I thought that Frank Gaffney’s outrageous comments last week that, under certain circumstances, it would be laudable for U.S. forces to bomb Al-Jazeera’s Doha headquarters were the first time he had suggested destroying this important Arab media network.
However, I just ran across an article by Frank Gaffney titled “Take Out Al Jazeera,” which ran on Fox News on September 29, 2003.
In the piece, Gaffney argues:
Under present wartime circumstances, though, the United States has the ability — and, indeed, an urgent responsibility — to take more comprehensive action against Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya. Unless the two networks adjust their behavior so as no longer to act as the propaganda arm of our enemies, they should be taken off the air, one way or another.
To those who will decry this as censorship, they should be reminded of President Bush’s injunction shortly after we were attacked two years ago: In the War on Terror, you are either with us or with the terrorists. It would be no more sensible for us to construe the masquerading of enemy propaganda, the communication and amplification of its calls to jihad and the legitimacy that attends transmission of such messages and images via television than it would be for us to regard bin Laden’s messages, or Saddam’s, as mere “news.”
Luckily, saner heads prevailed, and we did not bomb Al-Jazeera’s headquarters — but as other posters on TWN have noted — the U.S. did bomb (. . .accidentally?) Al-Jazeera’s offices in Baghdad and Kabul.
Those who have promoted the Iraq War have been obsessed with information control — afraid that a free media in the U.S. or abroad would undermine the will of American citizens to support the invasion and occupation of Iraq.
I am not really supposed to write about it as I recently saw a pre-screening of an important film that addresses the government’s effort to control journalistic commentary.
The film is called “Why We Fight,” and it will be extremely important — opening around the country on January 20th. I will write more later about this — but the so-called Bush-Blair memo about bombing Al-Jazeera is only relevant in that it is a tangible manifestation of the kind of dangerous thinking that those who have been the biggest proponents of this war, like Frank Gaffney, have engaged in and sold to this country.
— Steve Clemons