Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Wishing someone’s death is ghoulish

[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.


  1. "If there was anything sinister behind the Libyan’s release as Americans claim, keeping inconvenient truth under wraps could well be it."

    Yep, and the UK did as it was told during the original investigation while those who judged the trial, incredibly, seemed to do the same and reached a verdict very much at odds with the "evidence" on which they had based their decision.

  2. I have the deepest respect for Mr Megrahi and understand the terrible suffering he went through. I also understand the enormous frustration he must feel now in not having had the choice to continue with his appeal.

  3. That actually isn't true Ruth. He did have the choice to continue the appeal. He dropped it. The question being asked since is why.

  4. The reasons behind the decision have never been explained. Was he told the appeal had to be dropped in exchange for his release? Yet compassionate release did not require the dropping of the appeal. Why won't he tell us? Why won't he authorise his lawyer to tell us? The lawyer can't tell us without Megrahi's approval.

    We really need to know the answer to the question.

  5. Jo G,
    He had NO choice. He can't tell us.
    Work it out.

  6. Perhaps if Ms. Heard were to have a gander at some of the beyond goulish photos of those who perished at Lockerbie, which were sent to families she might be inclined to change her tune. Some families didn't even receive a body...just a hand, or a foot.
    Perhaps she hadn't researched enough to know that there were not enoung police staff on hand to collect bodies in one day, meaning that some bodies lay in in the fields of Lockerbie whilst rodents and animals fed on them. Now THAT is goulish.
    I ask each and every one of you to think of your mother, father, brother, sister, child, etc. in one of these photos, or lying in that Lockerbie field over night. Would you not want the perpetrator, dying or not, to spend the rest of his days behind bars?

  7. No Ruth, YOU work it out. He doesn't have to do it himself. He could authorise his lawyer to tell us what happened. He is doing no one any good at all saying nothing least of all those still fighting for justice for him.

  8. Bunntamas, yes, like all those Iranian's your country killed eh? Oh no, they were Iranian, they're vermin anyway, aren't they? They don't count.

  9. Oh and Bunntamas, one small flaw in your final paragraph. Let's by all means get the "perpetrator": that man, however wasn't Megrahi!

  10. Jo G,
    I reiterate he had no choice in giving up his appeal.
    You need to think a little deeper and wider.

  11. Ruth, re your comment to Jo G: "You need to think a little deeper and wider."
    For once, I agree w/ You.
    I for one, refuse to acknowledge Jo G's comments going forward, as, in addition to her nasty and contradictory / litigious remarks, she twists others' comments to fit her own and repeatedly violates Pr. Black's standards for comments. Good luck w/ that, Ruth.
    In the mean time, I'm still laughing about the Megrahi probe snub.

  12. When I said Jo G needs to think deeper and wider I wanted to show her that people can't always do what they want to do. Sometimes they're impeded by others, sometimes they have to take into account the greater good etc. In this case there are obviously very strong political ramifications.

    Jo G is doing a very good job in highlighting the abuse of Megrahi and the victims' families.

    And Bunntamas I don't know if you're paid to do it but why make snide remarks?

  13. Megrahi dropped his appeal. That is most unfortunate, but it is not hard to understand.
    A terminally ill man, having lost all faith in the system, will look for whatever speed up his release.
    He had already faced years and years of a system dragging the case.
    Whether somebody directly said "Drop the appeal, that's the deal" or he just thought (justified without a doubt) that this would help, does not really make a difference.
    He has nothing to explain.

  14. sfm, Megrahi was adamant that his appeal was the REAL lifeline for him: it was the path to proving his innocence.

    No one can even guess at what his thoughts must have been in his awful situation. But the guy looking out for him you would imagine would be his lawyer. He was the one being paid to take on these worries for his client yet just look at what happened?

    I happen to not believe that he just decided to drop it. I think he was coerced and confused but I think the person who should have kept him on track was his lawyer. That's what he was being paid for surely?

    MacAskill claims he was considering the two release routes together when the SNP had already signalled they wouldn't touch the PTA route because of its association with Blair's deal in the desert, linked with trade incidentally.

    He had also spoken to US relatives and they'd already told him that the PTA route offered them the option to legally oppose it. So why claim he was still "considering" it so late in the day when he had effectively already ruled it out?

    It is widely believed MacAskill did the two options at the same time in order to be able convey the message "the appeal has to go". Again, Megrahi's lawyer should have been on top of that and clearly wasn't. And it makes a BIG difference what was said and how it was said sfm because in one of the options the appeal did not have to go.

  15. Ruth thank you. I'm sorry if I was abrupt and was going to post the apology even prior to seeing your last post.