Public Inquiry into Blunkett's Call for Blair to Bomb al-Jazeera?
By: John McDonnell on: 13.10.2006 [17:54 ] (1298 reads)
It was revealed today that David Blunkett has admitted to a Channel 4 documentary that he called upon Tony Blair to bomb al-Jazeera in Baghdad during the invasion of Iraq, even though this would have been in violation of international law.
I am calling for an inquiry into Blunkett's statement on the basis that it is contrary to international law to be calling for attacks on civilian institutions, and in fact it is laid down in international law that the military must seek to do all it can to protect civilians during any military operations.
The fact that a senior Cabinet minister was calling for an attack on civilians must be taken extremely seriously. The Government must now launch a public inquiry into former Secretary of State Blunkett's role in this affair.
It's not just Bush who tried to convince Tony Blair that bombing Al Jazeera was a good idea, David Blunkett is claiming that he also told Tony to attack the news outlet. On this occasion it was the transmitter in Baghdad during the invasion of Iraq.
DAVID Blunkett has admitted he urged Tony Blair to break international law and bomb al-Jazeera's Baghdad TV transmitter during the Iraq war.
The disgraced ex-Home Secretary makes his astonishing revelation in a Channel 4 Dispatches programme, to be shown next week, saying he viewed the Arab television station as a legitimate target.
He brushes aside protests that, as a civilian organisation, the bombing of al-Jazeera would have been illegal under international law.
The amazing exchange will be shown on Monday in the second episode of a two-part screening of the audio-diaries he kept during his time in the Cabinet.
Mr Blunkett tells Dispatches he suggested to the war cabinet that al-Jazeera's Baghdad transmitter be attacked.
Asked whether he was not worried that this would be "outside the rules of engagement", Mr Blunkett says: "There wasn't a worry from me because I believed that this was a war and in a war you wouldn't allow the broadcast to continue taking place."
Dispatches reporter Isabel Tang protests: "But al-Jazeera was a civilian target."
Mr Blunkett replies: "Well, I don't think that there are targets in a war that you can rule out because you don't actually have military personnel inside them if they are attempting to win a propaganda battle on behalf of your enemy."
Tang goes on: "But surely that's against international law." Mr Blunkett says: "Well I don't think for a minute in previous wars we'd have thought twice about ensuring that a propaganda mechanism on the soil of the country you were invading would actually continue being able to propagandise against you."
Two weeks after Mr Blunkett pressed the Prime Minister to attack al-Jazeera, the station's Baghdad offices were bombed by the Americans, killing journalist Tareq Ayoub.
So if Blunkett can own up about suggesting a war crime, isn't it time Blair came clean about his little discussion with Bush?