Bolo BoffinBolo Boffin's Journal
I had an interesting conversation on Pan Am 103 and Libya's culpability with a few good DU members out in General Discussion. Lots of supposed evidence was bandied about, all with its damning MSM source, all convicting the CIA of framing Libya of the Lockerbie bombing. There was a retired police sergeant who swore a timer fragment was planted. There was another witness, Eric Bollier, an official of the company who built the timer, who had lots of claims, indeed, one that the CIA had offered him money to lie, and another that the timer fragment couldn't be the ones that he brought to Libya as a sample, etc.
Well, after reading "the Scottish review board" a few too many times used as permission to speculate hither and yon on the topic, I decided to look for the actual reasons Megrahi was given an appeal. And I found the Scottish review board's summary of those reasons, a nice PDF file:
The Scottish review board, or the SCCRC for short, said there were six grounds of referral, and they summarized them in four paragraphs. The first two talked about evidence that Megrahi did or did not buy some of the materials in Malta. The board found that the evidence pointed toward the materials being purchased on December 6, and no evidence was given that Megrahi was in Malta on the 6th. The last two focused on the key witness Tony Gauci. Number one, Gauci's lineup identification of Megrahi appears to have been tainted by seeing Megrahi in a magazine article a few days before. Number two is not spelled out, but it was further information that seemed to undermine Gauci as a witness. I speculated that this might be the reports that Gauci and his brother were offered $2 million for his testimony by the CIA, but there's no confirmation of that.
I say that because of the things being used to propel the "Libya-didn't-do-it" conspiracy theory, the CIA offer to the Gaucis was the only item not specifically disavowed by the SCCRC. They went as far as to state this categorically at the end of the news release.
The retired police officer, called The Golfer in the release? Discredited because of multiple contradictions within his testimony. The timer fragment questions? Settled and dispensed with. Even some things you may not have heard about were considered and left be by the SCCRC.
So the questions that recommended an appeal for Megrahi are not in the realm of "Did Libya actually do this?", but rather, "Did Megrahi have the opportunity to fulfill a certain part of the plot he has been convicted of?" and questions about the veracity of Tony Gauci, the key witness against him. If Megrahi was made to fit into the plot past the ability of the prosecution to prove, then he definitely had an appeal coming. But there is no question about the culpability of Libya in the Pan Am 103 bombing in the mind of the SCCRC. Using its grant of appeal as evidence to the contrary is a misapplication of what it has done.
ETA: As On The Other Hand points out, it's more accurate to say the prosecution needed to provide evidence that Megrahi was in Malta before December 6, since that's the point when the Christmas lights were turned on. Alternately, someone could have purchased the items and then passed them on to Megrahi when he got to Malta. Evidence would need to be presented to support that hypothesis as well. At any rate, this was the arena deemed worthy enough to grant Megrahi an appeal, not a possible exoneration of Libya in the plot.
And it's also worth nothing that Megrahi himself dropped this hard-won appeal (possibly as long as a 12-month process) in hopes it would accelerate his claims to be exchanged to a Libyan prison or released on compassionate grounds.
The best source for this oft-repeating propaganda line by Mitt Romney and others is from the Heritage Foundation. Here's the link:
This one was compiled on June 2, 2009, so there are likely other examples that conservatives like to brandish as evidence. For now, however, we can look through these ten and probably find common themes for any further "apologies."
Number one: Obama is correct about the things he states.
For example, in his speech to the Turkish Parliament, President Obama says this:
Another issue that confronts all democracies as they move to the future is how we deal with the past. The United States is still working through some of our own darker periods in our history. Facing the Washington Monument that I spoke of is a memorial of Abraham Lincoln, the man who freed those who were enslaved even after Washington led our Revolution. Our country still struggles with the legacies of slavery and segregation, the past treatment of Native Americans.
Well? Aren't we?
Do conservatives believe that we haven't had darker periods in our history? Perhaps they are unaware of the details of the massacre at Wounded Knee. And the disenfranchising of minority voters seems to have caught its second wind in this upcoming election season. Pretending these things did not happen is foolish of Mitt Romney.
Number two: the context of the president's remarks are important to consider.
Take the Turkish Parliament speech again. Barack Obama brought up the darker periods of our history to preface his remarks about the 1915 Armenian genocide by Turkey. It's an incredibly sensitive topic for the Turkish people, so much so that they fight off any actual mention of the event, especially as a genocide.
But in the middle of their Parliament, President Obama went on to say this, the very next two paragraphs:
Human endeavor is by its nature imperfect. History is often tragic, but unresolved, it can be a heavy weight. Each country must work through its past. And reckoning with the past can help us seize a better future. I know there's strong views in this chamber about the terrible events of 1915. And while there's been a good deal of commentary about my views, it's really about how the Turkish and Armenian people deal with the past. And the best way forward for the Turkish and Armenian people is a process that works through the past in a way that is honest, open and constructive.
We've already seen historic and courageous steps taken by Turkish and Armenian leaders. These contacts hold out the promise of a new day. An open border would return the Turkish and Armenian people to a peaceful and prosperous coexistence that would serve both of your nations. So I want you to know that the United States strongly supports the full normalization of relations between Turkey and Armenia. It is a cause worth working towards.
Definitely on this issue, Candidate and Senator Obama wrote a check that President Obama has found difficult and thus far impossible to honor. Though he earlier stated he would call the Armenian genocide that in so many words, he has not done so yet and did not do so here.
But in his call for an "honest, open and constructive" approach to working through the past of the two countries, his meaning is clear. And he knew it would be, speaking as he does of the "commentary about my views." Diplomacy trumped candor here, but President Obama did his level best to make the Turkish government aware of a better way forward. And his own candor in acknowledging the "darker periods" of America's past could only be seen as encouragement for Turkey to be just as candid about what they had done in 1915.
Another place where context is important is the President's "apology" to France and Europe:
In America, there's a failure to appreciate Europe's leading role in the world. Instead of celebrating your dynamic union and seeking to partner with you to meet common challenges, there have been times where America has shown arrogance and been dismissive, even derisive.
Again, there's the plain truth of what Obama is saying. He wasn't a decade separated from the idiocy of "freedom fries."
But the context here is also key. The very next paragraphs?
But in Europe, there is an anti-Americanism that is at once casual but can also be insidious. Instead of recognizing the good that America so often does in the world, there have been times where Europeans choose to blame America for much of what's bad.
On both sides of the Atlantic, these attitudes have become all too common. They are not wise. They do not represent the truth. They threaten to widen the divide across the Atlantic and leave us both more isolated. They fail to acknowledge the fundamental truth that America cannot confront the challenges of this century alone, but that Europe cannot confront them without America.
So I've come to Europe this week to renew our partnership, one in which America listens and learns from our friends and allies, but where our friends and allies bear their share of the burden. Together, we must forge common solutions to our common problems.
Some apology. Yes, President Obama says, we've got some medicine to take here in America. Europe, don't be thinking you don't have a turn at the spoon as well.
Number three: it's interesting what they leave behind in their litany of "apologies".
A great example is in the France and Europe speech. Look what President Obama flat out said before the "arrogance and dismissive" line:
... the United States certainly shares its -- shares blame for what has happened.
The United States can be blamed for something, even the least little bit? Horrors! American exceptionalism! How dare he?
Well, this is how he dares: he's talking about the global economic collapse of 2007-2008. It seems that even in June 2009, it was hard for the Heritage Foundation to be able to grab this clear example of the President accepting blame for something America had done. It's kind of hard to deny that America had a key role in that collapse. Or at least it was then. Who knows what stupid Citizens United group will grab that part of the sound clip and run with it? He even stammers in it! Weak! Weak!
The truth is that President Obama's "apology tour" was a powerful demonstration of American exceptionalism. One, he's the poster child for American exceptionalism -- the first African-American leader of the free world, a man who lived in a Muslim-majority nation in his childhood. And two, being able to openly acknowledge American mistakes in the past is a sign of national strength, dignity, and courage. Do we have things to be ashamed of in the past? Very well, we are ashamed of them. But that shame will not cripple us from doing good and right. The mistakes of the past are best remembered to guide us into the accomplishments of the future.
After all, any old country can try to sweep their sins under the rug, and plenty do -- even this country does. It's when we acknowledge our faults and seek to rectify them that we build strength and moral power, and that is something America could always use plenty more of.
Feel free to place the other quotes back into their context and show how true they are in the thread.
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