Posted on July 18, 2010


Beyond Presumptuous

Assuming a BP-Lockerbie link


Daniel Clark


Congressional Democrats have scheduled hearings to start on July 29th, on a possible connection between British-based oil giant BP and the release of Lockerbie bomber Abdelbeset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi. Given that the polls probably rank BP's popularity somewhere between that of Mel Gibson and the New Black Panther Party, the grilling of its executives may be uncontroversial. Nevertheless, the congressmen should first have to answer some questions of their own, such as these:

Showtime in the Big Top

* BP admits to having lobbied to hasten a prisoner transfer agreement between Britain and Libya in 2007, but denies agitating for the release of al-Megrahi. Given that the terrorist's release was not the result of this agreement, which is the only scrap of evidence implicating BP, how do you justify the expenditure of your time on these hearings, when you could instead be, oh, passing a budget, or something?

* Under their agreement, both governments must sign off on the transfer of a particular prisoner. Libya would first have had to apply for al-Megrahi's transfer, and then the Scottish Justice Department would have had to approve. This is not what happened. Scottish Secretary of Justice Kenny MacAskill acted unilaterally, exercising an authority that does not stem from the agreement. Furthermore, the agreement was not designed to be something akin to a pardon. Instead, it would ostensibly result in a transfer of custody, from a prison in one country to a prison in the other. The Scots granted al-Megrahi "compassionate release," not "compassionate prison transfer." Knowing all this, why do you persist in portraying the transfer agreement as the central issue?

* Since BP did not have the power to free al-Megrahi, are you not actually investigating corruption within the British government, and do you consider that to be either a proper or a constructive thing to do? We've already made our point. The British government admits that al-Megrahi's release was wrong. The act, however scandalous, cannot now be undone. What good can come of chastising a foreign government, which is still the best ally we have, and which your party has already done more than enough to alienate over the past two years?

* Even if you find the Brits to be guilty of corruption, you obviously have no jurisdiction over them. What do you intend to do about it, propose a strongly-worded UN resolution? Put them on trial in the Hague? Hire Oliver Stone to make a movie about them?

* Now that BP executives have denied your allegation, do you really expect them to change their story when they appear before Congress, in the absence of any new evidence contradicting their denial? If not, then why bother questioning them? Why don't you just set up a cardboard cutout of "that BP guy," Gary Burghoff, and pelt it with rotten vegetables?

* Why was it so wrong of BP to lobby on behalf of what is, after all, a benign diplomatic agreement? The decisions you make in the United States Congress are certainly not free of influence from lobbyists, corporate and otherwise. How would you like to have the legislature of some other country probing the propriety of these influences?

a Democrat, showing concern about terrorism

* The real outrage was in the freeing of al-Megrahi, which was done last August, not in the more recent report that the imminence of his death may have been exaggerated. So why are you calling for hearings now, when you didn't at the time the offense was committed? Are these hearings really about the Lockerbie bombing at all, or are they strategically timed for some other purpose? For example, a congressional show trial equating "Big Oil" with terrorist bombers would help those sagging approval numbers for a moratorium on drilling, wouldn't it?

* Since when are you Democrats so upset by the release of a terrorist, anyway? You've spent the past nine years going to outrageous extremes to prevent us from killing, capturing, spying on, imprisoning and interrogating terrorists. You've routinely acted as defense attorneys for our terrorist enemies, while prejudicially holding our own soldiers up to suspicion. If al-Megrahi had been held at Guantanamo, you would have been more concerned with the fluffiness of his pillow than with any concept of justice for his 270 victims. Where does the party of John Kerry, who in 2004 promised a "more sensitive War on Terror," get off investigating another government's officials for being soft on terrorism?

* One final question: You must be awfully happy that nobody's asking you any of these questions, aren't you?

-- Daniel Clark is a Staff Writer for the New Media Alliance. The New Media Alliance is a non-profit (501c3) national coalition of writers, journalists and grass-roots media outlets.



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