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.