BP lobbied Brits for Libya prisoner release, deny pushing Megrahi as candidate

posted at 10:55 am on July 16, 2010 by Ed Morrissey

Over the last few days, BP has found itself the subject of some discomforting questions about the release of Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi, the Lockerbie Bomber that killed 270 people in the air and on the ground in the Pan Am 103 explosion in 1988.  BP now acknowledges that it lobbied the British government to release Libyan prisoners in order to get better access to oil fields controlled by Moammar Gaddafi, but denies lobbying for Megrahi specifically.  Buried in the Washington Post’s report is a piece of data that should be putting the Obama administration under the microscope as well:

BP faced a new outcry Thursday about whether the Scottish and British governments sought to smooth BP’s oil exploration contract talks with Libya by releasing prisoners, including the man convicted of bombing the Pan Am plane that went down over Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1988. The bombing killed 270 people, including 189 Americans. …

BP acknowledged Thursday that in 2007, it urged the British government to speed up a prisoner release because it was worried that a stalemate on that front would undercut an oil exploration deal with Libya. But the company denied that in 2009, when progress on the Libyan venture bogged down, it sought the specific release of the Lockerbie bomber, Libyan intelligence agent Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi.

“BP told the U.K. government that we were concerned about the slow progress that was being made in concluding a prisoner transfer agreement with Libya,” BP said.

That wasn’t the only government who heard from BP.  Claiming that BP and the Brits had a “no surprises” policy with Washington, their source said that the Obama administration signed off on the Libya deal (emphasis mine):

A source familiar with BP negotiations at the time said BP kept the U.S. government informed of its discussions with Libya and the United Kingdom, including talks about prisoner releases. BP had also hired Mark Allen, a Middle East expert and veteran of Britain’s MI6 intelligence agency, and other former British government experts to help talks with Libya.

The Libya deal was done with the full blessing of the U.S. government,” said the source, who sought anonymity to preserve his business relationships. “There was always a policy of no surprises with the U.S. government.”

Really?  The White House certainly gave a different impression of the situation at the time.  When the deal was announced, the Obama administration used the harsh diplo-speak phrase “deeply regrets” to describe their reaction to Megrahi’s parole.  The decision violated a standing agreement with the UK on Megrahi, which was that the US would not press for extradition as long as Megrahi served his full life sentence in Scotland.

At the time, many of us wondered why the British and the Scots would renege on such an agreement without negotiating it with the US.  If the Post’s source is correct, then it appears that London did negotiate it with us — and that the Obama administration signed off on releasing a man who murdered 189 Americans in an act of international terror.  It seems difficult to believe that such a decision would have come from anywhere else but the Oval Office.  And it seems equally clear that any Libyan deal that didn’t involve Megrahi would hardly require our participation or approval.

BP certainly has a lot to answer for in this situation.  The White House should be answering a few questions, too.

Update: A good point made in the comments — why is this coming out now?  Do you suppose that BP got tired of being publicly kicked by the Obama administration?

Update II: An interesting point from Dan Foster at NRO:

A lot of this turns on whether the deal was done “with the full blessing of the U.S. government,” as per the Post‘s source, or merely with the full knowledge of the U.S. government. There are plenty of things foreign powers and allies do, and tell us that they are going to do, that we don’t like.

True enough, but the Obama White House gave no indication that they knew about the deal ahead of its execution; in fact, as I recall, they acted pretty angry about it as if it had surprised them.  If they did know about it but didn’t approve of it, then why didn’t the White House talk about what it did to stop it, or reveal their demand for extradition?  Even if this just means they were kept apprised of the situation, it still means they didn’t do much (or anything) to stop Megrahi’s release.

That’s assuming, of course, that the source is reliable, which is why I couched this with a big if.


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Naturally Obama is in this upto his eyebrows

clnurnberg on July 16, 2010 at 10:59 AM

PBHO was simply setting the table for NASA’s outreach to muslims by approving the release of a muslim mass-murderer.

Bishop on July 16, 2010 at 10:59 AM

And BPs biggest donor recipient over the last several years?

Could really get a paranoid mind spinning.

BowHuntingTexas on July 16, 2010 at 10:59 AM

And BP, Obama and Gordon Brown all let the Scottish parliament take the fall. What a bunch of gutless, lawless pigs.

ProfessorMiao on July 16, 2010 at 10:59 AM

Good job.

Count to 10 on July 16, 2010 at 11:00 AM

BP certainly has a lot to answer for in this situation. The White House should be answering a few questions, too.

BP doesn’t make the decisions.Governments does ,and is fully responsible.

the_nile on July 16, 2010 at 11:00 AM

I am not too sure about this. Obama has pretty much alienated the entire British government, so IMO, it is possible they just said screw it and let the guy go on their own.

Johnnyreb on July 16, 2010 at 11:02 AM

BP certainly has a lot to answer for in this situation. The White House should be answering a few questions, too.

BP..? Why does all news about BP talk as if BP is some sort of Government agency? Their a company that has to answer to Government.

Electrongod on July 16, 2010 at 11:02 AM

BP tried so swing a deal to release a Muslim terrorist.

Obama is going to be so pissed.

Not.

fogw on July 16, 2010 at 11:02 AM

Let’s all speculate on why this information is coming out now. My take: The UK has had enought of Obama selling both them and BP down the river. Time for a little payback. Let’s see if it gets traction.

WisRich on July 16, 2010 at 11:02 AM

It’s fascinating that Brits are so socialistic and PC these days yet they protect BP like it’s the goose laying golden eggs. They are all heavily invested in it and now despise Obama for his treatment of the company. I guess they are following the Chinese model in some respects. Communist governance with a twist of real capitalism.

TheBigOldDog on July 16, 2010 at 11:03 AM

It seems difficult to believe that such a decision would have come from anywhere else but the Oval Office

barry contends it was the Bush White House.

rightside on July 16, 2010 at 11:03 AM

BP doesn’t make the decisions.Governments does ,and is fully responsible.

the_nile on July 16, 2010 at 11:00 AM

Exactly.

Electrongod on July 16, 2010 at 11:03 AM

No prisoners for oil!!

Oh, and this is all Bush’s fault.

tommer74 on July 16, 2010 at 11:03 AM

So he used to words “deeply regrets.” Big f**kin’ deal! He’s supposed to blather like that over this sort of thing.

You’ll notice he didn’t exactly leap at the chance to do anything about it.

CurtZHP on July 16, 2010 at 11:06 AM

TREASONOUS, LYING, NARCISSISTIC, POS, RAT BAST*RD ANTI-CHRIST!

Flyboy on July 16, 2010 at 11:08 AM


“The Libya deal was done with the full blessing of the U.S. government,”

Does not surprise me one bit – I would have been more surprised if he honestly meant what he said.

He’s a pathological liar and cannot help himself.

tru2tx on July 16, 2010 at 11:08 AM

BP..? Why does all news about BP talk as if BP is some sort of Government agency? Their a company that has to answer to Government.

Electrongod on July 16, 2010 at 11:02 AM

Crony capitalism normalized “Hey BP and Goldman , it’s your responsibility to manage the government to do it’s job, withhold the bribes until they do the right thing”.

the_nile on July 16, 2010 at 11:09 AM

So?

Okay, really. BP was trying to neogitate some oil deals Libya and needed some leverage. This isn’t an uncommon situation and unless BP paid off the doctor who said he was dying there was some good rationale/value in the trade off.

Ultimately it is NOT BP’s fault, nor was BP being unethical here. The responsibility of the justice, the responsibility of the people lay SOLELY with the respective governments and their leadership. THEY released him, not BP. BP was doing its job and making a suggestion to help expedite a a deal.

In the same way that BP “decided” to cut corners on their drill. YES, they did, but the US government gave them a waiver and said it was OK. Now BP is ultimately responsible for the leak but this 20/20 hindsight of politically turning them into an evil mega-corp while Obama and the British government wring their hands about how they were mislead and swooned to the music of BP’s flute is hubris, stupid and ultimately why Western Civilization is FAILING.

Skywise on July 16, 2010 at 11:11 AM

I’m sure the Pan Am 103 families are absolutely thrilled about all this stuff hitting the fan.

Del Dolemonte on July 16, 2010 at 11:17 AM

This ‘we didn’t lobby for al-Megrahi’s release’ is absurd.

“BP had also hired Mark Allen, a Middle East expert and veteran of Britain’s MI6 intelligence agency, and other former British government experts to help talks with Libya.”

It doesn’t matter one whit whether BP lobbied specifically for al-Megrahi’s release. It is a certainty BP knew that Libya had al-Megrahi at the top of their list, and if they hadn’t qualified their lobby to exclude him, they were lobbying for his release.

Did BP ever oppose the release of al-Megrahi? Did they ever speak one word of opposition when it came to light? Is there any evidence whatsoever that BP tried to prevent the al-Megrahi trade being a part of their successful effort to buy work from Libya?

Yeah, I didn’t think so.

Dusty on July 16, 2010 at 11:17 AM

The death penalty would have eliminated the release option.

goddessoftheclassroom on July 16, 2010 at 11:17 AM

When government and private business work this close, hand in hand, it is called fascism. You can call it crony capitalism, but it is really fascism. The Nazi government did not own Krupps, but the two worked closely together.

BP’s management, along with Gordon Brown and Dear Liar, all need to go.

rbj on July 16, 2010 at 11:26 AM

This whole thing reads more like a script for TV.

I just don’t buy it.

AnninCA on July 16, 2010 at 11:27 AM

BP being kicked publicly by the Obama administration is merely part of the coordinated BPObama plan, as is BP’s “pushback.”

It’s all a charade.

Christien on July 16, 2010 at 11:28 AM

This whole thing reads more like a script for TV.

I just don’t buy it.

AnninCA on July 16, 2010 at 11:27 AM

Don’t buy what? That BP lobbied for his release?

Skywise on July 16, 2010 at 11:30 AM

Thousands of IRA bombing victims in the UK are also being betrayed by BP’s oily deal with Kaddafi.

IRA victims killed with Libyan semtex to get £2bn in compensation from Colonel Gaddafi

Kaddafi openly admitted responsibility and liability for mass murdering UK victims… and crooked UK politicians slurp up his blood money for BP oil deals like good little dhimmis.

Just imagine if Obama released Khalid Sheik Mohammed for “humanitarian” reasons (afterall he’ll surely die otherwise) in open exchange for oil deals with the bin Laden family. That’s what we’re essentially witnessing with this sordid Megrahi deal.

Terp Mole on July 16, 2010 at 11:32 AM

Naturally, the Scots are still defending the indefensible;

Herald Scotland: “Decision to release Megrahi was correct

“…The fact that he has defied estimates of his limited life expectancy made at the time of his release in no way invalidates the Justice Secretary’s decision. Had Megrahi remained in Greenock Prison, he could not have received the treatment and care that a cancer patient requires… MacAskill should not feel embarrassed that Megrahi has managed to cling to life for longer than his doctors expected. If he turns out to have been innocent, the decision not to compel him to die in prison and in pain will be deemed just as well as compassionate.”

The sober Scottish Lords– who patiently heard the evidence and convicted Megrahi– sat beneath the ancient Scottish motto “Nemo Me Impune Lacessit” which roughly translates as “Don’t cut at me and expect to get away with it.”

Last year, in a fit of delusional sentimentalism (or a drunken stupor on cheap linoleum– or both), one stinking drunk and disorderly soccer yobJustice’ Minister tossed centuries of Scottish principle down the filthiest toilet in Edinburgh.

No amount of magesterial posturing will whitewash this disgraceful blood money for BP oil deal.

Billion Euro Q: How many shares of BP does Kenny MacAskill own?

/Kaddafi delenda est

Terp Mole on July 16, 2010 at 11:36 AM

The only way that pos should have left prison is in a box

we shouldn’t of had to negotiate a deal since we should have OWNED Libya after that one

the disgusting side of Islam has some really enviable fallbacks after numerous war worthy acts

WTF have we let happen

Sonosam on July 16, 2010 at 11:37 AM

I guess if massmurder is your game

Scotland is the place to go

Sonosam on July 16, 2010 at 11:43 AM

Smart Power/Reset

pain train on July 16, 2010 at 11:44 AM

Don’t buy what? That BP lobbied for his release?

Skywise on July 16, 2010 at 11:30 AM

Exactly.

AnninCA on July 16, 2010 at 11:45 AM

Maybe the administration dealt with this issue just like Congress passes bills. We’ll find out what it’s all about once it’s passed.

scalleywag on July 16, 2010 at 11:45 AM

Just another sterling example of Barry’s “smart diplomacy”.

GarandFan on July 16, 2010 at 11:54 AM

If any more people die as a result of this slimeball being released, then it will rest on the heads of BP, The British/Scottish parliamentarians who worked for his release, and the US President in charge at the time. End of story.

Hold their collective feet to the fire…..

TeresainFortWorth on July 16, 2010 at 11:59 AM

To the mystical world of Islam, it was just a simple test of whether western integrity could be bought on command. It can.

BL@KBIRD on July 16, 2010 at 11:59 AM

What did the President know, and when did he know it?

Hobbie on July 16, 2010 at 12:10 PM

OT but still with our Muslim brothers… here is happier news. The Muslims have backed off “Cordoba House” as being inflammatory and are going with the swankier title “Studio 51″ or something like that.

And even better news if you an American recently from Somalia. Go to Maine!

BL@KBIRD on July 16, 2010 at 12:11 PM

IMHO, President Obama has the Barney song always playing in his head (You love me, You love me, So I won, I won I love you, You love me, so lets be…) I mean this guy kowtows to our enemies. He loves to bow and kiss their Arse.

If this is true may the spirits of these innocent people killed over and in Lockerbie, Scotland in 1988 haunt all these scumbbags then taunt them many many times after.

USMCDevilDog on July 16, 2010 at 12:49 PM

True enough, but the Obama White House gave no indication that they knew about the deal ahead of its execution; in fact, as I recall, they acted pretty angry about it as if it had surprised them. If they did know about it but didn’t approve of it, then why didn’t the White House talk about what it did to stop it, or reveal their demand for extradition? Even if this just means they were kept apprised of the situation, it still means they didn’t do much (or anything) to stop Megrahi’s release.

Oh I’m sure as this story keeps growing, we’re gonna hear the outrage, and anger from Obama. He’ll say, and do anything to sway his guilt from himself onto someone else.

Any bets on whom that someone else may be? Bush perhaps?

capejasmine on July 16, 2010 at 1:09 PM

I was hired by Pan Am three months after Pan Am 103. I have contacted my Congressman and Senators demanding an investigation in the WH involvement.

Mike Morrissey on July 16, 2010 at 1:17 PM

Is this how wars get started — payback with interest — after awhile We the People will get tired of taking it in the shorts

wheels on July 16, 2010 at 1:28 PM

big deal. the O administration released 5 terrorists from imprisonment so they could return to Iran. they were being held for blowing up a bunch of our soldiers. I’m sure they are in Iran training more terrorists. Don’t hear much about that now do you.

workingforpigs on July 16, 2010 at 4:21 PM

Terrorist flew, and obama knew!

christene on July 16, 2010 at 11:19 PM

My question would be why did the Dems wait this long to investigate this?

Because BP is a good boogie man now?

Because they know they won’t get the millions in campaign donations from them now?

Rbastid on July 17, 2010 at 2:09 AM

Obama is amazingly crooked. Liberty has seen it’s brightest days. :(

griv on July 17, 2010 at 3:10 AM

This is political corruption on stilts.

Blair in secret talks with Gaddafi
[Lockerbie families' fury as ex-Premier is treated like a 'brother' by dictator just days after denying links with Libya]

Tony Blair was flown to Libya for secret talks with Colonel Gaddafi just days after denying he was an adviser to the dictator.
Mr Blair was ‘entertained as a brother’, a senior Libyan government source has revealed.
He told the Daily Mail that the former prime minister had offered Gaddafi, with whom he is on first-name terms, ‘a great deal of invaluable advice’.

They discussed a wide range of international and domestic issues, including lucrative investment opportunities.

The meeting, in Tripoli last month, came shortly after Mr Blair’s spokesman flatly denied that he had any ‘formal or informal’, ‘paid or unpaid’ advisory role to Gaddafi.
The revelation will heap pressure on Mr Blair – now a Middle East peace envoy – over his links to the Libyan regime and potential conflicts of interest between his public and private roles.

It will also anger those who lost family members in the Lockerbie bombing, for which Libya has admitted responsibility.

And the timing couldn’t be worse for BP, which is being accused in the U.S. of helping to engineer the early release of Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset Al-Megrahi in exchange for oil concessions from the Libyan government…

This is beyond obscene. Are there no limits?

Give Osama-KSM another decade and these whores for Kaddafi-Megrahi will embrace them, too.

Terp Mole on July 17, 2010 at 9:12 AM

Meanwhile, smug British apologists for Kaddafi’s terrorist quid pro quo continue pretend these serious allegations of corporate and political corruption are all just some silly American game of Nudge-Nudge-wink-wink.

You’re all just a bunch of gullible rubes… nothing to see here… move along.

Terp Mole on July 17, 2010 at 9:33 AM