Thursday, 29 July 2010

Money and US politics conspire in bid to link BP with Megrahi

[This is the headline over a column in today's edition of The Scotsman by commentator George Kerevan. It reads in part:]

Why has the mighty US Senate Foreign Relations Committee decided to open investigations into BP and the compassionate release of Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi? Why did it demand the appearance of Kenny MacAskill, BP chief executive Tony Hayward, Jack Straw and even David Cameron for questioning?

Actually, the mighty US Senate Foreign Relations Committee is not particularly interested in this subject. What happened is that a couple of Democratic members of the committee, Robert Menendez of New Jersey and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, asked the chairman, ex-presidential candidate John Kerry, if they could hold a single day's hearings as a publicity stunt. The patrician Kerry agreed as a favour.

It should be no surprise that Senate Democrats are giving BP a public kicking and trying to stage television-friendly Senate hearings on the emotive subject of Megrahi. For November sees crucial midterm elections in which the Democrats are predicted to do badly. The latest polls suggest they will lose seven Senate seats, 30 House seats and ten governorships.

Four Democratic senators are pushing the implausible allegation that BP and the former Labour government influenced Kenny MacAskill to let Megrahi go. As well as Menendez and Gillibrand, the quartet includes Charles Schumer, from New York, and Frank Lautenberg, from New Jersey.

Only a third of the Senate is up for re-election but, crucially, that includes both New York seats, which explains why Schumer and Gillibrand are being so outspoken. Also, the New York State upper house is under threat from the Republicans. Ditto in New Jersey, where the Republicans won the governorship last year.

Who are these four senators and what is their personal agenda? [There then follows a lengthy exploration of the murky backgrounds of the four. The article concludes:]

I commiserate with those families who lost loved ones in the Lockerbie massacre. Rather than playing political games for election purposes, I think there should be a genuine inquiry into who really did the bombing. Perhaps the US and British governments would like to open their secret files and tell us what they know.

[The website of USA Today contains an editorial headed "Our view on Lockerbie bomber: The terrorist who didn't die leaves a trail of red faces" and a condensed version of Alex Salmond's letter to Senator John Kerry under the heading "Opposing view on Lockerbie bomber: A good-faith decision".]


  1. As Senator Menenedez is of Cuban descent and virulently anti-Castro I wonder what his views are on the USA's refusal to extradite the terrorist and former CIA man Luis Posada Carriles to stand trial in Venezuela for his role in the bombing of Cubanair Flight 455?

    (see the section "Luis Posada Carriles and Cubanair Flight 455" in my article Lockerbie - Criminal Justice or War By Other Means part III of The Masonic Verses at

  2. As a consultant, I frequently ran training courses for clients on how to be an effective lobbyist. One of the exercises involved a role play, where participants were asked to act as a cabinet, balancing one costly policy against another. Each participant played one member of the cabinet, with a brief describing their background, political leanings, allies, etc.

    The scenario was set up quite elaborately, to make the participants think that they would make erudite arguments for and against each policy and form political alliances and make trade-offs. They would make an erudite decision about the public good, and justify their thinking.

    In fact what happened was within ten minutes, the discussion came down to 'what would play best with the voting public’. Not once did needs or public good enter into it. I guarantee that happened every time – in fact, it was the purpose of the exercise. It taught participants that politicians will do, first and foremost, what makes them look good to their constituents. Everything other consideration is secondary.

    Companies like BP, or indeed any other corporation, have little power with directly elected individuals simply because they provide money but not votes. Businesses know this equally well.

    If you look objectively at what these senators have done, it makes perfect political sense they will be happy that they have done (for themselves) a good job. They have created a spurious argument on a populist issue, solely to make themselves look tough. They have also managed, at least for a domestic audience, to make it look like BP and the UK and Scottish Governments are scared to speak. No one is interested in what they did not ask Blair, or indeed Gaddafi, to testify in their kangaroo hearing. They never expected it, they never wanted it, it was all just posing for the benefit of a local electorate.

  3. If the explosion had happened 150 seconds earlier (all other things being equal except the different territorial jurisdiction) Al Megrahi would have been released as part of the PTA agreement (assumption from Trefgarne lobbying: politics + commerce >> judicial interests) I'll bet now, Mandelson, Straw and Blair are so grateful for those 2 minutes and 30 seconds.

  4. That USA Today article is annoying. I see they take comments, but I rather suspect that anyone logging in to point out that not only did Megrahi not do it, he was deliberately framed by the US Department of Justice no less, would be deleted as a crank conspiracy theorist.

  5. Actually, Rolfe, check the comments again.:)

    CJM:Excellently put. I couldn't agree more.

  6. Kerevan gives some interesting detail on Senators Gillibrand, Menendez and Schumer but says hardly anything about Senator Lautenberg.

    Frank Lautenberg knew exactly what he was doing on 12 July 2010 when he wrote his letter about Lockerbie, Libya and BP to Senators John Kerry, D-Mass, and Richard Lugar, R-Ind, the co-chairmen of the Foreign Relations Committee.

    Then on 24 July 2010 he wrote 'pleading' with the Scottish government to reconsider its decision not to send officials to today's (postponed) Senate hearing into the release of the 'Lockerbie bomber'.

    Lest we forget, Senator Lautenberg was a member of the shadowy President's Commission on Aviation Security and Terrorism (PCAST). The PCAST team leader was Ann Korologos, former US Secretary of Labor, and its special adviser was the FBI's Oliver 'Buck' Revell.

    When the seven PCAST members met a group of British PA103 relatives at the U.S. embassy in London on 12 February 1990, one of them whispered to Lockerbie relative Martin Cadman: "Your government and ours know exactly what happened. But they're never going to tell."

    Mrs Korologos' Facebook friend Frank Duggan was involved with PCAST and is currently president of the American relatives' group VPAF103, Inc (although he is not a Lockerbie relative and knows very little about the disaster - see George Galloway and Frank Duggan discuss Lockerbie).

    Rather than engaging in further political posturing or wasting their time navel gazing about Mr Megrahi and BP oil deals with Libya at the behest of Senator Lautenberg, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee would be much better employed discussing and investigating the targeting of Bernt Carlsson on Pan Am Flight 103.

  7. Lest we forget, Senator Lautenberg was a member of the shadowy President's Commission on Aviation Security and Terrorism (PCAST). The PCAST team leader was Ann Korologos, former US Secretary of Labor, and its special adviser was the FBI's Oliver 'Buck' Revell.

    When the seven PCAST members met a group of British PA103 relatives at the U.S. embassy in London on 12 February 1990, one of them whispered to Lockerbie relative Martin Cadman: "Your government and ours know exactly what happened. But they're never going to tell."

    OK, you've got my attention Patrick. Was that senator actually a member of the committee at that date? If so, my original suspicion that these guys had no idea at all they were stirring up matters the authorities of the time might prefer should remain undisturbed, was wide of the mark.

    What the hell is he playing at?

  8. For Lautenberg:

    For a passage in the PCAST report about the possibility of tampering at Heathrow:

  9. Hello Rolfe, I was thinking you meant Lautenberg and membership of the Commission.

    As far as the Committee goes, Lautenberg isn´t currently on it - of the four, only Gillibrand and Menendez are.

    I can´t see anything about him having been a member in the past.

  10. Now I'm even more confuzzled.

    Lautenberg is one of the BP-conspiracy senators, currently running around like bulls in china shops. Patrick seems to be saying that he was also a member of this PCAST group in 1990, at the time Martin Cadman was told that it was all a massive cover-up.

    If that's the case, he must know that he's currently stirring up mud that would be best left undisturbed from the US point of view.

  11. So what's he up to? I thought this was just grandstanding, at election time. A bunch of redneck Yank politicos stirring up something they knew nothing about, just to look active for their constituents.

    But from what you're saying, Lautenberg is no redneck on this subject. He should know there's a lot more below the surface here. So why is he stirring it? The more this goes on, the more people are prompted to look at the evidence, and the more people realise they're persecuting the wrong man. Why is he doing this?

  12. Most interesting. I am glad that everyone who blogs here recognises that Martin cadman, who I claim as a friend is utterly precise and accurate in his recollection.

    Everyone else is just marketing. While I am sure Martin's recollection is correct, no-one is quite certain who said the notorious comment to him, though it may have been a senator.

    Also we don't know what particularly lie that man had been primed with by his gocernment. I think it highly unlikely he was told anything like the truth (Iran plus US, Pasdaran and the CIA) and he may only have been told of some development of the PPSF or PFLP GC plot, which I have concluded was an early CIA fiction.

    US politicians are notoriously manipulative fantasists and can look no further than their own re-election. To see that diverse figures as Duggan, Lautenberg and senior CIA officials are involved says to me treat anything said publicly, privately or in any other way by these men like a heap of stinking fish.

  13. While I think Charles's own version of "the truth" is fantastical in the extreme, he makes an important point. Whoever said that to Mr. Cadman may have been under an entirely erroneous impression as to "what really happened". It's not unlikely he was referring to some flavour of the Frankfurt bag-switch theory, as expounded by Juval Aviv and others.

    It's significant in that it illustrates the impression of a cover-up going on at a fairly high level, as early as a year or so after the incident. I wouldn't necessarily take it to mean that the governments really did know "exactly what happened" - only that the speaker (and probably others) thought they did.

  14. And I think I agreed with you.

    Don't you know it's impolite to keep repeating someone's real name when they post under a different handle, even if they haven't made any great secret of it?

  15. Please sir...what does impolite mean?

  16. Just to clarify:

    Thanks Patrick, I understood fine and thanks for the information.

    Rolfe, my first post answered the question,

    "Was that senator actually a member of the committee at that date?",

    assuming you really meant "commission".

    The second answered the question literally.

  17. No it didn´t, you stupid fool! What are you, a troll? It took the question literally and failed to answer it!

  18. ?????????

    I may still be confused, but I'm not trolling.

    I've now had the opportunity to follow the links you posted. I didn't know that document was available, so thank you very much.

    I see the commission reported in May 1990, which is still very early in the investigation. It's before there was any identification of Megrahi as a suspect, and although it was after the identification of the assumed unaccompanied bag on KM180, there's no relevant mention of Malta at all. The main theory still seems to be the Frankfurt introduction idea.

    I'm guessing perhaps Lautenberg didn't keep up with the details of hte investigation, merely credited the official US explanation, but still considers himself an expert. That could explain why he's playing this game now - if he really has no idea what was pulled, or the heap of ordure that could be brought to the surface if he keeps stirring the way he's doing.

  19. Dear Rolfe,

    I´m very sorry if those remarks looked like they were directed at you, rather than myself.

    I meant them as a joke correcting the previous sentence I´d posted, which had overstated my helpfulness.

    Perhaps because I was thinking about correcting that sentence, I didn´t realise that "you" might be ambiguous in the context.

    I very much appreciate you and other people contributing here for the sake of justice. Having read many of your comments on this blog and some contributions on JREF, I wouldn´t think of saying, even as a joke, that you were saying things you didn´t believe or trying to wind people up.

    I also appreciate that you´ve taken the trouble to read things I´ve written.

    Best wishes,


  20. "They have also managed, at least for a domestic audience, to make it look like BP and the UK and Scottish Governments are scared to speak."

    I'm sorry, I disagree with this statement entirely. The Americans have succeeded in making themselves look like fools, no more than that. They have certainly not made it look as if anyone in the UK is afraid to speak. Far from it: they have been soundly put in their place and reminded that the US has no jurisdiction here and therefore no right whatsoever to set up hearings and issue what amount to summons-type invitations to UK and Scottish politicians to attend them.

    They also prove, if anyone is in any doubt, that no one does blatant dishonesty quite like the United States of America. And the extent of the dishonesty over Lockerbie is deplorable even by their standards.

  21. I would add that many are indeed interested in what they did not ask Blair and in the fact that the announcement that he would be asked to attend was hastily altered. Blair was THE architect of the PTA which was to be the route to getting Megrahi home. And the fact the Americans KNOW this yet don't wish to speak to him speaks volumes.

  22. Dear Matt,

    It's OK, I rather thought you were merely castigating yourself, I was just a little unsure. I was very grateful to you for that link.

    Jo, having engaged with Americans on internet forums, I have been quite amazed by their combination of insularity and self-righteousness. And that's the ones who actually engage with international conversation.