Ron Rosenbaum, Writer

October 8, 2009

Lockerbie Doubts Break Into the WSJ/A Blackberry From David Samuels

Filed under: Uncategorized — ronrosenbaumwriter @ 3:18 pm

You might have missed it and I didn”t find it on line (if you have a link send it to comments), but last Saturday the Wall Street journal was the first major U.S. daily I know of to report on doubts over the Lockerbie prosecution and conviction.

Most U.S. media covering the British hand-off of al-Meghari, the Liban convincted of blowing up Pan Am flight 103 oveer Lockerbie Scotland in 1988, never showed any curiosity about the substance of the appeal of his conviction which a Scottish judicial review called “a miscarriage of justice”. It was a terrorist crime, no doubt, but did we get the right terrorists. I don’t know for sure, but I think these things matter. But in fact I didn’t even see any mention in the coverage that he maintained his innocence. (His Tripoli hero’s welcome was no less shameful because those who chreered him did so–I think–because they believed he did it).

But he’s maintained his innocence and the Wall Street Journal reporter Cassell Bryan Low tells us he’s continued to try to” clear his name”. Dropping his appeal appears to bea condition of his release but he’s been releasing document the WSJ says, including the appeal brief. Check out the links to the London Review of Books and The New York Review of Books in my previous post onthe subject for a review of the Lockerbie evidence and tell me there isn’t there isnt reasonable doubt. .

I got a very interesting Blackberry communque from my friend David Samuels, whose work you probably know fro, The New Yorker, Harpers etc and his two books The Runner and Only Love Can Break Your Heart.

I think it’s an astute and sohisticated analysis of the way the fog of intelligence can obscure even the fog of war:

Tuesday, October 6, 2009, 10:06 AM
>> Its not implausible, as you know.
>> Intelligence is murky and terrorists are connected to each
>> other in operational ways the same way that thieves are.
>> They inhabit a milieu where they get orders for certain
>> types of merchandise. The nature of a secret world made up
>> of overlapping clandestine networks who often use some of
>> the same people for their logistics (clean weapons,
>> passports, undetected passage across borders) gives rise to
>> competing theories whenever an action takes place. I
>> believe for example that one of the most startling examples
>> of this kind of cross-pollination was how Terry Nichols
>> learned how to make a high-yield fertilizer bomb. I find the
>> circumstantial evidence of an Al Qaeda connection pretty
>> convincing. But that doesn’t mean that Nichols was an Al
>> Qaeda operative, or that Ramzi Yousef gave instructions for the
>> bombing of the Murrah building in Oklahoma City. It means that
>> Nichols entered a milieu where he met some people who
>> helped him get better at his job of making bombs.
>>
>> Similarly, I do believe that the Libyans were involved in a
>> support capacity for the Lockerbie bombing and may have
>> known something of the actual plan. The fact of SOME Libyan
>> involvement naturally gave rise to competing theories about
>> method, author and motive as it always does. At some point,
>> someone put a heavy finger on the scales in favor of the
>> Libyan theory and to the exclusion of evidence of a much
>> deeper degree of Syrian involvement through Ahmad Jibril’s PFLP-GC.
>> To say that this was an intelligence call made for political
>> reasons is to describe something normal that happens every
>> day. Just look at your posts on the 2007 NIE.

>> As far as James Baker and George HW Bush were concerned, I
>> would imagine this was a simple act of the realpolitik on
>> which both men prided themselves. The finger on the scales
>> in favor of Khadafy and against the Syrians would have been a
>> no-brainer. Khadafy was crazy and had killed lots of
>> Americans in the 80s. And the Syrians weren’t directly
>> responsible for Lockerbie – in the sense that they didn’t order the
>> bombing or carry it out. Their crime was hosting Jibril’s PFLC-GC,
>> whose German cell built the bomb for the Iranians and handled
>> much of the logistics. The involvement of Jibril’s group probably
>> gave some part of the Syrian security apparatus a degree of advance
>> knowledge at least the outlines of the plot- which the Libyans probably
>> also had.
>>
>> In exchange for a free pass on Lockerbie, which Syria didn’t
>> plan or execute, and which only served that country’s
>> interests in a tangential way as part of its relationship
>> with Iran (dude, here’s the phone number of my friend who
>> can score you that coke), Hafez al-Assad sent 30,000
>> soldiers and some rusty tanks to join Bush’s grand coalition
>> to take out Saddam. Remember how important Arab backing was
>> for the first Gulf War as opposed to the second? Well, how
>> do you think we got it? As far as the dynamic duo of Bush and Baker
>> war concerned, the Syrians more than made up for the solid they
>> did for Iran by letting Jibril off his chain with the solid they did for us in
massaging the optics of the Gulf War coalition.
>> Seen from this angle, Lockerbie was actually a blessing for the US
>> because it put the wily Hafez al-Assad
>> in our pockets on the cheap while giving us powerful evidence
>> we could use if he ever let his Palestinians off the leash
>> again to disrupt the US project to create a Palestinian
>> state that started at the Bush-Baker peace conference in
>> Madrid. Interestingly, Assad mostly kept his word and didn’t let
>> his Palestinian clients disrupt Oslo.
>>
>> The real moral failure that came about from cooking the Lockerbie intelligence
>> was not framing the Libyans – who were probably accessories to
>> the crime – or letting the Syrians off scott-free
>> (the Syrians paid us back big time, in the currency of our choice)
>> but letting the Iranians off the hook for the premeditated mass killing of Western civilians
>> – a success that no doubt encouraged them to bomb the Jewish community center in
>> Buenos Aires and which may culminate someday in their use of
>> a nuclear bomb against Israel or innocent civilians elsewhere.
>> But there was no way to connect the Iranians to Lockerbie
>> without bringing forward the evidence that Jibril’s PFLP-GC
>> executed the crime. Where the connection between Jibril and
>> Syria is very public and easy to make, the Iranian
>> connection is much harder to prove – and so the public case
>> against Iran would have wound up being a case against Jibril
>> and Syria. So one can argue that Bush and Baker in fact cashed in
>> the Lockerbie card for the most they could get, like the
>> skilled Texas Hold’em players that they were.
>>
>> I would also speculate that a dose of the shitheel
>> antisemitism in which Baker specialized probably also
>> contributed in some small degree to the ease with which
>> blame was shifted away from the Syrians and Jibril. The
>> Israels were quite vocal about blaming the Syrians and their
>> Palestinian proxies, and Baker must have enjoyed telling
>> them that their tribal enmities would no longer stand in the
>> way of America’s larger interests in the Arab world –
>> including the Gulf War coalition and Baker’s pet project of
>> rapproachment with Syria.

I think the shameless U.K. government should make u for its shameful deal by allowing the appeal to procede. History and justice demand it.

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2 Comments »

  1. There is not a shred of evidence that would prove Syria or Iran had a role. There are theories and speculation but no evidence. Libya, on the other hand, was involved with the conviction of its employee Megrahi based on evidence beyond a reasonable doubt.
    Frank Duggan

    You have either not read the London Review or New York Review stories or you are not competent to evaluate what a “shred of evidence” or “reasonable doubt” are. Have you read the 800 page Scottish judicial review which called the prosecution a “miscarriage of justice’? The evidence, in fact, is in shreds. That doesn’t mean we have an answer. It does mean we have doubts.

    Comment by Frank Duggan — October 8, 2009 @ 8:26 pm | Reply

  2. Here is a link to the WSJ article:
    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB125448302641459133.html

    Comment by Robert Black — October 9, 2009 @ 2:23 am | Reply


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