Saturday, August 22, 2009

Tony Blair Denies Libyan Claims of Lockerbie Deal

From CNN, "Blair Denies Libyan Claims of Lockerbie Deal":

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair said Saturday that no deals were made with Libya while he was in power to arrange the Lockerbie bomber's release, a move that has caused outrage in the United States.

In an exclusive interview with CNN, Blair denied claims -- made Friday by the son of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi -- that he raised the case of Abdelbeset Ali Mohmed al Megrahi every time he visited Libya as prime minister.

"Let me make one thing absolutely clear. The Libyans, of course, were raising the case for Megrahi all the way along, not just with me but with everybody. It was a major national concern for them," Blair said. "But as I used to say to them, I don't have the power to release Mr. Megrahi." Blair, who stepped down as PM in 2007, was interviewed Saturday by CNN's John Vause in Guiyang, China.

The Libyan leader's son, Saif al-Islam Gadhafi, made his comments in an interview with Libyan channel Al Mutawassit, Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported. The interview was conducted Thursday while he flew with al Megrahi from Scotland to Libya after the convicted bomber's release from prison.

"The release that has taken place is a decision by the Scottish executive, which has taken place on compassionate grounds," Blair said. "Those compassionate grounds didn't even exist a few years back.

"So yes, of course it's absolutely right the Libyans were always raising this issue, but we made it clear that the only way this could be dealt with was through the proper procedures."

Al Megrahi had been serving a life sentence for the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, in which 270 people -- including 189 Americans -- were killed. Scottish Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill freed al Megrahi after doctors concluded he has terminal prostate cancer and has three months to live.
I want to trust Tony Blair, but either he's uniformed or not telling the whole story, sorry to say. The release of al Megrahi is a gross injustice of world historical importance. I can't imagine this episode helps the cause of peace or amity among nations, and it certainly tells the victims' families that Scottish government cares more about compassion toward the world's heinous killers than the loved ones of those who slept well knowing the murderers were behind bars.

Related, from CBS News, "
UK Deflects Lockerbie Backlash to Scotland":

Britain on Saturday rejected any suggestion that it had struck a deal with Libya to free the Lockerbie bomber - questions that arose when Moammar Gadhafi publicly thanked British officials as he embraced the man convicted of killing 270 people in the 1988 airline bombing.

Gadhafi praised Prime Minister Gordon Brown and members of the royal family by name for what he described as influencing the decision to let the terminally ill Abdel Baset al-Megrahi return home to die. Thousands greeted al-Megrahi at the airport as he arrived in Tripoli after being freed Thursday from a Scottish prison.

But British officials insisted they did not tell Scottish justice officials what to do - and in any case, they could not, because the decision was not theirs' to make.
See also, Gateway Pundit, "Libyan Leader Gaddafi Praises Brown for Lockerbie Terrorist's Release," and Atlas Shrugs, "An Obama US Presidency: A Hero's Welcome for Muslim Lockerbie Bomber Received in Tripoli."

Plus, Jihad Watch, "Questions About Energy Deals Surround Release of Lockerbie Bomber."


Lisa said...

Even though he is dying,he should not be trusted and he should still be monitored.

Paul said...

"I want to trust Tony Blair, but either he's uniformed or not telling the whole story, sorry to say. The release of al Megrahi is a gross injustice of world historical importance."

I would be interested to see your justification for these comments. As far as Blair is concerned (and for that matter Brown), it's a simple fact that Scottish justice is within the jurisdiction of the Scottish Executive, whereas Foreign Affairs rests with Westminster. The UK government can no more overrule the Scottish government here than President Obama can intervene willy-nilly in the affairs of, say, Arizona.

I think it likely that the Scottish Justice minister made the decision he did for the reasons he stated, mainly because there is no love lost between the Westminster and Edinburgh administrations. They are run by different parties and the Scottish National Party in particular is a notoriously contrary bunch. They don't respond well to being told what to do, either by Gordon Brown or Barack Obama.

It is also evident that the English and Scottish legal systems do not give the same priority to retributive justice as seems to be the case in America. That's just the way things are.

I also think that some of the American politicians who are complaining about this are on fairly shaky ground. Senators McCain and Lieberman among others have just been in Tripoli talking about selling Gadafy "non-lethal" defence equipment (water pistols?).

To be blunt, if America is willing to forgive Gadafy to that extent, they are in a poor position to object to clemency being shown to a dying man - unless Gadafy is somehow assumed to be innocent of everything done in Libya's name in the 1980s.

As for "world historical importance", surely not? Libya has effectively been neutralised, thanks to G.W. Bush, and Megrahi, although guilty, was never a terrorist mastermind. Much more significant was the release of Abu Qatada last year (he has since been put back behind bars), who is still active, dangerous, and sadly nowhere near dead. Megrahi will cease to be an issue as soon as he dies - which won't be long.

courtneyme109 said...

Maybe Great Satan could do a snatch and grab on al Megrahi for a thorough, leisured interrogation for the rest of his very short and very painful life