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Damaging Disclosures and the Plot to Bomb al-Jazeera
As an indication of how well-entrenched the police state is in Britain, consider the prosecution, under the Officials Secrets Act, of David Keogh, a former communications officer at the Cabinet Office, and Leo O’Connor, a former parliamentary researcher. “Mr. Keogh, 49, is charged with making a ‘damaging disclosure of a document relating to international relations’ without lawful authority, while Mr. O’Connor, 42, is charged with having receiving a document ‘through its disclosure without lawful authority by a crown servant,’” according to the Financial Times. “The document, according to a report in the Daily Mirror, detailed minutes of a conversation between Tony Blair and President George W. Bush, in which bombing the headquarters of the Arabic satellite TV channel al-Jazeera was discussed.”
Interesting how it is a crime to reveal a war crime (or potential war crime), deemed a “damaging disclosure,” and Keogh and O’Connor may actually go to prison while Bush and Blair will be free to become “elder statesmen” advising others on how best to kill innocent civilians and journalists.
It appears Keogh and O’Connor will not be allowed to defend themselves, thus adding a rather Stalinesque flavor to the proceedings (Julie Hyland described it as “a Kafkaesque quality”). “No details of the memo were given in court and O’Connor’s lawyer Neil Clark has said he does not know what is in the alleged document, and has never seen it. Calling for the government to release the information, he said he needed to ‘know the case’ against his client as it would be ‘impossible’ to defend him otherwise,” writes Hyland.
Of course, the point here is not to allow Keogh and O’Connor to defend themselves, but rather to send a message: if you reveal the murderous intentions of the government (or a possible contrivance between two governments) to bomb news offices and studios in a sovereign nation, you will be prosecuted and sent to prison. As Hyland notes, using ” the OSA against civil servants is … unusual. Former intelligence officer David Shayler was prosecuted and imprisoned under the act, after he disclosed that Britain’s MI6 had backed a failed plot to assassinate Libyan leader Colonel Gaddafi.” In other words, the Officials Secrets Act is used only when something is released that seriously embarrasses the government—or makes the government out for what it really is: a collection of sociopaths capable of killing dozens if not thousands of people under a veil of official secrecy.
But the real story here, beyond the prosecution of Keogh and O’Connor, is the alarming idea that heads of state get together in government suites and connive to bomb media outlets and thus mass murder journalists, producers, technicians, managers, etc., in a sovereign country (it is said Blair talked Bush out of going forward with his idea). It says a whole lot about the mindset and character of George Bush.
But then we’ve known about that for a few years now.
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