Kristofer Harrison writes to comment on John’s post on the release of the Lilbyan mass murderer Abdel Baset al-Megrahi. Mr. Harrison is the former Chief of Staff to the Counselor of the Secretary of State, a position he filled during the Bush administration. He comments:
I thought you might be interested in a conversation I had in London in mid-April (!) with very senior UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office officials about al-Megrahi. After leaving the Bush Administration in January I was on a work trip to London in mid-April and dropped by the FCO to check in with a couple of my former FCO colleagues. One high ranking British diplomat – a personal friend – complained to me that the release of al-Megrahi was forthcoming.
Not only is Andy McCarthy on the right track, it’s even worse than that. We spoke (complained?) at length about the issue and it was very from my conversation that the decision was left to Number 10, and was being driven by the FCO in part to curry favor with Qaddafi after a rocky “rebooting” period.
I’ve been quite perplexed at the characterization of this as a Scottish decision, as my friend spoke of it in terms of something that had already been cleared conditionally by the courts and had been signed off on by the Prime Minister. In fact, he pointed me toward this February 2009 AFP article, mentioning that it was a trial balloon from the British government to test the reaction in the US and UK.
Note the date. They had not detected much anger of the article, so they British government had already decided that they would acquiesce to the Libyan request. He was also very explicit that they had informed the US of their plans to release him.
Mr. Harrison adds: “Not to make light of what is a very serious issue, but every time I hear the words Scottish Law I cannot help but think of Senator Specter’s reasoning for his vote against President Clinton’s impeachment. Note the similarity in the results.”