Jewish World Review August 30, 2011 30 Menachem-Av, 5771
Goodnight Irene, hello Lockerbie
By Roger Simon
No, I am not talking about the scores of TV reporters who stood in lashing rain and wind - - and in one case sewage - - along the East Coast of the United States to bring us the devastation of Hurricane Irene up close and personal.
As it turns out, while their courage and intentions were well-placed, their geography was not. The state worst hit was Vermont, which happens not to be on the Atlantic Ocean and has no coast at all.
The rest of the nation might wonder why East Coast stories, especially New York City stories, get so much TV coverage and the answer is twofold. First, almost all of TV news is headquartered in the New York area, and that’s where the TV execs live. If your basement floods, it’s a problem; if their basements flood, it’s a major news event.
Second, look at the numbers. Here is the breakdown of U.S. population by percentage in each time zone, as provided by my crack research assistant (Google.)
Eastern: 47.0 percent
Central: 32.9 percent
Mountain: 5.4 percent
Pacific: 14.1 percent
Alaska and Hawaii: 0.6 percent
So you can see why the East Coast gets most of the coverage and when you add in the Midwest (stand-ups of reporters being blown around by blizzards and making snow angels) you get 80 percent of the U.S. population.
True, the West Coast gets earthquake aftermath coverage, but since there is no reliable method of predicting earthquakes, the networks cannot station reporters up and down the coast to scare the hell out of people days in advance.
So who was the brave TV reporter whom I saw? It was Nic Robertson, CNN’s chief international correspondent, who appeared to be breaking into a home in Tripoli.
After banging on the door for 15 minutes and getting no answer, he boosted himself up on a window sill, grabbed the top of a wall and stuck his head over. (His camera crew - - and they never get enough credit - - must have done the same because we suddenly saw the inside of a compound with people running around.) The compound, which Robertson described as a “fancy villa in a posh” neighborhood, came complete with a trampoline, a swimming pool, a garden, and a lush, well-watered lawn, even though Tripoli is running out of water.
“I’ve not had a shower or washed in running water for three days,” Robertson reported.
Robertson and his crew finally were allowed into the compound and got some exclusive footage of a worm said to be Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi, better known as the Lockerbie Bomber.
As I have written before, Megrahi blew up Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, on Dec. 21, 1988, murdering 270 people, including 190 Americans.
It wasn’t until Jan. 31, 2001, that a three-judge Scottish panel finally convicted him and sentenced Megrahi to life in prison.
In 2009, however, Megrahi was freed from prison on “compassionate grounds” because he had prostate cancer and was said to have only three months to live. So a remarkably healthy-looking Megrahi was sent home to Libya where he was greeted by cheering crowds and has continued to live on and on in splendor as befitting a national hero.
One of his neighbors, Attiya al-Usta, said of Megrahi a few days ago, “Recently he looked fit and neat. I saw him just before the revolution. He didn’t look ill at all. He was sitting in a chair on his balcony. He looked 100 percent.”
Megrahi was released by one inexcusably stupid man, Scottish Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill, who might have fallen into a vat of Glenmorangie before he made his decision.
Secretary MacAskill is not a doctor and nor did he assemble a blue-ribbon panel to examine Megrahi before releasing him. Rumors swirled that the British government was trying to help BP gain access to Libyan oil reserves.
Both President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Megrahi should be sent back to prison in Scotland. FBI Director Robert Mueller wrote MacAskill a letter saying, “Your action makes a mockery of the rule of law” and “gives comfort to terrorists around the world.”
So today after the United States has ponied up billions to topple the government of Libya and other NATO nations provided air power and on-ground advisors, what is one of the first things the new rebel government, the National Transitional Council announced?
It will refuse to extradite Megrahi, even though he has violated the terms of his release by not checking in with Scottish authorities. Those Scottish authorities, perhaps emerging from casks of Johnnie Walker, said last week they had lost contact with Misrahi in the “dust of battle.”
CNN’s Robertson and his crew found no such dust. They found Misrahi in a nice room in a nice bed with his eyes closed and an oxygen mask over his face. He was said to be in a “coma,” which may be true, though there is another medical term for his condition which is “lying in bed with your eyes closed until the TV guys leave.”
He did not look severely emaciated or near death to me. (Though the possibility exists a convenient death soon will be announced and a hasty burial will be arranged - - for somebody.)
Considering we sent a SEAL team into Pakistan to whack Osama bin Laden, even though he had not stood trial, I don’t see why we can’t send a SEAL team into Libya to whack Megrahi, who has been convicted of 270 murders.
The new government of Libya might object, but who cares? Without our money and support, the rebels would collapse in a week.
The Scots might also object and cut off Scotch exports to the United States, but who cares again? I have always preferred Jack Daniels anyway.
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