When convicted Pan Am Flight 103 killer Abdel Basset Ali
al-Megrahi landed to a hero's welcome in Libya last week, there was no
question about it: Our Betters in Europe got rolled.
They were undone by the vainglory of Scottish Justice Secretary
Kenny MacAskill, who authorized Megrahi's "compassionate" early release for
terminal prostate cancer. MacAskill explained: Compassion means "remaining
true to our values as a people. No matter the severity of the provocation or
the atrocity perpetrated." Sure, there's a place for justice but smugness
MacAskill told the Scottish Parliament Monday that Tripoli had
promised to handle Megrahi's homecoming in a "low-key and sensitive
fashion." Well, guess what: A government that masterminded the 1988
bombing which killed 270 people, including 11 on the ground in
Lockerbie didn't keep its word.
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown got rolled, too. Brown sent
Libyan leader Moammar Khadafy a letter requesting that he not give Megrahi a
"high profile" reception. Advice rejected.
The tarmac crowd waved Libyan and Scottish flags. And in an
apparent effort to further embarrass Brown, Khadafy released a statement
thanking "my friend Brown," his government, and the royal family for
"encouraging the Scottish government to (make) this historic and courageous
While MacAskill asserted that he alone made the decision to
release Megrahi, he has noted that No. 10 Downing St. negotiated a Prisoner
Transfer Agreement with Libya while "the Scottish Prison Service had only
one Libyan prisoner in custody."
A British Foreign Office spokesman told the New York Times there
had been no "deal in relation to Megrahi and any commercial interests in
Libya." But as British papers have reported, Brown and his ministers had
discussed Megrahi's release in meetings with Khadafy and his son. And as the
Times reported, Brown and predecessor Tony Blair intervened in negotiations
on the transfer agreement as "Libya awarded Britain a major oil contract, a
$900 million deal" involving British Petroleum and "dangled the prospect of
President Obama got rolled, too. Before the Pan Am bomber
landed, Obama told the press that he had informed Tripoli that Megrahi
should not be "welcomed in some way but instead should be under house
Khadafy renounced weapons of mass destruction when President
George W. Bush was in the Oval Office, but he sure doesn't act afraid of
this White House.
This ending, however, was written in 1998, when the
international community decided Scotland would try accused bombers in the
Netherlands. The United Kingdom has no death penalty, which is what he
deserved. Three Scottish judges unanimously acquitted another suspect in
2001, but found Megrahi, a Libyan intelligence agent "of fairly high rank,"
guilty. His life sentence made Megrahi eligible for parole after 27 years.
Thanks to MacAskill's sense of compassion, Megrahi walked free
after eight years. FBI Director Robert Mueller lambasted MacAskill for a
release that "gives comfort to terrorists around the world." But that
comfort begins when a country's "justice" officials put their values before