Sunday, May 13, 2007


So we have another month or so of Blair : another month of him and his supporters (and more sentimental critics) telling us that we'll miss him when he's gone, that we won't see his kind again for a generation, that "hand on my heart, I did what I thought was right."

Shunted to the inside of some of the papers by Blair's screaming grin was this story :

Two jailed for trying to leak details of Blair's talks with Bush

Tony Blair's ill-fated war with Iraq claimed two more victims yesterday when a civil servant and an MP's researcher were convicted of disclosing details of a secret conversation between the Prime Minister and President George Bush.

Last night, MPs, lawyers and civil rights groups described the prosecution as a "farce" and accused the Government of misusing the Official Secrets Act to cover up political embarrassment over the war.

David Keogh, 50, a Cabinet Office communications officer, was today jailed for six months. He passed on an "extremely sensitive memo" to Leo O'Connor, 44, a political researcher who worked for an anti-war Labour MP, Anthony Clarke. O'Connor was today sentenced to three months in jail after an Old Bailey jury found them guilty yesterday of breaching Britain's secrecy laws.

The memo in question was a record of a meeting held by Tony Blair and George Bush in the White House in April 2004. The meeting included a debate between the two Presidents (sic) about bombing the headquarters of Al-Jazeera. Bush allegedly recommended the bombing (this was in the aftermath of Abu Ghraib and the coverage of the Fallujah massacre), but Blair warned him against it. Although there had been some early press coverage of the 2004 memo in the press, it is clear that its content would be extremely damaging to President Bush if it were to get widespread coverage. So Lord Goldsmith, the British Attorney General, slapped a retroactive order of secrecy over the whole thing, a measure echoed by the judge in the case, who ordered "that allegations already in the public domain could not be repeated if there was any suggestion they related to the contents of the document."

Let's just be clear about this : if you and I were to repeat these allegations in public, we would be in contempt of the judge's order, and contempt of the order is, in theory at least, punishable by a jail sentence. The likelihood of such a sentence would, presumably, depend in large part on who you are. I am not a Muslim, so I would probably be ok.

The Atlantic Free Press sums this case up admirably :

It is entirely typical of our strange days that the arbitrary, draconian power that now characterizes the Anglo-American "democracies" would be used here in an attempt to suppress a political embarrassment – the revelation of a barbaric idea that never came to fruition – while the actual physical slaughter of hundreds of thousands of people is openly and unashamedly embraced – even championed as an act of moral courage.


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