Kudos to New Jersey’s Sens. Robert Menendez and Frank Lautenberg and to their New York counterparts Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillebrand for giving voice to what is on so many of our minds: our continuing rage at the release from a Scottish prison last August on “compassionate” grounds of Libyan intelligence agent Abdel Basset al-Megrahi, known as the Lockerbie bomber. The recent rumors that Megrahi’s release may have been part of a deal between Libya and the thoroughly disreputable British oil company BP (Baloney Peddlers?) have the ring of truth and beg to be investigated.
Megrahi is the Libyan intelligence agent responsible for planning and implementing the 1988 bombing of Pan Am 103. The plane, carrying many Americans, including a number from this state, fell to earth in Lockerbie, Scotland, killing all 259 people aboard and 11 on the ground.
The Scots’ excuse for freeing a mass murderer was that he would be dead of cancer within three months. But he was given a hero’s welcome in Libya, as we noted at the time, and is reportedly thriving. Either the Scots are more bleeding hearts than anyone had guessed or the Libyan climate cures cancer.
On Tuesday night, the senators pressed the case with British Prime Minister David Cameron for an independent investigation into Megrahi’s release.
Cameron, of course, has only been in office a few weeks – the release did not happen on his watch. Also, Scotland’s justice system does not answer to his government. But that does not mean Britain should get an easy pass.
In a meeting with President Obama on Tuesday, Cameron said, “I don’t need an inquiry to tell me [the release] was a bad decision. It was a bad decision.”
But he does need an inquiry, and the families of those killed in the bombing need an inquiry, and the nations that do business with BP need an inquiry.
There will, at least, be a review conducted by a British cabinet secretary. But we doubt that will be sufficient. As Obama said, “We should have all the facts.”
New York’s Schumer said, “We say there is a lot of circumstantial evidence” that BP lobbied for Megrahi’s release – “strong circumstantial evidence, that something wrong happened here.”
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee – on which Gillibrand and Menendez sit – will hold a hearing on the release on July 29. We can’t wait.