Discussion in 'Political Zone' started by daschoo, Aug 20, 2009.
I must suffer from an overactive imagination.
Lockerbie bomber 'set free for oil'
The British government decided it was “in the overwhelming interests of the United Kingdom” to make Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi, the Lockerbie bomber, eligible for return to Libya, leaked ministerial letters reveal.
Gordon Brown’s government made the decision after discussions between Libya and BP over a multi-million-pound oil exploration deal had hit difficulties. These were resolved soon afterwards.
The letters were sent two years ago by Jack Straw, the justice secretary, to Kenny MacAskill, his counterpart in Scotland, who has been widely criticised for taking the formal decision to permit Megrahi’s release.
The correspondence makes it plain that the key decision to include Megrahi in a deal with Libya to allow prisoners to return home was, in fact, taken in London for British national interests.
Edward Davey, the Liberal Democrat foreign affairs spokesman, said: “This is the strongest evidence yet that the British government has been involved for a long time in talks over al-Megrahi in which commercial considerations have been central to their thinking.”
Two letters dated five months apart show that Straw initially intended to exclude Megrahi from a prisoner transfer agreement with Colonel Muammar Gadaffi, under which British and Libyan prisoners could serve out their sentences in their home country.
In a letter dated July 26, 2007, Straw said he favoured an option to leave out Megrahi by stipulating that any prisoners convicted before a specified date would not be considered for transfer.
Downing Street had also said Megrahi would not be included under the agreement.
Straw then switched his position as Libya used its deal with BP as a bargaining chip to insist the Lockerbie bomber was included.
The exploration deal for oil and gas, potentially worth up to £15 billion, was announced in May 2007. Six months later the agreement was still waiting to be ratified.
On December 19, 2007, Straw wrote to MacAskill announcing that the UK government was abandoning its attempt to exclude Megrahi from the prisoner transfer agreement, citing the national interest.
In a letter leaked by a Whitehall source, he wrote: “I had previously accepted the importance of the al-Megrahi issue to Scotland and said I would try to get an exclusion for him on the face of the agreement. I have not been able to secure an explicit exclusion.
“The wider negotiations with the Libyans are reaching a critical stage and, in view of the overwhelming interests for the United Kingdom, I have agreed that in this instance the [prisoner transfer agreement] should be in the standard form and not mention any individual.”
Within six weeks of the government climbdown, Libya had ratified the BP deal. The prisoner transfer agreement was finalised in May this year, leading to Libya formally applying for Megrahi to be transferred to its custody.
Saif Gadaffi, the colonel’s son, has insisted that negotiation over the release of Megrahi was linked with the BP oil deal: “The fight to get the [transfer] agreement lasted a long time and was very political, but I want to make clear that we didn’t mention Mr Megrahi.
“At all times we talked about the [prisoner transfer agreement]. It was obvious we were talking about him. We all knew that was what we were talking about.
“People should not get angry because we were talking about commerce or oil. We signed an oil deal at the same time. The commerce and oil deals were all with the [prisoner transfer agreement].”
His account is confirmed by other sources. Sir Richard Dalton, a former British ambassador to Libya and a board member of the Libyan British Business Council, said: “Nobody doubted Libya wanted BP and BP was confident its commitment would go through. But the timing of the final authority to spend real money was dependent on politics.”
Bob Monetti of New Jersey, whose son Rick was among the victims of the 1988 bombing, said: “It’s always been about business.”
BP denied that political factors were involved in the deal’s ratification or that it had stalled during negotiations over the prisoner transfer talks.
A Ministry of Justice spokesman denied there had been a U-turn, but said trade considerations had been a factor in negotiating the prisoner exchange deal. He said Straw had unsuccessfully tried to accommodate the wish of the Scottish government to exclude Megrahi from agreement.
The spokesman claimed the deal was ultimately “academic” because Megrahi had been released on compassionate grounds: “The negotiations on the [transfer agreement] were part of wider negotiations aimed at the normalisation of relations with Libya, which included a range of areas, including trade.
“The exclusion or inclusion of Megrahi would not serve any practical purpose because the Scottish executive always had a veto on whether to transfer him.”
A spokesman for Lord Mandelson said he had not changed his position that the release of Megrahi was not linked to trade deals.
yeah I didn't think they were letting him go cause he was really good in jail and they wanted to be nice guys. It's ridiculous, but it's reality.
bbgun and I posted stuff relating to this in the original thread, wonder if we should merge 'em
he wasn't released as part of a prisoner transfer agreement and all that proves is that the british government denied the scottish governments request to have him excluded from any such agreement.
i can see the logic behind the released for oil argument however it makes no sense regarding internal scottish politics. the labour party is in power in london while they are the main opposition party to the snp (whose main policy and reason for their party is to gain independance from britain) here in scotland. if as would be the case with this argument the british as opposed to scottish government made this decision then i honestly cannot see the snp allowing themselves to be made the scapegoat. if they made a song and dance about how london had interfered in scottish affairs then it would have strengthened support for both the snp and independance whereas just now the snp have lost support in the mainstream media for their stance.
not saying this is definately not what happened, just thought i'd offer an argument why i'm not jumping to conclusions regarding it.
I thought under this administration our allies who now like us would work closer with the US? I guess not, just goes to show kissing their butts does not change what they will do
am i reading this wrong or are you complaining because the scottish judicial system is making decisions without getting permission from america first?
Slow down turbo..............first off we don't go around kissing butts, we negotiate intelligently. Secondly, just because an allie does something stupid doesn't mean we should go bomb them. We don't always do exactly what our allies want us to do, either. Just ask Isreal.
I'm saying the release is deeper than a scottish court as to why he was released
I don't know if he is complaining that the Scots didn't consult the United States in their decision, but I sure as heck know that I am. Considering that fully 2/3rds of the people murdered that day were Americans, I think it's well worth complaining about, don't you?
1st off Obama and is oh I'm sorry tour was pathetic to begin and yes he is kissing but. He hollered about NAFTA then goes to Canada and bends over for them tell what has changed with NAFTA? Nothing!!!! Liberals started the BS by saying see they don't like Bush that is why they will not work with us, well bending over and kissing butt is not going to work either. While you may not like the term that is too bad Obama has not stood up to anyone even his comments about this thug being released was extremely mild
for a start they did consult with america, macaskill just decided to go against what the majority of americans wanted. and no i don't think that america should have had the final say
To say they consulted with America was like saying Hitler consulted with Poland before invading. It wasn't a consultation as much as it was saying "here's what we're going to do whether you like it or not."
Legally, the U.S. doesn't have much authority in this case. But morally, we sure as hell do.
It was not a judicial system issue it was a political decision on the part of the Scottish Government and the backing of PM Gordon Brown.
Brown Didn't Want Lockerbie Bomber to Die in Jail
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown is facing accuations of "double-dealing" after confidential documents were released on Tuesday revealing that Libya was told Brown wanted the Lockerbie bomber to die a free man.
Foreign Secretary David Miliband defended the report in a BBC interview and confirmed details that emerged in the documents but adamantly denied that the government took any active steps to secure convicted bomber Abdel Baset al-Megrahi's release.
"We did not want him to die in prison, no, we weren't seeking his death in prison," Miliband said.
Documents released by the Scottish government on Tuesday included the minutes of a meeting with Libya earlier this year during which it was stated that Bill Rammell, then a foreign office minister, told Tripoli that neither the prime minister nor Miliband "would want Mr Megrahi to pass away in prison but the decision on transfer lies in the hands of the Scottish Ministers."
But Brown insisted Wednesday that he didn't strike any deal with Libya over the return of al-Megrahi, who was convicted in the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, which killed 270 people — mostly Americans.
"There was no conspiracy, no cover up, no double dealing, no deal on oil, no attempt to instruct Scottish ministers," he said.
The British government released the documents Tuesday in an attempt to quell speculation that it had pushed al-Megrahi's release to boost economic cooperation with Libya. But the documents fanned more resentment in the U.S., where al-Megrahi's release was vehemently opposed.
The government had previously refused to be drawn into the issue, saying it was up to the government in Scotland to decide on justice issues.
Al-Megrahi, 57, was the only person convicted in the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, which killed 270 people. Scotland freed him on compassionate grounds Aug. 20 after doctors said he had terminal cancer.
Opposition leader David Cameron immediately seized upon Miliband's remarks, demanding an investigation into the controversy.
"The prime minister and the government stand accused of double-dealing — saying one thing to the Libyans in private, refusing to express an opinion to the British public and indicating something else to the Americans," Cameron said. "That is why we need an inquiry to clear this matter up."
Britain has regional governments in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland that are responsible for local issues but retains power over foreign policy.
Prime Minister Gordon Brown has said the decision to free al-Megrahi was Scotland's. He will now face increased pressure to say how he viewed Scotland's decision — a stand he was been reluctant to take because of domestic political pressure to keep regional issues separate from the national ones.
Al-Megrahi was sentenced to life in 2001 with a minimum term of 27 years. Releasing prisoners on compassionate grounds is a regular feature of Scottish justice for dying inmates.
On Wednesday, a Libyan official told Reuters that al-Megrahi had been moved into the emergency room of a hospital in Tripoli.
"He is in a bad way. He is unable to speak to anyone," the official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Reuters.
Anger has been percolating on both sides of the Atlantic since al-Megrahi flew home to a hero's welcome in Libya.
The families of some American victims have said they were disgusted by the bomber's release, which was also sharply criticized by President Barack Obama, FBI director Robert Mueller and Attorney General Eric Holder.
U.S. Justice Department spokesman Richard Kolko said Tuesday that his department had "received assurances in the 1990s that al-Megrahi's full sentence would be served in Scotland."
The American statement seemed to contradict some of the released documents, including one from Britain's Foreign Office that said there was no categorical commitment given to the United States to keep al-Megrahi jailed.
During debate in the Scottish parliament Wednesday, Scottish Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill said he had received "conflicting advice" from officials in London on what assurances Britain had given Libya and the United States.
"I still do not know the exact nature of the pretrial discussions or what may have been agreed between the Libyan and U.K. or any other governments," he said.
American victims' families reacted with fury to the disclosures.
"The fix has been in for a while," said Bob Monetti, whose 20-year-old brother Richard from Cherry Hill, N.J. was among those killed. "The U.K. has put incredible pressure on Scotland to do this thing, and they finally caved in."
As the more than a dozen documents dated between 2007 and 2009 were released, Libya marked the 40th anniversary of the coup that brought Col. Muammar al-Qaddafi to power — an extravaganza meant to celebrate the return of the former pariah state into the international fold after terrorism.
The disclosures followed claims in the British media that the British government struck a deal with Libyan authorities to include al-Megrahi in a prisoner transfer agreement because that was in Britain's best interests as a major oil deal was being negotiated.
Britain has growing economic interests in Libya — from oil exploration to financial services. Last year, British imports from Libya topped some $1.6 billion.
But the British government has repeatedly denied its role in the release and said there was no pressing commercial deal.
Click here to read the documents.
maybe just maybe it does. you don't know it does any more or less than i don't know it doesn't.
like i said i wouldn't be shocked if there has been an oil deal behind this but the internal politics between the scottish and british governments mean in my opinion that the story is not as straight forward as it is being painted.