14 November 2010

Decision Points

Decision Points
George W Bush has been making various media appearances this week, to promote his memoir Decision Points. James Harding's occasionally sarcastic article in The Times was the most hard-hitting (or the least softball) interview, though the low-point came in Oprah Winfrey's show when she reassuringly held Bush's hand. (Bush previously gave extensive interviews to Robert Draper for Dead Certain in 2007.)

Decision Points is credited solely to Bush, though in the acknowledgements he explains ambiguously that he "worked with" Chris Michel. It's unlikely that someone famous for Bushisms like "Families is where our nation finds hope, where wings take dream" [sic!] could write a coherent manuscript, therefore we can assume that, unlike Tony Blair's memoir A Journey, Decision Points was ghost-written. Nevertheless, it does have some characteristic Bush lines: after 9/11 he wanted to "find out who did this, and kick their ass".

Unsurprisingly, Bush does not admit to many regrets, and the few that he does acknowledge are presentational rather than ideological. The premature "MISSION ACCOMPLISHED" banner was "a big mistake", but he still justifies waterboarding, Guantanamo Bay, and the invasion of Iraq. He attempts to refute his image as a warmonger, detailing his efforts to secure the required UN resolutions, though he later appears impatient with diplomacy: "It felt like it was taking forever". Reading this book produced a very similar feeling.

10 May 2007

"The memo is explosive..."

Daily Mirror
Two men were jailed today for leaking a classified memo detailing a conversation between UK Prime Minister Tony Blair and US President George W Bush that took place on 16th April 2004. Civil servant David Keogh, who copied the memo, was sentenced to six months in jail. Keogh had given the memo to Leo O'Connor, who received a three-month sentence for passing it on to MP Anthony Clarke. Keogh and O'Connor were arrested in 2004, when Clarke called the police after finding the memo in his office.

Details of the memo were first revealed by the Daily Mirror on 22nd November 2005, under the front-page headline "BUSH PLOT TO BOMB HIS ARAB ALLY". The report began: "Bush planned to bomb Arab TV station al-Jazeera in friendly Qatar, a "Top Secret" No 10 memo reveals. But he was talked out of it at a White House summit by Tony Blair, who said it would provoke a worldwide backlash." The newspaper quoted a source saying: "The memo is explosive and hugely damaging to Bush."

After the story was published, the Attorney General threatened the UK media with prosecution under the Official Secrets Act if any further details of the memo were revealed. This marked the first and only time that the Act - rather than a conventional injunction - had been used to censor the media. Also, Keogh and O'Connor's trial was held in camera, and the judge ruled that it would be a contempt of court to report Keogh's three-word response when he was asked about his initial reaction to the memo.

Due to the reporting ban, and the closed trial, there has been some confusion surrounding the charges against Keogh and O'Connor. Their arrest was not reported until they were formally charged on 17th November 2005, more than a year after the event. The case was originally linked to another leaked memo, titled Iraq: The Medium Term, published by The Sunday Times on 23rd May 2004, though subsequent media reports have linked the case only to the "BUSH PLOT" memo.


27 June 2006

Best In Show

Best In Show
Michael Dickinson's collage Best In Show has been seized by Turkish police, and the artist faces charges of insulting the Turkish Prime Minister. The collage portrays PM Recep Tayyip Erdoğan as a dog being petted by George W Bush. Last Year, another Turkish cartoonist was fined for depicting Erdoğan as a cat.