Sunday, 13 April 2014

US-Scottish relations and the Megrahi release

[A very interesting and perceptive article headlined US remains a wild card in Scottish independence vote appears today on the website of The Washington Post. Perhaps inevitably, it contains a few sentences referring to the release of Abdelbaset Megrahi, which read as follows:]

Still, Scottish nationalists have been careful not to antagonize Washington. Salmond visited the United States this past week and carried with him assurances that Scotland would remain a close US ally even after independence.

That is not a foregone conclusion. Scottish authorities deeply angered Washington in 2009 by releasing a Libyan national, Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi, who had been convicted of the 1988 bombing of a Pan Am flight over Lockerbie. At the time of his release, Scottish authorities said he was near death from cancer. But he lived three more years.

[It is perhaps instructive (or perhaps not) that Megrahi is referred to as having been convicted of the bombing, rather than as “the Lockerbie bomber”. In any event, as senior officials of the Gaddafi regime assured me at the time of submission of the applications for prisoner transfer and compassionate release, the US government (which was vigorously seeking to normalise relations with the regime) was relaxed about repatriation though, for US public consumption, it would have to huff and puff.]


  1. Yes. It has now become evident that the subtle adjustment in the nomenclature used to describe Megrahi's relationship to the bombing has come to pass in articles and publications about the case released since the fall of Ghaddafi. Interesting. We are making progress towards a full and complete accounting of what really happened in December 1988. Unfortunately, I think we may be as much as 15-20 years away from an official U.S. or UK admission of error in the choice of suspects, let alone a new theory for the bomb's trajectory finally being embraced once the oft-ridiculed and since-discredited argument (surely never taken seriously by all of the red robed jurists) that convicted an innocent man of this enormous conspiracy is finally dispensed with.

  2. I think "the only man convicted of the Lockerbie bombing" has been a common form of words for a long time. Not necessarily indicating openness to the idea that he didn't do it, but because it was never envisaged that it was a one-man operation. Also, Megrahi was never convicted of actually putting the bomb on the plane, but only of being mixed up in it somehow. An accessory.

    I know I sound like a broken record on this, but the forensic evidence of the damaged suitcases proves that the bomb was in the suitcase seen at Heathrow before the feeder flight landed. Right now they're all procrastinating like mad to avoid having to face up to this but they can't keep that up forever and I don't think they can keep it up for 15 or 20 years.

    Given that the bomb went on at Heathrow and was never anywhere near Malta, and Megrahi was on Malta and later in Tripoli that day, they're going to have to change their attitude at some point. I think five years, maybe, counting the year they've been ignoring it already.

  3. "I know I sound like a broken record ..."

    Most things written here are based on statements and elements repeated numerous times, and that is how it has to be.

    Keep the broken record running, as the beat in the symphony of your thoughts. The alternative is incomprehensible music or none at all.

  4. “Assurances that Scotland would remain a close US ally”!

    Means Megrahi’s early release was the act of a close ally and wouldn’t have been done if the US was against!

    And the term compassionate release was invoked and misused 'as spin' to get US/UK and Scottish governments off the long awaited appeal hook.

  5. Mmm. Not actually going to argue with that.