Overshadowed by the saturation media coverage of Tony Blair's long awaited resignation announcement, is the end of the criminal trial involving the Tony Blair / George Bush "let's bomb al Jazeera news agency" secret memo.
Cabinet Office civil servant David Keogh and a former Labour MP's researcher Leo O'Connor, have been sentenced to 6 months and 3 months in prison respectively, having been convicted under the Official Secrets Act 1989.
The media coverage of this trial has not mentioned these "al Jazeera bombing" claims. Are they untrue, or have they been successfully suppressed ?
This aspect of the secret memo surfaced in November 2006, when Keogh and O'Connor were charged, after an 18 month delay, through the Labour MP Peter Kilfoyle , who has not been charged under the Official Secret Act.
- see the "exclusive" story in his local newspaper, the Liverpool Daily Post
Since the trial has been held in camera with evidence being heard in secret, how are the public meant to judge the claims that leaking this memo would have put the lives of British troops at risk, presumably by revealing tactical details about the Coalition forces attack on the rebel stronghold of Fallujah, or the plans to arrest one of the religious militia leaders in Iraq ? The abortive first battle of Fallujah throughout April 2004, might possibly have been compromised if the memo, dated April 16th had been leaked straight away. However the leak to the Labour MP Tony Clarke (who lost his seat in the May 2005 General Election) did not happen until this battle was over in May (there was a bigger, more effective second battle for Fallujah in November).
Surely the 18 month delay before the two men were charged has nothing to do with any real breach of tactical security in Iraq, and more to do with the US Presidential election campaign in November 2004, something which should not have had any influence on the British legal system whatsoever. ?
Where is the commentary and analysis from the dozens of British political bloggers who signed up to the "I will publish the al Jazeera memo" if it were somehow leaked, campaign ? Even Conservative MP, and editor of The Spectator magazine Boris Johnson claimed that he would publish this memo and risk jail in doing so.
N.B. Spy Blog did not support this particular campaign.
One thing which strikes us about this leak of a supposedly top secret memo are, how many people in Whitehall were actually on the distribution list for this supposedly "meeting participants only" record of the private meeting between Tony Blair and George Bush - the distribution list was reported to be around 80 people in Whitehall alone, without counting how many US officials also had access to this or a similar US record of the meeting.
Why was David Keogh ever allowed to glimpse such a supposedly secret document in the first place ?
According to this BBC summary (which again, does not mention the words "al Jazeera")
The memo was a note of a meeting between US President George Bush and the British Prime Minister Tony Blair at the White House on 16 April 2004.
The pair had discussed the situation in Iraq - among other things - and an official minute of the meeting was sent by a secure fax to Whitehall from the British Embassy in Washington DC.
It was written by Tony Blair's then secretary for foreign affairs, Matthew Rycroft, who marked it as "secret".
David Keogh was a civil servant working in the secret Pindar complex underneath the Ministry of Defence.
He was asked to photocopy and distribute the memo to a select group of mandarins but when he read it he felt morally obliged to get it into the public domain.
So, apart from all the officials in the US Government who presumably also have a record of this conversation, which will no doubt be available to US researchers amongst President Bush's papers when he leaves office, well before this memo is ever de-classified in the UK, how many people in the UK are privy to this secret memo ?
There were media reports that the number could be around 80 people.
Another thing which seems strange to us is the apparent utter incompetence of the "whistelblowers".
If, as David Keogh claims, he wanted to let the US presidential candidate John Kerry know about the contents of some or all of the memo, to politically embarass George Bush, then why did he not make use of either the internet or the mainstream media ?
Why did he think that Labour MP, Tony Clarke, who had voted for the Iraq War and voted against any inquiry into that war,and had voted for NuLabour's repressive anti-terrorism laws and ID Card scheme, would somehow be the best channel for such a leak ?
Leo O'Connor's actions on receiving a paper copy of the memo from David Keogh also seem to be peculiar. He seems to have slipped the copy of the memo into a bundle of papers for his boss Tony Clarke to read, His defence lawyer claimed that this was so that Tony Clarke could somehow "return it" to the appropriate authorities ?.If what he was really doing was plugging a leak, why did he not simply destroy this copy? This was obviously not the only copy of the memo in existence, so "returning" it had no meaning.
Why di neither of these two bumbling "whistelblowers" actually make use of the internet ?
They also seem to have ignored almost all of our advice for Government whistleblowers, since there are also media reports of Communications Traffic Data regarding short telephone conversations between the two of them.
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