Wednesday, 20 July 2011

US ambassador repeats "try Megrahi" nonsense

[An interview with the US ambassador-at-large for war crimes, Stephen Rapp, published today on The Guardian website, contains the following:]

On Libya, the US ambassador-at-large for war crimes issues confirmed that Washington is interested in bringing the former Libyan intelligence officer, Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, to trial for his role in the bombing of Pan Am flight 103 above Lockerbie in 1988.

Megrahi, who was convicted in Scotland, was returned to Libya from the UK on grounds of ill health in 2009.

"The majority of those [on the Pan Am flight] were US citizens and there's a strong interest in the US to achieve justice. It was an act of terror.

"There's jurisdiction in the UK and US over individuals who were involved. I can't speak for the [US] department of justice, but there would be an interest in the US … in continuing the investigation and going beyond Mr Megrahi and determining whether other individuals [were involved]."

[As I have written elsewhere on this blog: "Megrahi has already faced trial and been convicted -- wrongly, in my view -- in a process supported by the United States. He could not be tried again in the USA unless Federal Law were changed to allow it."]

39 comments:

  1. US ambassador-at-large Stephen Rapp would be well advised to note (and inwardly digest) that the CIA 'fitted up' Gaddafi at the United Nations:

    In August 1988, during the US presidential election campaign, Republican candidate Vice-President George Bush Senior declared: "I will never apologise for the United States of America, I don't care what the facts are." His remarks were in response to the US Navy's shooting down in the Persian Gulf of Iran Air Flight 655 on 3 July 1988, killing all 290 civilian passengers and crew on board the aircraft.

    Iran took revenge on 21 December 1988 by sabotaging Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie in Scotland, killing all 259 passengers and crew of the Boeing-747, and 11 residents of Lockerbie. Assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations and UN Commissioner for Namibia, Bernt Carlsson, was the highest profile victim. On 28 December 1988, investigators determined that the aircraft had been brought down by a bomb and suspected that Iran and a Palestinian terrorist group (PFLP-GC) might have been responsible. Vice-President Bush won the 1988 US presidential election easily defeating Democratic Party challenger, Michael Dukakis, who would have branded apartheid South Africa a 'terrorist state', and was sworn in as US President on 20 January 1989. President Bush Sr then began to draw upon his previous experience at the United Nations and at the CIA so as to avoid having to apologise for the US Navy's destruction of the Iranian Airbus.

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  2. MISSION LOCKERBIE, 2011, doc. nr.1462.rtf:

    US ambassador Rapp said: "Megrahi has already faced trial and
    been convicted -- wrongly, in my view...
    So why the files of the 'Scottish Criminal Cases Reappeal Commission (SCCRC) not finally get open ? Coming the Truth on this way (Miscarriage of Justice) for certain people to fast ?

    After all, the Lockerbie case is not simply a historical mystery. It is one of the central reasons why the United States and its NATO allies are insisting that Gaddafi must be removed from power prior to any negotiated settlement of Libya’s ongoing civil war...

    by Edwin and Mahnaz Bollier, MEBO Ltd. Switzerland. URL: www.lockerbie.ch

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  3. There might actually be a new "Lockerbie trial" coming up one day.

    But the accused will not be Megrahi, but the long list of people who bribed witnesses, lied, withheld crucial information for the defense, or failed in their duties.

    The rottenness of our societies goes deep, and is more than underlined by the Murdoch & Co fall from grace.

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  5. Professor Black,

    I have deep respect for you and your position, though I disagree with the latter re:Megrahi.

    I am frankly confused by your quote, "As I have written elsewhere on this blog: 'Megrahi has already faced trial and been convicted -- wrongly, in my view -- in a process supported by the United States. He could not be tried again in the USA unless Federal Law were changed to allow it.'"

    Professor Black, what Federal law would that be? I believe you are mistakenly referring to the "Double Jeopardy" clause of the Fifth Amendment to the US Constitution.

    The relevant clause is, "nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb". An Amendment to the Constitution is a MASSIVE process that has to pass both houses of Congress (by 2/3 majorities), AND requires 2/3 of the states (38 of the 50) to ratify it.

    However, Mr. Al-Megrahi has NEVER been convicted in a US Court. Thus, he is not subject to double jeopardy. (And the US has original jurisdiction for those Americans killed and the fact that Pan Am was a US flagged carrier.)

    The relevant indictment (still open) includes the following:

    United States District Court
    For the District of Columbia

    Holding a Criminal Term


    United States of America

    v.
    ABDELBASSET ALI AL-MEGRAHI,
    A/K/A ABDELBASET ALI MOHAMED,
    A/K/A ABDELBASET ALI MOHAMED AL-MEGRAHI,
    A/K/A "MR.BASET",
    A/K/A AHMED KHALIFA ABUSAMAD;

    LAMEN KHALIFA FHIMA,
    A/K/A AL AMIN KHALIFA FHIMA,
    A/K/A "MR. LAMIN"


    Criminal no.


    Grand Jury Original


    Violations: 18 U.S.C. §§ 371, 32, 34, 844(i), 2331, and 2

    (Conspiracy to Destroy a Civil Aircraft of the United States,
    to Destroy a Vehicle Used in Foreign Commerce by Means of an Explosive,
    to Kill Nationals of the United States,
    Destroying a Civil Aircraft;
    Destroying a Vehicle Used in Commerce by Means of an Explosive;
    Killing Nationals of the United States;
    Aiding and Abetting)
    Al-Megrahi

    So, I would appreciate the insight as to what Federal law requires change and why the US would not hold jurisdiction on the above indictment.

    Kind regards and deepest respect,

    Michael Clarkson

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  6. Sorry, I mispoke. Ratification is required by 3/4 of the 50 states, not 2/3 as I incorrectly stated. The point: It's a massive process and have only been done 27 times since 1789.

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  7. Michael, the United States and the United Kingdom were the two sponsors of the United Nations Security Council resolution that set up the Lockerbie trial at Camp Zeist. That resolution required all member states, including the US and the UK to cooperate in that process and to respect its outcome. The Congress of the United States could pass a law enabling it to ignore the binding international obligation that it thereby undertook. But without such a law no Federal Court could retry Megrahi.

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  8. It's all hot air to appease the masses. I think they know perfectly well that if Megrahi were to be re-imprisoned, he would not live long enough to see the inside of a court-room.

    I can only imagine that they would hope to re-introduce Giaka as a witness and try to make him look credible. Good luck with that. It's about the only thing that could possibly have any incriminatory value, considering that it's perfectly obvious that whoever bought those clothes from Tony Gauci it was not Megrahi, and there was no unaccompanied luggage on KM180 that morning.

    Not to mention the very compelling evidence that the bomb was introduced at Heathrow, while Megrahi was verifiably in Tripoli.

    I think the most appalling thing about this is that what is being proposed is quite blatantly a show trial. I'm appalled that Camp Zeist turned into a show trial, where someone was convicted on risible evidence to appease the politicians and the public, but even there I feel it began in relatively good faith. Now, though, what we're seeing from the Americans is an absolutely bare-faced proposal for a pre-determined guilty verdict.

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  9. Despite the grandstanding the US and UK will avoid a new trial at all costs. Those governments have far more to lose than gain. Imagine if the truth got out (whatever that is)!

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  10. I could make a fair stab at a case for a Frankfurt introduction. My main objection to that is that the case for a Heathrow introduction is really compelling.

    What I cannot do is make any case at all for a Malta introduction.

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  11. Professor Black,

    You are correct regarding the UN Resolution (1192, if I recall correctly).

    However, where I believe there is a misapprehension (and it may very well be mine) is that this is not a treaty action, requiring 2/3 Senate approval to be legally binding upon the USA; it was merely a US policy that was acceded to by the Executive Branch (the President and his designate[s] -- the UN Ambassador). As such, that vote is NOT legally binding upon the US as a matter of US law. It might be as a matter of US POLICY, but not law, as I understand it.

    For example, the criminal charges stand separate. This Federalist, Constitutional approach is why the recent death penalty implementation in Texas of a Mexican national was a policy issue, but not legally impeded, though apparently conflicting with UN practice and/or resolution. (There are other 10th Amendment [States' Rights] issues there, but I digress.)

    Treaties Constitutionally require 2/3 majority approval in the Senate for confirmation and legal encumbrance -- and only upheld if Constitutional. Though the US is a signatory to the UN, the UN resolutions have no effect of law internally to the US (due to the Constitution which is formally the "supreme law of the land"), except as a matter of policy.

    As a matter of law, UN resolutions have no BINDING legal impact inside the US. However, they may have moral or political impact.

    That's why we may agree to subscribe to certain policy (like Kyoto and/or "START II"), but are NOT BOUND by it, as it was not ratified by the Senate.

    So, I believe it is only a matter of policy which precludes the prosecution. Otherwise, the grand jury indictment would be quashed and no longer "alive".

    In short - which I have failed to be so far - this is a live indictment is not impeded in any way, shape or form. That's why I have suggested the best path for Justice for Megrahi is to drive the US prosecution. If the evidence proves to be as poorly constructed as purported, it would be not greater vindication than to embarrass the US in its own courts.

    Kindest regards and deepest respect,

    Michael Clarkson

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  12. You really think that JFM would advocate kidnapping a man with terminal prostate cancer from his home, which he is not permitted to leave by the terms of his release under licence from his Scottish sentence, and transport him to a US prison to be tried again?

    If this was an abstract question of law, then the possibility of a re-trial in the USA might be an interesting one. If any of us had any faith in the US doing anything other than staging a kangaroo court, that is. But this is an actual person you're talking about here, and actual kidnap too.

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  13. @Rolfe - Permit me to respond in two parts: 1) to address the health of Al-Megrahi and 2) to address the legal issues. I appreciate your indulgence.

    I would respectfully disagree about Al-Megrahi's condition, as he has been reportedly "near death" since original reports in Scottish/UK papers as far back as 10/2008. Coincidentally, these near death prognoses appear to strongly correlate to initial release discussions.

    He has been near death (reportedly) most frequently around his release and on the anniversary thereof...and likely will reported as such again in mid-to-late August. If Wm Hill offers the bet on what I am saying, take it. It's a sure thing.

    I suggest the UK adopt Libya's cancer treatments as they appear much more effective than the UK's. Libya is demonstrably much more effective in their oncology regimens.

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  14. @Rolfe - US Kangaroo Court?

    C'mon! Are you serious?!?!

    The US BENDS OVER BACKWARDS to ensure justice is done at every turn. We make mistakes. But we have done much MORE good for the world than bad.

    We came to break the stalemate in WWI (though not our war); we lend-leased equipment and came to Britain's rescue (and the world's) during WWII (though not our war until 12/7/1941 - Pearl Harbor); we THEN offered the Marshall Plan to rebuild Europe from the rubble; we fought the Cold War against the Soviets and won it without a shot being fired; and we now have taken the largest single bludgeoning of the War on Terror (9/11) and have been behind the rollback of global terror networks.

    Is THIS the country which is inclined to ramrod through a conviction? I am saddened if that is what you truly feel.

    Having said that...

    To be direct, there are two approaches that the US takes: 1) criminal and 2) military.

    The Al-Megrahi situation has been treated as a criminal situation, and as such, the US won't resort to "abduction". It will seek legal extradition. Were "extraction" our approach, the US would have forced the Libyan charter plane onto a US base en route when carrying Al-Megrahi in August 2009.

    In a military context, e.g., Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (aka KSM), it is perfectly plausible, consistent and permissible to sequester enemy combatants. The latter doesn't apply here as the "War On Terror" is largely applied as a result of the 9/11 Attacks, and has been limited in scope (largely to Al-Qaeda).

    In the interest of disclosure: I believe Al-Megrahi was rightly (and correctly) convicted, and was NOT the only guilty party and was most likely part of a larger initiative that resides at Qadaffi's doorstep.

    I further believe that Al-Megrahi was released in a confluence of Scotland's own interests (to avoid repaying the £1.4bn in compensation to Libya, were the SCCRC to find the conviction a miscarriage and appeal granted -- which it appears likely to do "soon") conjoining with Westminster's known Libyan oil interests. This compensation issue arose as early as mid to late 2007, if I recall correctly -- in Scottish newspapers, no less!

    After all, if the conviction were seriously in doubt by the Justice Sec'y, he would throw the Scot-Labour prior administration "under the bus" (American saying for sacrificial lamb) and become the biggest hero in Scottish history (for righting wrongs). He isn't doing that. So, I believe he believes that the conviction is sound. And, he has said as much.

    And, why else would all the caterwauling/stalling about the SCCRC release be taking place??? Isn't it going on three years that the SCCRC report has been jammed up?

    And, trust me, if the US were at the root of that, it would have the same effect as throwing Scot-Labour under the bus...elevate MacAskill to a superhero status in throwing the "big, bad USA under the bus". That is not happening either. (And as Professor Black has pointed out, the Scottish Executive has had the power to release that at its leisure.)

    Instead, the Crown says it will re-prosecute Fhimah based on the same evidence that the SCCRC finds (when released) flawed?!?!?

    So, this long posting is meant to share one key concept: Do you really think the US would do a "lynching party" (as it is known in this part of the country)??? Really?

    Your country's legal system found him guilty twice (original conviction and once on prior appeal), yet we'd "hang 'em high"?? And you seriously think we'd kidnap him too?

    I can't believe how people professing the importance of freedom and justice would be so antipathetic toward a country that has done so much to promote it.

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  15. Oh good grief, another "we're Americans and the fount of all virtue" believer. What planet are you on?

    I too have no idea why the SNP government is behaving as it is. I don't leap from that observation to an immediate belief in a suspension of the validity of reason and logic though. And that suspension is what it takes to believe in Megrahi's guilt on the evidence as it is known.

    Can you really look at the photographs, and the discrepancies between Tony Gauci's description of the clothes purchaser and Megrahi, and declare that beyond reasonable doubt, Megrahi bought these clothes? It's ridiculous.

    And what makes you think the bomb was ever anywhere near Malta, let alone travelled on KM180? There isn't the slightest shred of evidence that ever happened, despite a lot of people wasting a lot of time and effort trying to find it.

    But stay in your happy bubble of belief in your national benevolence, and turn away from the evidence that the CIA and the DoJ actively bribed and threatened Giaka in order to bolster up that piss-poor case.

    There's nothing quite like an American prosecutor hell-bent on getting a conviction. There's nothing quite like Americans for self-righteous vengeance and vindictiveness - all the while going on about what great guys the are.

    The people who need throwing under a bus as regards Lockerbie are the BAA and Heathrow airport, who were insulated from serious inquiry about that bomb from the get-go. Pure coincidence set the boys in blue baying off to Malta for no particularly good reason, and it was Megrahi's bad luck to be the suspicious-looking guy who happened to be there at the right time. Meanwhile we can all throw around innuendo about Malta airport security while ignoring two engraved invitations to terrorists a lot nearer home - Heathrow and Frankfurt.

    And if you can't see that, I suggest you go look at the actual evidence again.

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  16. Let me ask the simplest and most relevant question:

    Why is it that Al-Megrahi dropped his appeal?

    It wasn't required for Compassionate Release.

    It now leaves you all (JFM) with really nowhere to go with this in Scotland. Even if the SCCRC report is released (and I doubt it will), where do you go with that?

    That's why I have said: You all should push for the US charges to be pushed forward to exonerate Mr. Al-Megrahi.

    If you are so certain in your position and evidence, what better way to embarrass the evil USA than to make it look like a monkey in its own court system.

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  17. Professor Black,

    I respond here as I did in The Firm.

    So, how does the Supremacy Clause of the US Constitution apply? This clause relates to the supremacy of federal law over the states. Ware v Hyton (1796) is one example of a state statute being nullified by the Treaty of Paris.

    Where Professor Black is wrong - and I confess I am not a lawyer - is that the relevant Supreme Court cases like Reid v Covert, 354 U.S. 1 (1957), is a landmark case in which the United States Supreme Court ruled that the Constitution supersedes international treaties ratified by the United States Senate -- which includes UN Resolutions. It would violate the rights of the American citizens who died to have their rights denied for the prosecution of their murderer -- Al-Megrahi, et al.

    Professor Black is wrong. There are currently active Federal indictments for Al-Megrahi and Fhimah.

    United States District Court
    For the District of Columbia

    Holding a Criminal Term


    United States of America

    v.
    ABDELBASSET ALI AL-MEGRAHI,
    A/K/A ABDELBASET ALI MOHAMED,
    A/K/A ABDELBASET ALI MOHAMED AL-MEGRAHI,
    A/K/A "MR.BASET",
    A/K/A AHMED KHALIFA ABUSAMAD;

    LAMEN KHALIFA FHIMA,
    A/K/A AL AMIN KHALIFA FHIMA,
    A/K/A "MR. LAMIN"


    Criminal no.


    Grand Jury Original


    Violations: 18 U.S.C. §§ 371, 32, 34, 844(i), 2331, and 2

    (Conspiracy to Destroy a Civil Aircraft of the United States,
    to Destroy a Vehicle Used in Foreign Commerce by Means of an Explosive,
    to Kill Nationals of the United States,
    Destroying a Civil Aircraft;
    Destroying a Vehicle Used in Commerce by Means of an Explosive;
    Killing Nationals of the United States;
    Aiding and Abetting)
    Al-Megrahi

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  18. I expanded on my comment at The Firm.

    I would offer that you should consult US Constitutional attorneys on this issue. I immensely respect Professor Black from our many informative discussions - though disagreeing with his assertion that Al-Megrahi is innocent - however, he is not a US Constitutional lawyer.

    The US has original jurisdiction on Pan Am 103, though acceded to a Camp Zeist trial through UN resolution.

    The indictments remain open (as noted) and are Federal charges.

    I might suggest former US Solicitor General Ted Olsen, or US Attorney General Eric Holder as excellent resources.

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  19. Michael, I don't think it really matters that there are US indictments (dating from 1991) in respect of Megrahi and Fhimah. What matters is whether these indictments could today lawfully be brought to trial in a US Federal court. The answer to that question is pretty clearly "No" for the reasons (not just constitutional reasons) given in the blog post that immediately follows the present one.

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  20. Michael, what makes you think anybody's motivation is to "embarrass the evil USA"? Speaking for myself, my motivation is to get my own country to clean up its act and admit it convicted a man on evidence that shouldn't be enough to make a parking ticket stick. Moving on to try to find out who did bomb that plane would be good too. The idea that the lowlifes who killed 270 people got clean away is not one I find comforting.

    The USA's role was hardly pure and honourable either, but this is international politics we're talking. Nobody's hands are ever clean.

    If the USA wanted to try Megrahi in absentia, they could have done it any time these past 20 years (nearly). Why would they want to do it now, when he's legally guilty under Scots law, just as he has been since 2001?

    This is all about wanting to kidnap someone who is Scotland's prisoner, from the place where he is legally bound to remain by the conditions of his release on licence. And the motivation is not justice but revenge, because US citizens who know bugger-all about the details of the case think it's a completely peachy idea to keep a man dying of cancer in jail a thousand miles from home.

    Megrahi seems to be doing well, medically, the last we heard about it. Good for him. Do you think the best doctors on the planet could have got that clinical result with their patient banged up in Greenock jail? No chance. The three-month prognosis was given on the basis of his remaining in jail, and it was probably not that far out. Put him back in jail, and you don't need to be a consultant oncologist to know what would happen.

    I spent a lot of time looking at every photo of Megrahi I could get my hands on, trying to get a feel for how reasonable this whole "resembles the purchaser" thing was. One thing that struck me forcefully was how dreadfully the man changed between 2007 and 2009. The pictures from 2009 are of someone on heavy doses of steroids, and for a 57-year-old he was doing a good impression of an old, old man.

    So "pushing for US charges to be pressed forward" isn't an academic exercise. It's something that has real implications for a real person.

    I don't trust the USA not to run a show trial any more than I trust Scotland not to run a show trial, after Camp Zeist. The interests vested in a guilty verdict are quite overwhelming. It's a naive and frankly silly suggestion.

    And I notice you haven't mentioned your actual reasons for believing Megrahi guilty. Do you think he bought these clothes? How can you support that belief on the basis of the evidence? Do you think the bomb travelled on KM180? What evidence do you have for believing that? If you believe neither, then there is nothing of any substance to connect Megrahi to the atrocity, and in fact his flight from Malta to Tripoli that morning gives him an actual alibi.

    These are the questions that need to be addressed, not why did a dying man who was desperate to get out of jail drop the appeal he didn't think he'd live to see completed, when it was made pretty plain to him that he wouldn't be going anywhere unless he did that.

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  21. Michael

    "However, Mr. Al-Megrahi has NEVER been convicted in a US Court. Thus, he is not subject to double jeopardy. (And the US has original jurisdiction for those Americans killed and the fact that Pan Am was a US flagged carrier.)"

    The US agreed to the trial at Zeist, it handed over "jurisdiction" to a Scottish court. Its citizens accepted compensation from Libya as part of the deal too. THAT is why there was no trial in a US court. The crime happened in Scotland, the trial took place under Scots Law with US approval.

    Megrahi, currently, is a prisoner free on licence only. He is therefore STILL under Scottish jurisdiction as Scotland's prisoner. The US therefore cannot, now, decide to change all earlier agreements which it signed up to just because it suits. (Although obviously we realise it signed up to the Geneva Convention too and then created the abomination known as Guantanamo Bay and changed the term POWs to "illegal combatants to allow detention without trial and torture too!)

    The trial has been held, with US approval, and at the time the outcome was accepted by the US along with the millions of dollars in compensation paid, by Libya, to the families of those who lost loved ones on Flight 103. I believe the UN also was involved in negotiations on compensation to be paid by Libya and signed it off when all deals were agreed and finalised.

    Right now Megrahi remains Scotland's prisoner under Scots Law and International Law. So Professor Black is not wrong. He is absolutely correct. And incidentally an independent body called the Scottish Criminal Case Review Commission went on to find SIX grounds to find that conviction unsafe. So to quote a well known play, there is still Unfinished Business over Lockerbie.

    The various stuff you quote is irrelevant. You could save yourself a lot of time by keeping it simple. When the US wants its own way it doesn't give a toss for any sort of law. Its what the US is famous for. It is THE biggest bully on the planet and that is the reason it is hated by so many. It shoots an airbus out of the sky and kill hundreds of innocent civilians and what does it do? It gives the guy who led THAT terrorist act a medal!

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  22. "I can't believe how people professing the importance of freedom and justice would be so antipathetic toward a country that has done so much to promote it."

    Tell it to Palestine
    Tell it to Iraq

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  23. @Professor Black - Reid v Covert nullifies your position.

    I will make you either a gentleman's bet or bet you £50 to the winner's favorite charity, if permissible under law.

    The bet is simple: I say that the US has the legal right to prosecute Al-Megrahi. You say it doesn't.

    The Supremacy Clause relates to the preemption that Federal law has over State law. The case law surrounding it, relates mostly to conflicts between taxes/property rights subsequent to the revolution. However, the modern interpretation extends to the concept that the US is a Federal republic and not a Confederacy (as it was originally organized prior to the Constitution).

    Reid v Covert - from 1957 - unequivocally reinforces that NO treaty or executive policy action may supersede the Constitution...and, again, reinforces that the Constitution is the Supreme Law of the Land.

    I am happy to mutually agree to a neutral arbiter.

    Are you game? I am happy to equally publicly apologize on this blog if I am wrong about the US being allowed to prosecute Al-Megrahi.

    Michael Clarkson

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  24. @Professor Black

    I neglected to add, that I expect you to equally publicly correct the errors I believe you made.

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  25. The US being "allowed" to prosecute Megrahi, is not quite the point. The US does as it damn well pleases, as we have all seen.

    In practical terms, who would stop it?

    I view the prospect of Megrahi being kidnapped from Tripoli, where he has not breached the terms of his release under Scots law as far as I know, and flown to the USA to languish in jail while people talk about a trial for about as long as we talked about a second appeal, with absolute horror.

    The trouble is the USA is so all-powerful that if it did that, everybody else would simply wring their hands and do nothing. There's nothing so dangerous as an all-powerful bully whose citizens really believe they're promoting freedom and justice and doing good for the world.

    And you still haven't given anyone the slightest clue on what basis you believe Megrahi had anything at all to do with the Lockerbie bombing.

    You make me sick.

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  26. @Rolfe

    I have attempted to have a civil discussion with you and you resort to personal insults?

    I have admired what I believe were your comments many months ago about the discrepancies regarding the Greenock meeting notes on 8/4/09 (Aug 4), 8/5/09 and 8/6/09. I admired them as I had observed the same thing independently.

    I may disagree with you, but I attempt to do so without resorting to personal insults, backed by fact, and/or substantiated (in this instance regarding the prosecution of Al-Megrahi in the USA) with detailed opinions and case law.

    Indeed, I have offered to apologize if I am in error in my assertions here about that prosecution -- though I highly doubt I am wrong.

    I am willing to have an intelligent discussion about the topics on this blog. However, any illnesses should be referred to your primary care physician.

    I would add the following: As a follower of Professor Black, your comments reflect on him as well. The personal insults reflect poorly on Professor Black.

    I only know him through this blog and correspondence outside of here. I believe he is a substantial legal mind. I have learned much from him. I appreciate his position (as it relates to JFM) and passion, though I disagree with the former and fully appreciate the latter. It is humbling to find someone of his repute willing to engage in direct, candid dialogue -- and respecting opinions other than his own.

    So, it would be appropriate to keep in mind that your insults do reflect on Professor Black and tend to undermine not only your credibility, but his.


    Kind regards,

    Michael Clarkson

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  27. Rolfe, why are you failing to state that for the US to do such a thing would be illegal?

    Regardless of their tendency to ignore things like international law you really should state that such a move would indeed be illegal.

    Megrahi is currently Scotland's prisoner, free only on licence. Which means, legally, the US should not remotely be considering going anywhere near him.

    Even if Michael is ignoring legality, tell him.

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  28. Michael, I see you ignored my posts. I'm pleased. It means they bother you or it means you don't have an answer.

    I'm sorry for you and those like you who go through life with this bizarre philosophy that goes along the lines of "I'm American and therefore I can do what I like." I am sorry for others who got in your path because people like me know what you did to them. "I am American and therefore....." What a philosophy! I believe in justice. You believe in something else altogether and that place is somewhere justice will not sit comfortably. All of which makes me a better person than you are.

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  29. "I may disagree with you, but I attempt to do so without resorting to personal insults."

    You don't need personal insults Michael. The very fact that your position starts with, "I am American and therefore.........." is insulting enough to any person who truly believes in that thing we call democracy. You don't do democracy really, do you? You just tend to think that Americans should have the last word on everything. Not a good look, particularly when some of us possess the intelligence to see exactly what all things American have done to the world in the last fifteen years at least.

    I give you a challenge Michael. Imagine if countries of the world had demonstrated demanding "regime change" in the US when the lunatic Bush was in charge. What would that have brought? Yes exactly. Nothing. I rest my case.

    In the late 90s Pakistan's access to nuclear weapons was suspended because of instability in that region. Your man Bush lifted that suspension in order to get airspace and a route into Afghanistan for his first war. And now? Bush is gone, the guys he was in touch with are gone. Pakistan is even more unstable and no one knows who is in charge of those weapons. How smart was that????? I will re-phrase. How reckless was that, to negotiate using nuclear weapons as bait? And you hold up the US as an example to everyone else? You are either brainwashed or sick. I suspect the former.

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  30. Michael

    The Al-Megrahi situation has been treated as a criminal situation, and as such, the US won't resort to "abduction". It will seek legal extradition.

    If the situation in Libya is ever resolved to the point where a stable and legitimate government upholds the rule of law, then Megrahi will never be extradited since he is Scotland's prisoner. That's not to say that if the rebels succeed, and if they feel indebted to the US, they won't hand him over, but in that case it wouldn't be what you and I would call legal.

    I don't believe a show trial is inevitable in that hypothetical situation. Ultimately an American jury would have to decide on the evidence, and given a sufficiently open-minded jury any result is possible, whatever the pressure to convict. It happened over here in the case of Clive Ponting.

    What I'm uncomfortable with in the Ambassador's remarks is the subtext that the purpose of a retrial in the USA is not to establish guilt or innocence, but simply to impose a sentence more in keeping with American feelings.

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  31. Pete

    "if they feel indebted to the US,"

    Are they, then, to set international law aside? That is the question.

    (You also might wonder at why they're "indebted".)

    The "rebels" were championed by Obama and the UK without even knowing who "the rebels" were. Not much comfort to those of us who actually believe in democracy.

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  32. @Pete - I don't pretend to understand compassionate release as Professor Black does.

    We have it here in the US, but it's VERY RARELY applied. (Compassionate Release, Procedures For Implementation 18 USC 3582/4205.)

    And, I concede it's very rarely applied in Scotland. However, there is still comprehensive shock that the single largest, convicted (whether or not you agree with the conviction, he was convicted) mass-murderer in (non-war-crime-related) history would be afforded any type of release.

    Irrespective of him being "Scotland's prisoner", he is still liable to be charged in other jurisdictions under which he falls for his alleged activities. And the USA is one of them...

    People get arrested and tried for a felony in one jurisdiction, get convicted, and then are tried in another. This happened in Virginia and Maryland regarding the DC sniper -- though that is intra-US. He killed people in both jurisdictions, and was subject to trial in both.

    Now, this is slightly different as the argument is offered that he is being tried twice for the same bombing.

    I am not a lawyer (which is three years law school after a bachelor's degree in the US to get a juris doctorate). So, I will defer to the contacts that I shared are being secured in US Constitutional law. These resources are being secured through a contact I have at a global cable news broadcaster.

    So, we'll likely get answers from some of the very people that would either adjudicate or try that case (or others like it).

    Doesn't that sound fair?

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  33. @Jo G - I am attempting to have a specific discussion about a legal issue that Professor Black addressed and I offered a substantiated, disagreement about.

    You, in response, are dredging up political issues that are, frankly, off topic and irrelevant to this situation.

    I get it: You hate the USA. You hate Bush. Noted.

    We all suck and take up too much space on the planet -- does that cover it all?

    So, because I am American, you just assume that I am some prehensile troglodyte that has a barely functioning, room-temperature IQ?

    If that makes you feel better, then so be it.

    I am happy to discuss the legal (Constitutional) issue here. If you find another forum where it's appropriate to dialogue on the policy issues of the US, please invite me to that forum.

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  34. Michael, I assume nothing. Your posts speak for themselves. "I am American and therefore." That very approach is why you are so hated throughout the world.

    I do not hate Americans but I do stand up for justice which is something the US is not famous for doing. (Especially in the Middle East!)

    Take your constitution and ram it where the sun don't shine. Your country signed up to the prosecution of Megrahi and his co-accused being held under Scots Law. It is therefore bound by the outcome. Which means Megrahi is still Scotland's prisooner. Any move made now by the US to snatch him will therefore contravene international law. Those are the facts. And no argument you care to put up will change them.

    Finally I really have no interest in the "policy issues" of the US. I have seen them in action in Afghanistan, Iraq and now Libya and frankly they make me want to throw up.

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  35. Michael

    "And, I concede it's very rarely applied in Scotland. However, there is still comprehensive shock that the single largest, convicted (whether or not you agree with the conviction, he was convicted) mass-murderer in (non-war-crime-related) history would be afforded any type of release. "

    He had an appeal supported, ON SIX GROUNDS, by the Scottish Criminal Case Review Commission.

    ONE OF THOSE GROUNDS WAS THAT YOUR COUNTRY BRIBED A WITNESS WITH MILLIONS OF DOLLARS!!!!

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  36. @Jo G - "Take your constitution and ram it where the sun don't shine." Lovely sentiments.

    On the second post, I agree. I think the SCCRC report should be released, but as Professor Black has said, the SNP have held it up -- isn't that going on 3 years (since 2008, if I recall correctly)? That is not the US's fault.

    I hope the report is released. I hope that someday that the medical records are also released.

    Again, what do you do with that report? The appeal is dropped -- and it was not required.

    I also agree that the whole she-bang should re-opened. That is why I have offered the US should prosecute Al-Megrahi.

    So, we're on the same side there.

    Aside from the unfortunately vile comment in the former posting, you offered a meaningful discussion point.

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  37. Michael, I checked to see what Jo had said that you characterised as "vile". It seems to be her statement that the USA bribed "a witness" with millions of dollars to get Megrahi convicted.

    I think it's vile too. I think it's far more vile than even Jo's entirely accurate comments indicated.

    The USA first of all used a combination of threats and bribes to induce Giaka to testify to a pack of lies that seem to have been directly fed to him by the CIA and/or the DoJ. He didn't do a good enough job, but he still got US citizenship and a new life in the USA under the witness protection programme.

    Then the USA dangled the prospect of millions of dollars under the noses of both Tony and Paul Gauci, making it quite clear that getting this money was contingent on Megrahi being convicted. Tony was pretty unconvincing, but apparently good enough. He got $2 million. Paul, who didn't even testify, got $1 million all for himself. What for? For keeping up Tony's resolve.

    You couldn't make it up.

    The USA got what it wanted, and a bunch of Scottish judges suspended all reason and logic and turned in a guilty verdict. Now it doesn't like what another jurisdiction did ten years later, so it wants to tear up all the agreements, kidnap someone who is legally still Scotland's prisoner, return him to prison even though he is terminally ill, and run a show trial with a pre-determined outcome so they can get to beat up this innocent man some more.

    Yeah, vile just about covers it.

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  38. Oh yes, and you don't like it when I say you make me sick? Too bad.

    This blog has an open comments policy, and I'm allowed to comment just as you are. Do you think that all your comments reflect on Professor Black? Or not, because you don't happen to agree with him?

    I comment on his blog. I happen to agree with him about the Zeist verdict. No doubt I disagree with him about other things. Does that make me a "follower"? Truly, you have a strange world-view.

    You say you admire Professor Black's legal mind. (Does that make you a follower, then?) In that case, you must surely have considered why he believes as he does about the Zeist verdict. He has explained the reasons for his belief many times, lucidly and compellingly.

    And yet you simply brush this aside and say you disagree, without at any point explaining why you disagree. You have been asked to explain, countless times, but all you do is posture about how great America is, and then take offence.

    Do you know what the legal meaning of petitio principii is?

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  39. Michael

    "On the second post, I agree. I think the SCCRC report should be released, but as Professor Black has said, the SNP have held it up -- isn't that going on 3 years (since 2008, if I recall correctly)?"

    Four years. 2007.

    The UK political establishment, the Scottish political establishment and the Scottish Judiciary all held it up. With the approval of the US because they did not want the appeal heard either. They still do not want the truth to emerge, that we convicted an innocent man.

    If I've offended your constitution that's too bad. The US has shown itself to peoples throughout the world to be a country only interested in itself, (and close friends) and a country which does not recognise international law. It is also one which will condone, and fund, state sponsored terrorism as practised by the state of Israel. It has protected Israel repeatedly at the UN when the rest of the world was appalled by Israel's illegal conduct on many occasions in relation to Palestine.

    Your lunatic president, Bush, did insane deals with Pakistan in return for access to their airspace and a route into Afghanistan. What did he use as currency? Nuclear weapons! He is now gone and so are the people he traded with. Pakistan is even more unstable now and we don't even know where those weapons are! He then led the illegal invasion of Iraq. He unleashed a tide of racism across the planet, assisted by another liar, Blair, and consequently made the world a much more dangerous place.

    Your constitution is all about one thing: the right of the USA to do as it likes. Some of us have serious issues with such a position but for me it is your hypocrisy that most offends. For you adopt the position you have taken on this thread and others and throw in the word democracy when it suits. You people don't DO democracy. You don't want to: its just all about you. And that leads people like me to have no respect whatsoever for your beloved constitution. Especially on occasions like this where you employ your constitution to justify ignoring criminal proceedings, which your country signed up to at the time, in order to do the whole thing over again in your country. That is a preposterous position to take when the US took part in original plans and talks regarding that trial and how it would be all be done at the time. There was a trial, a verdict and a conviction. Your people then accepted a compensation package involving millions of dollars and took the money. And now you wave your constitution around and insist you can set all that aside and start over?

    What's wrong Michael? Are you afraid of an Inquiry actually happening which will prove we got the wrong guy? Is that why you want Megrahi back in the States so you can do "justice" the American way? No thanks. The American idea of justice is not shared by those of us who truly believe in justice.

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