Sunday, 18 March 2018

When you look at the evidence the conviction makes no sense

[What follows is excerpted from a report in today’s edition of the Sunday Mail:]

Acclaimed film director Jim Sheridan wants Oscar winner Gary Oldman to star as Dr Jim Swire in his TV drama about the Lockerbie bombing.

The award-winning Irish film-maker is planning a television series about the 1988 terrorist attack and the grieving father’s pursuit of the truth about who was responsible.

Sheridan said he was not convinced that Abdelbaset al-Megrahi was guilty of the attack and backed the legal appeal against his conviction.

Oldman, who won an Oscar for best actor this month for his portrayal of Winston Churchill in Darkest Hour, is top of Sheridan’s list of actors to play Swire, whose daughter Flora, 23, was killed in the bombing.

Sheridan is best known for his film In the Name Of The Father, about the Guildford Four’s fight against their wrongful conviction. (...)

Sheridan has been working on a film about Lockerbie for years but now believes it should be a TV series made by a channel such as Netflix, HBO or Amazon. He said: “I gave the script to a few well-known actors and they came and said it should be a TV series.

“They said I was trying to cram too much into two hours.”

Asked who he wanted to play Swire, he said: “There are a lot of great actors in England and Ireland, like Gary Oldman, who just won the Oscar. Liam Neeson is a great actor, Daniel Day-Lewis is a great actor. I like Ralph Fiennes as an actor as well. It needs an actor of that calibre.” (...)

Sheridan hopes to begin filming the series this year.

He said: “I think it could be started by the 30th anniversary. We’ve had a lot of interest in the story and we’ve had a lot of actors respond to it as well.” (...)

Megrahi, a former Libyan intelligence agent, was the only person convicted of blowing up Pan Am Flight 103.

He was convicted in 2001 but released from Greenock prison by the Scottish Government eight years later after being diagnosed with terminal prostate cancer.

Megrahi died protesting his innocence and an appeal against his conviction was lodged last year.

Swire has led the campaign to clear his name.

Sheridan said: “The story of Jim Swire and Megrahi is an extraordinary one – Jim going to the guy he thought murdered his daughter, accepting he didn’t do it, helping him and then realising as a doctor that he wasn’t well.”

Asked what he admired most about Swire, Sheridan said: “His Christianity really is the main thing. He hasn’t become broken as a person or bitter. He has maintained a humanistic outlook where so many other people would become embittered.”

Swire believes Megrahi was innocent and that Iran bombed the jet as revenge for the shooting down of an Iranair flight by a US missile five months earlier. (...)

Sheridan said: “Lockerbie seems to me to be such an extraordinary story. But I don’t know if the truth will ever come out. I’m not sure it will happen in Jim’s lifetime.”

Megrahi was convicted of planting the Pan Am Flight 103 bomb in luggage at Malta airport.

The suitcase was supposedly transported to Frankfurt and then London before being put on the New York-bound Boeing 747, which blew up over Lockerbie half an hour into its flight.

But Swire believes the explosives were loaded on at Heathrow.

And Sheridan said: “Why would any person put a bomb on a plane that has to be taken off, put on another plane, and then taken off and put on a third plane, and then blows up half an hour into the flight?

“To get all that right, you would have to be both a genius and an idiot to set the bomb’s timer 30 minutes into the flight. It just doesn’t make any sense. I think it is much more likely that the bomb originated on the plane.”

Over the past 30 years, there have been claims that the FBI fabricated evidence to blame Libya for the Lockerbie bombing.

Sheridan said: “Can you imagine a situation where a plane carrying a lot of English passengers crashed in upstate New York and the English police came over and cordoned off the area and owned the investigation? So how did Scotland let it happen?”

Megrahi died protesting his innocence and an appeal against his conviction has been made by his widow Aisha and son Ali.

Sheridan said: “I think there should be a new investigation. When you look at the evidence, the conviction makes no sense. However, I know American families still believe Megrahi did it, and Libya accepted accountability by paying out.”

Asked if he supported the appeal against Megrahi’s conviction,he said: “One hundred per cent.”

Sunday, 4 March 2018

Lockerbie payout plea over Gaddafi 'blood millions' sitting untouched in US banks for 10 years

[This is the headline over a report in today’s edition of the Sunday Mail, following on from an item posted on this blog on 7 February 2018. It reads in part:]

Hundreds of millions of pounds of Colonel Gaddafi’s Lockerbie blood money is sitting in the
US government’s accounts a decade after it was paid out.
The Libyan dictator paid more than £1billion in 2008 for the families of American victims of
the atrocity and other terrorist attacks.
But up to a third of the cash is still to be distributed by the US government 10 years later.
Lockerbie campaigner Dr Jim Swire said some of the money could be spent on a new inquiry
into the bombing.
Other relatives suggested the cash be paid to Gaddafi’s victims in Libya.
Dr Swire, whose 23-year-old daughter Flora was a passenger on the plane, believes that
Abdelbaset al-Megrahi was innocent of the terrorist attack.
He said: “The block of a complete review of the Megrahi evidence to date since 2001
demands both explanation and redress.
“To challenge this impasse would be an excellent use of the money, if only the US authorities
were prepared to consider for one moment that justice was not served at the Camp Zeist
He added: “We are not asking people to believe us. We are asking people to re-examine the
evidence. And if that was done, I’m sure there would soon be no doubt the verdict against
Megrahi should have never been brought in.” (...)
Two years after Megrahi’s conviction, Libya paid £2billion to the families of the Lockerbie
The United Nations later lifted the sanctions imposed on Libya, enabling the country to
exploit its vast oil reserves.
In 2008, a further £1billion was paid to settle outstanding claims from American families of
victims of Lockerbie and other Libyan state-sponsored terrorism.
They claimed the bombing had led to the demise of the airline, costing them their jobs,
health insurance and pensions.
Pamela Dix, whose brother Peter was one of the passengers on Pan Am Flight 103, suggested
some of the remaining cash could go to Gaddafi’s victims in Libya.
Pamela, of Woking, Surrey, said: “What the Americans do with the rest of the money is a big
question and they clearly don’t want to answer it.
“Perhaps they should give it back to Libya. State-sponsored terrorism in Libya was rife for
years. Gaddafi killed a lot of his own people.
“There is a very good argument for saying it should help make reparations in Libya.
“What would be wrong would be the money just sitting there. There should be an open and
transparent discussion about what should be done with it.”
A US State Department official said: “Most of the $1.5billion (£1.1billion) received from
Libya through the settlement has been paid out to eligible claimants.
“Shortly after the settlement was received, the State Department paid amounts to the Pan
Am 103 victims, LaBelle Disco bombing victims and estates of victims who had died in other
terrorist attacks that were the subject of litigation pending against Libya in US courts. These
payments amounted to over $1billion (£726million).
“The State Department also made three referrals of claims to the Foreign Claims Commission
for adjudication.
On January 15, 2009, the Department referred various other categories of claims of US victims.
“All of those claims were adjudicated by the Commission and awards were paid in full.”
Other payments from Gaddafi’s cash include £27million to victims or their families of the
massacre at Lod airport near Tel Aviv, Israel, in 1972 and the Rome airport attack in 1985.
The US Treasury refused to respond to enquiries about how much compensation cash is left.

Saturday, 24 February 2018

Where, I ask, is the justice?

[What follows is excerpted from an article published today on the CNN Politics website:]

[Robert] Mueller, now 73, began his Department of Justice career in 1976 as an assistant US attorney in San Francisco, and during the decades that followed took only two breaks to try out the private sector, each lasting no more than a couple of years.

The stints were so short-lived because of a simple fact, according to Graff: Mueller couldn't stand defending those he felt were guilty. (...)

That black-and-white outlook served Mueller well at the Department of Justice, where he oversaw some of the highest-profile cases of the last few decades including the prosecution of mobster John Gotti and Panamanian Dictator Manuel Noriega. But it was his investigation into the 1988 terrorist bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland that would most profoundly affect him.

"It was a very personal and a pivotal investigation of his career," according to Lisa Monaco, who served as Mueller's chief of staff when he was FBI director. "It is something that has stuck with him, and I think it was because he was so affected by walking the ground in Lockerbie after that plane went down, seeing the remnants of that plane, seeing the piecing together of the plane and the Christmas presents the passengers on that plane were carrying home to their family members, and seeing that all literally get pieced together in a warehouse in Scotland at the beginning of the investigation."

For years after the trial of the two Libyan terrorists, Mueller would quietly attend the annual December memorial service organized by the families, consoling those he had come to know well. When Scottish authorities announced in 2009 that they were releasing the one terrorist convicted in the case, Mueller was outraged.

"That did not sit well with him. He thought it was an injustice, a fundamental injustice for the families, and he did something very out-of-the-ordinary for him," Monaco said.

Mueller wrote a scathing letter to the Scottish authorities, saying in part, "your action makes a mockery of the grief of the families who lost their own. ... Where, I ask, is the justice?"

It was an unusual outpouring of emotion for a man who, according to those closest to him, regularly keeps to himself.

Friday, 23 February 2018

“If it isn’t growing and it isn’t a rock, pick it up”

[What follows is excerpted from the obituary of Sir John Orr in today's edition of The Herald:]

Sir John Orr, who has died aged 72, was Chief Constable of Strathclyde Police, at that time the country’s biggest force, from 1996 until 2001; previously, as joint head of Strathclyde’s CID in the rank of Detective Chief Superintendent, he had been the lead officer in the investigation of the Lockerbie bombing. (...)

... he will inevitably be remembered chiefly for his part in co-ordinating what was the single biggest murder investigation in the history of Scottish policing.

The Lockerbie air disaster, on December 21 1988, was not only a huge murder inquiry, but one of the most serious acts of terrorism in the West. Pan Am Flight 103, which had originated in Frankfurt, had then left London bound for New York and ultimately Detroit, when it was torn apart by a bomb over the Borders town. All 243 passengers and 16 crew were killed, as were 11 people on the ground; several houses in the town’s Sherwood Crescent were destroyed.

Orr, who had been the joint head of Strathclyde CID, was brought in to lead the early stages of the investigation. “There is an awful lot of hard work that will have to be done in the course of the next weeks and months,” he told The New York Times.

That was a characteristic piece of understatement. The magnitude of the civil and criminal investigations was almost unprecedented: some 4 million items of wreckage were spread over 2,000 square kilometres; more than 10,000 of them were retrieved and tagged as evidence.

Around a thousand police officers and soldiers were employed in the search, with the instruction: “If it isn’t growing and it isn’t a rock, pick it up.” Some 15,000 witness statements were taken by Dumfries and Galloway Police (Scotland’s smallest force) and the FBI, which assisted in the investigation.

Orr directed the opening stages of the operation, which eventually led to enquiries throughout Europe, focusing particularly on Malta, and to the conviction of Abdelbaset al-Megrahi in January 2001. In 1990, Orr was appointed deputy chief of Dumfries and Galloway Police.

[RB: An obituary also appears in today's edition of The Times. It contains the following sentences:]

He never commented publicly on the various conspiracy theories, some wilder than others, claiming that the evidence had been rigged to implicate Libya, or that the CIA had controlled the investigation. He remained consistent in his view that this was a Scottish police inquiry and that his responsibility lay with respecting the law rather than heading off rumour and speculation. (...) Although Lockerbie, with its awful scenes of death and destruction, must have left a deep impression, he rarely spoke of it outside the investigation, preferring to see it as a professional assignment which he had fulfilled to the best of his ability. He took pride from the way the operation had been run, regarding the conspiracy theories as “fiction”.

Wednesday, 21 February 2018

The West’s wish to settle the Lockerbie issue

[What follows is excerpted from an interview published today on the Sputnik
International website:]

Newly declassified documents have been released, revealing the covert relationship between Britain’s MI6 and former Libyan leader Muammar al-Gaddafi, forged to track down Libyan dissidents and terrorists. Sputnik spoke to Libyan journalist Mustafa Fetouri to find out why the UK eventually turned on its one time counter-terror partner.

Sputnik: From Britain’s perspective, specifically that of then-Prime Minister Tony Blair and head of MI6 Richard Dearlove, was Muammar Gaddafi a friend, an enemy or simply a temporary ally of convenience?

Mustafa Fetouri: I would say he was a temporary ally brought in by the circumstances. It is important to remember that in this regard, Libya had the best database, if you like, of all kinds of terrorism and terrorist organisations, including Al-Qaida in Pakistan and Afghanistan in its earlier days when Osama Bin Laden was actually supported by countries like the United States to fight the Soviet Union in Afghanistan. Only Libya, out of all countries in the world, issued an international arrest warrant for him, in the 1980s.

I would also think that what brought Tony Blair to Gaddafi – it wasn’t the other way around – was actually the West’s wish to settle the Lockerbie issue and try to open a new chapter with Libya. In this regard, again, they benefited a great deal in terms of information concerning terrorists and terror organisations and terror plots at the time, including what has been revealed lately in the newspapers.

Sputnik: And why, despite courting him for quite some time, did Western leaders suddenly turn on Gaddafi? Of course the UK played a leading role in the NATO-backed operation against him in 2011, despite its earlier rapprochement under Prime Minister Blair.

Mustafa Fetouri: Well that’s the more important question. Actually, we have to remember something here: the fact that the Western countries, especially the United States, United Kingdom and France did not really like Gaddafi. They did not really like his regime, despite the rapprochements in 2004, and 2005 and so on. They always had a ‘plan b’ if you like. If the opportunity made itself available for them to get rid of the guy, and destroy him completely, it was to be taken immediately. They would not have missed such an opportunity. They already missed a couple of opportunities over the past forty years and the most serious of them was the Lockerbie case where they caught the regime, legally speaking, and they could have done something. However the international circumstances at the time did not provide the cover for such a move to destroy the regime. They tried of course, in 1984, and 1986 when the Americans raided his house and compound.

We really have to remember here that those governments – especially the US, UK and France – they don’t really care too much about their obligations and their given commitments to other governments, especially the ones that have a bad history with them, such as Libya under Gaddafi. I should add that Gaddafi himself never ever trusted them, but in the last ten years of the regime’s life he was not too much into the daily running affairs in the country, so he lost touch a bit, and that’s where the Western forces had their opportunity.

Tuesday, 20 February 2018

Death announced of first Lockerbie SIO Sir John Orr

The death on 19 February 2018 has been announced of Sir John Orr who, as a Detective Chief Superintendent, was the first Senior Investigating Officer in the Lockerbie case. He held the position from December 1988 until 1990 when he was appointed Deputy Chief Constable of Dumfries and Galloway Police. He subsequently became Chief Constable of Strathclyde Police. His knighthood was announced in the December 2000 honours list.

Sunday, 18 February 2018

The mystery of the secret Lockerbie file 'borrowed' by the Scotland Office for nearly a decade

[This is the headline over a report in today’s edition of the Sunday Herald. It reads in part:]

Whitehall officials have taken a sensitive file on “subversive activities” relating to the Lockerbie disaster from the National Records of Scotland and failed to return the documents, it can be revealed.

The Scotland Office took the secret “security” file nearly a decade ago, when the department was under Labour control, but it still remains in its possession.

Officials used a temporary loan system operated by the NRS to request the file weeks after Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, the Libyan national convicted of the atrocity, was released from prison. (...)

The NRS is a non-ministerial government department responsible for the census, family history, as well as the national archives and historical records.

Old files are catalogued and their status - whether open or closed - can be determined through a search on the body’s website. Freedom of information legislation also applies to the files.

Under a process known as “retransmission”, public bodies can ask for the temporary return of documents. However, dozens of files that were borrowed decades ago have stayed with the organisations and departments that requested them. (...)

In September 2009, the Labour-run Scotland Office, which was then led by Jim Murphy, requested a file on the Lockerbie disaster entitled “security: subversive activities”.

According to the NRS, the file from the late 1980s contained Scottish Office notes and minutes, submissions to ministers, police briefing notes, correspondence, and “other papers”.

It is listed as being “closed” until 2066 but the Scotland Office would have to consider its release under FOI, if asked.

Weeks before the Scotland Office request, al-Megrahi, who was convicted in 2001 of the terror attack on Pan Am Flight 103, was released from prison on compassionate grounds by the Scottish Government.

Aamer Anwar, a lawyer who represents al-Megrahi’s family, said an application had been lodged with the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission about the Libyan man’s conviction.

He said of the file: “We will be demanding a full explanation from the present Secretary of State Mr Mundell and request that any papers which we believe to be critical to any pending appeal are returned immediately.

“I would hope this is not another example of an attempt to whitewash the unsavoury role the UK government at the time played in the whole Lockerbie case at expense of the victims as well as Mr Al-Megrahi.” (...)

… the Lockerbie (...) files remain in the hands of the Scotland Office, even though they were secured via the temporary borrowing system. (...)

A UK Government spokesperson said: “It is routine practice for public authorities to request files from national archives to learn lessons from the past and to assist in policy making, this is one of the main reasons we keep archives. It is also routine for authorities to keep files for as long as they are required.”

Wednesday, 14 February 2018

Insurers cannot pursue suits against Libya

[This is part of the headline over a report published yesterday on the Business Insurance website. It reads as follows:]

Insurers cannot pursue lawsuits against Libya in connection with two terrorism acts, including the 1988 bomb explosion of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, that killed all 243 passengers, says a federal appeals court in upholding a lower court ruling.

In November 1985, EgyptAir Flight 648 was hijacked, which resulted in the death of passengers and the aircraft hull’s destruction, according to Monday’s ruling by the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington, DC, in Aviation & General Insurance Co Ltd et al v. United States. The US State Department determined the terrorist group involved had received considerable support from the Libyan government.

Then in December 1988, explosives concealed in the luggage compartment of Pan Am Flight 103 as it crossed Scotland killed all 243 passengers, as well as 16 crew members and 11 bystanders, according to the ruling.

The terrorist responsible was acting as an agent of the Libyan government, according to the ruling.

Libya’s sovereign immunity was suspended following passage of the State Sponsors of Terrorism Exception to the Foreign Sovereign Immunity Act in 1996 and the National Defense Authoritative Act in 2008, according to the ruling.

A number of insurers, including Lloyd’s of London underwriters, who had paid a total of $97 million in claims in connection with the two terrorist acts, filed suit against Libya. But these lawsuits were terminated following Congress’ passage of the Libyan Claims Resolution Act in 2008, which restored Libya’s sovereign immunity. Libya then paid the government $1.5 billion, according to the ruling.

President George W Bush subsequently signed an executive order terminating any pending lawsuit in US court related to Libyan-sponsored terrorism. 

The insurers filed suit in the US District Court of Federal Claims in an effort to continue their litigation. The court ruling granted the federal government summary judgment in the case.

The ruling was upheld by the appeals court’s 2-1 opinion. “After considering Appellants’ arguments, we agree with the Court of Federal Claims that the government’s action in changing the status of Libya’s sovereign immunity was neither novel nor unexpected and thus could not have interfered with Appellants’ reasonable investment-backed expectations,” said the ruling.

“Appellants’ argument that they nonetheless held a reasonable expectation of compensation, following the Government’s termination of their claims based on historical examples, is of no moment,” said the ruling, in upholding the lower court’s ruling.

The dissenting opinion states the judge could have affirmed the lower court’s summary judgment on a different basis.

[RB: When this action was first raised in 2014 I commented as follows:]

I don't think the action has much hope of success.  Even if the US Presidential Order barred Equitas [the insurance consortium including Aviation & General and Lloyd's] from suing Libya in the United States, there was nothing to prevent it doing so in Scotland (as it already had done, of course, in relation to compensation paid by Pan Am to Lockerbie victims' families: see Pan Am insurer suing US Government over Lockerbie pay-out). And in any event there was nothing to prevent Equitas suing in the US courts before the Presidential Order in 2008.  That they were caught by that Order can be argued to be their own fault for delaying so long: after all, Pan Am 103 was destroyed in 1988 and Megrahi was convicted in 2001. The present action looks to me like a try-on, probably hoping for a "nuisance value" settlement from the US government.

Wednesday, 7 February 2018

US won’t disclose fate of $500 million paid by Libya for Lockerbie bombing victims

[This is the headline over a report published yesterday on the Breitbart
News website. It reads in part:]

The US government refuses to say whether it will keep or return the estimated $500 million that remains from the $1.5 billion Libya-sponsored fund intended to compensate American victims of terrorism following the 1988 attack on Pan American World Airways Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, a US State Department official acknowledged that the US government paid some of this money to victims of other terrorist attacks, not just Lockerbie. Libya’s government was linked to the assault on the Pan-Am aircraft.

In a statement to Breitbart News, the State official said:
Shortly after the [$1.5 billion] settlement was received [from Libya], the State Department paid amounts to the PanAm 103 victims, LaBelle Disco bombing victims, and estates of victims who had died in other terrorist attacks that were the subject of litigation pending against Libya in US courts These payments amounted to over $1 billion.
According to State, about $500 million remained in the fund. Public data online shows that the US government has only awarded an estimated $37.7 million, indicating that much larger portion of the $1.5 billion is leftover.

Asked whether the US government will keep the leftover funds or return the money to Libya, US President Donald Trump’s administration would not say.

“In the event there are any residual balances in the Fund Account at the time of the Fund’s expiration, those balances will be transferred pursuant to arrangements agreed between the parties,” noted the 2008 US-Libya settlement of $1.5 billion awarded by the African country.US government officials declined to tell Breitbart News what the “agreed arrangements” are.

The settlement agreement dictates that the $1.5 billion is intended to compensate US victims of “an act of torture, extrajudicial killing, aircraft sabotage, hostage taking or detention or other terrorist act, or the provision of material support or resources for such an act; or by military measures” at the hands of Libya.

Under former US President Barack Obama, the American government issued compensation referrals for individuals who were not affected by Lockerbie “because there were some remaining settlement funds,” acknowledged the State official, noting that the same thing happened under former President George W Bush.

The US Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Foreign Claims Settlement Commission (FCSC) is charged with deciding who gets the Libya funds.

FCSC officials recently denied a request by about 50 former Pan Am pilots to recover $46.5 million ($75.3 million with interest) from the Libya-subsidized funds. Whether $500 million or more remains in the Libya-sponsored fund, there is definitely enough money to cover the Pan-Am pilots’ claim.

The pilots, many of them senior citizens now who served in the US military, have argued that the Lockerbie attack prompted the demise of Pan Am, which resulted in them losing their jobs and pensions.

However, FCSC officials contended that the Lockerbie incident did not lead to PanAm’s demise and therefore had nothing to do with the pilots losing their jobs.

Tuesday, 30 January 2018

Robert Parry 1949 - 2018

The death has been announced of Robert Parry, editor and publisher

Robert Parry wrote extensively about Lockerbie and the Megrahi case.
Blogposts containing links to his contributions can be found here.
What follows is taken from an article by him published on 30 June
2011 and featured on this blog on the same date in 2016.


The New York Times, like most US newspapers, prides itself on its “objectivity.”
The Times even boasts about printing news “without fear or favor.” But the reality
is quite different, with the Times agreeing – especially last decade – to withhold
newsworthy information that the Bush-43 administration [RB: George W Bush was
the 43rd President of the United States] considered too sensitive. (...)

The Lockerbie Bombing
Yet, to this day, The New York Times and other major US news outlets continue
to tilt their coverage of foreign policy and national security issues to fit within the
general framework laid out by Official Washington. Rarely do mainstream
journalists deviate too far.

It has been common, for instance, for the Times and other media outlets to state
as flat fact that Libyan agents, presumably on orders from Col Muammar Gaddafi,
blew Pan Am 103 out of the skies over Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1988, killing 270

However, anyone who has followed that case knows that the 2001 conviction of
Libyan operative Ali al-Megrahi by a special Scottish court was highly dubious,
more a political compromise than an act of justice. Another Libyan was found
not guilty, and one of the Scottish judges told Dartmouth government professor
Dirk Vandewalle about “enormous pressure put on the court to get a conviction.”
[RB: The High Court information officer, Elizabeth Cutting, has denied that this
ever happened.]

In 2007, after the testimony of a key witness against Megrahi was discredited,
the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission agreed to reconsider the
conviction as a grave miscarriage of justice. However, that review was proceeding
slowly in 2009 when Scottish authorities released Megrahi on humanitarian
grounds, after he was diagnosed with terminal prostate cancer.

Megrahi dropped his appeal in order to gain the early release, but that doesn’t
mean he was guilty. He has continued to assert his innocence and an objective
press corps would reflect the doubts regarding his curious conviction. [For details,
see’s “Three Deadly War Myths.”]

After all, the Lockerbie case is not simply a historical mystery. It is one of the
central reasons why the United States and its NATO allies are insisting that
Gaddafi must be removed from power prior to any negotiated settlement of
Libya’s ongoing civil war.

In pressing this need to oust Gaddafi first, President Barack Obama made a
reference to the Lockerbie bombing at his Wednesday news conference, a
presumed “fact” that may have set the White House correspondents to nodding
their heads but may well not be true.

Which brings us to a key problem regarding American journalists siding with US
officials in presenting information to the American people: Is it really “good for
the country”?

By now, history should have taught us that it is often better for the American
people to know what their government is doing than to be left in the dark where
they can be led around by clever propagandists, aided and abetted by a complicit
news media.

Indeed, when the Times and other US news outlets act in that way, they may be
causing more harm than the propaganda organs of a repressive regime would,
since the “news” from those government mouthpieces is discounted by those who
read and see it.