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    The infamous Al-Jazeera memo

    by Sunny
    16th May, 2007 at 12:00 pm    

    Remember that memo in which Blair and Bush apparently discussed bombing the Middle Eastern station Al-Jazeera? (Ok they did so anyway twice but this conversation was actually recorded) Remember the furore about publishing it if it got out into blogs?

    Well, there is still an effort to get the contents of that memo published. The two men who originally leaked it were only convicted over it last week. On his blog, New Statesman political editor Martin Bright has some interesting info:

    However, in a bizarre twist, the judge has stated that the contents of the leak — which is thought to involve a conversation between Tony Blair and George Bush — can be reported as long as they are not linked to the case and appear on a separate page of the newspaper involved.

    The conditions of this order should be unacceptable to any journalist who cares about the freedom of the press in this country. It is my belief that, should the appeal fail, senior journalists associated with the case should combine to breach the order as an act of civil disobedience. The judge in the case, Mr Justice Aikens, made no reference to the internet. But we have to be careful here. All I can say is that I would always encourage readers of this blog to read all the postings.

    C’mon readers, if anyone can spot the memo or have a copy of it - send it over! I’d love to publish it.
    NewStatesman.com also has an amusing quiz on Blair’s 10 years: Who Blairs Wins.

                  Post to del.icio.us

    Filed in: Current affairs

    17 Comments below   |  

    Reactions: Twitter, blogs
    1. Radical Muslim

      Al Jazeera Memo Update…

      I last wrote about the Al Jazeera Memo a short while ago. Sunny at Pickled Politics has the latest here and here. If anyone has a copy of the Memo I’d be pleased to get a copy too.  


    1. Kismet Hardy — on 16th May, 2007 at 12:19 pm  

      I only got this tiny excerpt, feel free to use it.

      Blair: Are you sure we should involve Qatar?

      Bush: in this country, when we have a serious meeting, we like to offer our guests you know those things, bits of bacon rolled around a stick and chuncks of pineapple, what do you call them?

      Blair: Canapes?

      Bush: That’s right, so I think it’s important to involve our cater

      Blair: Right, now about al-jazeera, is it wise to target a civilian station?

      Bush: You’re so incredibly innocent and navy, you british. Have you ever been to a gas station?

      Blair: Er, yes.

      Bush: Who’s there buying the gas? Civilians. Why are we in Iraq? Gas. Who wants to take the gas off us without paying us? Civilians. Man, how you people ruled the entire planet before we took over I’ll never know

      Blair: okay let’s do it. Are you going to use smart bombs like you did in Kabul or just blanket bomb them like Fallujah? i mean we could always send them Chris Evans, that way we can kill off the listeners too ho ho

      Bush: Sorry, um, do you mind passing me the mustard? Donald! We got an emergency here! I mean really, most powerful empire in the world and we ain’t got mustard to go with our hot dogs. You know what this means don’t you?

      Blair: War?

      Bush: Bend over and squeal like a piggy, Tony

    2. sid — on 16th May, 2007 at 12:24 pm  

      oh, you good.

    3. Kathryn — on 16th May, 2007 at 2:06 pm  

      Kismet, that is hilarious. I’m sure the convo wasn’t far off of those lines.

    4. TheFriendlyInfidel — on 16th May, 2007 at 2:52 pm  

      Kismit that was one of your best posts ever!

    5. Kulvinder — on 16th May, 2007 at 5:31 pm  

      On a related point the people who were on the jury that convicted those men are pretty worthless human beings. If society just wants an assessment of the evidence from those given the decision to convict we should abandon jury trials. A jury as a representative of your peers isn’t just there to judge you but more importantly its there to pass acceptance on the law being used (this is true regardless of what others tell you). If you do not agree with the principles that the conviction is brought on you should not find anyone guilty. It is your decision.

    6. Refresh — on 17th May, 2007 at 2:16 am  

      There could have been a useful tie-in with the Tasneem case.

      Bombing of reporters as an extreme form of intimidation is not acceptable.

      We should have a campaign to have the memo formally released and analysed for any criminal intent.

    7. Rumbold — on 17th May, 2007 at 11:59 am  

      “A jury as a representative of your peers isn’t just there to judge you but more importantly its there to pass acceptance on the law being used”

      “If you do not agree with the principles that the conviction is brought on you should not find anyone guilty”

      In other words, if someone is being tried for a racist murder, and you are a white supremacist, then you should acquit, even if the defendant is clearly guilty; the public should rejoice because you are ignoring what you believe to be an unjust law. That is what this line of reasoning leads to.

    8. Kulvinder — on 17th May, 2007 at 3:55 pm  

      If the jury is a fair representative of the people and it doesn’t want to convict someone of a ‘racist murder’ but is given little choice in the matter, any talk of democractic representation and the ‘will of the people’ is meaningless. I would much much rather live in a country where a jury acquits someone of a ‘racist murder’ because they don’t agree with either the notion of a hate crime or if they question the use of murder in the given circumstances.

      Your reasoning leads to a situations where members of the public leap lemming like to verdicts of guilty when faced with frankly heartbreaking situations. You may well only look at the facts like an automaton. I will justify everything - including the law - for myself. Frank Lund may be guilty of murder, but he has more humanity in one finger than every single one of those jurors combined.

    9. Kulvinder — on 17th May, 2007 at 4:07 pm  

      Incidently this discussion reminds me of a passage in a review of ‘Sophie Scholl: The Final Days’ by Roger Ebert

      The effect of this scene is so powerful that I leaned forward like a jury member, wanting her to get away with it so I could find her innocent. But the law moves as the law always does, with no reference to higher justice; even in this Nazi procedure there are carbon copies and paper clips and rubber stamps and a need to see the law followed, as indeed it is. The law underpins evil, but it is observed. When Sophie is found guilty, it is legal enough.

      The sentence against her is carried out with startling promptness; because of the movie’s title, we are not surprised, but we are jolted. I was reminded of an exchange in “Thank You for Smoking,” where the son of a tobacco lobbyist asks him, “Dad, why is the American government the best government?” And his father replies, “Because of our endless appeals system.” It is a luxury to be able to joke about such things. One day Sophie Scholl thoughtlessly throws some leaflets off a balcony, and two days later she is dead. Notice how the final sounds of the movie play under a black screen. Does she hear them?

    10. Rumbold — on 17th May, 2007 at 4:39 pm  

      I am not saying that there are certain laws which are not just plain wrong. I would not consider ‘mercy killings’ for the most part as killings, or even crimes, since, as you rightly point out, they are largely done because of the defendant’s compassion for someone who is suffering. This is why I would like to see a change in the law on this.

      However, as soon as you accept the principle that jurors should acquit if they think the law is bad, regardless of the evidence, then you get people being let off because one juror does not think that they have done anything wrong. Just look at the Deep South in America in the segregation era.

      Judging by your previous posts on the police, you have something of an anarchist streak in you (forgive me if I have misrepresented you), which is fine, because at least you are consistent in your attitudes to authority/law/order.

      Though the system is flawed, I quite like the idea that democratically-elected legislators make the law. There are too many laws at the moment and most are too complex, but I am still not sure what would produce a better system.

      The modern reason for a jury’s independence is not so they can ignore evidence, but so that prosecutions that are clearly politically motivated and have no evidential basis can be thrown out, whereas if it was a judge deciding there might be more pressure on him/her to return a guilty verdict.

      Those who leaked the memo were guilty, and the only scandal is that ministers who leak information are not also prosecuted under the Official Secrets Act.

    11. Kulvinder — on 17th May, 2007 at 5:28 pm  

      However, as soon as you accept the principle that jurors should acquit if they think the law is bad, regardless of the evidence, then you get people being let off because one juror does not think that they have done anything wrong. Just look at the Deep South in America in the segregation era.

      If the jury can’t come to a unanimous verdict after a reasonable amount of time, they can be given the option of reaching a majority verdict. If you’re implying a substantial part of the jury would disagree in anycase (despite re-trials) then we get back to the ‘will of the people’ being meaningless.

      I’m not sure what the rest of your argument is, if you’re saying you would have found Frank Lund guilty then you pretty much come under the worthless human being tag from my pov. If you’re saying ‘it depends’ (some laws are wrong etc), then im not really sure what we’re disagreeing about. Would you have found Frank Lund guilty?

    12. Rumbold — on 17th May, 2007 at 5:36 pm  

      Morally Frank Lund did not do anything wrong. Did he know the consequences if caught? Yes, and he did what he believed was right anyway. Would I have voted to convict him based on the evidence? I am glad that I was not placed in that position, and desperately hope that they change the law before anyone else is. I would not condemn any of the jurors that did though, as they believed they were upholding the law and doing what they thought was correct.

    13. Kulvinder — on 17th May, 2007 at 6:08 pm  

      You should have the courage of your convictions to say yes or no. I wouldn’t find him guilty. It wouldn’t be enough for me to pat myself on the back because i’d elected people to think about the law.

    14. Don — on 17th May, 2007 at 7:07 pm  


      I’m strongly in sympathy with #5 - although the expression (this is true regardless of what others tell you) is a bit odd. Sort of pre-empting debate.

      But I think you are being a shade harsh on the jury. The facts of the case were not in dispute, so three hours, while not very long, is scarcely leaping lemming like.

      It could be that they were, in fact, following their consciences as you urge. The judge’s comments, as reported, suggest he was sympathetic and would impose a minimum, perhaps time-served sentence. We must hope so and wait & see.

      Is it possible that they sincerely thought that a not-guilty verdict in clear disregard of the facts would open the door to less clear-cut killings which could be presented as mercy killings? That they were not just blindly obeying authority?

      I’m strongly in favour of the right to die, and we need a change in the law. But our current situation makes every euthanasia case ad hoc, if juries consistently acquit in cases of mercy killing it is possible that the unscrupulous will see it as a way of disposing of troublesome dependants. People can be bastards, that’s why we have laws.

      I’m not saying that that was their thought process, but that it is possible. And not discreditable.

      Personally, assuming the reports reflect the reality, I would have acquited. But not as a matter of course and I concede that a well argued case could have swayed me.

    15. Kulvinder — on 18th May, 2007 at 1:17 am  

      I’m strongly in sympathy with #5 - although the expression (this is true regardless of what others tell you) is a bit odd. Sort of pre-empting debate.

      Sorry that didn’t come across as i hoped. I was actually just trying to acknowledge the ‘other side’ of the debate.

    16. Sunny — on 18th May, 2007 at 2:58 am  

      I wouldn’t have convicted Lund either. I thought that was abhorrent.

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