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Oil for Lockerbie Terrorist's Freedom? Senators Suspect BP 'Blood Money' Role

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Four U.S. senators have called on oil giant BP to halt its plans to drill for oil off the coast of Libya until questions about possible terrorist connections behind the company's drilling contracts there have been resolved.

"The more we learn about the [matter] in recent days, the more it makes the stomach turn," Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) said at a Capitol Hill press conference Wednesday.

BP confirmed Thursday that it lobbied the U.K. government to speed up the release of Libyan prisoners in order to finalize an drilling agreement with Libya, but denied that it tried to intervene in the case of Abdel Basset al Megrahi, convicted for his role in the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 that killed 270 people, including 189 Americans and 11 on the ground in Lockerbie, Scotland, where the plane went down.

Abdel Basset al MegrahiA statement from BP said the decision to release Megrahi in August 2009 was taken by the Scottish government alone: "BP was not involved in any discussions with the U.K. government or the Scottish government about the release."

But Menendez said Wednesday that he wants BP to do more than deny the allegations.

"We are calling on BP to show us that they are committed to international justice and that they reject terrorism by suspending all activities related to their planned drilling off the coast of Libya until the full information about their potential involvement in the al-Megrahi case is known," he said.

In 2009, Megrahi was serving a 30-year sentence when the Scottish government announced it would free him, citing medical reports that the cancer-stricken terrorist was gravely ill and could die within weeks. Months after the release, the Libyan government and BP finalized a 2007 agreement -- estimated to be worth $20 billion to BP -- to begin deepwater oil exploration and drilling off the country's coast.

But last week, one of the three doctors who pronounced Megrahi terminally ill admitted he had been paid by the Libyan government to examine Megrahi and had been strongly encouraged to worsen the prisoner's diagnosis. Megrahi is still alive in Libya, where doctors have declared him healthy enough to live another 10 years.

"They pulled the wool over our eyes," Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) told Politics Daily. He joined Menendez and Sens. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) in calling on BP to stop its Libya operation until it explains the circumstances behind Megrahi's release. "I was suspicious then and unfortunately I don't enjoy being right. . . . There had to be an influence some place in the orbit of the United Kingdom to let that guy go and we want to find out what it was."

Earlier this week, the same senators called on Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to investigate the British government's role in releasing Megrahi. In a letter to Clinton, they wrote, "The question we now have to answer is, was this corporation willing to trade justice in the murder of 270 innocent people for oil profits?"

The senators have also asked the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to hold a hearing on the matter and have called on the British ambassador to the United States to ask the British government to launch a full-scale investigation into its role in matter.

On Wednesday, Clinton said she was aware of the senators' concerns. "I have received the letter and we will obviously look into it," she said.

Questions about terrorist connections behind the BP deal began as soon as the Scottish government announced last year that it would release Megrahi. British Justice Minister Jack Straw said in 2009 that he was aware of BP's efforts to drill for oil off the Libyan coast but flatly denied allegations of a quid pro quo between the two countries, telling the BBC: "Was there a deal? A covert, secret deal ever struck with the Libyans to release Megrahi in return for oil? No, there was not and there is no evidence whatsoever because it is untrue."

But according to The Sunday Times, Straw wrote in 2007 to Kenny MacAskill -- his counterpart in Scotland, who set the Libyan free last August -- and said the government was abandoning its attempt to exclude Megrahi from the prisoner agreement, citing the national interest.

But Lautenberg, Schumer and the other senators want more answers than either the British government or BP have given so far.

"If BP is found to have gained access to Libyan oil reserves by using a mass murderer as a bargaining chip, then make no mistake: Any money it makes off of that oil is blood money, pure and simple," Menendez said.
Filed Under: The Capitolist

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12 Comments

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weathwoods

Ah, so it is fine for America to invade Iraq and Afghanistan for oil and kill hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, of innocents, but it is reprehensible for BP to make this deal with Libya: one man for oil. If this story is correct, didn't BP just take a page from the Bush/Cheney/Zionist playbook and consider the victims of the Lockerbie incident, collateral damage? Besides, there is growing evidence that the bomb was set either by the CIA to kill some of its own, or by Iran as revenge for our downing of the Iranian airbus. So before our politicians stick their feet too deep in their big mouths, they should demand a new investigation of the Lockerbie incident. On the other hand, who cares about BP. They were instrumental in the 1953 overthrow of Iran's democracy. Let them go down the toilet.

July 19 2010 at 7:33 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Big Daddy

This is no suprise at all when you see the history of oil and what govts and companys will do to get it.

July 16 2010 at 9:07 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
rsticks18

send navy seals into libya to kidnap the terrorist and bring him to the US---

July 16 2010 at 11:16 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
djh6721

Always funny to read how people are shocked or surprised which oddly shocks and surprises me. Did anyone actually fall into the old "you matter" trap? Think about it, there are actually people out there opposed to Wall Street Regulation like they were on Mars a year and the half ago. There is no "We the People" anymore. There is only corporate interests, their lackies and the duped.

July 15 2010 at 8:37 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
trb2244

vobox and Eric: I've been drinking Scots whiskey since I could drink, but I haven't bought a drop since the Scots let that monster go home free. Now you are telling me I need to boycott BP? Oh, wait, I already closed that account, when they bought out Amoco and raised the card rates heavenward. So I suppose I'll have to boycott Lautenberg (a gun-grabber anyhow), Shumer (a know-it-all who obviously didn't), and Gillibrand for being out of the loop on the release question.

July 15 2010 at 8:09 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
vobox3343

GOP talking heads always give us something to boycott. How did the boycotting of french fries go?

July 15 2010 at 5:14 PM Report abuse -3 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to vobox3343's comment
Eric

Ahem, you of course mean "freedom fries"...you eat them after you've had your freedom toast with you girlfriend who you occationally freedom kiss...

July 15 2010 at 7:08 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
bbbsquared

So when the GOBP apologized to BP they were also apologizing to Libya for putting one of their own terrorists in jail?
Hmmm...

July 15 2010 at 5:06 PM Report abuse +6 rate up rate down Reply
shmtnmusic

I was willing to give BP a pass on the oil spill. (I actually blame our president and government more for lack of action) But, after finding out about this with the Lockerbie bommber, I will NEVER patronize BP again. I'm sorry all you BP gas station owners but this is unacceptable.

July 15 2010 at 3:48 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
J Urso

I actually started a personal boycott of BP since the release of this Lockerby terrorist. I wonder if it was the revenge of all those souls who lost their lives. If so, well there is justice in this world after all.

July 15 2010 at 3:09 PM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
baggrridr

Oh now congress is surprised and appalled by what an oil company did. Big oil has been putting monetary concerns above the welfare of countries and their citizens for years...and congress has been blindly complicit with it all for decades!

July 15 2010 at 2:59 PM Report abuse +6 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to baggrridr's comment
vobox3343

Not surprised at all. We know how Bush and Cheney allowed the industry to pull the wool over their eyes at tax payers expense. Remember all of those high prices at the pump during the Bush administration? Who was aiding and abetting the 'enemy' then?

July 15 2010 at 5:21 PM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply
Tom

vobox3343, Bush and Cheney did not allow the industry to pull the wool over their eyes, they had their hand on the edge of the wool and were pulling with all their might to pull it over the eyes of the taxpayers too. They weren't blinded to happenings by the oil industry, they turned their backs, put their shoulders to the wheel and helped.

July 15 2010 at 5:43 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

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