Wednesday, 21 March 2012

What the SCCRC should have asked the FBI

[This is the heading over an item posted today by John Ashton on his Megrahi: You are my Jury website.  It reads as follows:]

On 18 March Scotland on Sunday ran an article headlined Megrahi probe ‘failed to speak to FBI agents’, which reported criticisms of the SCCRC by FBI officers Oliver ‘Buck’ Revell and Richard Marquise. [RB: See here and here.]

It states:  Oliver “Buck” Revell, the former associate deputy director of investigations for the Federal Bureau of Investigations, has reacted angrily to the examination into the case by the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission (SCCRC). In an e-mail seen by Scotland on Sunday, Revell expressed frustration that no-one from the FBI was consulted by the SCCRC when it compiled its report into the safety of Megrahi’s conviction … In his e-mail to government and legal officials in Scotland and the US, Revell complained that the SCCRC failed to interview members of the FBI for its Statement of Reasons. The e-mail pointed out that the original Lockerbie investigation was carried out by Scottish police, Scotland Yard, the German BKA and the FBI. Revell added: “I don’t know what the SCCRC expects to determine when it is not even interviewing the actual investigators involved in solving this terrible crime.”
Marquise said:  “I don’t know if you can say you have done a comprehensive report unless you speak to key people. To me it is an incomplete report whatever they are going to publish. They never did speak to the people who might be able to shed some light on whatever it is that they were looking to find out. If you are going to say you have done a complete investigation, you should talk to everybody who was key, and I like to think people in the FBI were key. I like to think some people in the CIA were key and they could and should have been interviewed.”
While neither man shed any light on what the FBI investigators could have told the commission, we might infer from their comments that the Bureau held further evidence of Abdelbaset’s guilt. Of course, it almost certainly didn’t, because any such evidence would have been handed to the Crown.
That said, I share Revell’s and Marquise’s disappointment that the SCCRC failed to interview anyone from the FBI, as many important questions remain unanswered. For example:
1. What did FBI agent John Hosinski discuss with Tony Gauci when he met him alone on 2 October 1989?
2. What did Senegalese official Jean Collin reveal when interviewed in the US in December 1990?
3. Was the content of Collin’s interview revealed to the Scottish police? And, if not, why not?
4. Why did the FBI’s Tom Thurman ‘front’ for the CIA in relation to the identification of the timer fragment?
5. According to FBI agent Hal Hendershott, Thurman had a laboratory in Lockerbie within days of the bombing. What forensic work did he undertake and was that work shared with the Scottish investigators?
6.When, in June 1990, Thurman demonstrated to the Scottish police that PT/35b matched the control sample MST-13 timer, why did he not reveal that he was already aware that the timers were made by Mebo?
7. Why was Hendershot aware of the contents of the Toshiba manual fragment PK/689 before it was examined for the Scottish police at RARDE?
8. Why was the FBI able to investigate debris item PI/1389 (a blue T-shirt, which, according to the FBI’s Bonn legal attache David Keyes, showed blast damage and the imprint of the grills of two radio speakers) before RARDE?
9. What information did Hendershot, Thurman and Bob Howen uncover in relation to the crystals used in the MST-13 timers? In particular, were they able to establish the date of manufacture of the crystal used in the control sample timer K-1, which was recovered from Togo and which Thurman used for comparative purposes with the fragment PT/35b?
10. Regarding the episode at Frankfurt airport, witnessed by FBI agent Lawrence Whittaker and DI Watson McAteer, in which a baggage handler apparently entered a bag into the automated transit system without recording the transaction, why was Whittaker’s trial testimony at odds with McAteer’s statement S3743A?
11. How many FBI FD302 reports by Lockerbie field agents were handed to the Crown? (Only a handful were provided to the defence.)
12. The US Department of Justice has stated that only three reports were produced in relation to the FBI’s inquiries in Malta. Given the centrality of Malta to the case, why were there so few?
Perhaps Mr Revell and Mr Marquise can answer these questions.
The article is also notable for the following quote by Marquise:  “On the issue of witnesses being paid, no witness [was paid] to my knowledge. What some police officer or FBI agent might have told somebody in the corner in a dark room in the middle night that I don’t know about, I can’t vouch for that. But everybody that worked for me were under orders that they were not allowed to tell people that they could get money for this case. So, as far as I know, nobody was promised or paid money to testify.”

The SCCRC report states, at paragraph 23.19:  Enquiries with D&G [Dumfries and Galloway Police] have established that, some time after the conclusion of the applicant’s appeal against conviction, Anthony and Paul Gauci were each paid sums of money under the “Rewards for Justice” programme administered by the US Department of State. Under that programme the US Secretary of State was initially authorised to offer rewards of up to $5m for information leading to the arrest or conviction of persons involved in acts of terrorism against US persons or property worldwide. The upper limit on such payments was increased by legislation passed in the US in 2001.
According to DCI Harry Bell’s diary, on 28 September 1989, FBI agent Chris Murray told Bell that he (Murray): ‘had the authority to arrange unlimited money for Tony Gauci and relocation is available. Murray states that he could arrange $10,000 immediately.’  Murray would not have said these things unless he believed that the offer might have been put to Gauci, yet, according to Marquise, “everybody that worked for me were under orders that they were not allowed to tell people that they could get money for this case.” So, was Murray acting against Marquise’s orders? And, if so will he be held to account? Again, maybe Marquise and Revell can enlighten us.

[The commentary on this issue in Scottish lawyers' magazine The Firm can be read here.]

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