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Lockerbie: a case for compassion?

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Robin Lustig | 10:13 UK time, Friday, 21 August 2009

I think it might be useful to try to disentangle two distinct threads in the debate surrounding the release of the man convicted of the Lockerbie bombing.

Thread 1: was the right man convicted? Unfortunately, we shall probably now never know: Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, the former Libyan intelligence agent, has abandoned his appeal and gone home to die.

Thread 2: was the decision to release him from jail on compassionate grounds justified because he is suffering from terminal cancer?

I have spent quite a bit of time over the years investigating the Lockerbie bombing and I am intimately familiar with the arguments over al-Megrahi's conviction in 2001. (If you're interested, you can read a background article I wrote at the time on the BBC website here.)

But to my mind, Thread 1 is not the most directly relevant in the wake of his release. It's Thread 2 - the use of the phrase "compassionate grounds" - that seems to me more worthy of our consideration.

Those who object to the decision taken by the Scottish Justice Secretary, Kenny MacAskill, ask: "Why does this man deserve our compassion when he showed none to his victims?" To which Mr MacAskill replies: "Compassion and mercy are about upholding the beliefs that we seek to live by ... no matter the severity of the provocation or the atrocity perpetrated." (The full text of his statement is here.)

But should there be some kind of correlation between compassion and the seriousness of the offence committed? Is someone guilty of a heinous crime less worthy of compassion than someone who has committed a lesser offence?

Just two weeks ago, Ronnie Biggs, one of the Great Train Robbers, was released from jail because he is gravely ill. But back in 2002, Myra Hindley, one of the most reviled serial killers in British criminal history, was refused freedom on compassionate grounds and died in custody at the age of 60, having spent 37 years in jail.

Over the past five years, 48 prisoners in the UK have been freed on compassionate grounds; that's fewer than those who have died in custody of natural causes. In Scotland, on the other hand, the picture is different: of 30 applications for compassionate release on medical grounds since 2000 (not all of them, of course, from people convicted of murder), only seven have been refused.

I suspect, although I have no way of knowing, that most of the people who object to the decision to release Mr al-Megrahi are convinced of his guilt. Similarly, I would guess that those who agree with the decision tend to be those who have doubts about his conviction.

But suppose there were no doubts. Suppose he had freely admitted his guilt. Would the arguments about compassion then be different? Mr MacAskill says: "Mr al-Megrahi did not show his victims any comfort or compassion ... but that alone is not a reason for us to deny compassion to him and his family in his final days."

I wonder if you agree.

Comments

  • 1. At 10:58am on 21 Aug 2009, Wendabubble wrote:

    I hadn't realised that his guilt was questionable.

    However why do we show compassion after we spent all that time and money bringing this man to trial? What a waste of effort if we are going make ourselves look like idiots by releasing him early!

    The government are a load of softies and are ruining not only our country by letting all and sundry live here and exploit our NHS but ruining our beautiful countryside building houses for them too!

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  • 2. At 11:32am on 21 Aug 2009, Enitharmon wrote:

    So many ask, why should we show compassion if Mr el-Megrahi didn't. One answer I haven't yet heard is that if we deny Mr el-Megrahi compassion because he denied compassion to his victims, then we are lowering ourselves to his level. If we show compassion to him where he failed to do so, then we are putting clear blue water between ourselves and him.

    I'm not a christian myself, but I have some familiarity with the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth. If he were around today to have this conundrum put to him, I wonder what he would say. I doubt if it would be "let Mr el-Megrahi rot in Greenock Gaol".

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  • 3. At 11:36am on 21 Aug 2009, MarcusAureliusII wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 4. At 1:22pm on 21 Aug 2009, dceilar wrote:

    As far as I know the decision to release him was done purely on (Scottish) legal grounds. The opinions of others have no bearing in this. Robin has highlighted that Scottish law deals with compassionate release differently than English law. The latter is more discriminate in who it releases so the Scottish have it about right. I wonder if those who have suffered a miscarriage of justice under English law (like the Guildford Four and Birmingham Six) would've been released on compassionate grounds (if they lost their appeal). Me thinks not!

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  • 5. At 1:23pm on 21 Aug 2009, Prof John Locke wrote:

    I listened to the Scottish justice minister say that he alone made the decision to free al megrahi, a decision only taken at the weekend....However Gordon Brown wrote to ghadaffi last week asking him to ensure there were no celebrations at the homecoming (a request that was ignored!) If the decision was only taken at the weekend and was "mine alone" how come GB knew the result before it was taken?........ Still think there was no pressure from the UK government? It is obvious a deal was done to prevent a miscarriage of justice coming to light...why else would megrahi stop his appeal when he has always protested his innocence?

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  • 6. At 5:12pm on 21 Aug 2009, MarcusAureliusII wrote:

    Et tu Brite'!

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  • 7. At 8:53pm on 21 Aug 2009, threnodio wrote:

    In many ways, this is a relatively simple question which is being complicated by politics. If you believe that the purpose of a custodial sentence is to take someone out of society for as long as he or she represents a danger , there can surely be no argument. What possible danger can a frail person dying of cancer in a changed world where the political imperative he was pursuing no longer has any relevance represent? On the other hand, if you regard it as a mechanism for punishment, is there really any basis for ever letting him see the light of day again?

    We would like to kid ourselves that this has something to do with justice but actually it has far more to do with common humanity as against the thirst for revenge. The reaction in the States has a lot to do with this. One of the principle objections to the extradition of Gary McKinnon was the public perception of the sentence he might face being wholly disproportionate to the offence. It is not the first time and it will not be the last time that differences in attitudes to the nature and purpose of sentences cloud the issue.

    For me, the question is simply one of whether any useful purpose was served in detaining him any longer. On balance, I am inclined to think that the decision was not unreasonable.

    At #5, jolo13 suggests that the decision was based on a desire to 'prevent a miscarriage of justice coming to light'. If this is true - and the questions he asked about Westminster's prior knowledge are pertinent - then it is a sad reflection on the state of British justice both north and south of the border. It is to be hoped that the decision was based purely on humanitarian considerations. However, the line of demarkation between politics and the implementation of justice continues to become blurred. By contrast, the United States continues to hold the separtaion of powers to be a central pillar of their constitutional system and it is curious to see how willing some of their politicians are to comment on what they view as problems within the British systems.

    The British bring this on themselves by continuing to tolerate politicians making decisions relating to sentencing which properly belong to the judiciary. For as long as the Home Secretary, the Scottish Justice Minister and any other politicians retain the power to make decisions of this nature, they invite and richly deserve all the criticism that comes their way.

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  • 8. At 11:34pm on 21 Aug 2009, threnodio wrote:

    With reference to #7 above, living in a country where al-Megrahi's release has not grabbed many headlines, I have taken on trust MacAskill's justification for the release. Having now seen news reports of al-Megrahi's 'triumphal' return, I cannot reconcile those images with the description of a frail and dying man and my position has changed and I will require a good deal more than the Minister's assurances before I am convinced that the release was not premature.

    I stand by my comments regarding politicians' roles in sentencing but this begins to look suspiciously like yet another political fiasco exposed by the tactlessness of Libya's reaction.

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  • 9. At 06:59am on 22 Aug 2009, MarcusAureliusII wrote:

    A case of compassion Mr. Lustig? No a case of betrayal. One of countless others on the UK's part. Of course you deleted my posting above. It laid out the bare facts that are undeniable. It casts British society in a very sorry light and condemns it to its core in an argument for which there is no defense. You can delete it on a technicality but you cannot change the truth behind it. One of countless days that for Britain will live in infamy. Britain is a society in terminal decline. This is one more evidence of that fact of life. Britain does not have the will to survive as its instinct in the face of aggression remains to surrender to it and then try to rationalize it under self serving high sounding moral principles. To American ears, it all rings hollow. With allies like Britain, America does not need enemies.

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  • 10. At 08:30am on 22 Aug 2009, threnodio wrote:

    Marcus

    You may or may no approve of Scottish sentencing policy but you cannot use it as an excuse to dismiss everything Britain does as 'betrayal'. I know your feelings regarding my country and I share many of them but you go too far. You simply have to accept that attitudes are different - just as we require guarantees that people we extradite for capital offences will not face the death penalty. You will not mould Britain in your own image and it is futile to try. If that is betrayal, so be it.

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  • 11. At 12:32pm on 22 Aug 2009, John_from_Hendon wrote:

    #10. threnodio wrote:

    Barbarius, admits to, and is proud to be, a barbarian. He/she despises everything and everyone, even his/her own fellow countrymen - I suspect even his/her own two dogs. Very sad!

    Earlier, he/she had it in for the cheese eating surrender monkeys, and then everything European in fact - he/she was here once but found we spoke a different language and had our own long history of non-American traditions, such as the rule of law, for example. Both Senator McCarthy and Genghis Khan are to him/her dangerously left wing, as is the idea of health care for all. (He/she declares that he/she does not vote and sees him/herself as outside, or above, political life.) He/she does however represent a phenomena of life, no matter how repellent!

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  • 12. At 1:57pm on 22 Aug 2009, MarcusAureliusII wrote:

    John From Helldom, my dogs don't shrink from danger, they meet it head on. They are Rottweilers rememeber, not poodles. And they don't feign loyalty to those they befriend whom they'll sell out to anyone who offers them a small treat in return. I prefer my kind of dogs to the dog of a nation that fancies it has a special relation because it gets fed regularly and hasn't been abandoned for repeatedly nipping its sole true benefactor. The financial bankruptcy of a nation is only one kind of bankruptcy and it is the least serious kind. That kind can be dealt with relatively easily. The kind that goes to what the essence of that nation is often cannot be repaired at all. It is endemic to its very nature. That is why threnodious, the differences are irreconcilable. It's not a difference of nuance but of the most basic character of its people.

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  • 13. At 3:10pm on 22 Aug 2009, threnodio wrote:

    Marcus

    I am certainly not going to engage in another slanging match with you. For a dog owner, you don't seem to know very much about them. Dogs - big or small - do not feign anything. If you train them to be vicious protectors of your property, that is what they will do. If you encourage them to be affectionate and social, that is what they will be. The freedome to choose is uniquely human. You appear to have exercised yours.

    I previously posted that I perceive a problem within the UK legal systems relating to the blurred lines between the judiciary and the executive and pointed to the American example of the strict separation of powers. Is it your assertion that US politicians have aquired a right to comment because the release of el Megrahi was a political rather than a judicial decision or do you think they have some kind of right to trespass into areas of British life that they would not have in the USA? Do you say that an entire nation should be judged on decisions made by it's administration (in which case you presumably have some understanding of the rise of anti-Americanism during the Bush era)?

    John

    I wonder whether the simple act of asking a straight question might elicit a straight answer or whether we are in for another torrent of abuse. Watch this space.

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  • 14. At 3:33pm on 22 Aug 2009, MarcusAureliusII wrote:

    "I am certainly not going to engage in another slanging match with you."

    Good thinking threnodious. Every time you do, you lose...badly.

    "Is it your assertion that US politicians have aquired a right to comment because the release of el Megrahi was a political rather than a judicial decision or do you think they have some kind of right to trespass into areas of British life that they would not have in the USA?"

    What makes you think judicial decisions aren't political, because they pretend not to be? Because they rationalize their decisions according to "the law?" Why do you think Justices of the Supreme Court disagree in their decisions? They have the same body of law at their disposal. Don't you think their views of it aren't colored by their political views? Didn't the statements of the recent Supreme Court appointee Soto-Mayor prove that beyond doubt? Didn't her overturned decision in the case of the fireman in Connecticut prove it also?

    The political aspects of this case were clear. They US gave up the right to try this terrorist when he was captured on the political understanding with the UK that if he were convicted, he'd serve no less than 28 years. He didn't serve even one third of that. The release of the convicted terrorist was a demonstration of lack of political will to stand up to terrorists and terrorism on the part of the UK government just as the surrender of Czechoslovakia was a demonstration of the UK's unwillingness to stand up to Hitler. Just as political rallies and demonstrations during the cold war were demonstrations of its unwillingness to stand up to Soviet aggression. The release of the cold blooded mass murderer of 189 Americans was a political statement of contempt that the UK has for the value of American lives. How would Brits have felt if the US had captured, tried, convicted those who perpetrated 7-7 and then released them after 8 years? It seems it may also have been a political act to curry favor with the Libyan government for commercial favors. And the hero's welcome back in Libya including a televised interview with Qadaffi was a political statement that many in the Arab world still favor the use of mass murder of civilians as a way to assert the dominance of militant Islam over the world and as an acceptable weapon to achieve such dominance. As always, when you challenge me, you lose again.

    BTW, there is not a single area I can think of where Brits have refrained from tresspassing on American life, even in so minor an incident as a local scuffle at a UCLA library several years ago where an Iranian-American student was denied access because he didn't have the required student identity card anyone using the library had to produce. Had we shot tresspassers on sight which is legal in the US, there'd be no Brits left around anymore. They all seem to have opinions on every aspect of American life that they must shout from the rooftops. They feel compelled to stick their big fat noses in every aspect of our business. None more so than BBC itself.

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  • 15. At 4:03pm on 22 Aug 2009, threnodio wrote:

    Marcus.

    Whenever you are stuck for an argument about 'perfidious Albion', you contantly fall back on the Munich Agreement appeasement thing. I thought you were a student of history? You know perfectly well that Britain was not ready for war at that stage and would almost certainly have lost. Of course no American blood would have been shed in Europe and maybe that's your hidden agenda but it has no relevance to the matter in hand. As for political rallies and demos, the UK, like the US is a free country. If you regard that as symptomatic on 'not standing up to communism', you could just as easily argue that anti-Vietnam rallies showed the same tendency.

    It won't do. When it comes to hurling abuse around, I agree that you win every time. When it comes to reasoned argument - well I don't remember the last time you tried.

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  • 16. At 5:51pm on 22 Aug 2009, John_from_Hendon wrote:

    #13. threnodio wrote:

    "John I wonder whether the simple act of asking a straight question might elicit a straight answer or whether we are in for another torrent of abuse. Watch this space."

    I have (always) found that Maximus Barbarious's logic is faulty - he/she does not see it and that is his/her loss. For example, his/her philosophy is that wars should be ended with only with the genocide of the vanquished - there is no room in his philosophy for peace, ever. Luckily for the rest of the World there are very very few Americans that are as absolutist as he/she.

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  • 17. At 7:08pm on 22 Aug 2009, MarcusAureliusII wrote:

    threnodious;

    "You know perfectly well that Britain was not ready for war at that stage and would almost certainly have lost."

    Britain has never been ready for war since it lost the first World War to Germany. Yet it both deliberately created the conditions that made a second world war inevitable by writing the Treaty of Versailles along with France the way it did while refusing to either stop the Germans from secretly re-arming or preparing itself. In fact Chamberlain refused all pleas from both British civilians and military alike to strengthen its armed forces because he said it would be a provocation to Germany. Like a deer caught blinded in the headlights of an oncoming car or train, it just stood there hoping it wouldn't be run over. But not only was it saved at the last second by the US, it did it again during the cold war and it is doing it now in the war on terror.

    "As for political rallies and demos, the UK, like the US is a free country. If you regard that as symptomatic on 'not standing up to communism', you could just as easily argue that anti-Vietnam rallies showed the same tendency."

    Those people were traitors. Had the US Congress had the guts to declare war, those people would have been tried for treason, put in prison or executed. The way the US military has fought every war since WWII has been a disgrace and it has lost every time except for Kosovo. Had it fought WWII the same way, it would have lost that one too. It lost in Iraq and it is losing in Afghanistan. Its so called allies are virtually worthless. In truth the Taleban could be wiped out in a matter of a few weeks....if the US government were unconcerned about world public opinion and how many civilians get killed in the fighting. It didn't seem to be a problem in WWII and it would not have been concerned in a World War agains the USSR. That is the only reason why it won. In fact the enemy's cities were among the highest priority targets.

    John from Helldom, why do you keep mincing words. Why not just say what you really think and call me a savage. You know what I think of you already.

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  • 18. At 10:21pm on 22 Aug 2009, threnodio wrote:

    Marcus

    'Those people were traitors. Had the US Congress had the guts to declare war, those people would have been tried for treason, put in prison or executed'.

    And had the US Congress had the guts to sign up to an international system of justice, a good many of your people would be doing time for war crimes committe in Vietnam.

    Your grasp of 20th century history is tenuous. The British position at Versailles was squarely alongside the American one in trying to resist excessive French territorial demands. Clemenceau's more extreme ambitions were thwarted by Wison and Lloyd George. The only point on which the Brits and Americans differed was over the question of reparations. The fact remains that the French should and could have prevented the militarization of the Rheinland in 1936 and, had they done so, Hitler's ambitions would have ended there and then. If you must blame Europe for the world's woes, at least have the grace to allocate it correctly. Neither did the US 'win' the Cold War. They held the line for 40 years but that's all. Curiously, it was the Soviet's Warsaw Pact allies which finally ended it.

    And yes, if you are serious about people who disagree with your foreign policy at the time being 'traitors to be imprisoned or exectuted', then you have no respect for the democratic values which you claim to champion and that is pretty close to being a savage.

    All of which has what to do with el Megrahi?

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  • 19. At 10:41pm on 22 Aug 2009, John_from_Hendon wrote:

    #17. MarcusAureliusII wrote:

    "Why not just say what you really think and call me a savage."

    Your grasp on reality was never strong and it seems now to have completely evaporated. I repeat, as I have many times before; all wars end. Your solution of perpetual genocidal war is just raving gibberish. You write ignorant rubbish and you must know it is. I will not call you a savage as that demeans savages!

    The fourth paragraph of your contribution (#17 above) is so off the wall as to suggest to disinterested observers that you have lost your sanity and live in some imaginary warped paranoid version of personal reality far removed from the rest of us. The dimensions and depth of your psychotic state is indescribable.

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  • 20. At 10:44pm on 22 Aug 2009, MarcusAureliusII wrote:

    threnodious, you are one damned liar. What won the cold war was 20,000 Amrican hydrogen bombs, hundreds of B52s, Minuteman and MX missiles, Poseiden and Trident nuclear submarines, tens of thousands of American troops on European soil, thousands of American jet fighters, A six hundred ship American navy, a million strong American military, trillions of American taxpayer dollars, and an American political will that wouldn't give up even when Europeans were more than eager to throw in the towel. And there were many times that it seemed the USSR would prevail. But always there was the unyielding position of better dead than red which meant that the US would blow the entire world away before it would allow the USSR to dominate the human race. That is the same position the US has had since Nathan Hale said he regretted that he had but one life to give for his country before the British executed him and the American patriot Patrick Henry (who was born in Britain) said give me liberty or give me death. Ultimately this is what separates Americans from Europeans. You should have seen the outcry among Europeans when President Reagan installed the Pershing II missiles in Germany. The USSR could hardly have asked for a more compliant fifth column in its enemy's ranks.

    The so called ICC is a pure sham. There is no such thing as international law or most of the world's leaders would be in prison this very day. Including your government. By your own standards your Prime Minister is a war criminal. So are the leaders of most of the Islamicc world for the crimes they have committed against their own people. So are the leaders of China and Russia. There are no rules of war. The only rule of war is that there are no rules, only winners and losers. War is a savage business by its very nature. If you are going to fight and expect to win, you'd better prepare to act and think like a savage. There is no way for lawyers or politicians to sanitize it. I'd rather be a live savage who won a war than a dead pansy who lost and died because he fought by the Marquis of Queensbury rules. There is no atrocity greater than the extinction of the entire human race and making the surface of the earth uninhabitable by human beings but that was the very plan all of the NATO and Warsaw Pact nations agreed to and what would have happened without the slightest doubt had nuclear war with the USSR come.

    Brits cannot weasel out of their complicity in the creation of the conditions that made WWII inevitable. America'a biggest mistake in all its history was getting involved in WWI by ignoring a warning President Washington had made over a century earlier. Woodrow Wilson was by far the worst President America ever had. We'd have a far better and safer America had he never been elected. We'd be better off even today by completely disengaging ourselves from anything to do with Europe.

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  • 21. At 09:30am on 24 Aug 2009, cping500 wrote:

    Dear Marcus since the the US Federal Law Code has a provision for compassionate release I assume that all you rhetoric about this aspect applies to the US as well.

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  • 22. At 11:59am on 24 Aug 2009, MarcusAureliusII wrote:

    Cipro

    Which mass murdering terrorist has the US government released in just a few years after assuring the government where most of his victims were citizens that he would serve at least 28 years in prison if they were convicted in its courts under its system of justice?

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  • 23. At 1:27pm on 24 Aug 2009, Seraphim wrote:

    MA2 wrote:

    "I've got two Rottweiler mixes. One rescued by a shelter in Port Gervis in Upstate New York is part Saint Bernard and weighs 165 pounds. She's a pussycat who tries to hide in the linen closet or under the bed during thunderstorms."

    MA2 also wrote:

    "John From Helldom, my dogs don't shrink from danger, they meet it head on."

    Wow so you don't even need us anymore to contradict urself, instead you do it all by yourself. You sure are improving :-)

    "Britain has never been ready for war since it lost the first World War to Germany."

    We won that one? Crap why did we sign that Versailles Treaty then anyway :-/

    Btw I am still waiting for a reply on the car issue or did it really only take about 15 minutes of internet research to prove all those "undeniable points" you came up with there as utter nonsense?

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  • 24. At 9:36pm on 24 Aug 2009, threnodio wrote:

    #22 - MarcusAureliusII

    Neither the British government nor the Scottish executive would have given such an assurance since they do not have the power to do so. Sentencing is a matter solely for the courts. Unfortunately, ministers do have discretion regarding early release. I personally regard this as unfortunate but I do not recall any minister giving such an undertaking. If you have evidence to the contrary, perhaps you would post a link.

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  • 25. At 01:44am on 25 Aug 2009, MarcusAureliusII wrote:

    threnodious;

    So then you agree, the word of the British government is worthless. Just what I always said.

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  • 26. At 12:53pm on 25 Aug 2009, threnodio wrote:

    #25 - MarcusAureliusII

    No. I am saying that they did not give their word.

    To start with, it is a devolved matter entirely for the Scottish executive. The British government has no authority to overrule them, ergo it cannot give its word. Secondly, prisoner release is a discretionary matter and the rule of 'never say never' applies.

    What I am saying is that it should not be a political decision and, as things stand, it is. On that I am sure we would agree.

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  • 27. At 02:03am on 26 Aug 2009, MarcusAureliusII wrote:

    threnodious;

    So this time the British government made a promise they couldn't keep...as opposed to the ones they broke that they wouldn't keep. Totally can't be trusted.

    So now the question is whether or not there was an underlying sellout for some sort of business contract or what it was mere stupidity or cynicism. Whatever the reason, the UK joins France and Germany in the gutter in the minds of many Americans. From my point of view....it hasn't budged a bit.

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  • 28. At 9:59pm on 26 Aug 2009, ghostofsichuan wrote:

    Please! Act of compassion from the Scots...put on a Celtics jersey and walk the streets of Glascow. If you think this was an act of compassion and no other deals were part of the mix you must believe that bankers will soon be taking their new profits and replacing the losses in individual retirement accounts.

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  • 29. At 9:26pm on 27 Aug 2009, threnodio wrote:

    How many more times, Marcus. The British government made no such promise.

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  • 30. At 00:09am on 28 Aug 2009, MarcusAureliusII wrote:

    threnodious, that is not what the reports in the news said. They said that there was an agreement that the US would give up its rights to prosecute the suspect if it was assured that in the event he was convicted by the courts in Scotland, he'd serve at least 28 years. Can you think of any other reason why the US government would give up its rights to prosecute him?

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  • 31. At 12:49pm on 28 Aug 2009, threnodio wrote:

    Yes. The events occured prior to the Extradition Treaty of 2003. The crime took place in British airspace and over British territory. It was therefore the right of the British system to prosecute. The US had no 'right' to prosecute. It had a right to seek extradition on the basis that over 60% of the victims were US citizens but it does not follow that they would have been granted extradition. At least, in the UK, it was clear that there would be a prosecution.

    If you don't like British sentencing policy, that is one thing, but to assume that the US has a 'right' to prosecute people for offences committed outside their jurisdiction is an entirely different matter.

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  • 32. At 12:20pm on 29 Aug 2009, MarcusAureliusII wrote:

    threnodious, it seems to me that the US isn't the only nation asserting its right to prosecute people for crimes committed beyond its borders. Didn't Spain or Belgium assert its right to prosecute torture committed in other nations even if its own nationals were not victims.

    In this case, an agency or agent of a foreign government committed an act of war. That is how it should have been seen. In fact the US attacked Libya for other provocations and this was probably retribution. That's where the US made its mistake. If you are going to fight a war, then fight a war, don't pussyfoot around about it.

    Why did Libya surrender its terrorist policies? Many say it was the sanctions. I don't think so. The timing was no mere coincidence. I think the US had discovered Libya's secret nuclear weapons program that was far more advanced than anyone suspected. I think they told Libya that if they didn't give it up, they'd be next in line after Iraq and there wasn't anything France, Germany, Russia, and China combined could do to stop it. Daffy Qadaffi learned the lesson of Iraq, North Korea and Iran didn't. That's a mistake we are continuing to make.

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