British gov’t advised Libya on freeing Lockerbie bomber in 2008

posted at 8:48 am on February 1, 2011 by Ed Morrissey

As it turns out, the release of the man responsible for almost 300 deaths in a terrorist attack from Scotland came as no surprise to either British or American officials.  Leaked diplomatic cables show that the American embassy knew as early as October 2008 that the British Foreign Office had secretly consulted with Libya on winning the release of Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, the Lockerbie bomber, suggesting that “compassionate release” would be the best strategy:

British government ministers secretly advised Libya on how to get convicted Lockerbie bomber Abdelbeset Ali Mohmed al Megrahi released from a life sentence in a Scottish prison, American documents published by WikiLeaks allege.

A Foreign Office official explained to the Libyans how to apply for compassionate release for Megrahi after he was diagnosed with cancer, according to an October 2008 U.S. Embassy cable newly published by WikiLeaks.

The British government believed Scotland would be inclined to grant the bomber compassionate release, the cable says. …

Then-Foreign Office Minister Bill Rammell wrote to Libyan Deputy Foreign Minister Abdulati al-Obeidi in October 2008 to explain how to apply for compassionate release, a British official told the U.S. Embassy in London, the cable says.

There still appears to be a missing step in this trail.  Why was the UK government so confident that Scotland would grant compassionate release, if requested?  The bombing killed eleven people on the ground, and Scotland had agreed to extradite Megrahi for trial in the US for the murders of 190 American citizens if they released him. They reneged on that promise as well as allowed Megrahi’s release after just serving a year for each of the murders of their citizens.  That doesn’t quite add up.

It seems likely that the British government didn’t just consult on Moammar Gaddafi’s behalf, but actively brokered the deal.  That has implications for the people of Scotland beyond Megrahi’s release.  Thus far, both governments insist that the decision was made by an independent judiciary, but this revelation shows that the UK conducted political machinations to spring Megrahi, with the intent to protect British interests in petroleum.  Would they have stuck their necks on the line without any certainty of the outcome?

This also shows that the US claims of being surprised at the outcome are either a symptom of incompetence — or disingenuity.  The warning signs appeared before Barack Obama became President, but given the centrality of the war on terror to our diplomacy, this should have received attention at the highest levels.

Update: Good debate on Twitter on who to blame for this, Bush or Obama.  I’d say both.  Bush was still president at the time the embassy learned about this, and should have put the kibosh on it when it came to light — or demanded that the UK honor its agreement with the US to extradite Megrahi.  The Obama administration should have done the same, and if that didn’t work, at least honestly address the issue publicly rather than feigning surprise as they did at the time.


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A SNAFU’d up CLUSTERF*CK!!

canopfor on February 1, 2011 at 8:56 AM

Time for Megrahi to get a visit by Mitch Rapp.

Alden Pyle on February 1, 2011 at 8:57 AM

We don’t care how many of our people you kill as long as we can protect our oil interests in your country. Nothing immoral there.

SKYFOX on February 1, 2011 at 9:03 AM

Time for Megrahi to get a visit by Mitch Rapp.

Alden Pyle on February 1, 2011 at 8:57 AM

That’s how Reagan would have handled it.

O.T. Vince Flynn has cancer.

flyfisher on February 1, 2011 at 9:05 AM

He only killed infidels right?

Akzed on February 1, 2011 at 9:06 AM

cripe….

cmsinaz on February 1, 2011 at 9:06 AM

That’s how Reagan would have handled it.

O.T. Vince Flynn has cancer.

flyfisher on February 1, 2011 at 9:05 AM

love me some Mitch…

prayers to Vince

cmsinaz on February 1, 2011 at 9:07 AM

at least honestly address the issue publicly rather than feigning surprise as they did at the time.

never would have happened sorry to say…

cmsinaz on February 1, 2011 at 9:08 AM

How is that “cancer” coming along? He was supposed to be on the verge of death wasn’t he?

Mord on February 1, 2011 at 9:14 AM

Sorry, have to pin this on Bush, Obama is excused because he is so ignorant of any foreign policy.
It would be like blaming a 5 grade student for not understanding calculus…

right2bright on February 1, 2011 at 9:16 AM

Update: Good debate on Twitter on who to blame for this, Bush or Obama

I don’t blame either. He was in British custody, we had no control over him.

rbj on February 1, 2011 at 9:18 AM

I can’t believe you’re trying to blame Bush for this crap. He was released in August 2009.

Blake on February 1, 2011 at 9:22 AM

You said the key word here Ed; honesty…
Our government has lost the trust of it’s people due to dishonesty and closed doors… Both parties…

Keemo on February 1, 2011 at 9:24 AM

The awful irony (clearly lost on MacAskill’s Scottish National toadies) is that Kaddafi was the IRA. The Libyan government financed, supported, directed, trained and armed the IRA for decades. They were among his favorite Marxist hired goons.

Up to 6,000 innocents were killed or injured with Libyan supplied guns and explosives. And many IRA bombs employed the same Semtex that sent what was left of Clipper Maid of the Seas crashing into Christmas dinner tables in tiny Lockerbie (incinerating 11 Scots on the ground). Kaddafi has accepted liability and responsibility for both IRA terrorism AND Lockerbie terrorism– along with many other mass murders of innocents orchestrated by his terror-state.

Kaddafi’s IRA proxies might still be in business if not for the tireless efforts of the Victims of Pan Am 103 to sanction and isolate Libya. But (apparently) no good deed goes unpunished– at least among the cheap Scotch-adled SNP brains of Kenny MacAskill fans.

IRA and Lockerbie bombing victims properly hold Kaddafi responsible for his bloody atrocities. They can no longer afford to ignore the kabuki theatre of Libyan state-sponsored terrorism.

Smug Scottish clergy can sneer all they want about America’s (alleged) culture of vengeance– meanwhile the jihadists continue their demographic conquest of your quaint little island.

Good luck with that, Quislings.

Terp Mole on February 1, 2011 at 9:24 AM

O.T. Vince Flynn has cancer.
flyfisher on February 1, 2011 at 9:05 AM

Ugh. Bad?

I must admit that I would have compassionately released Megrahi too, the release would have come at about 15,000 feet without a chute from the belly of a B-2 Spirit. But I would have done it over his Libyan hometown so at least his family could have something to scrape-up and bury.

Am I not compassionate? “AM I NOT MERCIFUL??”

Bishop on February 1, 2011 at 9:24 AM

I’ve been studying the Clinton admin’s and the UN’s response to the Rwandan genocide. And essentially all I can say is never underestimate the capacity of our government for incompetence and malfeasance.

paul1149 on February 1, 2011 at 9:27 AM

In October 2008, it was almost certain the party in charge was about to change in the US. Exactly what could Bush have done to stop this under those circumstances?

Sekhmet on February 1, 2011 at 9:27 AM

And why did the UK and US govts. feel the need to kiss the backside of Libya with this release?

Does Libya have a copy of Obama’s birth certificate?

albill on February 1, 2011 at 9:32 AM

If the Bush Administration knew earlier in 2008 or before about the Brits’ intentions, I’d be more comfortable blaming Bush. However, October 2008 ws not only about to see the election of 0bama and a Democrat supermajority, it was widely at the time believed that Bush’s party would not be anywhere near the reins of power for a very long time. The Bush Administration had no leverage in October 2008.

Sekhmet on February 1, 2011 at 9:33 AM

I can’t believe you’re trying to blame Bush for this crap. He was released in August 2009.
Blake on February 1, 2011 at 9:22 AM

yeah boy

at least you know W would have the stones to give the pig Fu$$er scum muzzie a dirt nap

and when these things occur my hatred for muzzies grow simply for a self preservation factor

they don’t want us in their conquered,smelly, backwards and broken stoneage societies then keep them out of America

and cut off their allowances since they are so self-sufficient

Sonosam on February 1, 2011 at 9:36 AM

Kenny MacAskill must go:

The Scottish Justice Secretary’s position is untenable following new Lockerbie revelations

“…Not only should the Justice Secretary have the decency to finally step down, but he also also owes a huge apology to the families of the victims of the Lockerbie bomber. While Megrahi is a free man and feted as a hero by the Libyan regime, the fathers, mothers, daughters, sons, brothers and sisters of those who died at his hands are still suffering. It is they who deserve compassion, and not the brutal killer who now enjoys his freedom. MacAskill’s appalling decision has shamed his nation, and he must take responsibility for it.”

..that was 6 months ago.

*crickets chirp*

Terp Mole on February 1, 2011 at 9:38 AM

albill: why did the UK and US govts. feel the need to kiss the backside of Libya with this release?

Good question.

Short Answer: Cowardice.

Long Answer: The UK “compassionate release” lie is a thin veil for the real quid pro quo. The Lockerbie bomber’s release is one more payment on Kaddafi’s terrorist extortion demands that secured release of his prison raped and tortured EU nurse hostages.

FLASHBACK 2007: Qaddafi Wants Money and Lockerbie Attacker for Nurses’ Release
Muammar Qaddafi has officially stated his conditions for the release of the five Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian doctor sentenced to death in Libya, a website of the Libyan opposition claims.

Cited by the Bulgarian national radio, the site claims that Qaddafi has sent an official note to the EU country members and the US, requesting compensations for the families of the HIV-infected children and the release of the terrorist from Lockerbie… The UK should help with the release of the Lockerbie bomber, the note also says. He could be released because he has already served his sentence, or he could receive amnesty, or be extradited to Libya, Qaddafi suggests.

Where is this “official note“?

This bald-faced hostage extortion scheme does not bode well for Iran’s American hostages.

/once again, terrorism pays… handsomely

Terp Mole on February 1, 2011 at 9:47 AM

Seriously

W, the man who was strong enough to go against commie convention world wide, who has been responsible for the first big hurt experienced by radical muzzies would sign off on this travesty

HA!

Only a feckless punk, immoral, punk like bama could be a part of that

Sonosam on February 1, 2011 at 9:48 AM

Kaddafi’s jizya booty for prison raping EU nurses?

EU $400 million (includes Bulgaria’s $57M ransom)

French nuclear reactor deal (+ military hardware)

EU free trade (+ political normalization)

Brand new US Ambassador + date w/ Condi

An historic handshake and UN podium w/ Obama for Ramadan

Lockerbie bomber’s release… PRICELESS

Oh yes, terrorism still pays… handsomely!

/Kaddafi delenda est

Terp Mole on February 1, 2011 at 9:50 AM

albill: why did the UK and US govts. feel the need to kiss the backside of Libya with this release?

Because the commie slime know that not only foes it enrich them, but it is a great moral destroyer to knowledgable Americans

what better way to say,”we are losing the war”

Sonosam on February 1, 2011 at 9:52 AM

I blame Libya. Time to buzz a few more tents.

Vince on February 1, 2011 at 9:58 AM

Morale=moral

EU $400 million (includes Bulgaria’s $57M ransom)
French nuclear reactor deal (+ military hardware)
EU free trade (+ political normalization)
Brand new US Ambassador + date w/ Condi
An historic handshake and UN podium w/ Obama for Ramadan
Lockerbie bomber’s release… PRICELESS

A nauseating list

the slimy commies spend one half of their effort in empowering and protecting the radical muzzies to the point that only a bloody battle will make a difference if we are interested winning

and then spend the other half preaching that war isnt the answer

I hate them all, but our supposed loyal Americans who enable
this I hate the most

Sonosam on February 1, 2011 at 10:00 AM

The timing points to Bush objections and Obama giving the okay.

But Obama was Shocked! And Angry! Remember he was angry!

OH please can we just get a good candidate to support?

Everyone just get behind the candidates and let them duke it out before we tear them all to shreds… I want Obama gone.

petunia on February 1, 2011 at 10:02 AM

I blame Libya. Time to buzz a few more tents.
Vince on February 1, 2011 at 9:58 AM

The pig moamar should be dead for decades now

that’s the short list

Sonosam on February 1, 2011 at 10:03 AM

The timing points to Bush objections and Obama giving the okay.
But Obama was Shocked! And Angry! Remember he was angry!
OH please can we just get a good candidate to support?
Everyone just get behind the candidates and let them duke it out before we tear them all to shreds… I want Obama gone.
petunia on February 1, 2011 at 10:02 AM

That’s right

without concern of the truth bama acted as if he completely disapproved of the release

the scary thing is how little our malefactors care about the cover story

stimulus funds to districts that don’t exist?

Never heard the final on that

Sonosam on February 1, 2011 at 10:11 AM

The former White House might have had some foreknowledge of this but they were not the ones in the White House when he was released and were not the ones to pretend they did not know.

NeoKong on February 1, 2011 at 10:12 AM

Why is anyone surprised by this?

The Kaddafi clan are quite frank about their whole extortion racket. You imprison one of our terrorists? OK, we prison rape and torture your nurses until you pay us and release our terrorist.

It’s really that simple.

The Politics of Blackmail

“Blackmail? Maybe,” he says, considering the word. “It is blackmail, but the Europeans also blackmailed us. Yeah, it’s an immoral game by the way, but—I mean they set the rules of the game, the Europeans, and now they are paying the price.” They, and the Americans, too, for that matter, are merely serving their own political and economic interests, as far as Saif al-Islam is concerned. While the medics suffered, governments and multinationals were cutting deals. French President Nicolas Sarkozy even finagled an image-enhancing jaunt for his whimsical wife, Cécilia, as ostensible liberator of the prisoners. “She is the last person to come interfere in that issue and she is the person who took the medics with her back home,” said Saif al-Islam. “She’s very lucky. Lots of people tried in the past and they failed.” The reason: “The French [understood] the requirements and they were very flexible.”

If you’re not severely nauseated by all this, then you’re not paying attention.

Terp Mole on February 1, 2011 at 10:15 AM

I would agree that both are responsible, but Obama more so.

Bush had the information, and I’m sure, shared it with both McCain, and Obama. Obama won, so it was up to him to put the brakes on this, and he did nothing.

It was his ball, and it was on his side of the court. Either he’s President, or he’s not. Enough with passing the buck. Bush is gone, and it’s all on Obama now.

capejasmine on February 1, 2011 at 10:16 AM

Put the F-111′s back in service and send them right down Main Street Tripoli again…

Caper29 on February 1, 2011 at 10:16 AM

Here is the awful account of the EU nurse torture ordeals from Human Rights Watch.

Bulgarian defendant, Kristiana Valceva, said interrogators used a small machine with cables and a handle that produced electricity. “During the shocks and torture they asked me where the AIDS came from and what is your role,” she told Human Rights Watch. She said that Libyan interrogators subjected her to electric shocks on her breasts and genitals. “My confession was all in Arabic without translation,” she said. “We were ready to sign anything just to stop the torture.”

Read it all. Don’t turn away.

This was the stick the “rehabilitated” Kaddafi clan used to great affect (along with oil carrots) to snooker the West.

[capejasmine: "both are responsible, but Obama more so."]

Look, Westerners can backbite each other (Bush lied, Obama lied, Blair lied, MacAskill lied) until we’re blue in the face.

Meanwhile Kaddafi and his terrorist co-conspirators are laughing their way to the bank laden with jizya booty.

National will (and the moral courage to exercise it) that united and motivated our post-9/11 actions has been eroded by appeasement Quislings.

There is a pox on all our houses of government.

Terp Mole on February 1, 2011 at 10:20 AM

Update: Good debate on Twitter on who to blame for this, Bush or Obama

I don’t blame either. He was in British custody, we had no control over him.

rbj on February 1, 2011 at 9:18 AM

That said, there’s a reason why the release didn’t happen in 2008.

steveegg on February 1, 2011 at 10:21 AM

Seize British assets to pay claims against Libya.

JEM on February 1, 2011 at 10:27 AM

Caper29: “Put the F-111′s back in service”

Fat chance. American outrage over this miscarriage will never be hot enough again.

The convicted mass murderer of 189 American innocents enjoys superstar status, repeatedly feted as a “much-loved” hero of the Libyan people. According to Megrahi’s family, he has received up to 30,000 house guests – a white tent was erected in the garden for visitors – while newborn babies across Libya have been named after him. Gaddafi family members have also made several private visits, friends say.

The best patriotic Americans can hope is that Osama bin Laden doesn’t extort the same deal from our Quisling “leaders”.

Terrorism still pays… handsomely.

/Kaddafi delenda est

Terp Mole on February 1, 2011 at 10:28 AM

Put the F-111′s back in service and send them right down Main Street Tripoli again…
Caper29 on February 1, 2011 at 10:16 AM

A nice trip down memory lane

the penalty for acts against such as this should be we kill your army till you surrender and Libya becomes the fifty first state

once is all it would take

Thank God that muzzies are so primitive that they can do nothing better than buy weapons from somewhere else or strap bombs on their own

it’s natures checks and balance

the most destructive are the least advanced

Sonosam on February 1, 2011 at 10:33 AM

The fix was in.

That’s the problem with conspiracy nuts: Every once in a while, they’re right.

Socratease on February 1, 2011 at 11:55 AM

Good debate on Twitter on who to blame for this, Bush or Obama.

Woah, woah, woah!!!

I was told it was BP’s fault!

ButterflyDragon on February 1, 2011 at 12:38 PM

Sonosam on February 1, 2011 at 10:33 AM

“He counted on America to be passive. He counted wrong.”

Caper29 on February 1, 2011 at 12:45 PM

Disingenuity? What, is Hot Air too chicken-shit to say “lie”?

woodNfish on February 1, 2011 at 1:17 PM

Caper29 on February 1, 2011 at 12:45 PM

very nice

very bamaish/

Sonosam on February 1, 2011 at 1:38 PM

Sonosam on February 1, 2011 at 1:38 PM

LOL! I was in my teens at the time of Reagan. When anything major happened, I used to run to the tv to see what he had to say.

With the Bamster not so much…

Caper29 on February 1, 2011 at 5:08 PM

UK: Jack Straw unveils Scotland’s price for al-Megrahi’s release;

Mr Straw told The Mail on Sunday that last week he checked unpublished documents and official records of conversations he held with Mr Salmond and Mr MacAskill in the autumn of 2007.

At that time, the Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi was threatening not to ratify an oil-drill-ing deal with BP unless Megrahi was included in a Prisoner Transfer Agreement (PTA) allowing him to return to Libya. Gaddafi got his way – and the oil deal, potentially worth many billions, went ahead.

Mr Straw said that Mr Salmond had already asked him the previous summer to change the law over the prisoners’ damages claims for having to slop out – claims which he feared could cost Scotland £50 million.

‘It does seem now that he has been suffering from selective amnesia,’ Mr Straw said.

‘What he’s forgotten is that when I went to him in late 2007, asking him to agree to a PTA that would not exclude Megrahi, he indicated that he could be more accommodating if I could offer him two concessions – first to change the Scotland Act to make Scotland less vulnerable to paying compensation to prisoners for slopping out, and second to transfer responsibility for firearms from Westminster to Scotland.’

/slop pro quo

Terp Mole on February 14, 2011 at 8:22 AM

Mr Straw told The Mail on Sunday that last week he checked unpublished documents and official records of conversations he held with Mr Salmond and Mr MacAskill in the autumn of *2007*.

FLASHBACK 2007: Qaddafi Wants Money and Lockerbie Attacker for Nurses’ Release

Muammar Qaddafi has officially stated his conditions for the release of the five Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian doctor sentenced to death in Libya, a website of the Libyan opposition claims.

Cited by the Bulgarian national radio, the site claims that Qaddafi has sent an official note to the EU country members and the US, requesting compensations for the families of the HIV-infected children and the release of the terrorist from Lockerbie… The UK should help with the release of the Lockerbie bomber, the note also says. He could be released because he has already served his sentence, or he could receive amnesty, or be extradited to Libya, Qaddafi suggests.

Where is this “official note“?

Kaddafi’s bald-faced hostage extortion scheme must be exposed.

/once again, terrorism pays… handsomely

Terp Mole on February 14, 2011 at 8:35 AM

We should be surprised by this?

The Kaddafi klan are quite frank about their sextortion racket. You imprison one of our terrorists? OK, we prison rape and torture your nurses until you pay us and release our terrorist.

It’s really that simple.

The Politics of Blackmail

“Blackmail? Maybe,” he says, considering the word. “It is blackmail, but the Europeans also blackmailed us. Yeah, it’s an immoral game by the way, but—I mean they set the rules of the game, the Europeans, and now they are paying the price.” They, and the Americans, too, for that matter, are merely serving their own political and economic interests, as far as Saif al-Islam is concerned. While the medics suffered, governments and multinationals were cutting deals. French President Nicolas Sarkozy even finagled an image-enhancing jaunt for his whimsical wife, Cécilia, as ostensible liberator of the prisoners. “She is the last person to come interfere in that issue and she is the person who took the medics with her back home,” said Saif al-Islam. “She’s very lucky. Lots of people tried in the past and they failed.” The reason: “The French [understood] the requirements and they were very flexible.”

If you’re not severely nauseated by all this, then you’re not paying attention.

Terp Mole on March 22, 2011 at 3:44 PM