here…
First, The Daily Mirror is pretty much a tabloid paper.
But what we do know is that at the time of Bush’s White House meeting with Blair, the Bush Administration was in the throes of a very public, high-level temper tantrum directed against Al Jazeera. The Bush-Blair summit took place on April 16, at the peak of the first US siege of Falluja, and Al Jazeera was there to witness the assault and the fierce resistance.
A day before Bush’s meeting with Blair, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld slammed Al Jazeera in distinctly undiplomatic terms:
REPORTER: Can you definitively say that hundreds of women and children and innocent civilians have not been killed?
RUMSFELD: I can definitively say that what Al Jazeera is doing is vicious, inaccurate and inexcusable.
REPORTER: Do you have a civilian casualty count?
RUMSFELD: Of course not, we’re not in the city. But you know what our forces do; they don’t go around killing hundreds of civilians. That’s just outrageous nonsense. It’s disgraceful what that station is doing.
What Al Jazeera was doing in Falluja is exactly what it was doing when the United States bombed its offices in
Afghanistan in 2001 and when US forces killed Al Jazeera’s Baghdad correspondent, Tareq Ayoub, during the April 2003 occupation of Baghdad. Al Jazeera was witnessing and reporting on events Washington did not want the world to see. [source]
Lately, the Whitehouse has denied it used White Phospherous (one of the most deadliest chemical weapons known) in the Fallujah attack but has been forced to admit it did after Bloggers spread the word about an article published by the US Army’s Field Artillery Magazine in its issue of March/April this year. The article, written by a captain, a first lieutenant and a sergeant, was a review of the attack on Falluja in November 2004.
The operations were known as “Shake’n Bake”.
“The staff of al-Jazeera have decided to organise Thursday a symbolic sit-in in front of the headquarters of the channel in Doha and its overseas bureaux to protest against this news,” said al-Jazeera journalist Youssef al-Shouli, who is also vice president of the Arab Association for the Defence of Journalists.
They also demanded an immediate end “to attacks and incitement against al-Jazeera and its employees” and called for “the opening of an inquiry into the bombing of al-Jazeera’s offices in Kabul and Baghdad.” [source]
While I have had my own personal share of criticisms of the station and its negative coverage of Jordan, it still stands out as a trail blazer in the Arab media and I consider it still far better than the coverage of most media outlets in the world when it comes to regional issues. Heck, most of the people that work there seem to be Jordanian! And the Jordan press does seem to look up to it.
So please take a look at the Blog by an Al Jazeera staffer as well as the Flikr photos. I think the comments on the blog are enabled if you would like to drop a line of support.
More importantly, if you’re a blogger, spread the word.
Thanks for spreading the word, Naseem 🙂
Nas, yesterday I was at the “Online Journalism in the Arab World” conference here in Sharjah, there was that University Professor named Steve Klein who sat right behind me so I was able to hear an interesting conversation between him and an Egyptian young man who studies at the American Uni of Egypt about the news. I will write all about the event but I want to say that that Proff really really pissed me off and I was about to turn around and tell him how much of an ignorant he was. He said the source of the news was a tabloid (which you confirmed), that we shouldn’t believe what Al-Jazeera in particular report! that we Arabs should wait until things are clear before we believe our own news stations, instead of reading Al-Jazeera to read BBC because we Arabs exagerate, it could be anything, maybe Bush was just joking.
I hated the tone in which he spoke about us and our media.Anyway, I will get my notes and thoughts organized and write more about this soon.
dammit, I can’t wait until I write all about it!! that proffessor was asked about Sami Al-Haj, the cameraman who was detained in Gauantanmos and said he doesn’t know who is Sami Al-Haj…well then don’t attend an ARABIC Conference about Online Journalism in the ARAB WORLD.
“White Phospherous (one of the most deadliest chemical weapons known)”
Umm, no it’s not… WP is an incendiary munition, primarily used to mark locations for targeting purposes. That’s not the only purpose to it but it’s not a chemical weapon.
Fred, I beg to differ. While it can be considered an incendiary munition it is also a chemical weapon which burns the skin and was used to literally (as bush might put it) “smoke’m out”. We can linger over the terminology but it is a weapon and it is chemical based.
SC, looool you should post that story with details!!
Thanks for the support! You won’t believe how much we appreciate it.
mohammed @ dontbombus