Friday, July 23, 2010

US and UK locked in standoff over Senate's Lockerbie investigation.

I understand that the release of Megrahi has caused considerable unease amongst many American senators, but they have lost all sense of perspective if they think they can summon British MP's to stand before them and answer for decisions which they made in their own parliaments.

Britain and the US are locked in a standoff over Lockerbie after a Scottish minister flatly turned down a request to appear before a Senate committee and Jack Straw expressed unease about attending.

Days after David Cameron tried to ease transatlantic tensions by announcing a Whitehall review of the Lockerbie papers, Straw said it would be "highly unusual" to expect a British MP to answer in Washington for decisions made in London.

British MP's are elected by the British public and answerable to them at the time of the next election. They are under no obligation to travel to Washington and explain decisions which Washington disagrees with.

Straw highlighted British unease about the senate investigation when he questioned whether it was right for a foreign legislature to question a British MP about decisions taken lawfully in the UK. In a statement, he said he had no problem in explaining the background to the prisoner transfer agreement with Libya.

But he added: "Before coming to any decision as to whether to accept this invitation I shall be consulting Gordon Brown, as prime minister at the time, and seeking the advice of the Foreign Office. It is in my experience highly unusual for the legislature of one sovereign state to conduct an inquiry into decisions of another sovereign state, including, as in this case, decisions by the devolved administration on the release of the prisoner. There are therefore important issues of principle here which could affect UK governments of any party and which need carefully to be considered before I come to a final view."

I can't help but feel outraged that the Senate committee could even make such a request. It's quite blatant that they are asking another sovereign state to explain themselves.

Scotland has a system which allows for compassionate release. They decided, rightly or wrongly, to do so in this case.

They don't have to answer to anyone for the decision which they made, other than to their own electorate. They certainly don't need to fly to Washington to act as puppets to be pushed around and scolded by American senators who disagree with what they have done.

The US is not the Roman Empire and other countries are not answerable to it's Senate for decisions legally made through their own legislatures.


Crooks and Liars have a very detailed article concerning the allegations that Abdel Baset al-Megrah was released as part of a deal made between BP and Libya, which they imply was why the Scottish Justice Secretary, Kenny MacAskill, decided to release al-Megrah on the orders of Jack Straw.

This makes utterly no sense. The SNP and Labour are rivals. Furthermore, one of the longest and strongest complaints the SNP have is that the English squandered "Scotland's oil".

Why would MacAskill release al-Megrah in an oil deal that brought no benefit to Scotland but was guaranteed to bring the full disapprobation of the United States on to the shoulders of the Scots?

What these senators are also forgetting is that Lockerbie is seared into the Scottish consciousness just as deeply as it is in the hearts of their American counterparts. The notion that al-Megrah was released in a deal for oil would be regarded as deeply offensive and would end, I suspect, the ministerial career of anyone shoddy enough to engage in such a negotiation.

And, just to put these demands in perspective: had the bomber been released from an American prison, would the American Secretary of State come to Scotland to explain to a Scottish Inquiry the reasoning behind the decision? The mere notion is preposterous.

Click here for full article.


daveawayfromhome said...

Many Americans, especially on the GOP side of the country, seem to have a fundamental lack of understanding of just what "compassion" means. In their minds, "justice" trumps compassion; they dont seem to understand that compassion is the attribute of the giver, and is still true despite whether the receiver "deserves" it or not.

Kel said...