[What follows is an item published on this date in 2004 by US historian and writer William Blum on his website:]
“Human kind cannot bear very much reality.” T S Eliot
Last year, Libya “accepted responsibility” for the bombing of Pan Am flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland in 1988. Although even a superficial reading of Libyan statements on the matter made it plain that they were NOT admitting to actually planting the deadly bomb, American and British officials pretended that it was such an admittance; ergo, case closed, the US and the UK had once again seen to it that justice triumphed, Libya will pay compensation to the victims’ families, the US will consider lifting sanctions against Libya, everyone happy.
Then, on February 24, Libya’s prime minister Shokri Ghanem insisted to the BBC that his government’s statements were not an admission of actual guilt. “We thought it was easier for us to buy peace and this is why we agreed to compensation,” he said. “Therefore we said: ‘Let us buy peace, let us put the whole case behind us and let us look forward’.”
Not fair! cried the White House and 10 Downing Street. Libya was not playing the game right. They were cheating. The Bush administration abruptly canceled plans to lift the travel ban and other restrictions on Libya that had been planned (in return for Libya scrapping its nuclear weapons program as well as the Lockerbie issue). “It’s important for Libya to retract these statements,” said the State Department, “and to make clear what their policy is as soon as possible.”
The Libyan prime minister had of course made clear what he thought the truth was, but that was not what the State Department was asking for. They were asking to make the “policy” clear; ie, Are you still playing the game or not?
The head of the UK families organization declared: “We don’t understand the comments by prime minister Ghanem. Nobody knows why he has said this.” The fact that Ghanem simply wanted to inject some truth into the matter and clear Libya’s name apparently was not an option to be considered.
Then, Libya quickly returned to the game, saying it wanted “to set the record straight and be perfectly clear” about its position on the Lockerbie bombing. Its August 2003 statement of accepting responsibility for the plane bombing was still valid. “Recent statements contradicting or casting doubt on these positions are inaccurate and regrettable,” said the Libyan government.
Just as quickly, the State Department, referring to the Libyan statement, announced: “They have done what they needed to do.”