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Two Labour MPs have defied the Official Secrets Act by passing on the contents of a secret British document revealing how President George Bush wanted to bomb the Arabic TV station, al-Jazeera.
The Bush-Blair meeting took place when Whitehall officials, intelligence officers, and British military commanders were expressing outrage at the scale of the US assault on the Iraqi city of Falluja, in which up to 1,000 civilians are feared to have died. Pictures of the attack shown on al-Jazeera had infuriated US generals. London was also arguing with Washington about the number of extra British troops to be sent to Iraq.
A second, Foreign Office document, separately leaked in May 2004, exposed misgivings within the British government over America’s “heavy-handed” behaviour and tactics in Iraq. That memo said: “Heavy-handed US military tactics in Falluja and Najaf some weeks ago have fuelled both Sunni and Shi’ite opposition to the coalition, and lost us much public support inside Iraq.”