PCAST in A Leading Role
To start with, the current leader of the official 'American families group,' Victims of Pan Am 103 Incorporated, is not himself a victim of Pan Am 103; president of the board Frank Duggan lost no loved ones in the bombing. But his involvement with the bereaved runs deep, back to 1989 with his appointment as "liaison to the Families" on the President's Commission on Aviation Security and Terrorism (PCAST).
This “blue ribbon panel” was originally to be independent, but wound up being under President Bush’s control. As its chair, he selected Ann McLaughlin, who was once Secretary of labor under Reagan, as well as having been a director for at least “five major corporations.” Frank Duggan had worked as an aide and assistant secretary of labor under her before she picked him as PCAST’s families ambassador. Duggan grew up in Brooklyn, became a cop, and put himself through college, before turning into “a lawyer and a reliable Republican pol who had been a railroad industry lobbyist,” wrote Alan Gerson and Jerry Adler in a 2000 book. ”Needing someone who could win the trust of mostly middle-class families from the Northeast, many of them Irish or Italian Catholics, McLaughlin couldn’t have done better than Frank Duggan.” [1 pp64-69]
In a later interview, Duggan described PCAST as "the Cadillac of commissions” due to “the quality of its work and the number of recommendations, some 60 of them if I recall." [2 - ] The most memorable passage in the report was “national will and the moral courage to exercise it are the ultimate means for fighting terrorism.” The section that was in emphasized missile strikes covert action, either “preemptive or retaliatory,” and was penned by former FBI agent J. Brian Hyland, working from a desk next to Duggan’s. “As Hyland wrote, Duggan kept humming “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” to keep his colleague in a martial frame of mind.” [1 pp68-69]
As Family liaison, Duggan lobbied for their interests and listened to them – concerns, conspiracy theories, plots to hire assassins - with patience and understanding. The families also had a chance to support Duggan when his daughter was crushed into a coma by a drunk driver (she later awoke, but with brain damage). [1 p70] After the commission he continued lobbying for the families as the trail turned to Libya, indictments, and a 1990’s deadlock. During this time, he went to work for one of the legal teams representing the families, headed by Allan Gerson, whose 2001 book noted that “for six years Duggan had worked for the families and had earned nothing for it except their trust and gratitude.” [1 p255-56]
The Corporation / A Man of Vague Understandings
Mr Duggan maintained these ties with the families over the years, as Victims of Pan Am 103 Inc. proved itself a highly effective lobbying group, securing huge payments from Pan Am and then from Libya, netting billions for survivors, lawyers, board members, and so on. But only in 2008 was Duggan offered the presidency of the group’s board of directors - a post usually held by a family member. He told the Scotsman:
"I could not say no to them. I told them I didn't think there was much more to do. Legally and politically the battle was over. Libya was recognized and compensation had been paid. Then they released Al Megrahi and a 20-year-old story was back on the front pages again." These developments needn’t have been a surprise to those who followed the news. In June 2007 the Scottish Criminal Case Review Commission had announced Megrahi may have “suffered a miscarriage of justice” and should have his appeal heard. Duggan’s election/appointment was clearly after this omen, and perhaps (I don’t know the date) after the prisoner’s September 2008 diagnosis with advanced, terminal cancer. Compassionate release was a known factor at the time, as were prisoner transfer deals already being discussed.
The increased publicity following the convict’s eventual release and inevitable “hero’s welcome” would, predictably, stimulate both anger and also attention to the case. With all this plus more evidence than ever available, 2008 was a year rife with threats to the official stasis – just the time to circle the wagons and re-focus the voice of the American families, the force one dares not be seen as out-of-step with.
And Duggan tried to seem well-equipped for verbal battle, tackling the growing ranks of official story critics as “cranks,” “Libya shills,” a “shameless band of conspiracy mavens,” and “no worse than Holocaust deniers who will not accept the facts before their faces”. They're hopeless; by December 20 he was “through trying to reason with Prof Black or MSP Grahame.”  It’s no wonder he tires so easily. Duggan’s scholarly achievements consist of an article for TransLaw, (transportation law) Winter 2010. It’s got details that are correct enough by normal standards, but it shows little actual insight. He’s clearly looking these things up as he goes, perhaps using Wikipedia.
When working strictly from his own head, Duggan fails, as when George Galloway made mincemeat of his in a phone interview a few weeks after Megrahi’s release. Duggan tried the standard hollow offensives (“eight judges” ruled guilty, Megrahi “lied under oath,” etc.), and made numerous factual errors (Galloway made a few as well). The short talk centered on Tony Gauci’s evidence, which Duggan called “reliable” and “natural,” while admitting he doesn’t know that the man actually said. The high point was Duggan aggressively and repeatedly denying the $2 million reward for Gauci as a rumor with no substance. That and my rebuttal are covered separately, but it looks like he made the wrong call here, loudly as always. And again he was done trying to “reason” with cranks and hung up. 
He can’t be happy with this blogger either. In December I wrote an article sarcastically accusing the Maltese government and Air Malta of complicity in Megrahi’s plot to destroy PA103. I even suggested the UK sever the “axis of malice between Velletta and Triploi” by re-conquering the island. Duggan wasn’t the only commenter to miss the fine-tuned sarcasm, but he was the only one who sided with what he saw, and called it : “a welcome change from the bilge we have to read from the Libya shills.” Said shills, he explained, “have no shame and cannot be embarrassed by the facts.” And he thanked me for my “efforts to publish the truth,” and said “you are like a breath of fresh air.”  I felt a little sorry for the poor guy, in fact. It was’t meant to trick anyone, except into reading it. They were supposed to get it by halfway through …
Speaking for the Families
Nine days after praising my Maltese prank, the solemn anniversary arrived - 21 years exactly after the event that started all of this. VPA103 Inc. always has had a controlling say in the annual ceremonies at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia. It wasn’t Duggan, but the board of which he was president, that voted to disallow the remarks they had solicited from Friar Pat Keegans. As the parish priest of Lockerbie on December 21 1988, he came within yards of being a PA103 victim himself. He had bonded with the American and all families who came to the area, and has often been asked for his thoughtful remarks.
But this time Keegans opted to express his feeling that Megrahi was innocent, and that either way his release was justified by Christian compassion for a dying man. Well that’s just not the right message for Arlington. Duggan said they try to “avoid a discussion of the bomber's trial and conviction or of his health," or “any political statements or any discussions of the convicted bomber." President Obama’s counter-terror point man John Brennan was on-hand with some more neutral, appropriate, apolitical messages: “The trial was fair. The guilt of Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi … unjustified release … a deplorable scene on a tarmac in Tripoli … those who assisted him …” 
To their credit, the board did send the Friar’s speech to members by e-mail, so they know his stance in that odd corner with Dr. Swire and a few other Brits and, it seems, absolutely none of the hundreds closely related to the 190 Americans killed. Clearly what Duggan meant is that December 21 is a time to remember that we’ve got everything figured out, and that - America’s ability to secure a politically expedient conviction by … means - will be thy solace as the bell tolls at that name that pulls the heartstrings.
In his debate with Galloway, Mr. Duggan was unsure how many families he represented, but when asked “whether there unanimity amongst the families in the United States,” as opposed the widely divergent opinion of UK victims, he responded “Yes there is. I can tell you that. There’s a difference of opinion as to how compassionate we should be. But there’s no difference of opinion as to the guilt of Mr. Megrahi” … I don’t know how to explain it … eight judges have already looked at this and decided the man was guilty beyond a deasonable doubt. There’s no question in anyone’s mind that I know of who’s looked at the evidence. The man - was - guilty.” 
In June 2010, the Daily Mail (daily fail) opined on Saif Gaddafi calling Tony Blair and adviser of Tripoli’s, and reported that “last night, families of the 270 Lockerbie victims accused Mr Blair of breaking bread with people who 'have blood on their hands'.” The actual quote was “It's important for world peace that Libya is brought back into the community of nations but that doesn't mean that you have to honour people with blood on their hands.” They say the quote was spoken to them by Mr. Duggan.  He isn't even one of the 270 victims' relatives, let alone "families of the 270," but he will keep speaking as if that’s so. And there are structural reasons they’ll continue to obligingly let him, and to say the same things when they speak for themselves.
On Blood Money, More of
As mentioned above, Duggan had in the mid-1990s joined one of the legal teams representing the PA 103 families, and apparently was again a family liaison. In June 1995 Gerson asked him “whether he thought the family members would support a suit against Libya,” the lawyer’s book explained. “George Williams – at that time president of Victims of Pan Am 103 – polled the members of his board.” They had earlier rejected a similar idea by fellow survivor Bruce Smith, “but now, Duggan reported back to Gerson, the board was unanimously in favor.” [1 p229] Duggan added the following, articulating a central theme of Gerson’s book – The Price of Terror:
“Since the majority will still consider monetary compensation ‘blood money,’ the award must be punitive as well as compensatory and be large enough to discourage any government from ever contemplating support for another terrorist act. The families have not made their political efforts for money, rather they have made it for justice and to leave some legacy in the names of their lost loved ones.” [1 p230]
Of course this punishment, "justice," and "legacy" would take the form of huge piles of money. If it’s a problem, is a whole lot more of it the answer? One can also be excused for wondering what role the justice/legacy/punishment money from Libya – an average $10 million per each of the 270 victims – has had in keeping the family members who accepted it quiet about any tiny, itching doubts they might harbor.
Duggan will always help maintain the confidence that they got it right, and assure those left behind that they do not need to re-open, with a critical eye, the trial transcripts they were all given. The families are best equipped to keep that fuzzy view of the end picture and just remind the world as needed - with or without Frank's help - that the heart-stricken families of the far-fallen are ironclad behind the government’s case.
 Gerson, Allan and Jerry Adler. The Price of Terror: Lessons of Lockerbie for a World on the Brink. New York, Harper Collins, 2001. First edition. 302 pages.
 Forsyth, John. "After 21 years no end in sight to wrangles over Lockerbie." The Scotsman. December 21 2009. http://thescotsman.scotsman.com/legalissues/After-21-years-no-end.5926777.jp
 "Another call on Malta: Admit it already!" Caustic Logic. Dec 11 2009. 12/7-9/11 treadmill. http://12-7-9-11.blogspot.com/2009/12/another-call-on-malta.html
 "Keeping the Politics Out of Arlington" Caustic Logic. 12/7-9/11 Treadmill. December 24 2009.
 "Tony Blair our very special adviser by dictator Gaddafi's son." Daily Mail, 5 June 2010.