Friday, July 30, 2010

Sunday Times (UK): US OK'd BP-Libya Pan Am Bomber for Oil Deal

For some reason Rupert Murdoch doesn't want anyone to read the original article (The Sunday Times website is charging a pound a peep), so I've posted this link to the smoking gun quote as published on The Spectator (UK) website:
‘In the letter, sent on August 12 last year to Alex Salmond, the first minister, and justice officials, Richard LeBaron (deputy ambassador in London) wrote that the United States wanted Megrahi to remain imprisoned in view of the nature of the crime.

The note added: “Nevertheless, if Scottish authorities come to the conclusion that Megrahi must be released from Scottish custody, the US position is that conditional release on compassionate grounds would be a far preferable alternative to prisoner transfer, which we strongly oppose.” LeBaron added that freeing the bomber and making him live in Scotland “would mitigate a number of the strong concerns we have expressed with regard to Megrahi’s release”.
Of course, the US could have asked that Megrahi be extradited for trial in the US, since there is no statue of limitations on murder, and the original agreement with the UK specified that he would not be set free--which is why the US needed to kosher the handover, in the first place.

Like the Wikileaks controversy, it is important that the facts come out, so that the problem can be resolved. If not, continued "credibility gaps" will suck all the life out of the administration as well as America's international posture, IMHO. Let's see all the relevant memos, in full, on the internet, sooner rather than later, please. Otherwise, it's just drip...drip...drip...

Arthur Herman has more in the NY Post (which Rupert still permits us to read online, for now):
Tuesday, Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) announced that the Senate Foreign Relations Committee was going to suspend its hearings on the sudden release last year of convicted Lockerbie bomber and Libyan citizen Abdel Baset al-Megrahi.

Menendez claims the reason he had to stop the investigation that he, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and other Democrats have been screaming for is that the British witnesses they wanted to question on the possible link between Megrahi's release and a big BP offshore-drilling deal with Libya refused to testify.

Congressional Dems stopped a probe that would have disclosed what Obama and AG Holder knew about the release of Libyan terrorist Abdel Baset al-Megrahi.

The real reason is that the probe might also have had to disclose what President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder knew and when they knew it. That's because the London Times on Sunday published a letter written by deputy US ambassador Richard LeBaron in the days before Megrahi was set free, telling Scotland's first minister that, while the Obama administration opposed the terrorist bomber's release, it was nonetheless "far preferable" that he be sprung on compassionate grounds than be moved to a Libyan prison.

At the very least, the letter undermines Obama's statement that he had been "surprised, disappointed and angry" by the release last August. It turns out that he knew all along and that his anger and disappointment didn't extend so far as to make a diplomatic big deal about it.

At the time, an outraged Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) said the release of the man convicted of murdering the 189 Americans on Pan Am 103 on grounds of "compassion" turned the meaning of the word on its head. It seems Obama was one of those doing the headstand.

Now that the Lockerbie hearings have been suspended, we may never get to the truth of what happened in those crucial days in mid-August or read the transcript that the White House is withholding of a conversation Holder had with his Scottish counterpart before the release.
That's unfortunate, because the truth would help us answer a more important question: How serious is this president about fighting and winning the War on Terror?
Meanwhile, Politico's Laura Rozen repeats US State Department boilerplate, including this link to the full text of LeBaron's 2009 letter as posted on the State Department website. After reading the text, including this paragraph:
We appreciate the manner in which the Scottish Government has handled this difficult situation. We recognize that the prisoner transfer decision is one that the Scottish Government did not invite, but now must take. We hope that the Scottish Government would consider every available alternative before considering the granting of Megrahi's prisoner transfer application;
IMHO, The Sunday Times interpretation is correct, and the State Department is misrepresenting the letter's implications.

If the US had objected strenuously, the UK (including Scottish) government would not have gone ahead with Megrahi's release.

Safe to say, from reading the document, that America's diplomats shed only "Crocodile Tears."