[The following exchange of e-mails involving Richard Marquise, Frank Duggan and Mark Hirst took place following the appearance on 17 November of Mark Hirst's article "Fragments of truth".]
1. From Richard Marquise to Mark Hirst, copied to Frank Duggan, dated 22 November
I have read your recent Lockerbie article entitled "Fragments of Truth" and I will tell you, that I believe your article was aptly named.
I can appreciate that Mr. Megrahi "steadfastly maintains his innocence" but I am certain you weighed that claim with all the other lies he has told in the past--"I am not a member of Libyan intelligence," and "I was not in Malta on 20-21 December 1988, I was here in Tripoli with my family." Those lies were proven at trial but somehow, you want to believe what he tells you today. I am incredulous. Is it the truth now or was it last time he spoke??
Your statement alleges that "many professionals involved in this case including US intelligence officers,legal experts and police investigators" share Mr. Megrahi's view. Who are they??? Former CIA agent Robert Baer should not count since he never worked on the case and has no idea what the evidence was or how it was collected or shared. Who are these other people? I do not count Gareth Pearce or Robert Black--they too know only what they "think?" As we who have been law enforcement professionals know--"thinking" is not admissible in court--facts and evidence are--even circumstantial evidence.
You speak of "new evidence" in this case but I have read his postings to date and have seen nothing which would change my mind about the righteousness of his conviction.
You talk about the "cover up" of the weakness of the investigation-- there was never a cover up--the evidence was the evidence and the three judges convicted him. You might call their reading the the evidence "shameful" but I think they came to the correct conclusion--Mr. Megrahi was guilty of murder the Libyan Government was responsible for the attack.
You believe we had pressure to secure the indictment. Yes, we did believe that a "timescale" was in place to announce something but we also recognized that without someone in Libya providing us information, there would probably never be any new evidence developed. This proved to be the case until 1999 when the Libyan Government was compelled to "cooperate" and some additional evidence was collected (which proved that Mr. Megrahi and Abdusamad were one in the same and that Mr. Megrahi was a Libyan agent. To me, these findings corroborated some of the things Mr. Giaka told us.
While it is true that intelligence agencies did provide the name of Mr. Megrahi (one of many), it was through the investigation that Mr. Fhimah was brought into the case. His name did not come from intelligence agencies and was a complete byproduct of "detective" work.
You (and others) continue to claim that witnesses at trial were motivated by money. While I will not be able to say what motivates each and every person who testifies at any trial, I have said it before and will say it again--no witness--none-- was ever promised money or asked to say anything at any interview or at trial in exchange for money. None!! In fact, it was Mr. Bollier who came to the US Embassy in January 1989 and attempted to implicate the Libyans, long before there was one shred of real evidence collected at Lockerbie. It would be nearly two years before he could even be identified as that person.
You continue to make allegations about Mr. Thurman and that he has no credentials to do "forensic" examinations. Would it shock you to know that not only does he have extensive experience as an explosives expert in the US military (pre FBI), he also has a masters degree in Forensic Science? I am certain that will be made clear in your next attempt to criticize him.
With regard to the "travel" of PT-35-- once again-- it was the sharing of information which led to the solution of this case. If the fragment had remained behind in Scotland, never shared, it would possibly be unidentified today. No one would ever have discovered it was a piece of one of 20 timers given to Libyan intelligence. It is clear no one ever attempted to "cover" that up-- I freely admitted it in my book, Mr. Henderson stated such in his precognition and I again said so to Mr. Levy. My "confusion" at Arlington last December over whether it had come to the US or not, was due more to the tone of the question, the setting and the allegation I may have lied to him when he first interviewed me. Unlike Mr. Megrahi, I do not tell lies when it comes to the evidence in this case. I said it right when Mr. Levy first interviewed me. We had nothing to hide because we did the right thing and there has never, never, never been one scintilla of proof that PT-35 was altered or changed in any way.
I was a bit disappointed that you chose to end your "treatise" using the vulgar quote from Ian Ferguson. I guess I expected better from someone who is involved in politics.
I would hope that in the future you cover "all" the facts when you write concerning Lockerbie.
2. From Frank Duggan to Richard Marquise, copied to Mark Hirst and Robert Black, dated 22 November
We greatly appreciate your continuing to present the facts to Mr. Hirst, Ms. Grahame, Prof. Black, Gareth Pearce and the rest of the shameless band of conspiracy mavens. They are no worse than holocaust deniers, who will not accept the facts before their faces.
Thanks for your continued efforts on behalf of 270 innocent souls murdered by Mr. Megrahi and his state sponsors of terrorism.
3. From Mark Hirst to Richard Marquise and Frank Duggan, copied to Robert Black, dated 23 November
I am at somewhat of a loss as to know where to begin as it is becoming increasingly apparent that there is a huge intellectual void between us. You talk freely of "facts" yet seem utterly incapable of critically examining the facts that have come to light since the trial and indeed re-examine the supposed facts that were led during it.
I note, with some despondency, that US Governmental control of the doctrinal system may make it ultimately impossible for you to accept and consider the realities in this case and that American culture encourages an ideology that "hates" to lose and therefore it is extremely difficult for you to consider, even if you consciously knew it, that you may be entirely wrong.
Mr Duggan, it is apparent to me from your blatant right wing political agenda that your grasp of what facts there are is extremely limited. For information, unlike the United States of America, both my grandfathers fought for three consecutive the perpetrators of the holocaust before the US woke up to the danger of aggressive imperialist fascism, the same type of imperial cultural and political fascism which appears to be an integral part of US foreign policy today.
I suspect (although I have yet to see any evidence!) that at some base level both you and Mr Marquise are aware of the facts in this case, which is presumably why you have both consistently endeavoured to lower the arguments surrounding this case to concentrating on character assassination and failed to argue the substantive points in the case or answer the core questions at its heart.
Mr Duggan, despite what you may think, you clearly do not represent the 270 innocent souls who were murdered in December 1988, a fact that I fear has completely eluded you.
Turning to your comments Mr Marquise. I have been generous with you in the past and have stated to those I have met and discussed this with, including the Justice Minister at the time of the trial and others, that you may not have actively tried to deceive and that you simply reached the wrong conclusions on the limited evidence available and due to the enforced timescales imposed to secure an indictment. However it is clear that you have and are involved in a propaganda campaign to defend the conviction. I understand why on a personal level you would wish to do that. Your entire professional career and reputation and that of Henderson and other senior legal people here in Scotland depend on maintaining this unsafe conviction. That personal stake in this case has blinded you and those you have helped indoctrinate into ignoring the substantive pieces of information and evidence that has come to light since the kangaroo court proceedings in Holland.
I am willing to accept that there was a slackness in the investigation (in terms of failure to follow correct procedure), certainly in the Scottish police aspect of the case, because at that time no one seriously believed Libya would ever surrender the two accused. I can only imagine the sense of panic that ensued when it became evident that the Megrahi and Fhimah were prepared to come before what they were told, and believed would be a fair court process.
You seem to be trapped by the illusion that our certainty in Megrahi’s innocence is based solely on us meeting him in person and not by the conclusions of the SCCRC report, the discussions we have had with police officers involved in the case and very senior figures inside the Scottish legal system who are as appalled as us with the outcome of the investigation and conviction of an innocent man, whilst the real perpetrators go unpunished.
Regarding the cash reward received by witnesses I can only say if they were motivated by a civic or moral duty why would they need the money? In fact why would they actively seek financial reward, as you must know was the case? Another fact obscured by your visceral hatred of those who seek to objectively and critically examine the case you presented.
You claim that no money was ever offered or promised before trial. Presumably you mean "was never offered by the FBI" as you must know that money was discussed at length by US intelligence. I thought it was "us" who were the "deniers"?
You imply that I am behind the allegations that Mr Thurman is not properly qualified. That is not the case. It was the FBI’s Fred Whitehurst who makes that assertion although I appreciate it will not be a comforting experience to have fellow Americans undermine the determined indoctrination process you are involved with.
As I have previously stated I coincidentally worked as a Quality Inspector for the world’s biggest PCB manufacturer in the world, ironically a US owned company. I therefore happen to know a little about circuit boards. Having recently read the court transcript the identification of PT35 was done purely on a visual comparison of a complete board which the CIA happened to have and which Thurman acquired. As I have previously stated the board was NOT manufactured by MEBO, but by Thuring AG and then sold to MEBO to be "populated". I have made the point before, and this is evident in the court transcript, that there are design characteristics on PT35 which yes, could be present on a complete MST13 timer, but, which the Court failed to consider, equally present on any number of other circuits produced by Thuring. That is not just my view but a view shared by people I know who still work in the industry and presumably why none of the 55 PCB companies visited by investigators was able to give a categorical identification of the fragment before Thurman’s "miraculous" (I am being generous) ID in Washington.
As you have stated Mr Marquise, without PT35 there would be no indictment, let alone a conviction so this and the other serious questions regarding PT35 are significant. Incidentally you previously took me to task over whether the MST13 timers were sold or simply "given" to Libya and stated, as "fact", that they were "given" and not sold. If you would like I am happy to send you a recorded interview conducted in 2000 with your associate Robert Muller, who I believe runs the FBI today. He makes it clear then that the timers were "sold". Perhaps a conference call may be required to get your stories straight before you begin lecturing others on what constitutes "fact" and what does not.
I am sorry you took offence at the "vulgar" quote I used from Ian Ferguson. It seemed to fit the vulgar outcome of the manner in which this investigation and trial were conducted and underscore the sheer scale of the huge miscarriage of justice that has taken place. In that context I believe there are other more substantive and relevant apologies to be made.
As you are aware, I and many others (including those inside the US and UK intelligence services) hold the view that Iran was responsible for this attack. Our narrative of the crime which led to the murder of 270 people over Lockerbie is based on our belief that Iran carried out the attack in revenge for the terrorist atrocity which the US carried out against Iran when they shot down Flight 655, five months before Lockerbie.
As you will see later today, we are now calling for an international inquiry to be established to examine the broader context that led to the Pan Am 103 attack and which, if we lived in a non-hypocritical, fair and just world, would hopefully lead to the conviction of those who are really responsible for Pan Am 103 and those officers and crew who illegally entered Iranian waters and blew up 290 innocent victims on the Iranian flight five months before. These are two interrelated terrorist acts in which the perpetrators, on both sides, have yet to face justice.
I appreciate the real sense of angst that many US families will have regarding the Megrahi release and those who believe, as I do, that he is innocent of this crime. They have been, as one US family member told me "lied to from the outset by our own government and others". I understand too that the American sense of "justice" is very much based on the concept of an eye for an eye and why, therefore, it would be very difficult for Americans to accept the revenge attack which Iran sponsored in retaliation for the murder of 290 of their citizens. I also understand why, Mr Marquise, you are so passionate to defend your reputation in the face of facts that existed during the investigation and which have emerged subsequently. That is an entirely understandable human reaction.
As you must surely appreciate by now, this is not an issue that is going to slip away quietly. Because the real perpetrators have yet to face justice, it shouldn’t be allowed to.
It may be comforting for you, Mr Duggan in particular, to hide behind his metaphoric redoubt and sling entirely inappropriate comment at those who are challenging the official version of events that has been fed to you over the years. The holocaust comparison you make directed at me is presumably an attempt to align those of us who believe Iran was responsible for the attack on Pan Am 103 to the abhorrent comments of the current President of Iran who is on record as a holocaust denier. What a vulgar irony that truly is.
Given, Mr Marquise, you are blind copying in other people to your correspondence between us you will have no particular objection to Professor Black reporting this exchange on his blog?
4. From Frank Duggan to Mark Hirst, copied to Richard Marquise and Robert Black, dated 24 November
There is no intellectual void. It would be helpful to your advocacy if you would explain Mr. Megrahi's actions in Malta and elsewhere, as brought out in the court's decision concerning his guilt. Stating that there were other reasonable, legal explanations for his carrying a false passport and lying about it is not helpful. These are facts that you "seem utterly incapable of critically examining."
5. From Mark Hirst to Frank Duggan, copied to Richard Marquise and Robert Black, dated 25 November
I suspect this exchange could continue forever and with no resolution between our differing views. I think this issue has been debated many times, but I don't see how inverting the burden of proof really assists the case being made against Megrahi. There are any number of unrelated reasons (unrelated to the crime) that would explain why Megrahi could have been carrying a diplomatic coded passport and these are already in the public domain. It was for the Crown to demonstrate these issues were directly connected to the crime, not for Megrahi or anyone else to explain what other possible reasons he may have had for carrying such a passport or other business he may, or may not have had in Malta. I understand that some of Megrahi's own children were also carrying coded diplomatic passports. Were these children involved in the crime also?
The independent SCCRC has concluded that there are very serious issues around the identification by Gauci, not just the millions of dollars he and his brother solicited and received from the CIA. Without the identification there is no case against Megrahi. The fact that the three judges appear to have misdirected themselves by coming up with their own narrative of the crime, which differed significantly from the one the Crown presented, is somewhat of a red herring in terms of defending the conviction being the "considered conclusion of a Scottish court", with the implication that they did not make a monumental legal error in doing so. You must at least know that.
Yourself and Mr Marquise continually attempt to dismiss critical examination of the case as the work of "conspiracy theorists" and appear to believe, without foundation, there is some kind of active conspiracy between myself, Ms Grahame, Professor Black, Dr Swire, John Pilger, Professor Chomsky, Nelson Mandela, Hans Kochler, Ian Ferguson, Gareth Pierce, Gideon Levy, Bob Baer, Fred Whitehurst and many others (including, most likely the SCCRC) who have looked at this case. Clearly the wide range of individuals, most, if not all, with exemplary professional credentials (despite your attempts at character assassination) demonstrates that beyond the three trial judges there remains, and is likely to remain, very serious doubts over the safety of this conviction and the manner in which the investigation was conducted.
That is one fact that I am confident we can both agree on.