US Government Preferred Compassionate Release of Lockerbie Bomber

Discussion in 'Politics' started by Jason, Jul 25, 2010.

  1. Jason

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    Story broken by The Sunday Times under the headline "Revealed: US Double-talk on Lockerbie". (subscription access to their on-line site).

    Reported all over the place, eg by the BBC:
    BBC News - Alex Salmond calls for release of Lockerbie files

    The story seems to be that:

    1) Tony Blair's "deal in the desert" advanced Anglo-Libyan relations, including creating the prisoner transfer scheme and advancing British trade interests. And yes BP lobbied - but everyone knows this. This is above-board business practice.

    2) Megrahi was eligible under this agreement for transfer to a Libyan gaol. The letter leaked to the Sunday Times makes it clear that the White House directly lobbied for Megrahi to be released on compassionate grounds rather than transferred to gaol in Libya. Depending on which report you read it is the White House, the President or the USA which did the lobbying for the compassionate release of Megrahi. But if this letter is genuine - and I don't think there is really any doubt - then Obama either directly lobbied for the release on compassionate grounds or allowed others in the US to do the lobbying.

    The US Ambassador to the UK has accepted (on television) that at the present time there is no evidence to link BP with the Megrahi release.
     
  2. Industrialsize

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    "he US ambassador to the UK, Louis Susman, said the US was examining whether its correspondence over the issue could be released but refused to be drawn on the reported memo.. The ambassador added: "It is quite clear that the US government was strongly against the release of Megrahi.
    "We had a mutual understanding with the British government that if he was tried and convicted he would serve his entire sentence in Scotland.
    "The fact that the justice minister made a decision on compassionate grounds to release him was something we were not in favour of.
    "We obviously had conversations with them in which we strongly objected to any type of release."
     
  3. helgaleena

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    Since when is transferring anyone to a Libyan gaol compassionate???

    You leave out the gist of the article, which said Megrahi was preferably to be held in prison, but not in Libyan prison.

    I presume the man has since died anyway of his cancer. It's moot.
     
    #3 helgaleena, Jul 25, 2010
    Last edited: Jul 25, 2010
  4. freyasworld

    freyasworld New Member

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    Again lots of smoke and mirrors, typical political bull....

    the British Government cannot dictate policy to the Scots, it was the Scottish Justice Minister not a British Minister that made the decision.

    Rightly or wrongly is irrelevant, we cannot interfer without disolving the scottish assembly.

    Now as I read it, the deal in the desert, was to try and normalise relations with libyia! Various companies bid for new business, in addition the governments agreed on a prisoner exchange deal, similar to the spy swap, accept any one convicted can serve out their sentences in a prison in their country of origin.
     
  5. ColoradoGuy

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    Wow, you really need to understand more of the facts. He was supposed to have died within 3 months of his release due to his allegedly rapidly advancing prostate cancer... he's alive and kicking, 11 months after the fact. Not a moot point, at all.

    And it wasn't a prison transfer... he received a hero's welcome upon his arrival back in Libya and is happily ensconced in his family home, not a jail.
     
  6. helgaleena

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    Oh then, it was a Libyan decision to do that, not that of any of the injured nations. I too would rally health-wise if not imprisoned.
     
  7. LittleButt

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    OK, I hate to be the bearer of facts in a political discussion but a few minor points here:

    1. He served 9 years of a 20 year sentence before being released.

    2. He has consistently denied having committed the bombings and the Scottish courts have blessed the U.S. government out for falsifying evidence in the case, bribing witnesses and for with-holding evidence from the defence.

    3. He isn't quite "happily ensconced in his family home" at the moment. He is actually in the ICU being treated for end stage cancer in a hospital in Tripoli. His own family is not allowed to see him.

    In short: the U.S. Government took nine years of his life away, isolated him from his family, hid, created and manipulated evidence to convict him and then he gets terminal ass-cancer. Yeah, he really got one over on the United States. Shame on Obama for not getting in his time machine to go and straighten this mess out!
     
  8. ColoradoGuy

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    Look, by saying that the whole thing is moot because of your presumption that he has "died anyway" just invalidates your commentary. Post whatever opinions you have, but don't make suppositions about the politics or rationale of any of the events if you don't follow it closely enough to even know the basic facts.
     
  9. Jason

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    Right now the Scottish government and the UK government seem to be playing ping-pong. I think the following is correct - unless anyone knows better.

    1) The decision to release Megrahi was taken under Scots law, which is and has always been independent of English law. The matter has nothing to do either with the Scottish Assembly or the UK parliament as judiciary and executive are separate - and the Scottish judiciary has existed for three centuries without an independent Scottish executive.

    2) Scotland has no control over its borders - this power rests in its entirety with the UK government. The departure of Megrahi from the UK was something the UK government permitted. There were other options. He could have been re-arrested for a crime committed under English law (something around passing a bomb through London Heathrow airport). Or the UK could have extradited him to the USA.

    My understanding is that both the Scottish judiciary and the UK executive had to act in order to achieve his compassionate release to Libya.

    It is clear that the USA favoured Megrahi staying in Scotland - but within the context of the prisoner exchange negotiated between the UK and Libya this wasn't a possibility. The real options were:
    1) Megrahi serving out his sentence in a Libyan gaol.
    2) The compassionate release of Megrahi.

    The new information - this leaked letter or memo - makes it very clear that the USA actively lobbied for (2). The Scottish court would have taken into consideration the views of the USA (in view of the large number of US nationals killed). The intervention by the USA would have made it much easier for the Scottish court to make a compassionate release - indeed without this intervention it is quite possible that it wouldn't have happened. US intervention would also have encouraged the UK government not to take the extreme step of refusing exit from the UK for a man freed by the Scottish courts.

    The US intervention in the case is likely to have been pivotal. Had the US lobbied for Megrahi to be deported to Libya to continue his sentence there it is quite likely that this view would have prevailed.

    That's my reading - based on the papers today and a barrage of BBC coverage this afternoon.
     
  10. Jason

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    Yes.

    This bothers me. There are all sorts of issues which might suggest that he really is not guilty. Part of his release on compassionate grounds is that he has signed away all rights to challenge the conviction (rights which in theory the Libyan government might have take up even after his death). From a UK point of view this is tidy. Imagine the scenario where the Libyan government managed to produce something which really proved him innocent.
     
  11. helgaleena

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    The OP is discussing politics, not the value of the life of one human who denies his own wrongdoing. I know personally too many wrongfully incarcerated persons right here in the USA to want to even deal with the topic of the culpability of the individual involved. I merely comment on what the OP wishes to do, which is fix blame on one administration or another who have had dealings with an international incident. Don't think the attempt to do so is going to be simple at all.
     
  12. Jason

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    I'm not sure that this political issue is about fixing blame. Rather the political issue as I see it is about saying that the narrative that has been coming out of the USA just doesn't stack up.

    * The idea that BP had anything at all to do with Megrahi's release now seems most unlikely. Indeed the US ambassador to the UK (while hedging somehat) as good as said this. At least he made comments which he must know will be interpreted as US agreement that BP had nothing to do with the release.

    * The written statement that the USA saw compassionate release as preferable to the alternative (prison in Libya) is an interesting new development. The USA has presented itself as horrified by his release. While accepting that compassionate release was the second choice option for the USA, it was also the first choice from among the available choices. Given that the choices were as they were (after the prison transfer agreement was signed) then the USA got what it wanted.

    * If there is criticism it should presumably be directed at Tony Blair's "deal in the desert" by which the UK went a long way to re-establishing normal relations with Libya, including prisoner transfer.
     
  13. helgaleena

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  14. b.c.

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    And in response to U.S. Senator Menendez's requests for Scottish documents on BP negotiations with Libya the first minister claims, "There are no such documents." Yeah, right.

    Which makes it more likely that the Sunday Times story is just more b.s. "spin" and deflection, proffered by BP apologists.
     
  15. Jason

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    Almost certainly the Scottish executive's statement that "there are no such documents" is correct. BP is registered in London, so it works under English law. UK foreign policy including the "deal in the desert" is a matter for the UK executive. The Scottish executive has nothing to do with either BP or the UK deal with Libya. It would be amazing if there were any documents. The allegation is that BP lobbied the Scottish judiciary. The USA might wish to ask the Scottish judiciary if there are any such documents. Probably there are not. There was no need for BP to lobby the Scottish judiciary for his release as this is what they were minded to do anyway.

    The Sunday Times' leak has been treated as genuine by all the UK papers and the BBC, and was specifically not denied by the US ambassador to the UK. Without very strong evidence to the contrary this leaked letter is exactly what it seems to be. That the US government wanted the Lockerbie bomber to stay in Scotland is not in doubt (it was said at the time and there is a clear paper trail for this) - so a renewed statement of this misses the point. Rather everyone, including the US government, knew that his staying in Scotland wasn't possible. The second choice of President Obama and the US government was his compassionate release. Specifically Obama preferred his compassionate release over his imprisonment in Libya, and lobbied for this outcome. I suspect that Obama's intervention carried little weight - the Scottish judiciary is independent of the US president, just as it is independent of the Scottish first minister and the UK prime minister - but it must have had some weight, and who knows might even have tipped the balance. Certainly it made it a bit easier for the Scottish judiciary to do what they were minded to do anyway.

    US source:
    http://www.foxnews.com/politics/201...ked-lockerbie-release-transfer-libyan-prison/
     
    #15 Jason, Jul 26, 2010
    Last edited: Jul 26, 2010
  16. B_mitchymo

    B_mitchymo New Member

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    Is it just me or does that seem a little odd? :confused:
     
  17. Jason

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    Seems a lot odd. I don't understand it.
     
  18. TomCat84

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    Still, the guy should never have been let go. Why he was even charged and kept under Scottish law is beyond me- if the plane had been blown up over the skies of California, for example, it's my understanding that he would have been charged under federal law, not California law. Wouldn't national governments wish to have jurisdiction over national airspace? Why was his punishment devolved to local courts, instead of being handled by the British government?
     
  19. B_mitchymo

    B_mitchymo New Member

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    Yea, i mean, he is given 3 months to live and then a year later he is still alive but we can't get verification of that from his own family.
    Odd indeed. (granted not exceptional)
     
  20. B_mitchymo

    B_mitchymo New Member

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    Maybe stinks of subterfuge from the off, no wonder there is a conspiracy theory.
     
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