On November 22, 2005, British news daily Daily Mirror caused a stir in the United Kingdom when it revealed a secret memorandum which testified that US President George W. Bush, on April 16, 2004, had planned to bomb the facilities of the Arab television network Al Jazeera in Doha, Qatar. Finally, Tony Blair apparently convinced him not to do it due to the consequences of bombing an allied country.
A lot has been said about this issue in the United Kingdom, where the government of Blair has refused to make any comments, but has begun a disciplinary process against one of its officials for revealing confidential documents. Outside the United Kingdom, the majority of western media, the same that do not hesitate to denounce attacks on freedom of the press when it affects a western journalist, remain silent. The negative image of Al Jazeera, systematically criticized by the neoconservatives and their spokespeople, as well as its origins, are strongly linked to this lack of interest.

The director general of the Qatari network, Wadah Khanfar, has asked for an explanation from the British government in London and has reported on the issue to the British public opinion in the The Guardian. He writes about all the attacks suffered by Al Jazeera like the bombing of its facilities in Kabul, then, in Baghdad, and the murder or arrest of some of its journalists such as Tayseer Alluni. Now, the target are the network’s offices in Qatar and he demands an explanation. In vain. He has not been received by Tony Blair nor has he received any explanation either.
In The Independent, star journalist Robert Fisk, recalls that Al Jazeera is a common target of the United States because of the independent way in which it shows the world and the wars conducted by the Bush administration. He also writes about the premeditated murder of Tariq Ayub in Baghdad and the bombing of the offices in Kabul. For him, it is clear that it is a global strategy to silence a dissident voice. Thus, he believes that the project to bomb Al Jazeera is real and recalls that what is happening to Al Jazeera reflects the destruction of the Serbian television by NATO in 1999, when the Atlantist forces made it clear that, from that moment on, media with a dissident approach would become a target. This information is also an issue for debate among British conservatives, supporters of the war of Iraq, who remain divided in regards to this topic.
British neo-conservative member of Parliament and editor in chief of the Spectator and also a reporter with the Daily Telegraph, Boris Johnson, expresses his rejection of this bombing plan in his latest article in the Daily Telegraph. Saying that he was misled in regards to the topic of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, the democratization of that country and the use of phosphorus, he rejects the idea that a television network, which he admits he does not like, may become a target and he proudly announces that he is ready to disseminate classified information about the topic to defend the freedom of information. Considering that high-flown and theatrical statements are common for this person, this text should be analyzed with care.
The editor in chief of the Daily Telegraph and also reporter with the reactionary newspaper New York Sun, Daniel Johnson, does not share the viewpoint of his employee and, in the New York newspaper, he states that the project of bombing Al Jazeera is not a matter of freedom of the press or international law, but of tactical opportunity. The author believes that the “West” is at war with against terrorism, personified in Al Qaeda. In his opinion, Al Jazeera is a propaganda means for Islamism and the theories of Al Qaeda and, thus, it has to be fought.

The fact that it is on Qatari soil is not a problem. On the contrary, Qatar should let Washington, its protector, act. As to the dissemination of secret information by the press, which caused the scandal to start with, he thinks that, considering that the “West” is at war, it is a crime of treason and has to be judged as such.

In the Arab press, the announcement of the American project caused consternation. Amer Abdelmonem, a former chief editor and director of the web site of the Egyptian opposition news daily Al-Shaab, is alarmed at these revelations. He believes that the idea of bombing a television network in an allied nation shows signs of mental illness. Currently, it is clear that the Bush administration is conducting, not a war on terror, but a terrorist war. Thus, he urges Arab journalists to continue expressing their points of view.

However, focusing on Al Jazeera, isn’t it losing sight of a more important issue which is the treatment given to the media by the Bush administration? As we have said it in our articles, the strategy whose targets are dissident journalists who oppose the plans of the Bush administration is worldwide. Its target is not a network in particular but all those who oppose its propaganda.
On the contrary, the dominant press continues to show its submissiveness. In The Guardian, former advisor to Bill Clinton and director of the online news daily Salon.com, Sidney Blumenthal, published an article with an obituary of Bob Woodward’s career. Considered in the past as a brilliant research journalist who brought down Nixon, today he is presented as a communications agent who “reveals” the information that American leaders want to disseminate. Woodward is only a symbol of the submissiveness of American media. Today, says Blumenthal in the headline of his article, there will not be another Watergate.
In the website AdBusters, journalist John Pilger expresses his annoyance with the rhetoric of the US mainstream media on its ethics, professionalism and impartiality and he arrives at the same conclusion as Blumenthal. He says that today, due to its work and submissiveness, the media is an ally of the Bush administration: it hides the truth about the massacres in Iraq and it is an accomplice of the United States regarding the lies about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction.