Monday, July 26, 2010

Talking Out of Both Sides of the Presidential Mouth Once Again

President Obama is once again giving Joe Wilson fits. The President publicly decried the Scottish release of the Lockerbie bomber all the while signaling otherwise to the Scottish government in private diplomatic correspondence.

According to The Guardian:

"Although Megrahi was allowed to go home to die in Tripoli, Scottish officials believe this (the leaked correspondence) undermines Obama's vigorous criticisms of the decision to free Megrahi earlier this month, when he said he was left "surprised, disappointed and angry" by the Libyan's release.

The existence and content of the US embassy note was first disclosed by the Guardian last August, at the height of the controversy over Megrahi's release, and its full text has now been leaked to the Sunday Times.

In it, the deputy head of the US embassy in London, Frank LeBaron, said the US believed Megrahi should remain in Greenock jail because of the seriousness of his conviction for killing 270 passengers and crew, and 11 Lockerbie townspeople, by bombing Pan Am flight 103 in 1988.

But he added: "Nevertheless, if Scottish authorities [conclude] that Megrahi must be released from Scottish custody, the US position is that conditional release on compassionate grounds would be a far preferable alternative to prisoner transfer, which we strongly oppose" (emphasis mine)."

The Scottish government took the U.S.'s response to represent only "half-hearted" opposition to Megrahi's release. And so he was sent home. To Libya. On compassionate grounds. Because he had less than three months to live.

Yet now we learn according to a July 26th article published in The Scotsman, the medical expert who examined Megrahi, the convicted murderer and terrorist, did not endorse the view that he had three months or less to live:

"A cancer specialist who examined the Lockerbie bomber has revealed he did not endorse the view that he had less than three months to live. Professor Jonathan Waxman, one of the world's leading oncologists, visited Abdelbaset ali Mohmed al-Megrahi in prison a year ago but said he was not surprised to see him alive today. Megrahi's release on compassionate grounds was on the basis of a medical report which indicated he had three months to live - but next month will mark a year since he was freed."

270 lives perished on Pan Am flight 103 over Lockerbie in 1988. Eleven more people on the ground also died that day. Mass murder. Lives cut short. Children taken from parents. Parents taken from children. Wives and Husbands. Grandmothers and Grandfathers. Murdered.

But in the twisted world of "compassion" that uneasily co-exists with the tragic reality faced by the victims each and every day, the prisoner, the perpetrator, the murderer is released. It is compassionate. He is dying of cancer we are told. And the victim's families? They are forgotten in all hoo-haw. They are counting on society to remember, to rally around and do the right thing. Meanwhile, the president of the greatest, most compassionate and fair-minded country in the world, who claims to be "surprised, disappointed and angry," the evidence would suggest, is none of the above. Another cold and calculated, purely political gesture that stands in direct opposition to the facts. Another Joe Wilson moment--for those of us paying attention--to swallow.

This one made me so sick, I couldn't write about it for days. I hope you will join me in mourning the victims. The forgotten ones. It seems to me to be the truly compassionate thing to do.

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