Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Commercial warfare: Just how much grease was used to repatriate the Lockerbie bomber to Libya?

That's what some US Senators really wanted to know. 

On the 22nd anniversary of the terrorist bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, U.S. Senators Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Charles Schumer (D-NJ) have concluded in a report that convicted bomber Abdelbaset al-Megrahi’s release from Scottish prison was not medically justified. Justice Undone: The Release of The Lockerbie Bomber, is the report of an investigation spearheaded by Menendez’s office, and details political and commercial motivations that influenced the various governments involved in his release. 

On September 29, 2010, Senator Menendez chaired a hearing of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee to explore al-Megrahi’s release. Senator Gillibrand, a member of the Committee, joined in questioning witnesses, and Senator Lautenberg testified at the hearing.  The Committee also heard testimony from U.S. Ambassador Nancy McEldowney, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs at the Department of State; Mr. Bruce Swartz, U.S. Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division at the Department of Justice; Dr. James L. Mohler, Senior Vice President for Translation Research & Chair of the Department of Urology at Roswell Park Cancer Center; Dr. Oliver Sartor, Plitz Professor of Cancer Research at Tulane Medical School; and Dr. Geoff Porter, an expert on Libyan affairs.

Senator Menendez reportedly also invited Mr. Tony Hayward, former Group Chief Executive of BP; Sir Mark Allen, a consultant to BP and former MI6 agent; the Right Honorable Alex Salmond, Member of the Scottish Parliament and First Minister of Scotland; Mr. Kenny MacAskill, Scottish Cabinet Secretary for Justice; Dr. Andrew Fraser, Scottish Prison Service Director of Health and Care; and the Right Honorable Jack Straw, former British Justice Secretary to testify before the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee. All of these individuals declined to participate or to send representatives to participate in the hearing.

Justice Undone: The Release of the Lockerbie Bomber. The 58 page report including heartbreaking letters from some of the next of kins of those who perished in the attack is available here.


"The U.K. pushed for the release because of its expanding business ties to Libya. We believe that Scotland was motivated by pressure from the U.K., Libya, and Qatar – as well as its own interest in participating on the international stage. The U.K. Government played a direct, critical role in al-Megrahi’s release. The U.K. has always been protective of its energy companies, especially BP, which has strong historical and economic ties to the government, and it has a history of intervening with foreign governments on behalf of BP. Libyan oil and natural resources were extremely attractive to U.K. energy companies, and, at the time of al-Megrahi’s release, BP was negotiating a $900 million oil exploration deal that would secure a much-needed reliable source of energy for the U.K. Keeping al-Megrahi in prison threatened this oil agreement, as well as other profitable trade deals and investments with Libya. The threat of commercial warfare was a motivating factor. The U.K. knew that in order to maintain trade relations with Libya, it had to give into political demands. Faced with the threat of losing the lucrative BP oil deal and other commercial ties, the U.K. agreed to include al- Megrahi’s release in a Prisoner Transfer Agreement (PTA) with Libya. Around the same time as al-Megrahi’s release, the U.K. and Libya were moving forward with other lucrative deals.Normalizing relations with Libya – and al-Megrahi’s release – clearly benefited U.K. business interests."

  • While press reports have provided contradictory accounts of al-Megrahi’s current health status, we call on the Libyan Government to allow for independent confirmation of his health status and, based on the results of that review, either return al-Megrahi to Scotland or place him in a Libyan prison in conditions comparable to those provided to other convicted murderers.
  • We call upon the Scottish and U.K. Governments to apologize to the families of the bombing victims for al-Megrahi’s unjustifiable release.
  • We call on U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron to proceed with an independent inquiry into al-Megrahi’s release. The only way for the U.K. and Scottish Governments to remove the cloud of suspicion hanging over their respective governments is for the Prime Minister to launch an independent inquiry with full subpoena authority into al-Megrahi’s release. The inquiry should include a panel of international, independent prostate cancer specialists to examine the medical records of al-Megrahi.
  • We call on the U.S. Department of State to launch its own inquiry into al-Megrahi’s release and to publicize its findings. The Department should dedicate Foreign Service Officers and independent investigators to exhaustively identify and interview sources to determine how and why al-Megrahi was released.
  • We call on the U.S. Intelligence Community to either assist in the U.S. Department of State’s inquiry or launch its own inquiry, assigning its officers and using resources at its disposal to fully understand why the Scottish and British Governments would have facilitated the release of a man convicted of killing 270 people including at least one intelligence officer.

The full report is here.

The Lockerbie bomber was released on ‘compassionate grounds’ by the Scottish Government after being diagnosed with prostate cancer and supposedly given three months to live some 16 months ago.

The Daily Mail reports that the Lockerbie bomber is  now "close to death" but here's the kicker -- "His death will pave the way for a bid by his family to sue the Scottish authorities over his alleged treatment in Greenock Prison."

Below is a video of the Lockerbie Bombing (1988)*** Video courtesy of and copyright owned by Television New Zealand (TVNZ) *** [Part 1 of 2]

Part 2 is here:

Meanwhile UPI reports an update on that oil deal.  Apparently Libya's hopes of new oil strikes in the Gulf of Sidra have been set back by BP's postponement of launching a $1 billion deep-water exploration program as the company grapples with the aftermath of the huge Gulf of Mexico oil spill. Excerpt:
Libya's reserves, the ninth largest in the world, total 41.5 billion barrels of oil. Current production is around 1.8 million barrels per day.
At current production rates, Libya's reserves will last for another 63 years even if no new strikes are made.
BP is committed to spending $1 billion onshore and offshore over the next seven years under a controversial $900 million exploration contract it signed with Gadhafi in May 2007.
In July, as BP grappled with the Gulf of Mexico disaster, U.S. lawmakers alleged that deal was linked to Britain's August 2009 release of a former Libyan intelligence agent, Abdelbaset Al-Megrahi, from a Scottish prison, and demanded an investigation.

Britain adamantly denied there was any linkage. BP has denied it lobbied British authorities to free Megrahi on compassionate grounds because he was suffering from prostate cancer to persuade Gadhafi to sign the Sidra deal.

British leaders insist a prisoner-transfer agreement signed Nov. 17, 2008, was part of a broader diplomatic effort to encourage Tripoli, which denied any involvement in the Pan Am bombing, to stop supporting terrorism and dismantle its clandestine nuclear program.

However, according to U.S. diplomatic cables obtained by WikiLeaks, Gadhafi threatened to cut trade with Britain and warned of "enormous repercussions" if Megrahi died in prison.

Read the whole thing here.

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