US senators are demanding that BP face a criminal investigation into its role in freeing convicted Lockerbie bomber Abdel Baset al-Megrahi last year. New York Democrat Charles Schumer joined with victims’ relatives to call for a probe into BP’s “blood money” in the Lockerbie case. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also called on Scottish and British authorities to review the circumstances that led Scotland to release al-Megrahi in 2009.
State Department Spokesman P.J. Crowley told reporters that Clinton issued the letter in response to the one from the senators. The issue has sparked outrage a series of letters among the senators, Clinton, Britain’s Ambassador to the US Nigel Sheinwald and Foreign Secretary William Hague. Crowley said Hague sent Clinton a letter in recent days. “[H]e has found no basis to that suggestion that BP in any way influenced the Megrahi decision. Whatever lobbying that they [i.e., BP] did was within the context of the prisoner transfer agreement,” he said.
BP acknowledges that it pressed the British government to sign a prisoner transfer agreement with Libya—just as the energy giant had a $900 million oil exploration agreement with Tripoli. Saif al-Islam Qaddafi, son of Libyan leader Moammar Qaddafi also admitted that Libya pressed Britain for Megrahi’s return during trade talks. In televised comments comments last year he told Megrahi that “in all the trade, oil and gas deals which I have supervised, you were there on the table.”
The US Senate Foreign Relations Committee will hold a public hearing next week on the circumstances surrounding Megrahi’s release. Lawmakers said the Gulf of Mexico oil disaster shows that BP puts “profits ahead of people.” (Daily Mail, CNS News, July 20; VOA, July 19)
The Lockerbie case remains an obstacle to normalization of US ties with Libya. But in the renewed coverage of the case, nobody seems to recall the Orwellian revisionism that has characterized this case. Paul Foot asserted in The Guardian on March 31, 2004:
[T]he Lockerbie bombing was carried out not by Libyans at all but by terrorists based in Syria and hired by Iran to avenge the shooting down in the summer of 1988 of an Iranian civil airliner by a US warship. This was the line followed by both British and US police and intelligence investigators after Lockerbie. Through favoured newspapers like the Sunday Times, the investigators named the suspects—some of whom had been found with home-made bombs similar to the one used at Lockerbie.
This line of inquiry persisted until April 1989, when a phone call from President Bush senior to Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher warned her not to proceed with it. A year later, British and US armed forces prepared for an attack on Saddam Hussein’s occupying forces in Kuwait. Their coalition desperately needed troops from an Arab country. These were supplied by Syria, which promptly dropped out of the frame of Lockerbie suspects. Libya, not Syria or Iran, mysteriously became the suspect country, and in 1991 the US drew up an indictment against two Libyan suspects. The indictment was based on the “evidence” of a Libyan “defector”, handsomely paid by the CIA.
In a Jan. 31, 2001 retrospective on the Lockerbie affair, the BBC recalls Poppy Bush’s words at the moment the official rewriting of history took place: Syria had a “bum rap.”
Will any media outlet now retrieve this inconvenient fact from the Memory Hole?