U.K. lawmakers leaked al-Jazeera bomb plan

Jan. 9, 2006 at 11:15 AM
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LONDON, Jan. 9 (UPI) -- Two British parliamentarians leaked details of President George W. Bush's plan to bomb the Arabic news channel al-Jazeera, it was reported Monday.

Peter Kilfoyle, a Labor member of Parliament and former defense minister, and Tony Clarke, then a Labor MP, broke the Official Secrets Act by passing a document on the plan to a contact in the United States, according to the Guardian newspaper.

The document, a transcript of a conversation between Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair in April 2004 during which the latter expressed concerns about U.S. military tactics in Iraq, is already the subject of an official secrets prosecution.

David Keogh, a Cabinet Office employee, is charged with leaking information damaging to international relations to Leo O'Connor, researcher to Tony Clarke. The two are due to appear in court Tuesday for committal hearings.

O'Connor passed the information to Clarke, who discussed it with Kilfoyle, a parliamentary colleague. The two MPs passed the contents of the transcript to John Latham, a Democrat supporter living in San Diego, California and an old school friend of Kilfoyle's. They hoped to influence the impending 2004 U.S. election, Kilfoyle said.

He added: "It's very odd we haven't been prosecuted. My colleague Tony Clarke is guilty of discussing it with me and I have discussed it with all and sundry."

Latham decided not to pass the document to U.S. newspapers at the time; as a result details of its contents only emerged in November last year when it was leaked to the Mirror newspaper.

Bush reportedly told Blair he wanted to bomb al-Jazeera at its headquarters in Qatar and elsewhere. Blair replied that would cause a big problem.

The document raised fresh doubts over U.S. claims that previous attacks on al-Jazeera offices in Baghdad were military errors.

However the transcript has never been published in full as the British attorney general immediately threatened newspaper editors with prosecution under the Official Secrets Act if they attempted to do so.

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