The ‘al-Jazeera Memo’ FOIA Request

May 23rd, 2006 - by admin – 2006-05-23 08:32:26

The ‘al-Jazeera Memo’ FOIA Request:
The Cabinet Office Explain

By ringverse

(May 9, 2006) — At the time the story broke Steve Wood over at the FOIA Blog put in a request for a copy of the so called al-Jazeera Memo. He received a section 27 refusal [pdf] Dec 22nd 2005, that revealed that the Cabinet Office did in fact have information relevant to a request for:

“a copy of any memos or notes that record President Bush’s discussions with the Prime Minister about the bombing of the al-Jazeera television station in Qatar.”

The reply was pretty clear: “I can confirm that the cabinet Office holds information which is relevant to your request.”

So on January 24th 2006 Steve wrote back in some detail asking for a detailed review of the refusal, and an explanation for the apparent contradiction between the position of the Cabinet Office, and the position of everybody else in government here or across the Atlantic on the the existence of said conversation.

Steve’s hopes of getting a reply within the alotted 15 days were to say the least, optimistic. Nearly 3 months after his request for review, he had been fobbed off repeatedly with the excuse that they needed more time to complete his request, and answer his questions.

Finally, on Monday May 8th, Steve was able to publish the Cabinet Office’s response[pdf] to his detailed questions.

Yup, it took them nearly four months to draw up this response:
Click Here for image of Cabinet Office letter responding to FOIA request.

So, a request for “a copy of any memos or notes that record President Bush’s discussions with the Prime Minister about the bombing of the al-Jazeera television station in Qatar” is refused with the confirmation that “the cabinet Office holds information which is relevant to your request.”

A request for clarification of that point, amonst many others outlined in detail is stalled repeatedly for nearly 4 months, and the final response is to ignore all the other points raised in the initial request for review, and the explanation for the revealing reply of 22nd December when they said they had information relevant to a request for any memos or notes that record Bush’s discussions with Blair about bombing of the al-Jazeera television station in Qatar – they didn’t mean it!?

If this really is the case, and not the splitting of semantic hairs or a lie, then why did it take nearly 4 months for them to get round to saying so?
Bloggers Stand up to Blair

After Blair’s threat to jail any editor who reports the Bomb Al-Jazeera memo, we thought there would be an outcry. Who would stand up for press freedom, or at least the freedom not to be bombed to buggery?

One man has come out fighting. Boris Johnson:

The Attorney General’s ban is ridiculous, untenable, and redolent of guilt. I do not like people to break the Official Secrets Act, and, as it happens, I would not object to the continued prosecution of those who are alleged to have broken it. But we now have allegations of such severity, against the US President and his motives, that we need to clear them up.

If someone passes me the document within the next few days I will be very happy to publish it in The Spectator, and risk a jail sentence. The public need to judge for themselves. Sunlight is the best disinfectant. If we suppress the truth, we forget what we are fighting for, and in an important respect we become as sick and as bad as our enemies.

We’re with you Boris. Here’s the deal. If you get it, send it to us and we will also publish it. We will also risk jail.

Would any other bloggers like to join us in this pledge? Please let us know by email if you’re with us.

Bloggers and others, joining us in the cells:

1. Don’t Bomb Us
2. Bloggerheads
3. Streamtime
4. Blood and Treasure
5. Monograph
6. Chicken Yoghurt
7. Run Over by the Truth
8. Jarndyce
9. Turbulent Cleric
10. Postman Patel
11. The Yorkshire Ranter
12. qwghlm
13. Craig Murray
14. Mr Eugenides
15. Pickled Politics
16. Perfect,
17. Ian Hislop (See Have I Got News For You tonight)
18. Wayne Madsen
19. D Notice
20. Building a Pyramid
21. Guido Fawkes
22. My Boyfriend is a Twat
24. the Disillusioned kid
25. Postman Patel
26. Fuck Bush
27. MediaWatchWatch
28. Cryptome
29. Free Britannia
30. WarmWell,
31. The Control Grid
32. Spanish Podcasting
33. The Mushkush Miscellany
34. Anything that defies my sense of reason
35. FlashBoy,
36. Antagonist
37. A Life Best Left Unexamined
38. Brad Blog – Who has video from UK Channel 4 News on the story, a Must See
39. Live Hive
40. Mark Gamon
41. Mons Graupius
42. Rimone
43. Akatsukira
44. DireTribe
45. Developing Your Web Presence
46. KingsBlog
47. Democratic Survivalist
48. Tomato And Basil Sandwiches
49. Plep
50. North by Northwest
51. Kalamazoo Pride
52. Progressive Austin
53. Insomniac
54. Global Echo
55. BushWatch
56. Life as I Know it
57. Karmalised
58. Catalyzer
59. Factivism
60. Flying Imam
61. Heli’s Heaven and Hell Radio
62. No Blood For Hubris
63. This too Shall Pass
64. Politics in the Zeros
65. Life as I know it
66. Political Cortex
67. The Anglo Saxon Chronicle
68. Coffee and PC
69. Left I on the News
70. Spittin’ in the Snake
71. Faluya Castelldefels
73. Strange Stuff
74. Dawgs Blawg
75. The Urban Fox[with apologies for the late addition]
76. How This Old Brit Sees It
77. John Hatch
78. Y si no, no.
79. US-UK-Interventions
80. Alecya G’s Plastic Castle
81. In an Alternate Universe
82. Grisly Falcon
83. agitprop
84. You forgot Poland!
85. Milfuegos
86. Morrisseau for Congress
88. Blognonymous
89. Ajeeb
90. Tell me a secret
91. duryodana
92. Rolled up Trousers
93. Krizzium Imperia
94. Resistance is Phutile
96. Blurred Clarity
97. Mas o menos
98. interbreeding
99. Stony Brook Independent
100. The Liberal Avenger
102. israel
103. Citizens For Legitimate Government
104. NOTFA
105. tabacco
106. LiveHive
107. GagWatch
108. Too Much Cookies Network
109. What Ails You
110. The Front Line
111. Dan’s Place
112. A Canadian Viewpoint
113. Gnus of the World
114. Porpoise Blog
115. thoughts on the eve of the apocalypse
116. Robert Sharp
117. Secret Rudy
118. What Really Happened
120. American Leftist
121. Daniel Brett
122. BelenistanBlog
123. crusader bunnypants
124. The Guerrilla Campaign
125. Blogtrotter
126. Rachel from North London
127. t h e B e L l d O G
128. Empire Burlesque
129. Milfuegos
130. Cry of the People
131. DamSpot’s World
132. Big Adventures
133. Famous for 15 megapixels
135. The Farside
136. The Prissy Patriot
137. MarketRant
138. Something Awkward
139. Margot B World News
141. ReidBlog
142. Miklb’s Mindless Ramblings
143. Portland IndyMedia Center
144. The Brutal Truth
145. Sabbah’s Blog
146. Peace Tank
147. romunov’s blog et al
148. Magpie
149. Ken’s Mission for a New Evolution
150. The Left End of the Dial
151. The Phylotopian
153. Spin Dry
154. Insomnia – The Journal of Mark Kraft
155. darealjohnito
156. No Right Turn
157. Hardcore Times
158. Operation: Jungle Lotus
159. Ramblings of an Insane Yorkshireman
160. ohs 73a iq
161. Eye to the Keyhole…
162. True Neutral Elf Ranger Cleric
163. The Black Iris
164. The Golmal Press
166. Blurred Clarity
167. Cheezy’s Blog – Scratch & Sniff
168. I’ve got something to Say!
169. Progressive Gold
170. Chico vs. The World
171. Taking a year out from the booze
172. Jenny Gould
173. fractured-state
174. Naivety is the new cocaine.
175. I,Zak
176. Nemesis Peace Centre
177. Nemesis News
178. WTF, Over!
179. the radical ranter
180. Saved From The Skip
181. Fear And Loafing in England
182. rant in F sharp
184. Al Jazeera bombing memo
185. Leaping Rabbit
186. Successful F*ck Up
187. culture of life news
188. Masochist’s Dictionary
189. From A Table On the Left
190. The Johnny Sutra
191. WashingtonRocks
192. Theatre of the Damned
193. United We Lay
194. liuzhou laowai
195. thumping the tub
196. just me
197. Simon’s BlogHome Education & Other Stuff
198. Home Education & Other Stuff
199. Sí›an hans Stefáns
200. Too Much Cookies Network
201. Someone You Knew Long Ago
202. MaxSpeak, You Listen!
203. ahistoricality
204. Joe in and around Las Vegas
205. This is Ol’ Baloney Tony’s Bunco Booth
206. Creamy
207. copenhagen interpretation
208. Mal’s Hodgepodge
209. chiskop dot net
210. Friends of Al Jazeera
211. cheesemongers anonymous
212. all is in books
213. US Citizens for Peace and Justice
214. Wampum
215. Sgeulachdan
217. The Blogonian
218. Le Dejeuner sur l’Herbe
219. CultureLess
220. The Queer Arabs Blog
221. FragBlog
222. frolix_8
223. HammerHard
224. John Kevin Fabiani
225. Panos Drakos
226. Mike The Actuary’s Musings
228. Anti-Righty: A PNAC Free Zone
229. Scrutiny Hooligans
230. Flagrancy to Reason
231. the wertz generation
232. Markus Fors Volvo Avis Toyota
233. inhomoveritas
235. pingouin
236. Liberal Sym·me·try
237. scorpiofeminist
238. marbelous
239. grey-eyed monster
240. _Faith
241. The Nether-World
242. Wilson’s Blogmanac
243. the void
244. Vulgar Display of Anger
245. The Hydrogen Economy
246. fear of (a) average mind
247. lost in thought
248. Send the Lesbians to Canada
249. Gordon Coale
250. runningcommentary
251. toshoblog
252. I Jannes hjÃ?rna
253. Hekt News
254. Wake Up
255. The Hackenblog
256. The High Dudgeon
257. Wilbraham
258. Islamic Sydney
259. UmmahDirectory
260. 12thHarmonicBlog
261. Sam’s Journal
262. One Act in the Eternal Play of Ideas
263. excuse the mess… that was just my head
264. Time’s End!
265. Children! Beware of baobabs!
267. A Violently Executed Blog
268. Haramlik
269. Because Keeping a Diary is for Spinsters
270. Simon Raven Wiki
271. Life Or Something Like It
272. My So-Called Blog
273. diogenesian discourse
274. Mother Damnable returns
276. barbtries a blog
277. she said, i know you and you cannot sing
278. The Middle of the End
279. Murky View…
281. A Big Stick and a Small Carrot
282. lkjhgfdsa fruit
283. Richard Brobdingnagian’s Treasure Trove of Molten Mammaries
286. By the Babylon
287. slow|afternoon
288. Chris Bulow’s strange Iberian tales
289. PhillyIMC
290. Making conservatives cringe since 1977
291. 1820
292. clearwood
293. A Fine House
294. Jezblog
295. BethBlogs
296. Mustafa Arif
297. Cackling Grackle
298. County Hell Fairgrounds
299. fikra
300. The First Church of The NeoCon
301. Moving Target
302. Adam
303. The Sappho Manifesto
304. Frank notes
305. A Class act*
306. Truth Telling Forum
307. The EGR Weblog
308. Mystic Bourgeoisie
309. Dr. Crawley : Not really a doctor
310. You see, it is simply a very young boy’s record
311. LCFM
312. Inorganically Gonzo
313. enacting spaces of hope
314. Jist Anithir Blog Yi Ken
315. Opinionated Voice
316. Take Your Medicine
317. Gothamimage
318. Missouri FreeNet
321. Kingston Sucks!!
322. Disreputable Lazy Aliens
323. LadyBroadoak
324. Paranoid Shift
325. Yummy Yummy Blog.
327. CounterPoint
328. Lighting Will Guide You
329. Arvin Hill
331. StealthBadger
332. Who knew?
333. Spiral
334. Two for Tea
335. American Entropy
336. abbey lane
337. Audacious Ontology
338. Stupid Country
339. false claims law, qui tam, whistleblowers
340. Larry Boatman’s Home Page
341. Tolerant?
342. A sometimes blog
343. Le Blog de Leerdammer
344. The Try-Works
345. No BU**SH** Zone!
346. The Syria Forum
347. Valley Online
348. Zlatko
350. Random thoughts
351. A Mad Mad World
352. Colui Che Dubita
353. treball
354. the magic lantern
355. Observations from Afar
356. Sour Alba
357. Here I am!
358. Uncomfortably Numb
359. ThisCanadian
360. The Fight For Freedom
362. insert title here
363. Voice of a Native Son
366. la buena noticia
367. Atlanta Progressive News
368. Eli
369. Cpl. D.C.’s note to self
370. rant in F sharp
371. Politics
372. Past is Prologue
373. Getting it Right
374. SamNews
375. body on the line
376. reggiemental
378. Sprol
379. Gray Matters
380. liberty
381. TheCustomerIsAlwaysRight
382. The Lust & Lather
383. Whitee – Purveyor of Fine Beats
385. The Memory Hole
386. Biffin Bridge
387. AWOKEN Research Group
388. shayne loves her yellow guitar
389. Humane-Rights-Agenda Blog
390. Les Politiques

and Dave Hansell and Nick who are prepared to hand copies out in the street!

Peter Kilfoyle has just put down two Early Day Motions in Parliament. As usual it will be interesting to see who signs up for them:

EDM 1084
That this House notes recent reports that President Bush discussed with the Prime Minister the bombing of the al-Jazeera television station in Qatar; and calls on the Government to publish the record of this discussion.

That this House is appalled by the reported comments of President Bush to Prime Minister Blair that he wished to bomb Al-Jazeera headquarters in Qatar; is further concerned by the failure of the United Kingdom to restrain the American assault on Fallujah; and calls on the Government to publish the record of the conversation of President Bush and Prime Minister Blair held in April 2004, where these matters were discussed.

Latest from Downing St Says:
Put to the Official Spokesman that a senior executive of Al Jazeera was looking to meet with the Prime Minister when he came to London next week, would the Prime Minister be willing to meet him and did he have a comment about Peter Kilfoyle’s Early Day Motion, the PMOS said he was not aware of the EDM. It was also, he suspected, the first that Downing Street had heard about the request from Al Jazeera. It was somewhat short notice.

That said, the Government was quite happy to talk to Al Jazeera just as they were quite happy to talk to other broadcasters. In terms of who talked to them that would depend on who was available and how much time was given to set up a meeting. Asked if the Government, in relation to the EDM, would be willing to disclose the memo if Parliament put pressure on it to do so, the PMOS said that people needed to take notw of the fact that this was something that was sub-judice.

Yeah, right, he can’t disclose it because of his decision to prosecute. You can’t win Tony. It will come out and you won’t be able to prosecute all of us.

Please Note that we are continuing to research this and the question we are asking in our latest post is are there two memos? In addition we’re going to have to stop adding people to the bloggers list above at some point, we hope you understand when that happens.