Wednesday, 20 January 2016

"No political or sinister forces were involved" in Lockerbie investigation

[The following are excerpts from two items posted on this blog on this date in 2008. The items can be read here and here:]

(1) On 20 December 2007, Congressional Quarterly published an article by Jeff Stein reporting the burgeoning doubts regarding the safety of the conviction of Abdel Baset Megrahi for the Lockerbie bombing. This is referred to in a posting on this blog on 21 December. Richard A Marquise, who headed the FBI team that investigated the destruction of Pan Am 103 (and author of a book on the subject) has sent me a further article under Jeff Stein's byline in Congressional Quarterly, in which Mr Marquise is quoted expressing his confidence in the integrity of the investigation and the safety of the conviction of Mr Megrahi.

(2) Here is the text of Jeff Stein’s recent article in Congressional Quarterly, as relayed to me by Richard Marquise, to whom I express my appreciation.

‘My Dec 20 column warning that “Libya is close to getting off the hook” for millions of dollars due families who suffered the loss of loved ones in the Pan Am 103 and LaBelle discotheque bombings drew plenty of heat.

‘Some suggested that I had somehow taken Libya’s side by merely reporting on the conclusion of a Scottish criminal commission that a “miscarriage of justice” might have occurred in the Pan Am trial. Critics who support that view point to the early suspicions of U.S. intelligence that an Iranian-back terrorist group, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command, had really downed the airliner (in response to the accidental downing of an Iranian passenger jet by a U.S. Navy ship six months earlier).

‘Critics also denounced my reporting that at least two informants had received million-dollar rewards for providing evidence against the Libyans.

‘One of those who wrote me was the FBI agent in charge of the U.S. side of the PanAm 103 case, retired Special Agent Richard Marquise. After several e-mail exchanges, I invited him to write a critique for publication here. It is reproduced in its entirety below:

“We initially speculated it was the PFLP-GC based on events which had occurred in Germany in late 1988. We went with that premise until the painstaking evidence collection in Scotland (done by police officers not having any political agenda) turned the investigation in a different direction.

“By this time, we had reached an agreement with the CIA and other intelligence agencies to completely share information. With their assistance and the meticulous police investigation, this led to the eventual indictments.

“You quote several sources but Vince Cannistraro [the CIA official in charge of the agency’s investigation of PanAm 103] retired before the evidence began to lead to Libya.

“Your quote ‘more sinister factors were at work in the investigation’ which was attributed to Professor Black and other ‘authoritative sources close to the case’ is taken from people who only know what they believe but have no inside information.

“I can promise you as a 31-year FBI veteran who was proud of my service to America; no sinister forces were ever involved. If you (or anyone) were to speak with Stuart Henderson (the Scottish Senior Investigating Officer) or myself, we would tell you we followed the evidence, the way we were trained and no political or sinister forces were involved. Libya was implicated because of the evidence, not because we wanted to blame someone other than Syrian-backed terrorists.

“Edwin Bollier, the Swiss businessman who made the timer which blew up Pan Am Flight 103, seems to forget he went to a US Embassy in January 1989 after reading in the news that the ‘evidence’ pointed to the PFLP-GC cell in Germany (and therefore to Syria). He left an unsigned note implicating Libya — long before we knew anything about the timer, MEBO or Bollier, as that evidence was not developed until nearly two years would pass.

“Since 1992, Bollier’s story has changed. I would prefer to believe what he told a Swiss magistrate, the FBI and Scottish investigators in 1990 and 1991, not what he is now saying. I was the FBI official who met with Mr. Bollier in Washington, and I can assure you no one offered him (or any other witness for that matter) anything to implicate the Libyan Government.”

Note by RB: I simply wish to record my continuing conviction that the evidence led at the Lockerbie trial was insufficient to establish the guilt of Mr Megrahi (see the first posting on this blog in July 2007); that evidence that pointed in a different direction was suppressed and was not passed on to the defence; and that as a result of the forthcoming appeal necessitated by the (three-year long) investigation and findings of the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission, the unjustifiability of Mr Megrahi’s conviction will be clearly demonstrated.


  1. Marquise and his colleague Buck Revell each emphasised the point that Vincent Cannistraro retired before the forensic evidence linking Libya to Lockerbie was discovered. We might wonder why they draw particular attention to this.

    In fact, the Lockerbie fragment PT/35(b) was found in May 1989 by Dr Thomas Hayes. Cannistraro retired more than a year later, in 1990. These facts can be checked by any independent viewer.

    Among Cannistraro's colleagues on the National Security Committee, of which Cannistraro was a director, were Admiral John Poindexter, Howard Teicher, and James Stark. Stark is on record in a now declassified email to Poindexter, Cannistraro and others regarding the use of trumped up evidence to destabilise the government of Yemen. This might include, offered Stark, manufactured evidence should it prove necessary.

    1. I'm baffled about PT/35b. The composition and manufacture look as if it was a deliberate copy of one of the MST-13 circuit boards, with a tiny discrepancy possibly due to its being a one-off item not made on a production line. But I'm 99% sure that PI/995 fell out of the sky and was really on the plane.

      I struggle badly to see how or when PT/35b might have been introduced into the chain of evidence retrospectively, and how the documentation might have been falsified. The documentation is a mess, but close analysis doesn't show an obvious point of interpolation that makes sense.

      My head hurts.

    2. My deep sympathies! all I am doing is drawing attention to several dots, some of which are now forgotten, some of which are denied. Fact: PT/35(b) has some hallmarks of "one-offmanship" and outside influence. Fact: the head of the CIA team has much blood on his hands from Iran-Contra and was an accomplished liar, proved by his own telexes and emails. Fact: He had around him colleagues also responsible for many deaths, and one of whom proves in his email that manufacture of evidence to bring down a middle eastern government is a recognised weapon in the armory of the White House.

      This might help to explain why Marquise admits in his book Scotbom that the idea that evidence might have been planted actually crossed his mind during the investigation. Also why Fraser mentioned in a conversation with Tam Dalyell the possibility of planted evidence.

      As with almost all the Lockerbie "evidence", we are watching a performance of phantoms and smoke and mirrors. That is as good as it gets, inadequate, puzzling, tempting, infuriating, mysterious.

    3. The vast bulk of the physical evidence picked up from the ground is legit, too. I only have doubts about maybe four specific items. But it's a hell of a job to figure out what was done, if anything. Hayes's notes are a mess but not necessarily a mess that teases out as PT/35b being added at a later stage. I think there's an answer in there but I don't know what it is.

      The rest of the evidence, apart from the small number of items I mentioned, is thankfully on the level. I say thankfully because it's sufficient, and well enough preserved and documented, to show that the bomb came from Heathrow and not from the feeder flight. Not only is that lot unfakeable, nobody would fake evidence that clearly shows the conclusion they mest definitely don't want.

  2. You know what I'm going to say, don't you. "Painstaking evidence collection" for sure. Stellar job. Couldn't be bettered in modern times.

    Absolute and complete foul-up of the interpretation of that evidence.

  3. They must think we are all fools. You carry on Robert with what you are doing and don't be put off by all this criticism of your beliefs. You are right in what you are saying and hopefully you will win out against these people in the end. Its all about OIL in case you hadn't realised, like much of what is going on in the middle east at the moment.

    1. No it is not about oil it was about protecting Boeing as the aircraft was not in a fit flying state to fly as it had exceeded its flying hours by 15'000 hours at the time of the crash.