The Quest for American – And British – Justice Over Lockerbie
Below is the full text of my remarks on MSNBC today about the Lockerbie bombing and the appearance is here: http://on.msnbc.com/nQWxEc
It has been repeatedly asserted that the release of the only convicted Lockerbie bomber, Megrahi, has done more to damage British relations with the American general public than anything since the 1956 Suez Crisis.
Scotland has a separate legal system to the rest of the UK and Megrahi was tried under Scottish law in the Netherlands. He was convicted of 270 counts of murder for the 1988 bombing of Pan Am flight 103. The victims included 189 Americans and 43 British citizens.
Megrahi was released by the Scottish to Libya in 2009 on compassionate grounds, supposedly with three months to live. The Scottish obviously made an extremely bad judgment call. Two years later and Megrahi is still alive in Tripoli. Albeit according to the reporter who recently discovered him, appearing to be “at death’s door”.
I would like to take this opportunity to perhaps reiterate to America that there was an utter outcry throughout Britain about Megrahi’s release, not least from our current Prime Minister David Cameron, who was not in power at the time.
Gaddafi’s regime was by no means Britain’s Best Friend. Lockerbie remains the UK’s biggest terrorist atrocity. In 1984 a British police officer, Yvonne Fletcher, was shot and killed while policing a protest outside the Libyan embassy. The diplomats responsible within invoked diplomatic immunity and escaped. The Libyans used to supply arms to the IRA.
So Megrahi’s release was greeted with much disgust in the UK. Those responsible for allowing him to return to Libya continue to claim that it was solely a Scottish legal decision and that there was no conspiracy involved.
That hasn’t stopped some, such as former U.N. ambassador John Bolton, from claiming that Megrahi’s release was for British oil interests. Would the Scots really be manipulated by the English for oil?
Knowing the Scots, I’d venture not. But I will also say this. If you buy into the conspiracy theory that the Megrahi release wasn’t a Scottish legal decision and instead the “British government” made it – I can’t see how the UK, which has beenaccurately described in recent years as America’s “poodle”, would have made the call without the tacit approval of the US government. Blair supposedly had the Bush administration’s when he met with Gaddafi in 2004.
Truth will out in the end. There will eventually be the release of the British, Scottish and American governments classified documents. In the near term the fall of the Gaddafi regime may finally reveal some new evidence. Megrahi’s conviction has been repeatedly called into question and there are undoubtedly other perpetrators of the Lockerbie tragedy still at large.
The Scottish investigation into the bombing has remained open. The British people stand with their American counterparts demanding that the Lockerbie victims’ families and loved ones get the answers they deserve.