Bombing al Jazeera - Were There Two Memos?
Please read This Article to learn more about the memo's - and the serious questions that remain to be answered
The more we look in to this, the more confusing it becomes.
On Thursday 17th of November the BBC reported this:
Two men have been charged under the Official Secrets Act following the leak of a secret government memo.
The document involved - the Foreign Office's Iraq in the Medium Term - referred to "heavy-handed" US tactics, a government source told the BBC.
Its contents were reported in the Sunday Times in May last year.
Ex-civil servant David Keogh and former MP's researcher Leo O'Connor, both from Northampton, will appear before Bow Street magistrates on 29 November.
Mr Keogh, 49, is a former Cabinet Office communications worker. Mr O'Connor, 42, worked as a researcher for Tony Clarke, the former MP for Northampton South.
The pair received police bail. Mr Keogh was charged with an offence under section three of the Official Secrets Act, Mr O'Connor under section five.
So this was reported 5 days before the Mirror Story that this is all about. The document refered to was entitled "Iraq in the Medium Term", and it was leaked to the Times and printed on 23d of May 2004.
[archived here for the record]
British fears on US tactics are leaked
By David Cracknell, Political Editor
A LEAKED Foreign Office memorandum has exposed deep misgivings within the British government over America's "heavy-handed" behaviour and tactics in Iraq.
The document discloses for the first time the extent of private reservations within Tony Blair's government about Washington's approach.
It blows apart Blair's public insistence that there are no differences between Britain and America over military tactics in Iraq.
Under the heading Problems, the memo says: "We should not underestimate the present difficulties . . . Heavy-handed US military tactics in Falluja and Najaf some weeks ago have fuelled both Sunni and Shi'ite opposition to the coalition, and lost us much public support inside Iraq."
It adds: "The scandal of the treatment of detainees at Abu Ghraib (prison) has sapped the moral authority of the coalition, inside Iraq and internationally."
The Times describe their memo as:
- A 6 page document, acompanied by a one page supplement with "public lines to take" by ministers.
- They say it was a FCO document.
- The published pages make no mention of Bush planning to bomb al-Jazeera.
I can't imagine that a transcript of Bush threatening to bomb al-Jazeera would be included in the "Public Lines for Ministers to take" section...
Fast forward to last Wednesday and the Mirror report the Bush to bomb al-Jazeera' story.
They describe their source as:
- A 5 page transcript.
- They say it originated from number 10 Downing St.
- They say it quotes Bush outlining his plans to bomb al-Jazeera.
PRESIDENT Bush planned to bomb Arab TV station al-Jazeera in friendly Qatar, a "Top Secret" No 10 memo reveals.
The memo, which also included details of troop deployments, turned up in May last year at the Northampton constituency office of then Labour MP Tony Clarke.
Cabinet Office civil servant David Keogh, 49, is accused under the Official Secrets Act of passing it to Leo O'Connor, 42.
From the reported facts, the descriptions of the two documents do not match. Yet the mirror go on to suggest that their memo is the one that David Keogh and Leo O'Connor are being charged over. This is the line that has been taken by the media and Downing St since the story surfaced. Downing St confirming their view that the memo could not be disclosed because it was sub-judice.
We are told that the threat of prosecution under the OSA by Lord Goldsmith is made to anyone revealing further details of the memo cited in the Mirror story, that is at the at the centre of the case being prosecuted at the moment.
But the Times printed that memo, bar the "lines for ministers to take" supplement. So it is in the public domain.
If the threat of prosecution is based on that memo, why is it still online, and why haven't the Times been Prosecuted?
Now it is perfectly possible that the Mirror got or reported their facts incorrectly, even that they got their story wrong. The same applies to the Times last year.
But is it also possible that there are two memos, and the Mirror are citing a different source?
Could it also be possible that Messrs Keogh and O'Connor are being charged with the leaking of more than one document, but we only know about the charges relating to the Times memo, because it is in the public domain?
It is impossible to draw firm conclusions from the little information available, but reading the Times and Mirror reports side by side, it seems hard to conclude they are about the same document, unless the "lines for ministers to take" section contained that transcript...
If anyone more dilligent than I can shed some light on this, then please let me know.
Others are asking questions too.
Update: Today's Observer has an interesting article on the memo:
...according to those who have seen the memo 'there is no question Bush was serious'...
...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.
Meanwhile on Planet Blair:
People who have seen the document say the real reason that it is being suppressed by the Government is because it contains a potentially damaging private discussion between the two leaders about the controversial United States attack on the Iraqi city of Fallujah last year.
Once again we ask, If this is a conspiracy theory, why are people being prosecuted?
More evidence that there were two memos comes from this story that says: