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Showing posts with label Tony Blair and Libya. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Tony Blair and Libya. Show all posts

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

The Megrahi Release decision and questions of guilt or innocence

The comments that followed my blog yesterday on Megrahi attempted to focus on his guilt or innocence. As always when the Megrahi Release is discussed, those who are passionately committed to either supporting or challenging the Megrahi verdict and hold strong views on his guilt or innocence want to have their say. Nothing of what I have said about Megrahi's release focuses on this aspect, other than incidentally.

I therefore must make it clear that if you have something to say on his guilt or innocence, you must do it elsewhere – however important the issue of his guilt, it is off topic and irrelevant to the release decision.

I have therefore re-stated my position on Megrahi below, as already expressed to a regular, welcome and respected contributor to my blog.

MY POSITION ON MEGRAHI

I don't want to discuss Megrahi's guilt or innocence because I have nothing useful to contribute to the torrent of 'facts', opinions and conspiracy theories that abound. I want to believe that justice was done, and if it wasn't, or there are other guilty men, I want to see them brought to justice. I support Dr. Jim Swire in his clear-eyed search for that truth, but I can add nothing useful to his detailed arguments or research.

But whatever Megrahi's guilt or innocence, I hold no brief for the man - he was a member of the intelligence services of a brutal murderous regime for decades, a regime that, given his position, he must have known the exact nature of, yet remained with and profited from.

No one can be a member of the intelligence services of such a regime and not commit appalling acts that offend against humanity.

In spite of all that, I supported the decision to release him on compassionate grounds. In conflating the argument over his guilt or innocence with that decision, we blur the essence of the debate on the release decision, when it fact it is starkly simple - he was released under Scots law on compassionate grounds in the firm belief that he was guilty.

It is that single act of humanity and compassion, expressed through Scots law by a Scottish Justice Minister that above all else distinguished us, our civilisation and our values from the regimes that we abhor. It is a source of sadness and regret to me that Scottish politicians representing the unionist parties in the Scottish Parliament were, and still are, unable to make that vital distinction, any more than their masters in the UK parties at Westminster are, and the Scottish Press and media.

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Megrahi, The Scotsman and the Unionists.

The Scotsman is in no doubt what the big story is today – Megrahi’s death bed ‘confession’. It puts confession in quotes, but it’s a nod and a wink – we know what they really believe. The justification for this is in the sub header – Lockerbie bomber: ‘My name was exaggerated’. The Unionist logic on Megrahi – and the Scotsman is a unionist paper, whatever its pretensions to objectivity and its token inclusion of nationalist commentators – goes something like this -

The SNP Government, in their first term, made a damaging political error in releasing Megrahi, an error that had to be ruthlessly exploited by Scottish and Unionist UK politicians. The fundamental political error lay in releasing him on compassionate grounds, even if he was dying, since Unionist realpolitik would never have let compassion - or indeed the facts of Scottish Law on compassionate release - get in the way of political expediency.

But just in case the Scottish public - who have an unhappy tendency to be more humane and compassionate than the Labour and Tory hegemonies that have hitherto ruled them - shared the humanity of Kenny MacAskill and the SNP Government, the question had to be raised if Megrahi was really dying or not, and here they had the advantage that estimates of life expectancy in terminal illness often prove to be too short, and many terminally ill patients live for much longer than forecast. This bet was promptly hedged. If he died as forecast in three months, they could still argue bad judgement: if he lived longer, they could argue that it was a fix.

There were also a few other inconvenient factors for the Unionist parties to consider in the exploitation of a dying man for political purposes.

A significant number of Scots did not believe Megrahi was guilty, and some believed that he was involved but did not act alone. This was compounded by the fact that Doctor Jim Swire, who had lost his daughter in the Lockerbie atrocity - and was a prominent voice among the bereaved - did not believe that Megrahi was guilty.

Tony Blair had muddied the water by the abortive attempt to secure the deal in the desert with Gadaffi to release Megrahi for cynical political gain over oil, a deal that he had no power to make constitutionally, given the devolved settlement. This meant that a potential fault line lay between the Tories and LibDems on one side and UK Labour on the other. This was compounded by the fact that the American critics of the release believed that UK Labour had stitched up a deal with the SNP Government, a proposition that was utterly ludicrous to all who knew the total hostility of the Labour Party, at both UK and Scottish levels to the elected Government of the people of Scotland, and was more than a little inconvenient for Labour, less so for Cameron.

The most inconvenient factor of all was that Kenny MacAskill and the Scottish Government took the decision in the firm belief that Megrahi was guilty under the verdict reached at the trial. (This, for the record, is also my belief – I support the compassionate release decision although I believe Megrahi was guilty, although I do not believe that he acted alone.)

The pristine clarity of Kenny MacAskill’s decision rested on the fact that he believed Megrahi was guilty, had been properly found guilty as charged under Scots Law, but nevertheless was eligible for compassionate release. The Scottish Justice Minster, in the full knowledge that he would unleash a volley of critical fire, nonetheless did what was right, rather than what was expedient. No Scottish unionist politician  had either the political or moral courage to take such a decision, and Scottish Labour were clearly kept out of the Machiavellian Blair/UK Labour loop and their machinations.

As the Gadaffi regime began its bloody collapse and Libya moved towards freedom from a brutal dictatorship, the unionist camp lived in hope of new disclosures that would confirm Megrahi’s guilt and somehow implicate the Scottish Government, still consumed by their faulty analysis of the dynamics of the situation.

They seized upon every panic-stricken defector who was prepared to say whatever was necessary to the US and UK governments to gain asylum and immunity from prosecution.

What emerged was in fact embarrassing revelations of just how close Blair, the Labour Government and now the Coalition had been to Gadaffi till the eleventh hour, when Cameron grasped his Maggie moment and found his war by joining France in supporting the rebels.

And so to yesterday at Megrahi’s sick bed and today at The Scotsman and elsewhere

What conclusions may we draw from Megrahi’s statement, and what does it signal for the future? The possibilities are easy to set out -

Megrahi is either feigning illness – the unstated sub-text of much unionist media comment – or he is dying. If the first is true, why would a man feted by the regime as a hero not be with Gadaffi in his final bunker in Sirte, instead a lying in a bed without any protection other than unarmed immediate family? To secure asylum to the West or the US by trading information? Such an explanation has zero credibility. He is pretty clearly seriously ill, has been abandoned by the regime, and does not have the drugs or medical care to alleviate his pain or prolong his life.

What would a guilty man do in such circumstances? He would admit his guilt, as other senior figures have done, and try to trade information for immunity.

What would an innocent man do in such circumstances? He would try and clear his name.

Since I believe Megrahi is guilty at least of complicity in the Lockerbie bombing, my conclusion is that he is terminally ill, has been abandoned by the regime, expects to die, expects nothing of the West, but wants to make the exact nature of his role in the atrocity clear before he dies.

Can we conclude anything from his statement, accurately reported in The Scotsman’s sub-header – “My name was exaggerated”. If this strange formulation is accurate, nothing can be concluded from it – it could mean anything. But The Scotsman, the unionist media and the bandwagon jumpers such as Johann Lamont have rapidly translated Megrahi’s gnomic statement into – “My role was exaggerated”.

Megrahi could have meant that – he equally could have meant that his name and identity, as an acknowledged senior member of the Libyan security apparatus, were seized upon by the media, even though he had no direct involvement in the plot.

But none of the this changes the analysis vis a vis Kenny MacAskill’s release decision. The situation is now as it has always been, crystal clear.

1. If conclusive evidence is found of Megrahi’s guilt, even if it confirmed him as the sole architect of the Lockerbie bombing atrocity, that would simply confirm the belief in which the Scottish Justice Minister made his decision, namely that Megrahi was guilty as charged.

2. If conclusive evidence is found that Megrahi was completely innocent of the charge, or complicit and not the prime mover, or that he was guilty but did not act alone, then the world must recognise that a compassionate decision, made in the belief that he was guilty, in fact had averted a grave miscarriage of justice.

3. If conclusive evidence was found that, in the face of all rationality and all that we know, that the Labour Government and the British intelligence services somehow conspired with Alex Salmond and Kenny MacAskill to find a spurious rational for releasing Megrahi, then the American Republican Right would be ecstatic, Labour's already deeply damaged reputation would be dealt a terminal blow, and the UK would be seriously damaged because of the continuity of exactly the same people in the shadowy world of intelligence across both the Brown and Cameron/Clegg regimes, a conspiracy to defeat the legitimate wishes of the American people and the families of the American victims to see justice done to the murder of their loved ones.

But we have conclusive evidence – evidence of  Blair’s Deal (a non-deal) in the Desert, of the Brown Government’s complicity and of the Cameron/Clegg Coalition’s close, intimate relations with a brutal, probably insane dictator up to the eleventh hour, while human rights were being brutally violated with the UK’s full knowledge in Gadaffi’s torture chambers and dungeons, all in the name of realpolitik and oil.

The Megrahi Affair teaches us a lot about the Scottish Government and its Justice Minister - who acted unselfishly and upheld the highest principle of law, justice and human compassion - and successive UK Governments and the three Unionist parties that comprised them at various times – who acted in the most despicable traditions of  a brutal, expedient and values-free colonial imperialism.

Saor Alba!





Sunday, 27 February 2011

The Sunday Times deliberately distorts the latest Megrahi story

The Wikileak about the last Labour Government’s lies and hypocrisy over their shameful involvement with Libya and Gadaffi over the potential release of the Lockerbie bomber in return for commercial deals was, in one sense, God’s gift to the beleagured Cameron ConLib Coalition, giving them an opportunity to attack the Labour Party.

However, they and their press backers realised that it was potentially a double-edged sword as far as the Union and the United Kingdom was concerned, since it placed the Scottish Nationalist government’s refusal to have any truck with the Prisoner Transfer Agreement under Blair’s sleazy Deal in the Desert, and their refusal to release Megrahi at that time in a good light. That, together with the SNP Government’s decision to release Megrahi - who by a much later date had been diagnosed as being terminally ill - looked even more like the humane, principled decision that it was, taken in the full belief, by the Scottish Justice Minister and the Scottish government, that Megrahi was guilty of the Lockerbie bombing, and that the sentence of the Scottish Court was a valid one.

Despite the clear political advantage to be gained over Labour, this could not be allowed to happen so close to a pivotal Scottish election, because it showed up the disgraceful hypocrisy and ineptitude of Holyrood Labour’s stance after the Megrahi release. The circle had to be squared - a way to muddy the water, distort the facts and smear the Scottish Government had to found - and quick.

A blatant lie was hastily constructed, that the Scottish Government had been complicit with the Westminster Labour Government of the day in trying to negotiate Megrahi’s release under the PTA in return for concessions on the prisoners’ slopping out case - a proposition and a scenario so ludicrous that Scottish Nationalists would have fallen about laughing, had it not been for the seriousness of the lie.

This lie has, knowingly or unwittingly, been repeated so often now by every unionist newspaper and superficial commentator - including at a point in time the BBC and Channel Four News - that it runs the risk of becoming a factoid - something that everybody knows to be true, except that it ain’t, to quote Norman Mailer, the originator of the term.

And now The Sunday Times are at it today -

Lockerbie Bomber ‘won his release by blackmail’

Note the quotes, achieving the dual feat of giving it spurious credibility while retaining the ability to repudiate it as something somebody else said, if the need arise.

This non-story uses a methodology now widely practised in the Scottish press as well, that of hoping that the headline will be the story, and that the casual reader will not examine the flimsy and inaccurate foundation upon which it is constructed.

The story rest upon the statement by Mustapha Abdel Jali, Libya’s former Justice Minister. I invite you to consider that title - Libya’s Justice Minister - a personal friend of Gadaffi, servant to a brutal, repressive, dictatorial regime, responsible for the suppression of its citizens for forty years by torture and murder, an international pariah state. This man, apparently expert at playing both ends against the middle, and now faced with the collapse of the regime he helped to sustain - with a few well-judged liberal gestures just in case - is desperate to curry favour with the US and British governments, and he knows exactly what they want to hear. A little caution is advisable when considering anything he has to say …

But I believe him - that Gadaffi did order the Lockerbie bombings, that Megrahi was involved, probably with others, and was therefore guilty. I also believe that Gadaffi was actively negotiating with Blair and the former Labour Government for his release.

This is in fact the only story, but the Sunday Times, a News International paper, solidly Tory and right-wing in its sympathies, has to find room for the Scottish smear in their cobbled-together little piece. So they included this paragraph - which is factually accurate - in the hope of beginning the mud-slinging -

“Megrahi, who has always publicly maintained his innocence, was given compassionate release by the Scottish authorities in August 2009 after being diagnosed with  cancer. He remains alive, despite being given only three months to live.”

That last sentence is the ST’s hook - the implication being that Megrahi was not terminally ill.

A rent-a-mouth Tory MP, Ben Wallace, is quoted, and in his statement, a justifiable attack on Brown and his Labour Government’s disgraceful politicking over Megrahi for economic advantages, Wallace also says, referring to alleged bugging of Libyan intelligence services by the British Secret Service -

“The Scottish Government  must now come forward and the Labour government tell us whether they were aware of these conversations, and if not, why not.”

Given that Alex Salmond quoted in last Thursday’s FMQs that the Scottish Government was excluded by Westminster from the COBRA talks over the Libyan crisis, the idea the the British Secret Service would be falling over itself to tell them about bugged conversations involving Libya is risible.

And that is the sum total of this shabby little report - it tells us nothing new, but implies a great deal.

God preserve Scotland and the Scots from the lies of the Union and its PRAVDA-style press ..

Saor Alba!

Sunday, 20 February 2011

Iain Gray, Scotland’s Invisible Man, is nailed to the floor over the Megrahi Release by Isabel Fraser

The Politics Show Scotland, with the superb Isabel Fraser in the chair.

Iain Gray, Scotland's invisible man, is again pinned to the floor on his Holyrood party's hypocrisy over the Megrahi release. He waffles about what he knew, what he says he didn't know, what he said and didn't say to Gordon Brown, and tries to maintain the utterly ludicrous position that Scottish Labour had a shred of independence from their London-based party and Westminster bosses.

A puppet trying to pretend that his strings weren't pulled ...

He attempts, yet again, to muddy the water over slopping out, trying to maintain the ConLib, Labour UK and unionist media desperate attempt to limit the damage - initially caused by the Wikileaks disclosure of their dirty double-dealing  - by smearing the SNP, but is nailed on the vital timescale discrepancy that is the gaping hole in the UK lie.

But the polls would indicate that Labour has been rumbled, and the Scottish people will trust their ain folk. The Middle East is convulsed by oppressed peoples trying to throw off corrupt dictators. Scotland is under the heel of a corrupt democracy, the United Kingdom, but only needs the ballot box to get the hell out from under it.

Vote for your ain folk on May 5th, Scots - vote SNP - the only party that acts solely in the interests of Scots and Scotland, while playing a full, moral part in the European and the international communities.