Monday, August 24, 2009

US piles pressure on Britain over release of Lockerbie bomber.

The US are piling the pressure on to Scotland over the release, on the grounds of compassion, of the man found guilty of the Lockerbie bombing.

In a blow to Gordon Brown's attempts to distance himself from the decision by the Scottish justice secretary, the chairman of the US joint chiefs of staff dismissed British claims that the bomber had been released solely on compassionate grounds. Admiral Mike Mullen told CNN that the release of Abdelbaset al-Megrahi was "obviously a political decision. I was appalled by the decision."

His remarks were echoed by John Bolton, the former US ambassador to the UN under George Bush. He said: "As someone whose grandparents were Scottish, I'm appalled by the decision of the Scottish government. But I'm more appalled by the decision of the British government apparently to see commercial advantage for the UK in having this mass murderer go free. We wait to hear from prime minister Brown what he thinks."

The interventions by two senior US figures come as the Scottish justice minister who took the decision to free Megrahi on compassionate grounds faces fresh pressure today when the Scottish parliament is recalled in emergency session.

I really don't get why some Americans are going so bananas over the fact that the Scottish Justice minister has decided to allow a dying man to go free.

Let's leave aside the fact that there are many in Scotland who question the case against Abdelbaset al-Megrahi and lets just look at the issue of compassionate release. In the UK recently Ronnie Biggs, the Great Train robber, was released when it became known that he was dying.

This is a man who evaded the UK police for decades and who lived openly in Rio de Janiero, knowing that the lack of any extradition treaty between Britain and Brazil rendered his arrest impossible.

So the authorities had good reason to want to make an example out of this man when he eventually returned. Nevertheless, when it became obvious that he was dying, a decision was taken to release him.

So there is precedence in the UK for such decisions.

And, even if we accept the court decision which found al-Megrahi guilty - which many Scots do not - what exactly is so wrong about us showing that we are more compassionate than terrorists? I would have thought that was a given.
The Scottish government found itself under intense pressure over the weekend when Robert Mueller, the director of the FBI, lambasted the release of Megrahi. In a letter to MacAskill, he said: "Your action in releasing Megrahi … makes a mockery of the rule of law. Your action gives comfort to terrorists around the world."
The only possible "comfort" terrorists could take from this is to realise that we are more humane than they are. As I say, that really shouldn't be any great surprise to anyone.

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