[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".]