An amazing and heartening article on the Time website, marking the one year anniversary of Megrahi's controversial release, has taken an insanely intelligent stance for such a prominent mainstream American publication. Penned by Vivienne Walt, this article I missed all weekend (props to Professor Black for noting it first) poses "five questions about the Lockerbie bomber's release." These are listed below, and may be quite surprising, so be sure to sit down.
1) Where's the document proving a BP-Libya deal?
"Still missing, however, is written proof of a freedom-for-business deal..."
The lack of direct proof is not much of a counter-argument, so Walt Seems open to the circumstantial clues, in a way I'm inclined to consider a bigger factor than I had before.
2) Did Scotland distort Al-Megrahi's medical report?
"...how that prognosis whittled down to three months remains a mystery."
While it's possible the lone three month "reasonable" low-end estimate is entirely in good faith, its elevation to the forefront is suspect. The more interesting part is the why behind such a possible distortion - aside from trade nterests as mentioned above, there's another factor I;m more interested in.
3) Did Scottish officials persuade Al-Megrahi to drop his legal appeal before going home?
With no explanation, Al-Megrahi dropped his appeal against his conviction shortly before he was freed. Some relatives of Lockerbie victims suspect Scottish officials might have persuaded Al-Megrahi to end his appeal — possibly in exchange for a smoother release [...]Two British family members of PA103 victims were interviewed: John Mosey and Jim Swire.
"Most of us here feel that there is something extremely murky, which the U.S. and British governments don't want to come out," John Mosey, a British pastor whose 19-year-old daughter died aboard the Pan Am plane, tells TIME. Jim Swire, whose 24-year-old daughter was killed in the Lockerbie attack, says Scotland's Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill did something "very unwise. He went to see Al-Megrahi in prison ... then Al-Megrahi dropped his appeal, and then MacAskill decided to send him home." Swire, who has fought a long campaign to reveal the truth behind the Lockerbie attack, says that suggests possible persuasion. But, so far, there's no proof of any.Again, no proof is a pretty weak counter-point to the neat appearance and logic of appeal-for-release - perhaps in addition to release-for-oil.
4) Could Al-Megrahi have been innocent?
This follows logically off question three, and both are routinely ignored by the American media.
U.S. Senators are not aiming for a retrial, but they might focus on the controversies surrounding Al-Megrahi's imprisonment. Swire, Mosey, and former U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan's envoy to the Lockerbie trial, Austrian law professor Hans Köchler, are among those who have long argued that the trial leading to Al-Megrahi's conviction was deeply flawed. In 2007, the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission, a publicly funded body that investigates possible wrongful convictions, issued an 800-page report listing several grounds for an appeal by Al-Megrahi, including inconsistencies in the testimony of the key prosecution witness and the existence of CIA documents about the Swiss-made timer for the bomb, which defense lawyers had not seen. So far, the full report has not been released publicly.
5) How is Al-Megrahi still alive?
This sort of points back to the issues raised in question 2 - was he just misdiagnosed a year ago? It allows the piece to close on a different note, with Dr. Swire ignoring this obvious possibility to speak glowingly of "some new technology" that might be behind the "hopeless" Libyan's continued survival.
Yes, the all-American news magazine founded by Henry Luce, has seen fit to allow the view that's swelling towards unanimity in thee UK and it still ruthlessly denied here in the states. Megrahi could be innocent, and that may help explain the mystery of his release. Walt is spot-on in just about every point, and unfortunately that usually dooms an article in many American minds as some conspiracy theorist nonsense, probably paid for by Libya. But with its accession (in the first points) to existing American suspicions, and closing on a gentle jab at Dr. Swire, it becomes palatable - part of a continuum of cynicism and (apparent) naiveté. Cleverly formulated as they are, and still grasping the humming livewire of hidden truth, and these five questions should give serious pause to anyone not excessively gripped by cognitive dissonance.