'Bomb Jazeera' memo: Media warned
Al-Jazeera's newsroom in Doha, Qatar.
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LONDON, England (CNN) -- The British government has warned news organizations against publishing details of a secret memo which one London tabloid newspaper said recounted discussions between Prime Minister Tony Blair and President Bush about bombing the headquarters of the Arabic news network Al-Jazeera.
The Daily Mirror reported Tuesday that Blair talked Bush out of launching an air strike against Al-Jazeera's headquarters in Qatar -- a U.S. ally -- during an April 16, 2004 meeting at the White House.
The White House called the report "outlandish," but Al-Jazeera urged the British government to either confirm or deny the report.
The Arabic-language network has been a frequent target of U.S. criticism, and its facilities in Afghanistan and Iraq have been hit by U.S. bombs.
If true, the Mirror report "would cast serious doubts" on U.S. statements that those strikes were accidental, the network said.
Downing Street spokesman Ian Gleeson said Tuesday that Blair's office would have no comment, because the memo the Daily Mirror cited was the subject of court action.
Two men face trial under Britain's Official Secrets Act in connection with release of the memo, and the attorney general's office warned news organizations that the case against them should proceed "without prejudice."
The Mirror reported that Bush was angered by Al-Jazeera's coverage of the April 2004 uprising in the western Iraqi city of Falluja, where U.S. Marines were dispatched to restore order after four American security guards had been killed and mutilated by insurgents.
Blair talked him out of the idea of bombing the network's headquarters, the newspaper reported.
A White House official told CNN, "We are not going to dignify something so outlandish with a response." And a Pentagon official called the Daily Mirror report "absolutely absurd."
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