Frank Duggan, for the Families

July 21, 2010

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." [2]
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.” [2] 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. [3]

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.” [4] 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 …” [5]

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.” [5]

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. [6] 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.

[1] 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.
[2] Forsyth, John. "After 21 years no end in sight to wrangles over Lockerbie." The Scotsman. December 21 2009.
[4] "Another call on Malta: Admit it already!" Caustic Logic. Dec 11 2009. 12/7-9/11 treadmill.
[5] "Keeping the Politics Out of Arlington" Caustic Logic. 12/7-9/11 Treadmill. December 24 2009.
[6] "Tony Blair our very special adviser by dictator Gaddafi's son." Daily Mail, 5 June 2010.


Charles said...

Well done Caustic! Duggan must be smoked out. He's a stooge for US Government of Bush's day. He thinks I am a Holocaust denier

Caustic Logic said...

Thanks, Charles. I'm glad I took the time for this piece. In point of fact, Frank's been pretty quiet lately as far as I can tell.

Caustic Logic said...

Hey, Charles, he wasreferring to you, wasn't he?Why don't you find the context and paste it here as a comment?

Unknown said...

Caustic, You're not a family member of the victims of PA103, yet you seeem quite hell bent on sticking your nose in, and requesting comments on your blog.
Unlike Frank Duggan, who has built deep relationships with and has been an advocate for the families for many years. Regardless of whether or not he lost a loved one, his motives, which are true and well founded, (as you note early in your "article") date back to his appointment to the President's Commission on Aviation Security.
What's your excuse for jumping into the mix, outside of ambulance chasing and conspiracy theorist CRANK, jumping on board with the likes of those contributing to Pr. Black's blog?????
Do you really need the PR that badly? Times are tough, I guess.
And they say the families took blood money. What are YOU looking for? 15 minutes of fame, piggybacking on the deaths of PA 103victims??? Suggest you get a mirror, prior to "writing" again, sans details on PA103 families and their relationship with Frank Duggan.

Caustic Logic said...

Well hollo, Noyb.

"...his motives, which are true and well founded, (as you note early in your "article") date back ..."

I didn't mean to say his motives WERE pure. I just don't know. But I'd presume he was mostly driven by noble if naive intentions. I tend to believe most people are mostly good.

As for who I am and why I'm "hell bent on sticking my nose in" ...
I'm a conspiracy theorist, basically. I look at the dfferent sides, debunk what needs it, promote what's worthy, compare, refine, etc. I've looked at the Pentagon attack aspect of 9/11, at 9/11 in general a bit, the '99 Russian apt.bombings, the Gladio networks, Pearl Harbor, USS Liberty, USS Maine, etc... I came upon this issue late, only on Megrahi's release. I struck up a dialog with Scot named "Rolfe." at the JREF forum, and the learning took off from there. I decided to dig in and I found plenty of wrongness (Juval Aviv, Bollier, etc.) but plenty of cause for genuine concern (Abu Elias, John Bedford, payments to the Gaucis, John Wyatt's tests, the Frankfurt printout, PK/689, etc...). And then I kept on digging.

Have you looked at any of my information / arguments? Are you just annoyed with this article, or do you find wider fault with what I'm doing here?

"What's your excuse for jumping into the mix ... What are YOU looking for? 15 minutes of fame, piggybacking on the deaths of PA 103victims???

I'll level with you, Noybie. I wouldn't mind some fame, or some money. The high profile of the issue is part of why I'm interested in it, and have thrown my hat in the ring over it. And I'm largely driven by ego (or lack of?), enjoying being the smart one who can see things hardly anyone else here can. I enjoy educating, and tackling big lies, and looking back to see that "hey, I did that!"

So what is it I do to get those little rushes of achievement? Is it good or bad works? I think I'm contributing valuable outsider perspectives, at the very least. Devil's advocate and all that. Hardly anybody here in the States is covering this side of things, except a few loud idiot CRANKS making up disinfo. So here I am with the well-researched stuff, to make sure you guys (??) don't get too soft from a COMPLETE lack of educated opposition.

What do you think of that? What else gripes you? I'm all ears.

Patrick Haseldine said...

So now we know why and when Johnnie-come-lately Caustic Logic got involved with Lockerbie.

We also know that Charles became involved after he lost his brother in the September 1989 UTA772 disaster.

However, you probably don't know that my interest stretches back as far as 11 January 1989 - the date of the funeral in Stockholm of PA103's most prominent victim, Bernt Carlsson. I straightaway suspected that Carlsson was Lockerbie's prime target, and have never been deflected from that view.

What is Noyb's involvement? Is he too reticent (or ashamed) to explain?

Caustic Logic said...

I wonder as well. Something says this a deeply invested person, perhaps Frank himself or one of the American survivors. They all sound the same to me. Something about the name "noyb" suggests he (I presume) won't be offering any explanation. I don't really care.

But I did undersell myself above. Noybie, let me put it this way: Who I am is someone who, on review of the evidence, truly believes that Megrahi is probably innocent and the real killers of those 290 people have never been caught.

Now, as a person who believes that, what kind of person would I be if I didn't get involved and alert people of the alarming possibility?

You don't have any further comment, do you? You aren't interested in dialog or learning, just wanted to say you were angry and I shouldn't write about Frank Duggan and the families any more. Did I make any errors you can help me fix? I'd just really like a follow-up here...

Caustic Logic said...

Oops, I used the wrong number of dead. 270.

Frank Duggan is active, commented at a NYT blog article.
"Mr. Mackey: may I suggest that you interview some representative family members from Pan Am 103, and those who know the facts of the case such as Richard Marquise, the FBI agent in charge who wrote the book SCOTBOM. Your comment that "continued doubts about his guilt by some legal experts and family members of the victims of the bombing in Britain have led them to call for an inquiry into the atrocity itself" misrepresents the opinions of real experts (not Gareth Pierce or Prof Black) and not the overwhelming support for the verdict by US families involved, and most of the UK families, Dr. Swire notwithstanding. I would refer you to one of these:
Frank Duggan, President
Victims of Pan Am Flight 103, Inc"

Far better than average article, obviously, just for noting there's another side that's NOT convinced. Duggan finds this annoying, and insists the real experts agree that there is no doubt anywhere, or something. My own comments were rejected, but they really don't seem needed - things there are working out quite well.

Patrick Haseldine said...

The NYT reporter, Robert Mackey, replied to Frank Duggan as follows (my italics):

"Mr. Duggan, My thanks for providing the link to more information on the case. am sorry if my post was unclear, but my words were not, as they seemed to be to you, a comment on the case or a judgment about Mr. Megrahi's guilt or innocence. This is a news blog, presenting information on subjects in the headlines, not an opinion column making an argument. It is the case that some of the victims' families have called for a new inquiry this week and I was writing to provide that information to readers who may not know that some people do have doubts about the conviction.

David Howard said...

The selective use of polygraphs by corrupt FBI officials must stop! No one is above the law, including FBI Director Robert Mueller, who conspired to cover up the Pan Am Flight 103 incident. Google "the selective use of polygraphs"

Cindy said...

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Sharyn Bovat said...

Frank Duggan LIES about Lockerbie & the cover up is unraveling (my uncle was Chief pilot of Pan Am and I met the Palestinian money launderer that worked for the Iranian National guard. Some "dirty Mossad" did the "guest list too".... it's true and I've got PROOF