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Friday, November 25, 2005

Japan Today - News - Bush's Al-Jazeera 'bomb plan' criticized - Japan's Leading International News Network

Japan Today - News - Bush's Al-Jazeera 'bomb plan' criticized - Japan's Leading International News NetworkBush's Al-Jazeera 'bomb plan' criticized

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Friday, November 25, 2005 at 07:40 JST
DOHA — Journalists in several Arab capitals staged protests Thursday over reports that U.S. President George W Bush wanted to attack Arab satellite channel Al-Jazeera's Doha headquarters.

Dozens of staff turned out for a symbolic sit-in at the Doha headquarters, with similar protests at the channel's foreign bureaux.

About 100 of the channel's journalists and employees have signed a petition calling on its board of governors to launch an official inquiry into the claim, which appeared in Britain's Daily Mirror newspaper.

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."

The Daily Mirror reported the existence of a memo which summarized a conversation between Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair in which the U.S. president was reported to have wanted to bomb the channel's headquarters while Blair opposed the idea.

The channel's director addressed the Doha sit-in from London, telling the gathered workers that he was trying to meet Blair.

"We have requested an urgent meeting with the British prime minister and editors of newspapers and other media in London," said Wadhah Khanfar.

"We have adopted a plan of action that we have immediately started to implement," he said, calling for next week to be "an Al-Jazeera and freedom of expression week."

"We won't be quiet until we have reached the truth, which we will make public," Khanfar added.

Protestors also called for U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan to intervene "to bring the American administration and the British government to explain their attitude in this matter."

Al-Jazeera's reporting of the Iraq war angered Washington, but the White House described the Daily Mirror report as "outlandish."

Tariq Ayub, an Al-Jazeera journalist, was killed by a missile which hit the channel's office in Baghdad during the U.S. attack on Iraq in 2003.

Al-Jazeera's bureau in the Afghan capital was also hit by American bombs, with the Pentagon saying it thought the building was an al-Qaida base.

Lebanese journalists, including Al-Jazeera employees, organised a protest in Beirut, where bureau chief Ghassan Ben Jeddo demanded an "inquiry into this matter" and the bombings in Kabul and Baghdad.

"The American administration is attacking the freedom of expression that is one of the founding principles of American democracy," added the president of Lebanon's audiovisual council, Abdel Hadi Mahfuz.

Other Lebanese media workers taking part in the sit-in included those from Al-Manar, the television station of Shiite fundamentalist movement Hezbollah.

The group, which Washington describes as "terrorist," issued a statement saying the affair has unveiled the true face of the United States as self-declared defenders of freedom of speech.

In Cairo, Al-Jazeera journalists also staged a protest at their bureau, where banners were set up saying "We want the truth."

Chief Cairo correspondent Hussein Abdel Ghani said: "We're here and in every office of our network today to demonstrate our deep concern about the story that was published about how Bush was thinking of bombing our headquarters."

"We're asking the United Nations and the international community for this story to be investigated," he said.

"It's unacceptable to shut down freedom of speech. It's crazy that the threat comes from a country that we used to consider as a model for us in the Arab world." (Wire reports)

Japan Today Discussion

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15 Messages Shown (Scroll down for most recent)

Is it any wonder?
J-dog Click here to see all messages by J-dog Click here to see profile of: J-dog (Nov 25 2005 - 11:53)
The Bushites endorsing W's plan to bomb Al-Jazeera want to bomb anyone, anywhere, who reports news that doesn't portray the US in a positive light. Do they also wish, along with Ann Coulter, that McVeigh had bombed the NY Times?

November 2001: The Al-Jazeera offices in Kabul are bombed by US forces during the war against the Taliban regime in Afghanistan.
December 15, 2001: Sami Muhyideen al-Haj, an assistant cameraman for Al-Jazeera, is arrested by Pakistani authorities along the Afghan-Pakistani border while on assignment for the network. He is later transferred to U.S. custody at Guantanamo Bay, where he is still being held to this day without formal charges.
March 29, 2003: Four members of the Al-Jazeera crew in Basra, the only journalists inside the city, come under gunfire from British tanks as they are filming distribution of food by Iraqi government officials.
April 7, 2003: A clearly marked Al-Jazeera vehicles comes under fire from US forces on a motorway near Baghdad.
April 8, 2003: Al-Jazeera cameraman reporter Tareq Ayoub is killed when a US missile slams into the station's Baghdad bureau.
April 21, 2003: British forces detain Al-Jazeera TV correspondent Mohammad Al-Sayed Mohsen in the Iraqi city of Basra where he is covering the US-led occupation... The Al-Jazeera correspondent says it was the third time British forces had harassed him...
September 10, 2003 U.S. troops detain Al-Jazeera correspondent Atwar Bahgat and her cameraman in the Ghazaliya section of Baghdad... The Associated Press quoted an unnamed military spokesman as saying that the journalists had violated unspecified “ground rules.”
November 2003: Coalition troops detain two Al-Jazeera staffers covering an explosion at a police station in western Baghdad on allegations they had prior knowledge of the car bombing. Al-Jazeera dismissed the charges as ridiculous, and the men were later freed.
November 3, 2003: Salah Hassan, an Al-Jazeera cameraman, is arrested while interviewing people at the scene of a roadside bomb attack on a US military convoy in Dialah, near the eastern Iraqi city of Baquba. US troops repeatedly accuse him of knowing in advance about the bomb attack and of lying in wait to get footage. "I told them to review my tapes, that it was clear I had arrived thirty or forty minutes after the blast. They told me I was a liar," says Hassan. He is taken to the military base at Baghdad International Airport, held in a bathroom for two days, then flown hooded and bound to Tikrit... He was later released for lack of evidence.
November 7, 2003: Sami Awad, a Lebanese cameraman working as a freelancer for a German TV network, says that when he and his crew tried to check out a report Friday about hand grenades being thrown at a U.S. patrol in Baghdad, U.S. soldiers threw them to the ground and pointed their weapons at their heads. "They checked our identity badges and then let us go, saying they thought we were with Al-Jazeera,"
January 2004: Iraq's then-Governing Council bans Al-Jazeera reporters from entering its offices or covering its news conferences for a month because it had reportedly shown disrespect toward prominent Iraqis.
May 21, 2004: Al-Jazeera employee, Rashid Hamid Wali, is shot and killed covering fighting in the city of Karbala.
August 5, 2004: The Iraqi government suspends Al-Jazeera's Baghdad operations, accusing it of inciting violence.
September 4, 2004: The Iraqi government shuts down Al-Jazeera's Baghdad operations indefinitely because al-Jazeera had failed to offer an explanation of its editorial policies. The station's spokesman, Jihad Ballout, said the office in Baghdad was stormed by Iraqi security forces hours before the order was announced.

Last February CNN's top news executive Eason Jordan was forced, under pressure, to resign his position after a major furor erupted over remarks he had made on a January 27, 2005 panel. Jordan had reportedly suggested (in an "off-the-record" panel discussion at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland) that coalition forces had deliberately targeted some journalists in Iraq.

A few months later, Linda Foley, national president of The Newspaper Guild, likewise incurred the ire of conservatives for similar comments contained in a letter she had sent to President Bush, and in a panel discussion at the National Conference for Media Reform in St. Louis on May 13, criticizing the U.S. investigation into the deaths of journalists in Iraq: “Journalists are not just being targeted verbally or politically. They are also being targeted for real in places like Iraq. And what outrages me as a representative of journalists is that there’s not more outrage about the number and the brutality, and the cavalier nature of the U.S. military toward the killing of journalists in Iraq. I think it’s just a scandal.”

In view of recent revelations, especially those involving George W. Bush's apparent willingness to deliberately bomb Al-Jazeera's Qatar headquarters, it would seem Eason Jordan and Linda Foley have been vindicated and are owed an apology. The public is owed a Congressional investigation.

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