Saturday, 7 September 2013

Outrageous behavior: bogus bluster from bigwigs hides Lockerbie truth

[This is the title of an article by Chris Floyd published exactly four years ago on the website Empire Burlesque: High Crimes and Low Comedy in the American Imperium. It reads as follows:]

If you need more proof that we are living in a masquerade, in a world of sham, show and deceit, in a veritable -- dare we say it? -- empire burlesque, look no further than the recent manufactured "scandal" over the release of Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi, the man convicted of the bombing of PanAm 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, in December 1988.

Al-Megrahi, who is dying, was released on "compassionate grounds" by the Scottish government last week, and returned to a hero's welcome in his native land of Libya. As soon as he was freed, we heard howls of outrage from Washington: how could such a heinous killer be allowed to walk free? There were stern words from the UK government in London, which pretended that it had nothing to do with the Scots' decision. There was ponderous talk from various punditti about a breach in the "special relationship," even of boycotts of British goods.

All of this -- every bit of it -- was just shoddy theatrics, a puppet show for the rubes. You can bet that every single official trumpeting their moral outrage at al-Megrahi's release knew the truth of the matter: he was not released because he was dying, but because the slow-turning wheels of his appeals process was about to force the release of hundreds of pages of damning documents that would confirm, yet again, that he had been, as the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission put it, the victim of a "miscarriage of justice" -- a frame job by the US and UK governments which has been covered up, in admirable bipartisan fashion, for years.

Why did they frame al-Megrahi, when they knew the real instigators of the bombing? Because they needed the support of the instigators to launch the wanton slaughterfest known as "Desert Storm."

John Pilger and William Blum lay out the details. First Pilger:

‘No one in authority has had the guts to state the truth about the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 above the Scottish village of Lockerbie on 21 December 1988 in which 270 people were killed. The governments in England and Scotland in effect blackmailed Megrahi into dropping his appeal as a condition of his immediate release. Of course there were oil and arms deals under way with Libya; but had Megrahi proceeded with his appeal, some 600 pages of new and deliberately suppressed evidence would have set the seal on his innocence and given us more than a glimpse of how and why he was stitched up for the benefit of "strategic interests."

‘"The endgame came down to damage limitation," said the former CIA officer Robert Baer, who took part in the original investigation, "because the evidence amassed by [Megrahi's] appeal is explosive and extremely damning to the system of justice." New witnesses would show that it was impossible for Megrahi to have bought clothes that were found in the wreckage of the Pan Am aircraft – he was convicted on the word of a Maltese shopowner who claimed to have sold him the clothes, then gave a false description of him in 19 separate statements and even failed to recognize him in the courtroom....

‘Megrahi was convicted by three Scottish judges sitting in a courtroom in "neutral" Holland. There was no jury. One of the few reporters to sit through the long and often farcical proceedings was the late Paul Foot, whose landmark investigation in Private Eye exposed it as a cacophony of blunders, deceptions and lies: a whitewash.

‘...Foot reported that most of the staff of the US embassy in Moscow who had reserved seats on Pan Am flights from Frankfurt canceled their bookings when they were alerted by US intelligence that a terrorist attack was planned. He named Margaret Thatcher the "architect" of the cover-up after revealing that she killed the independent inquiry her transport secretary Cecil Parkinson had promised the Lockerbie families; and in a phone call to President George Bush Sr on 11 January 1990, she agreed to "low-key" the disaster after their intelligence services had reported "beyond doubt" that the Lockerbie bomb had been placed by a Palestinian group contracted by Tehran as a reprisal for the shooting down of an Iranian airliner by a US warship in Iranian territorial waters. Among the 290 dead were 66 children. In 1990, the ship’s captain was awarded the Legion of Merit by Bush Sr "for exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding service as commanding officer."

‘Perversely, when Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait in 1991, Bush needed Iran’s support as he built a "coalition" to expel his wayward client from an American oil colony. The only country that defied Bush and backed Iraq was Libya. "Like lazy and overfed fish," wrote Foot, "the British media jumped to the bait. In almost unanimous chorus, they engaged in furious vilification and op-ed warmongering against Libya." The framing of Libya for the Lockerbie crime was inevitable. Since then, a US defense intelligence agency report, obtained under Freedom of Information, has confirmed these truths and identified the likely bomber; it was to be centerpiece of Megrahi’s defense.

‘And that is the crux of the matter, and the reason for the release. The Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission had referred the case for appeal. The intelligence agency reports would have been forced into the open by a new hearing. No one wanted that. The sacred "continuity" of the militarist oligarchies in America and Britain would have been shaken if the truth of how they really operate -- regardless of which party is in office -- came out.’

Here's Blum:

‘President Obama said that the jubilant welcome Megrahi received was "highly objectionable". His White House spokesman Robert Gibbs added that the welcoming scenes in Libya were "outrageous and disgusting". British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said he was "angry and repulsed", while his foreign secretary, David Miliband, termed the celebratory images "deeply upsetting." Miliband warned: "How the Libyan government handles itself in the next few days will be very significant in the way the world views Libya's reentry into the civilized community of nations."

‘Ah yes, "the civilized community of nations", that place we so often hear about but so seldom get to actually see. American officials, British officials, and Scottish officials know that Megrahi is innocent. They know that Iran financed the PFLP-GC, a Palestinian group, to carry out the bombing with the cooperation of Syria, in retaliation for the American naval ship, the Vincennes, shooting down an Iranian passenger plane in July of the same year, which took the lives of more people than did the 103 bombing. And it should be pointed out that the Vincennes captain, plus the officer in command of air warfare, and the crew were all awarded medals or ribbons afterward. No one in the US government or media found this objectionable or outrageous, or disgusting or repulsive. The United States has always insisted that the shooting down of the Iranian plane was an "accident". Why then give awards to those responsible?

‘Today's oh-so-civilized officials have known of Megrahi's innocence since 1989. The Scottish judges who found Megrahi guilty know he's innocent. They admit as much in their written final opinion. The Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission, which investigated Megrahi's trial, knows it. They stated in 2007 that they had uncovered six separate grounds for believing the conviction may have been a miscarriage of justice, clearing the way for him to file a new appeal of his case.  The evidence for all this is considerable. And most importantly, there is no evidence that Megrahi was involved in the act of terror.

‘The first step of the alleged crime, sine qua non — loading the bomb into a suitcase at the Malta airport — for this there was no witness, no video, no document, no fingerprints, nothing to tie Megrahi to the particular brown Samsonite suitcase, no past history of terrorism, no forensic evidence of any kind linking him to such an act.

‘And the court admitted it: "The absence of any explanation of the method by which the primary suitcase might have been placed on board KM180 [Air Malta to Frankfurt] is a major difficulty for the Crown case."

‘The scenario implicating Iran, Syria, and the PFLP-GC was the Original Official Version, endorsed by the US, UK, Scotland, even West Germany — guaranteed, sworn to, scout's honor, case closed — until the buildup to the Gulf War came along in 1990 and the support of Iran and Syria was needed for the broad Middle East coalition the United States was readying for the ouster of Iraq's troops from Kuwait. Washington was also anxious to achieve the release of American hostages held in Lebanon by groups close to Iran. Thus it was that the scurrying sound of backtracking could be heard in the corridors of the White House. Suddenly, in October 1990, there was a New Official Version: it was Libya — the Arab state least supportive of the US build-up to the Gulf War and the sanctions imposed against Iraq — that was behind the bombing after all, declared Washington.

‘The two Libyans were formally indicted in the US and Scotland on Nov 14, 1991. Within the next 20 days, the remaining four American hostages were released in Lebanon along with the most prominent British hostage, Terry Waite.’

They overlooked hundreds of innocent people killed in a covert terrorist attack in revenge for hundreds of other innocent people killed in a celebrated, decorated state terrorist attack in order to ensure that they could kill thousands of innocent people in a pointless war to preserve the fortunes of the Bush family business partners and Western favorites, the repressive, undemocratic tyrants of Kuwait, who were having a financial and territorial dispute with the repressive, undemocratic tyrant of Iraq, who until he threatened the Bush partners had been a favorite of the West. This is the corrupt, blood-soaked reality that lies behind the trumpery of the "respectable" world.

You know what? Barack Obama was right, after all. The whole thing is a damnable "outrage."


  1. The Captain of the Vincennes was awarded military honours to avoid the shameful publicity of a court martial.

    And despite the Iranian rhetoric calling for revenge for IR655, the matter was settled in court with US compensation to the victims’ families.

    Also to claim Lockerbie was revenge for IR655, misunderstands that revenge is only revenge if those responsible claim responsibility.

    Therefore the idea that a ‘Syrian backed Palestinian group funded by Iran’, was responsible for Lockerbie is far-fetched, but is repeated because it sits neatly within the neo-con narrative of ‘the West versus the Muslims’.

  2. "And despite the Iranian rhetoric calling for revenge for IR655, the matter was settled in court with US compensation to the victims’ families."

    Yes, in 1996. Isn't it a bit hard to imagine that the settlement would have any influence on thirst for revenge in '88?

    "Also to claim Lockerbie was revenge for IR655, misunderstands that revenge is only revenge if those responsible claim responsibility."

    First, it looks like you, based on the semantics of the word 'revenge' discard the Iran-Lockerbie theory.

    And while I admit that I am not an native English speaker, I can't for the life of me imagine that correct using of the word 'revenge' should have anything to with whether something has been admitted or not.

    You really have your arguments in order for the conclusion, don't you:

    "Therefore the idea that a ‘Syrian backed Palestinian group funded by Iran’, was responsible for Lockerbie is far-fetched, but is repeated because it sits neatly within the neo-con narrative of ‘the West versus the Muslims’."

    Did you say "far-fetched"? Thanks for making my day! :-)

  3. The Vincennes was one incident in Iran’s 10 year war with Iraq (Iraq supported by everyone), that had resulted in over a million casualties.

    Therefore the idea that Iran would single out IR655 for anonymous revenge is far-fetched, because in a war you are fighting back all the time and have plenty of reasons to do so.

    And an anonymous attack is not revenge, because an avenger wants the public credit for settling scores.

  4. No dictionary that I am aware of (and I have now consulted three) limits the meaning of 'revenge' to attacks for which responsibility is publicly claimed.

  5. Yes the dictionary is more precise and I would agree that an avenger in a personal feud would not think it wise to publicly admit to a crime.

    But in the context of a terrible war the Iranian’s publicly said they would avenge IR655 and unless they announced when this has been achieved then no one would know it had.

    The fact is in a war people are avenging all the time in all sorts of ways in any way they can.

    Therefore to conclude a far-away anonymous 'attack' on Pan Am 103 is revenge for IR655 is just a lazy but convenient example of 2x2 = 5.

  6. I do not know whether Iran, through the PFLP-GC, was responsible for the destruction of Pan Am 103. But the evidence cannot be dismissed as cavalierly as Dave does. See

  7. 2 + 2 does equal 5, for sufficiently large values of 2.

    The superficial explanation is often wrong.

  8. "But in the context of a terrible war the Iranian’s publicly said they would avenge IR655 and unless they announced when this has been achieved then no one would know it had."

    You may have gone through a nicer school than me. Bad things happened, e.g. vandalism of bikes.

    Just getting it repaired would be an invitation to have matters continuing. You'd be regarded as "weak". Some were, and they paid very dearly, being on the receiving end of a "How far can you go"-game. There is nothing in this world as merciless as children.

    There was only one way: make the culprit understand that this would cost him too.

    When revenge was taken, everybody had a pretty good idea of why it had happened.
    Even the suspicion or a rumor would be enough. It worked.

    To friends and foes you'd have sent a message. "Don't f... with this guy", I think it would be called nowadays.

    But making a public confession of what you did?

    Unthinkably stupid. In that case the target of your revenge would have the last laugh. For a start your parents would be paying for the repair. You, not him, would be regarded as the bully.

    Your school must have been different. Very happy to hear so.

    - - -

    But try to imagine that you are an Iranian politician, trying to stay in power.
    The country in an uproar. Men, women and children floating in the water.
    You speak about revenge, but nothing happens? If there is one thing nobody wants - in the schoolyard or in politics - it is a leader that lets his followers turn the other cheek.

    Lockerbie will have appeased many Iranians.
    "Somebody (maybe us) made them taste their own medicine." In a war, such a sentiment would have been even more common.

    But _announcing_ that you committed the act, and getting the whole international community against you? Being forced to pay a huge sum?

    THEN, dear Dave, the revenge backfired, and you would stand as a very stupid leader.

    Maybe you also think that if Gadaffy in fact would have been involved, he'd had said "OK, I admit it! We DID put the bomb in the plane!"

    - - -

    Two questions:

    Would you believe that governments around the world would give their support to terror-acts against civilians?

    If the answer is yes, then tell me: just how often do you see such a government saying "We did it, and this is why"?

    I can't recall one single example.
    Neither from my school, nor from international politics.

    And unlike you, that is exactly what I would expect.

    - - -

    Was Iran involved? RB's link shows that there are good reasons for getting that idea.

    Marquise says:

    "I never have said the evidence against Megrahi was direct or overwhelming but there is more evidence to implicate him, and Libya, than there is EVIDENCE to convict Jaffar, Jibril, Dalkamoni, Iran, Syria, etc. … All we had with them is lots of "intelligence," but no EVIDENCE. I cannot make that point more strenuously.
    [Libya,Megrahi] is the only direction the EVIDENCE flowed."

    Evidence may "flow", but most of the time it comes as a result of what you have decided to look for.

    Will we also one day hear from D&G police that "there is no evidence that the existence of the timer fragment is a result of foul play"?

    We also recall that "no evidence" linked the PANAM 103 bombing to the break-in in Heathrow.

    Right. Keeping the affair secret for a decade wouldn't have helped, would it?

    Mr. Marquise must know the phrase "Turning a blind eye".

    We Danes do for sure.

  9. SM

    Calling for revenge for IR655 is only natural, but whether Iran would actually do so or how is a different matter, because they needed to consider its impact on the war.

    Would bombing a US civilian airliner above Scotland help the war effort, or would it be a propaganda gift to their enemies and incite a direct US attack on Iran?

    Now of course you could say ‘yes they did it but never admitted it’.

    But the idea that a plot by a ‘Syrian backed Palestinian group funded by Iran’ could hold that secret, from confession and the world’s intelligence agencies is far-fetched.

    And it assumes that US would agree to collude with this rather than welcome any excuse to condemn Iran - considering they have been at war with Iran since the fall of the Shah, if not before.

  10. If we cast our minds back to 1988-90, we remember that during that time the UK and US authorities were in no serious doubt that the bombing had been carried out to Iran's instructions. Job done, really. No necessity at all to make a public claim of responsibility, and lots of reasons for not doing that as SM has pointed out.

    Well over two years after the event, the US authorities decided to change their minds about who they were going to say was responsible, at a time when it was politically expedient for them to do that. So what?

    It was way too late in that sense - the objective had already been achieved, from Iran's point of view. The bully's bike had been well and truly thrown in the crusher, and everybody knew who had done it and why.

    That far down the line, with the heat now turning on Libya, sanctions and international opprobrium and so on, would anyone really expect Iran to come out and say, hey, we did it, you know! Not likely. They'd already got what they wanted. The whole thing couldn't have gone better, from their point of view.

    Bully's bike crushed, everyone knows and accepts exactly who did it and why, then more than two years later bully decides to press charges against some other oppressed kid as an extension of the bullying campaign against that individual. Bwahahahaha, basically.

  11. Initially the media was directed by the CIA to blame Iran and they settled on a good catch-all by implying a ‘Syrian backed Palestinian group funded by Iran’ was responsible.

    Except the PFLP-GC was a thoroughly infiltrated organisation and could not hold a secret even if they were prepared to launch such an improbable method of attack.

    Later the CIA blamed Libya!

    But if the CIA is wrong about Libya then they could be wrong about Iran too, or are both guilty?

    Or are they just easy to scapegoat due to the on-going conflict in the Middle-East, whereas blaming Israel would be denounced as crazy!

    Not that I believe any of them was responsible, but it shows how the neo-con media can turn hostility towards ‘Arabs/Muslims’ into guilt for Lockerbie and blame some and not others, without evidence.

    And Rolfe confirms this by blaming Iran without any evidence other than ‘they had a motive’ and from studying some blast damaged clothing that wouldn’t have survived the ‘bomb suitcase’.

    And this speculation and the phoney investigation followed the initial failure to hold a public enquiry that would have revealed the truth.

    Which presumably is why it was not held?

  12. There is a great deal more evidence against Iran than "some blast-damaged clothing". In fact the blast-damaged clothing doesn't implicate anyone in particular since we have no idea who bought it.

  13. Dave wrote:
    "And Rolfe confirms this by blaming Iran without any evidence other than..."

    One of the few things I feel pretty sure about in this world is that Rolfe doesn't.

    All we can say is that Iran qualifies as one of the hotter suspect, as candidates with a fresh strong motive always do.

    "Blaming" means something like "assuming guilty" and there is simply far from enough evidence in this case to make any such assumption. I find it very unlikely that we will ever get such evidence.

    Too many years have been wasted, by focusing on Libya/Megrahi at a too early stage, and ever since. It would be difficult enough to make progress with proper policework.

    With the laughable (and that is the kind term) efforts demonstrated so far (e.g. timer fragment, trip to Libya, Heathrow break-in), I'd believe there's a much better chance that Santa Claus by accident drops the evidence down RB's chimney, than D&G may come up with anything trustable.

  14. I think the time of the explosion, and the IED being a small-ish hunk of Semtex hidden inside a ghetto-blaster, point pretty strongly to the bomb itself being the work of Marwan Khreesat. These guys have their own signature methods, and that was his. He was making these devices wholesale in October 1988, and we know that for a fact.

    Beyond that, who knows, really. We do know Khreesat was working with the Neuss PFLP-GC at that time, and we know about $10 million was transferred to that group by the Iranians a few days after Lockerbie - or we know it to a certain degree of certainty, given that this wasn't brought out in court.

    I think it's a reasonable assumption that Iran was behind this and used the PFLP-GC to do the dirty work. Pending better information pointing elsewhere, that is.

    I don't blame "focussing on Libya/Megrahi at a too early stage" for this mess. They didn't focus on Libya until the autumn of 1990, or on Megrahi until the spring of 1991. They should have solved this well before that. During 1989, when the case should have been sewn up, they were indeed focussing on Jibril and his gang of thugs.

    I blame the focus on the feeder flight, which started almost immediately. Despite a shed-load of evidence pointing to Heathrow, Heathrow was only followed up half-heartedly, more as a box-ticking exercise than anything.

    If you are looking for the right perpetrators in the wrong place, you won't find them. You have two options. You can look for someone else, or you can start looking in the right place. The Lockerbie investigators picked the wrong one.