Once upon a time, President Barack Obama said all Americans were "surprised, disappointed and angry" to learn of the release of Abdel Baset al-Megrahi from a Scottish prison. But new evidence suggests the president might have been feigning at least surprise.And now the reality. From the Sunday Times (by way of mediamatters):
Last August, the sole Libyan convicted in the catastrophic bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1988 was released from a Scottish prison. "Humanitarian" reasons were cited. This killer supposedly had only three months to live. He was released and returned to Libya with a hero's welcome. Now he's expected to live another decade.
But there's a brand-new outrage. (That would be on top of the last outrage -- talk of a dirty little quid pro quo oil drilling deal between BP and Libya.)
The Sunday Times of London reports that a week before Mr. al-Megrahi's release, "the U.S. government secretly advised Scottish ministers it would be 'far preferable' to free the Lockerbie bomber than jail him in Libya."
The bottom line: The United States, while opposed to sending al-Megrahi home, would accept a Scottish decision to release him on compassionate grounds if he were to remain in Scotland.
What a slap to the survivors of the 270 people who perished, including the families of four from Western Pennsylvania. Will the indignities ever end?
In the letter, sent on August 12 last year to Alex Salmond, the first minister, and justice officials, [deputy head of the London US embassy Richard] LeBaron wrote that the United States wanted Megrahi to remain imprisoned in view of the nature of the crime.Now go back and look at what the Trib braintrust said.
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".
The US administration lobbied the Scottish government more strongly against sending Megrahi home under a prisoner transfer agreement signed by the British and Libyan governments -- in a deal now known to have been linked to a £550m oil contract for BP.
It claimed this would flout a decade-old agreement reached by the UK and US governments that anyone convicted of the bombing would serve their sentence in a Scottish prison. [emphasis added]
Not exactly the same, is it?