Monday, 4 July 2011

US wants Lockerbie bomb deal

[Yesterday's Mail on Sunday story has been picked up in a report in today's edition of The Sun. It reads as follows:]

America wants Libyan rebels to capture the Lockerbie bomber two years after he was freed - so he can face justice in the States, it was claimed yesterday.

The secret deal between President Barack Obama and Libyan rebel leaders would see Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, 59, detained by opposition troops and then handed to US Special Forces.

Americans and families of the plane bomber's victims were outraged after the Scottish Government freed him on "compassionate grounds". He seemingly only had three months to live with cancer.

That decision sparked worldwide fury. Now Mr Obama wants Megrahi to face trial in the US in exchange for continued US support of Libyan rebel forces.

A White House insider yesterday said: "If he's found guilty here, he faces life in jail without parole." [RB: I would be interested to learn on what legal basis the White House insider believes that Megrahi could be tried again in the United States.]

Megrahi bombed a Heathrow to New York flight above Lockerbie in 1988, killing 270.

He is said to be living in good conditions in Tripoli.

Meanwhile, Libya's rebel leader Mustafa Abdel Jalil - Colonel Gaddafi's ex justice minister - said the Mad Dog could retire peacefully on Libyan soil if he quits and agrees to international supervision.


  1. I find these reports incredibly disturbing, and I'm surprised nobody else is commenting. It may be that it's nothing but bluster, as we suspect our own authorities' threats to re-try Fhimah are, but if it's more than that it's frightening.

    Megrahi is Scotland's prisoner, released on licence as I understand it. He is obliged to maintain contact with the authorities in Scotland as a condition of his release, and he has been doing this. He is not permitted to move house without permission. The USA agreed to his trial at Zeist, and (as I understand it) to be bound by the outcome.

    So what we have here is a threat to abduct a man who is subject to Scottish jurisdiction, and who has not broken the terms of his release, and re-try him all over again for the same offence he was already found guilty of. This is mind-boggling.

    As for any re-trial - are the US authorities unaware of the enormous flaws in the evidence against Megrahi? Or are they so confident in their ability to run a show trial at least as irrational as the one at Zeist, to get another unwarranted conviction?

    Or do they realise that although his condition has improved, Megrahi certainly has aggressive prostate cancer, and would be unlikely to survive in the US prison system long enough for a trial to take place? One of the reasons for the three-month prognosis originally was Megrahi's poor mental state in trying to cope with the cancer while in jail in a distant foreign country. Well, Greenock prison is likely to resemble a holiday camp in comparison to US prisons.

    This is really, really disturbing and I'd welcome an opinion that it's nothing but bluster.

  2. Incidentals within the established judicial process such as habeas corpus, legal representations, charges alleged, evidence and trial by jury haven't been issues that concern a Government that initiates and upholds places such as the Guantanamo Bay concentration camp, foments unlawful invasions of sovereign nations resulting in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians and celebrates summary executions.

    Where one might ordinarily find no legal basis, they find no legal requirement nor obligation.

    I agree, I too find these articles extremely concerning, but even more disturbing is my sense and feeling that the suggestions made are entirely conceivable.

  3. Indeed, how rude of me not to wish happy independence day to all Americans.

    Although this hasn't been overlooked in Britain as I see they are erecting a statue of someone in London who armed the Iranians, funded Islamist terrorist groups in Afghanistan, doubled the US' deficit during his presidential incumbency and starred in several mediocre Westerns in the early 1950s.

    Not too mention his administrations involvement and subsequent lies, cover up and determination not to apologise or seek any accountability, of the whole Iranian airbus IR655 shootdown which killed 290 people, and which may have in itself sealed the fate of those who boarded Pan Am 103 on December 21st 1988.

  4. I find this very strange indeed. To the Libyan people Megrahi is a hero; he also comes from a large and important tribe. I'm very, very doubtful if they would agree to send him to America.

  5. I imagine that would depend on how the tribal factions are polarising in the current civil war.

    Part of what disturbs me about this is that the more I examine the evidence in the case, the more I'm inclined to believe Megrahi's own explanation of what he was doing on 20th/21st December 1988. That he was never anything more than a wheeler-dealer for the Gadaffi regime who was given a passport in a false name simply to enable him to wheel and deal more effectively. I see no evidence that he was ever any sort of "secret service agent" in the way we would normally understand that term, or that he was involved with other evil enterprises.

    I'm extremely troubled that our country should have ruined a man's life on nothing more than a reasonable suspicion that in the end turned out to be baseless.

  6. When I see stuff like this, I become enraged and utterly depressed at yet more support (if that is what it turns out to be) for Kubrick's: “The great nations have always acted like gangsters, and the small nations like prostitutes.” Even if it is bluster, there is a message contained in what the Mail and the Sun are publishing insofar as they seem to be saying that they would like nothing better than to fill their pages with more 'daring heroics' of 'extraordinarily just rendition' (nudge, nudge lads) as the evil bomber gets what he deserves. Oh, and don't forget the photographs too! It is despicable and it has been said here before, however, I can't help but feel that if this did happen, many in government on this side of The Pond would simply turn the other cheek. If the US administration is giving this a high priority, and frankly, I am not so sure that they are (sometimes they seem to, sometimes they don't), I suspect the easiest weapon of choice would not be a kidnapping but a missile. I hesitate to say 'smart'.

    The whole thing disgusts me to the marrow. We are dealing with someone whose guilt is so patently in doubt and yet we simply cannot resist manipulating his position by continuing to victimise him for the sake of our blatant political expediency.

    This must be bitterly galling for those legal professionals who devote their lives to attempting to refine and improve the structures and functioning of the justice systems that society uses to interact and cohere with only to see a bunch of gangsters ride roughshod over it all.

  7. These are the commentators' reactions so far: "disturbing, extremely concerning, very strange indeed, extremely troubled, enraged, utterly depressed and bitterly galling."

    Eddie ventured to say: "Not to mention [the Reagan] administration's involvement and subsequent lies, cover up and determination not to apologise or seek any accountability, of the whole Iranian airbus IR655 shootdown which killed 290 people, and which may have in itself sealed the fate of those who boarded Pan Am 103 on December 21st 1988."

    Which raises the question: was there a Lockerbie conspiracy by Thatcher and Reagan?

    On 2 December 2010, in a video conference link to staff and students at the London School of Economics, Libya's leader Muammar al-Gaddafi alleged that the case against Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi had 'been fabricated and created by' Britain's former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, Baroness Thatcher and former US President Ronald Reagan. Gaddafi even suggested that US Central Intelligence Agency officials had been behind the 21 December 1988 Lockerbie bombing in which 270 people were killed.

    "These are the people who created this conspiracy" said Gaddafi, referring to the alleged role of Thatcher and Reagan in Megrahi's conviction and life sentence over the attack on Pan Am Flight 103.

    Just three months after Gaddafi's address to the LSE, Cameron, Sarkozy and Obama were declaring war on Libya!

  8. The problem for me is that, if it is true that Thatcher and Reagan were behind it, where is Gadaffi's evidence? And why doesn't he just tell us how it was done?
    I don't think Megrahi did it but I don't think any of the terrorist organisations who are often blamed did it either. These groups are too "leaky" and the story would have slowly come out as their members and "sub-contractors" fell out as they always do.
    Instead there has been very little hard evidence about who did it and how it was done. Frankfurt/Heathrow? Timer/barometer?
    For what its worth, I think it is most likely to have been organised by a very high ranking, freelance, government-backed group in a single, stable nation using only internal operatives and resources.Very tight,very efficient with everyone working on a "need to know" basis.
    And now I'm conscious of sounding like the most paranoid of the internet's conspiracy theorists.

  9. It is an outrageous concept (not to mention one that could backfire on the US) but I think it also shows the ignorance of the persons that have dreamed up any such half-baked plan. Surely it is impossible to retry him in the US and surely once they think this over they would ultimately reject the idea.

    What about Fhimah?

    Is the concept just a negotiating chip with the Rebels to see how pliable they are?

    Is this just Obama or some "White House Insider" speaking without thinking?

    I for one can't place much stock in this report.

  10. The Iran-Contra revelations give some indication of how little President Reagan knew about what was being done in his name.

    I think there is compelling evidence of CIA & MI5 involvement in the bombing, not simply the blindingly obvious motives. Does no-one else think it bizarre that the CIA D/Ops' daughter was a major beneficiary of the creation of the "Libyan solution." Did not Mrs Rimington publicly boast that it was MI5 who "identified the two Libyan culprits"?

  11. When the Libyan business started I commented on the Megrahi matter Rolfe. It worried me from the beginning as rumours were kicking around early on that the US would take Megrahi if they got to him. I said then that the Scottish Government should be commenting on the matter and that the Scottish Justice System should even consider recalling Megrahi until the Libya situation is sorted.

    We can point to international law of course to warn off the US but since when have they taken any notice of it? Megrahi is out on licence and he is Scotland's prisoner still. He has also been tried here in Scotland and is not America's prisoner to try again.

    The other thing is that if the US took Megrahi, illegally, Cameron and the UK government would say damn all about it and the Scottish Government would be talking to no one in particular with no clout internationally.

    We can speculate that it is all just bluster but the situation is, as you say, disturbing. The Scottish Government and our Justice System should be speaking publicly now about these rumours and making it clear that the US will have no business threatening anything against Megrahi.

  12. I've now written to Mr Salmond and Mr MacAskill for their response to articles such as this. We'll see what they say.