[This is the headline over an article by specialist writer on Middle East affairs, Linda Heard, recently published on the Arab News website. It reads in part:]
It seems to me that people in the highest echelons of the US government have nothing better to do than sit around hoping that the so-called “Lockerbie bomber” Abdel Baset Al-Megrahi will either keel over and die or spend his dying days behind bars.
Leading the revenge brigade is President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, who would surely be better employed fixing the economy or working toward getting out of Afghanistan.
Such high level preoccupation with the fate of one lingering cancer sufferer is not only petty but somehow vulgar. It’s the kind of thing one might expect from a crazed, egotistical dictator rather than the leaders of the free world and especially those who profess to be Christians when at the core of that religion is forgiveness. (...)
Equally nauseating is the way that America’s trans-Atlantic self-ascribed “junior partner” Britain is dancing to the White House’s tune by threatening Libya not to celebrate the first anniversary of Al-Megrahi’s homecoming. It really isn’t Britain’s business to tell another sovereign nation how it should behave. In truth, nobody in Libya believes Al-Megrahi committed the crime and I don’t blame them. The evidence against him was so flimsy as to be almost nonexistent and he has always vehemently denied any culpability. Moreover, there is a wealth of international legal opinion that believes his conviction by a panel of three Scottish judges is unsafe.
To most Libyans, Al-Megrahi is a patriot who willingly sacrificed his personal liberty to allow his country to re-join the international community. As far as they are concerned he is an innocent man who deserves their respect and thanks. Libya has long paid its dues. It was forced into taking responsibility for Lockerbie to free itself from UN sanctions, US trade sanctions and to gain access to funds frozen in American banks. It also sought its removal from the list of terrorist sponsoring states.
It went the extra mile toward acceptance by paying families of Lockerbie victims $10 million each and dismantling its advanced nuclear program so that it could be officially declared free of WMD. Yet, Libya still hasn’t been fully embraced into the fold and won’t be as long as Washington continues to bleat about the past when it has committed crimes against Libya that tend to be forgotten.
On April 14th, 1986, President Ronald Reagan ordered a strike on Libya that killed President Muammar Qaddafi’s 15-month-old adopted daughter Hanna along with 45 officials and 15 civilians. American bombs also injured two of the Libyan leader’s sons. That attack was loudly condemned in the UN General Assembly as “a violation of the UN Charter and international law.” Obama and Clinton might wish to reflect on that before they adopt their next holier than thou positions.
British Prime Minister David Cameron has already made it crystal clear that he does not approve of Al-Megrahi’s release on compassionate grounds when he should be supporting the Scottish decision that implemented in strict accordance with that country’s compassionate laws. If the doctor who believed that the Libyan had no more than three months to live got it wrong, so be it. Predicting how long an ill person might live is an inexact science yet the US media is spending an inordinate amount of column inches bashing Scotland’s justice minister and the doctor’s report which led him to take his decision.
My American friends should understand that justice in Scotland is a far cry from the hang ‘em high mentality prevalent in some US states or the lurid death row in Texas that was dubbed by the Texas Observer as “the most active human abattoir in North America.” (...)
If the White House and the Senate are seriously seeking justice instead of regurgitating the reasons behind Al-Megrahi’s release, they should institute a new enquiry into Lockerbie, which is exactly what Al-Megrahi — and many of the British Lockerbie victims’ families — wanted during all those years in his cell. Ah! But there isn’t a hope in hell that they would ever consider that when the truth and details of the way it was covered up could prove so embarrassing. If there was anything sinister behind the Libyan’s release as Americans claim, keeping inconvenient truth under wraps could well be it.