The July 4th revelation that the Lockerbie bomber, freed on compassionate grounds because of terminal Cancer would live another ten years, has focused new attention and anger the Obama administration and congress. Now there is new information implying that anger may be very much misdirected. A letter sent by a senior diplomat at the US Embassy in London to Scottish ministers told the Scots that the US government did not want the bomber released, but if he was to be released President Obama wanted him released on a compassionate grounds.
On Dec. 21, 1988, a bomb exploded in the forward cargo hold of Pan Am Flight 103, a jetliner flying from London to New York. Within less than a minute, the Boeing 747 splintered into thousands of pieces and fell 31,000 feet, smashing down in the village of Lockerbie, Scotland. The impact killed 11 villagers and destroyed 21 homes. None of the 259 people on board the aircraft survived.
On August 21, 2009 Abdul Baset Ali al-Megrahi, the only man convicted of the terrorist attack, was released from the Prison where he had been serving a life sentence. Because he supposedly had less than three months to live, he had been sent home to Libya to die. Under pressure from Great Britain, Scottish courts were forced to show more mercy to al-Megrahi than he showed to the 270 people he killed.
Almost a year the mass murderer is still alive and according to the doctor who originally said he had three months to live, the Lockerbie murderer may be around for up to ten more years.
Barack Obama is under growing pressure to release a letter that reveals the US grudgingly supported freeing the Lockerbie bomber on compassionate grounds.
Obama’s administration has refused to allow publication of the letter, in which the US says allowing Megrahi to live at home in Scotland would be “far preferable” to sending him back to Libya under the prisoner transfer deal brokered by former prime minister Tony Blair in 2007.
Although Megrahi was allowed to go home to die in Tripoli, Scottish officials believe this undermines Obama’s vigorous criticisms of the decision to free Megrahi earlier this month, when he said he was left “surprised, disappointed and angry” by the Libyan’s release. David Cameron said he and Obama were in “violent agreement” that freeing Megrahi was a bad decision.
The American ambassador to the UK, Louis Susman, said the US was examining whether its correspondence on the issue could be released, but he refused to be drawn on the reported memo.
In the letter the deputy head of the US embassy in London, Frank LeBaron, said the US believed the mass murderer al-Megrahi should remain in jail, but he added:
“Nevertheless, if Scottish authorities [conclude] 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 continued by saying that releasing Megrahi but making him live in Scotland “would mitigate a number of strong concerns we have expressed with regards to Megrahi’s release.”
Scottish officials took that to mean that the US had only “half-hearted” opposition to Megrahi’s release: the embassy comes under the direct control of the US secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, who became the most vigorous critic of Megrahi’s release
Allowing Megrahi to live outside prison in Scotland was one of the options considered by MacAskill. Megrahi’s wife and sons had a family home paid for by the Libyan government in the prosperous Glasgow suburb of Newton Mearns. But that option was rejected after police advice that this would cause immense security and logistical problems, and cost £100,000 a week to protect him. The house would need a 24-hour armed guard, while Megrahi would need heavy security for his regular trips for medical treatment.
Obama will not release the letter, but he has no bones about throwing another ally under the bus, that’s the Obama way.