July 27, 2010 -- Release of Megrahi for BP oil concession in Libya was wrong reason for release: Megrahi had nothing to do with PanAm 103 bombing
Washington is yet to experience another "theater of the absurd" as the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, chaired by Senator John Kerry (D-MA) prrpares to hold hearings on Scotland's decision to release Abdel Baset al-Megrahi from a Scottish prison where he was serving a life sentence after being the sole person convicted of planting a bomb on board PanAm 103 in 1988, resulting in the crash of the plane over Lockerbie, Scotland.
Kerry's committee, under pressure from Israel's leading allies in the Senate, is trying to pressure Britain and Scotland to come clean on 2007 negotiations between Tony Blair's government and BP over which Megrahi's release from Scotland to Libya was discussed as a way to improve the oil giant's chances of landing lucrative oil deals with Colonel Qaddafi's government.
President Obama feigned anger on more than one occasion over Megrahi's release last August but a recent letter that surfaced from the U.S. embassy in London indicates that the Obama administration was quietly backing Megrahi's release with BP being the ultimate winner. The letter is further proof of BP's influence over the Obama administration, which was painfully obvious to the residents of the U.S. Gulf coast when Obama allowed BP to run the show in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig catastrophe.
Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond has charged that Blair was and continues to be involved in secret negotiations with Libya and BP on the consummation of oil deals. Salmond has told the Senate committee to call Blair to testify about the former prime minister's secret dealings with Colonel Qaddafi's government. The Scottish govenrment denies having any contact with BP over Megrahi's release.
However, it appears that Obama had more than a passing interest in Megrahi's prison sentence in Scotland. On August 12, 2009, the deputy chief of mission at the U.S. embassy in London, Richard LeBaron, sent a letter to Salmond stating that while the U.S. was opposed to Megrahi's transfer to Libya, the United States would not be opposed to his conditional release on compassionate grounds to live in Scotland. LeBaron is a career Foreign Service officer who has mainly served in the Middle East, including a 2001 to 2004 stint as Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. embassy in Tel Aviv. In 1988, when PanAm 103 was bombed over Scotland, LeBaron served at the U.S. embassy in Tunis, a stone's throw from Malta, where Megrahi and his Libyan intelligence colleague were said to have arranged for a suitcase bomb destined for PanAm 103 to be placed on a feeder flight to Frankfurt and on to Heathrow in London for transfer to theill-fated Boeing 747 heading for New York. LeBaron would have been privy to classified U.S. embassy cables from Valletta concerning the investigation of Libya's intelligence operations in Malta, including the alleged Libyan involvement in the PanAm bombing.
Megrahi was reported to have been suffering from terminal cancer when he was released but his condition has reportedly improved since he has been in Libya. The Obama administration contends that it favored a release of Megrahi in Scotland so that he would not receive a "hero's welcome" in his native Libya, which, of course, he did upon his return last August. But, as the late columnist Jack Anderson reported, Britain's Tory government and Obama have reasons to insist on pushing the discredited story that Qaddafi was involved in PanAm 103's bombing.
On January 11, 1990, Anderson reported from Washington that "President Bush and British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher secretly agreed last spring to play down the truth about who blew up PanAm Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland. After both leaders had intelligence reports pointing the finger at a terrorist hired by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, Thatcher called Bush. In that comversation, they agreed that neither could stand the political heat of making the evidence public because both were impotent to retaliate."
Anderson's column continued, "Highly placed White House sources told us that the phone call took place about mid-March. By that time, both the British and U.S. intelligence services had followed the trail of evidence to terrorist Ahmed Jibril as the hit man who was paid by Iran to blow up the plane. The intelligence services had evidence that Khomeini and his successor, Ali Akbar Rafsanjani, had approved the bombing."
It should be noted that Rafsanjani became a key backer of Mir-Hosein Mousavi, the failed presidential candidate who failed to unseat Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad last year. Ironically, Rafsanjani, a backer of the failed "Green Revolution," is now seen as a moderate by Washington and London. It is yet another reason to keep the Lockerbie heat on Libya.
Anderson's report stated, "The intelligence reports told Bush and Thatcher that Jibril went to Iran in July 1988 and struck the deal with Khomeini and Rafsanjani to blow up an American plane in retaliation for the accidental U.S. downing of an Iranian airliner earlier that month. When the intelligence reports began to leak last March, Thatcher called Bush to discuss their problem. She said no purpose would be served by making public the evidence against Iran because neither the United States or Britain could respond." Thatcher's knowledge that it was Iran that brought down PanAm 103 would cause trouble for her Tory heir, Prime Minister David Cameron, who, in 1989, was a young Conservative Party operative serving Thatcher. For Obama, the knowledge that the CIA was cognizant of Iran's role in PanAm 103 could spell trouble as more details emerge about Obama's own past with the CIA.
According to Anderson, "Bush knew that Khomeini had proved the undoing of Jimmy Carter and had nearly proved the undoing of Ronald Reagan. Carter lost an election because he couldn't get American hostages back from Iran, and Reagan suffered the biggest blow of his presidency when he tried to trade arms to Iran for American hostages." However, it was Bush, himself, who helped arrange to keep American hostages in Iran until after the November 1980 election, in return for secret weapons, and who also helped arrange the weapons-for-hostages in Lebanon deals that ultimately ended up as the "Iran-contra" scandal. In 1990, Bush, who was known to have designs on Saddam Hussein's Iraq, had to ensure there were no fingers pointing at Iran, who Bush had to keep neutral in a U.S.-Iraqi military confrontation over Kuwait. Bush could not afford to alienate Syria, Jibril's main backer, since Bush needed Syria in the coalition that would later attack Iraq.
WMR previously published a formerly SECRET Air Intelligence Agency message describing Iran's role in the attack on PanAm 103.
Anderson continued, "So Bush didn't argue when Thatcher suggested that they 'low-key' the findings -- say that the investigation was inconclusive and long-term. After the call, word was quickly passed to top officials conducting the PanAm investigation that they were not to make any off-the-record remarks implicating Jibril or Iran. In Britain, when the press speculated about possible perpetrators, investigators called the speculation 'wild' and 'irresponsible.'
U.S. intelligence sources who told us about the call said the decision was political cowardice. Thatcher, the 'Iron Lady,' earned her reputation in a war with Argentina over the Falkland Islands. But by last March, her popularity was on the wane and she didn't need to be embarrassed by Khomeini. Bush, still fighting his 'wimp' image, didn't want to face the ultimate calls for retribution."
And Cameron, inheriting the Tory leadership, doesn't want Thatcher to be shown as a liar and Obama, who has bent over backwards trying to placate the intelligence community, doesn't want to have to admit that the American people were subjected to yet another fraud courtesy of the boys at Langley.