Owning the Comments

On American Media Coverage of Swire's Libya Visit
22 September 2010
last edits 6 Feb. 2011

About a week ago, British family leader of PA103 victims Dr. Jim Swire made an unusual visit to Libya, to meet the convicted "Lockerbie bomber" he and so many believe is innocent. Within the UK, discussion about this and related developments is animated, as can be glimpsed at Professor Black's blog. The Scotsman coversthe visit, and The Firm talks about Swire'splan to revive Megrahi's appeal in his name.

In step with following American media reports on the issue of Megrahi, I've done that here. Relatively few US outlets that have picked this up. Most have focused on Swire's rare news that Megrahi is still alive and, while sick, able to stand and walk. And not dead. This was bound to piss people off over here, but the first article was New York Daily News. Being about Swire, New Yorkers I guess get it to keep the criticism muted - a touch of either silent awe or awkward silence. I added a sixth comment and it stopped there. The usual NYDN reader brand of ugly stayed mostly at bay, aside from the one guy calling Swire a "useful idiot." The other comments were actually sympathetic. Strange.

On the article itself, I was surprised. Just mentioning the visit and Swire's unusual belief is itself rare, but the article actually cited a support for it:
Swire, however, met with al-Megrahi in a Scottish prison in 2008 and told the Daily Record he believed the testimony of one of the witnesses, Maltese shop-owner Tony Gauci, was paid for by prosecutors. He visited Libya last week at al-Megrahi's invitation and called for investigators to overturn the verdict.
There was no mention of the SCCRC deciding the same thing and making it one of six reasons to order a second appeal. But on the other hand, they included a poll about megrahi'sguilt - the one allowing doubts actually got about 20% ("who cares"got 25%).

CNN's report was actually worse than NYDN's, mentioning no support, but did discuss the notion of Swire reviving the killed appeal of conviction. Its target audience perhaps can be gauged by the slew of flippant comments, well over 200 when I set in. Most of these basically said "not dead yet? He should die ...no wait, live and suffer ... I hope someone kills him ... I hope he's tortured," and so on, amid lectures about Islam, softness, Obama and the Brits and oil and lots of uninformed opinion in general. One called Swire a "limey suck-up," and another said "Gee, Jim, with a Daddy like you, Flora hardly needed a plane crash!" I called that one out solidly.

Before long I was correcting a lot of people and being a real pest, leaving over 30 comments among over 300 now. Few responses. There are a few smart people there who acknowledge doubts, but these were piled on with attacks. One member suggests they were family of a victim, and berated another member for expressing such doubts, and for being a "worthless piece of crap."

Epoch Times' report was bland. It didn't anger me, and it didn't have any deep insight, nor anything suggesting Megrahi's innocence aside from mentioning Swire's strange views. Seattle Times covered it as well, blandly, and I left the sole comment. Oh, I see Faux News is covering it. I might not even bother with that one...

Update, later: Interestingly, I tried to comment at Faux News. I registered, then had it tell me I had to log-in to comment. I logged out and back in, same thing. Logged out to check to 50 or 60 comments there earlier, all gone. 0 comments listed, no new ones allowed. Very strange...
Update again: I was allowed to submit a comment - in case it doesn't take or doesn't stay, it said this:
Hey weren't there about 60 comments here recently, ranting about death and pain and especially Hell, plus Islam and liberals and Obama? Why is this the first comment now? Well I'll take the slot - what do we have for actual evidence this man is even guilty? Let's look at witnesses - Abdul Majid Giaka and Tony Gauci. Giaka was a Libyan defector, telling the CIA what he knew (little)about JSO on Malta. He had a whole pile of overly-juicy details of the plot that appeared just in time to form the indictments and then sanctions. But these were all dismissed at trial in 2000 - the star witness was shot down by the all-wise judges. “Information provided by a paid informer is always open to the criticism that it may be invented in order to justify payment, and in our view this is a case where such criticism is more than usually justified […] we are unable to accept Abdul Majid as a credible and reliable witness on any matter except his description of the organisation of the JSO and the personnel involved there.” They knew about his CIA payout, various other help, his relocaion to America to escape Libya, his salary for testifying, and witness protection. They did not know about an additional $2 million reportedly given by the DoJ. (search "rewards for injustice"). He's hardly mentioned after 2000, but was the smoking gun before that.  
The scorched clothes that were found were traced right to the shop where investigators found Tony Gauci. He clearly described Nov 23 as the date of purchase (weather records, TV schedules, and Silema Christmas decoration schedules establish this). But Megrahi wasn't there that day, so investigators changed it to Dec 7 (there's a case to be made for that date, but a very slim one with too many presumptions - search "date of clothing purchase" + Gauci) Besides the date discrepancy, which is dynamite, Gauci never even identified Megrahi. The buyer he described was at least 4 inches taller and 14 years older than our villain,observations Tony has fudged in the years since ("under six feet, under sixty" was his mantra at Zeist). Once in 1991 he pointed at a photo of Megrahi and said "similar to the man ... He would perhaps have to look about ten years older ... this photograph resembles the man who bought the clothing, but it is younger.” Note he's comparing two separate men. All the men shown that day were too young, and Megrahi was the oldest among them. Later in 1999 at Camp Zeist in the Netherlands, he pointed to the guy in person (famous by then) and said "“not exactly the man I saw in the shop. Ten years ago I saw him, but the man who look a little bit like exactly is the number 5 [Megrahi]” And he was paid $2 million,I guess just to not protest at the abuse of his evidence, while his brother scammed another $1 million. (search: "yes, millions to Malta") That's as good as the evidence against Megrahi gets. But he was (wrongly) convicted and so he killed all those people and deserves to die in pain and suffer in Hell, right? Because of a legal technicality?
Update: Of course they didn'tpublish it. It's a zero-comment article. CNN's new comments halted with the appearance of TerpMole, aka Kaddafi Delenda Est, come to criticize me. I've left I think 49 comments there now.


Anonymous said...

What is it about some people that lets them ignore the facts, logic and truth in harbouring their peculiar beliefs which they extrapolate into invective, hatred and death wishes?
Doubtless, some feel it a duty to tow the party (or family) line, but others, regardless of intelliegnce, analytical ability and integrity seem unable or unwilling to critically examine the evidence.
Will the Thought Police allow us to wonder if this extraordinary phenomenon could be present in Scottish Judiciary?
Dorland's definition of a delusion is a false belief which cannot be corrected by reason. It cannot be corrected by argument or persuasion or even by the evidence of the person's own senses.
Therefore, in any category of observers, be they Politicians or the Familes of the victims of Lockerbie, we need more non-deluded than deluded people. So far it has been an uphill battle, but one which must be won by those non-deluded people able and willing to interpret and accept the facts and the truth.

Caustic Logic said...

Wow, thanks for that. What you say applies well beyond this issue, of course. But just what the larger delusions are and how to correct them is beyond me. Megrahi and Lockerbie is a nicely illustrative issue where the way grows clearer all the time. Let's call it a test case.

FullInquiry said...

One of the fundamental problems in this matter is that the worldwide public at large was deluded into believing the two accused were the Lockerbie Bombers long before any trial took place or any real evidence was presented. The indictments and press releases in the early 1990s made numerous claims that the prosecutors could not prove, and did not attempt to prove, in Court (the indictment was eventually changed significantly).

It's quite normal for any country attempting to exdradite accused persons from another country to provide sufficient evidence supporting any alleged crime. In this case no such evidence was provided to the Libyan government (or to the UN Security Council which imposed sanctions designed to force Libya to give up the accused for trial).

How differently would things have turned out if for example the Scottish Judiciary or the UN Security Council had held some sort of preliminary proceedings, the purpose of which would have been to examine whether or not there was sufficient evidence to lay charges / impose sanctions? What if Giaka and Gauci, Thurman and Hayes would have had to testify to such a preliminary inquiry? What if the doubtful issues in this matter had also been in the public domain and reported by the mainstream media all along?

For more than ten years the failure to put the real evidence out there swung the pendulum in the accusers' favour. The media only reported what they were fed, largely because so much information was held back. The delusion was thus created.

Another ten years on and perhaps now the pendulum is starting to swing back in the other direction (given a push by the CCRA and websites like this one)?

The few non-deluded that have examined the issues need to get the word out to those non-deluded persons who have not yet had the facts put in front of them. Until they do know the facts they will remain in the category of those who have been deluded by the official story, which has always (and continues to), failed to address all the facts.

Anonymous failed to cite one key factor that adds to the appearance of delusion if not actual delusion, or the unwillingness of some to examine the facts: Compensation paid.

All these factors and others continue to mask the truth. That is the real issue here. What is the whole truth and when will ALL the governments involved allow the truth to finally come out? Not until the majority of citizens and voters demand it.

Caustic Logic said...

Sadly, I think a clear majority of actual people is well impossible in the circumstances, which you so well describe. And our power to demand specific things seems limited.

But it's all a relative exercise in my view, and I'm pushing for whatever degree of change can be had.

What's the CCRA?

The gulf between the indictments and the trial is fascinating - nearly a decade of sanctions,based not on "ruled guilty," but on "indicted." The mechanics of the grand jury process that produced this - the reliance on Giaka and even it seems the bald exaggeration of his claims - TNT in a desk drawer become semtex, etc. How the security council can imposesanctions over that ...

the obvious question is why didn't Gaddafi just force the men to go? It's not legal, sure, but we hear thousands died from the decision to follow that law in such a case. That's not an excuse, just a side thought.

Caustic Logic said...

Didn't mean to hit submit, it was fragmented and full of gaps.

Actually, it's okay. Only patches of incoherence. Meant to say I'm curious how that arrangement worked. You don't hear much about it. It was in New York...

FullInquiry said...

Sorry when I wrote CCRA I meant SCCRC - Freudian slip.

FullInquiry said...

The reason they didn't to to trial until Zeist (and presumably why Ghadaffi didn't force them to go) is that they felt they had already been convicted in the public court of opinion, and I tend to agree with them.

Furthermore there was no evidence provided to Libya regarding the accused's involvement (I wonder why?), and it is quite normal (unless you are Libya) to receive evidence from the accusing country prior to granting an extradiction request.

If I am accused of a crime by some other country and they want to extradite me, I damn well hope my country would not do so without evidence.

Why was it different for Megrahi, Fhima and Libya?

Caustic Logic said...

Hah, we know you are Canadian, but that was already apparent. Be careful with those slips,investigooglers can be clever. :)

I get why Tripoli didn't hand them over, I'm just saying it was possible for Gaddafi to force them to go anyway and be lynched. It would require extra-legal maneuver, and would be grossly unfair to those two men, but it might have given no excuse for the sanctions and the many people those were unfair to. It was clearly a bear of a situation, either way.

I don't know the value of that observation, and it does seem far more relevant that the United States was proceeding as if it didn't really want anyone handed over. Hence no cooperation or compromise. They just wanted to create an image of obstinance and then punish it.

FullInquiry said...

OK you caught me out and that brings me to an interesting example:

Canada has refused to extradite murder suspects to the US for one reason: the extradicting state had a death penalty and the Government of Canada doesn't believe in capital punishment.

Yet when it came to supporting UN sanctions against Libya, Canada blindly did so (and took them to a higher level than any European country did for example, which did not go unnoticed by Libya) without any regard to the circumstances solely on the grounds that it is a UN country and therefore must follow UN resolutions whether they are morally right, legally correct, or whether or not such resolutions were properly passed, and in spite of the fact that the Libyan suspects could have faced the death penalty had the trial been held in the US.

No UN sanctions have ever been imposed on Canada to force it to give up murder suspect to the US for trial.

You ask why the Libyan suspects weren't given up for a lynching?

If countries like Canada can exercise their sovereign rights to refuse to extradite, why can't countries like Libya?

My answer: The Golden Rule (he who has the gold makes the rules).

Oh yes, The Golden Rule and The Prize. (The Prize is oil exploration and production rights.)

The simple answer to why Libya didn't give up the suspects for trial before Zeist is that no agreement existed whereby the Libyan leader wouldn't be implicated in the crime as well. As soon as Bill Clinton signed the secret agreement - blam, off to Zeist the indicted suspects went.

But the root cause of the problems surrounding Libya date back to World War II, and the fact that The Prize in Libya came to be under the control of US and British companies as a result of such war. They produced their Libyan oil wells without regard for conservation (raped the oil resources would be more accurate) and without paying equitable royalties to the Govt. of Libya.

Now in Canada, or the US, or Britain, mineral rights belong to the mineral rights holder, usually the state. Producers pay significant royalties on each barrel of oil produced.

Of course post 1969 the situation in Libya changed - the raping slowed then stopped. Libyan citizens started to actually realize some benefit from the vast amounts of Libyan oil being produced.

But once a foreign oil company or state has had The Prize more or less for free, and then loses it, they tend to want it back, perhaps at all cost, right or wrong, double standards notwithstanding.

The number one factor in all of this is The Prize.

If Megrahi and Fhima would have been Rwandans for example instead of Libyans this site wouldn't exist and this matter would have taken a drastically different course because The Prize would not be a factor.

Caustic Logic said...

FI: Brilliant illustration of the hypocrisy of the sanctions, and Canada's cynical role.

On Libya's cynicism coming into view:
The simple answer to why Libya didn't give up the suspects for trial before Zeist is that no agreement existed whereby the Libyan leader wouldn't be implicated in the crime as well. As soon as Bill Clinton signed the secret agreement - blam, off to Zeist the indicted suspects went.

That makes total sense.

As I understand, it's normal for a suspect to be tried for such a crime in their own courts, based on the evidence handed over from the accuser. I'm not sure if this is true, but I'm sure the US had about ten reasons to cite why Libya couldn't be trusted with this sensitive info. After all, they blew up PA103!

But was this an implicit statement of faith in the American courts (which had just produced the ridiculous indictments)? Or just a cop-out? demanding the impossible to get nothing and then feign surprise and anger over it

And why the hell did the security council go along with it? Too many questions. You don't need to answer them all, FI. I'm just typing now.