It’s been some years since the Bad Old Days of the Bush administration’s war on everything– including journalism. So, with Al Jazeera’s move to the U.S., Conservatives are taking a familiar position on their corporate-sponsored airwaves getting an early start tearing down and demonizing their new competition, and, with it– a total whitewash of their complicity in the bombing of Al Jazeera, not once, but twice! First in Afghanistan, and then in Baghdad.
And, if that wasn’t enough, on Nov. 22, Britain’s Daily Mirror published a front page article alleging that in an April 2004 White House meeting with British Prime Minister Tony Blair, President Bush proposed bombing Al-Jazeera’s international headquarters in Qatar.
The five-page memorandum is said by the Mirror to be a record of the meeting between the two leaders which took place on 16 April 2004 at the height of Operation Vigilant Resolve, an assault on Fallujah by U.S. Marines and Iraqi security forces. Al Jazeera reporters were in the city providing video footage of the conflict. The day before the meeting, U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld described Al Jazeera’s coverage as “vicious, inaccurate and inexcusable.” Al Jazeera reporters defended their live broadcasts of the civilian casualties by stating “the pictures do not lie”.
Donald Rumsfeld’s words:
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.”
Turns out, that wasn’t such an outrageous line of inquiry.
Jeremy Scahill, in an article right around the time the still-secret memos were making news, wrote:
What al-Jazeera was doing in Fallujah is exactly what it was doing when the United States bombed its offices in Afghanistan in 2001 and when U.S. 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.
The Fallujah offensive was one of the bloodiest assaults of the U.S. occupation of Iraq. On April 5, 2004, U.S. forces laid siege to the city after the killing of four Blackwater mercenaries days earlier. When the U.S. forces, led by the First Marine Expeditionary Force, attempted to take Fallujah on April 7, they faced fierce guerrilla resistance. A U.S. helicopter attacked a mosque, hitting the minaret and killing at least a dozen people. Within a week, some 600 Iraqis were dead, many of them women and children. By April 9, some 30 Marines had been killed and Fallujah had become a symbol of resistance against the occupation.
And Donald Rumsfeld was, of course, speaking for the Bush administration because ‘catapulting the propaganda’ was visibly proving difficult with all those meddlers from Al Jazeera and their kindred spirits in the U.S. miring on the fringes of the annual White House correspondence dinner being shouted down, or literally bombed by the Bush administration for their dissent, and un-American reporting.
But this serves as a reminder to anyone who thinks they’re getting a raw deal from this president, or that President Obama is “just like Bush when” it comes to foreign policy, or dealing with the media. The Bush administration bombed a major news organization, with the help of their propaganda outlet–FOX News, and they did it with enough lies and subterfuge that any perceived resemblance to this President is as willfully ignorant as an American media that allowed it all to happen.