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Tags Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi , Ahmed Jibril , Kenny MacAskill , Lockerbie bombing , Marwan Khreesat , Pan Am 103

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Old 29th September 2010, 04:15 AM   #201
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Originally Posted by Bunntamas View Post
Sorry. I'm not there yet.

Could you explain this further? If the bomb didn't travel on KM180, how could Megrahi have been involved in getting it into the airline baggage system?

Originally Posted by Bunntamas View Post
Too much irony there for me to believe it's just a coincidence that Megrahi was on Malta that day, as well as on 7 December,

But how is that a coincidence, either time? Coincidence with what?

Megrahi was on Malta on the morning of the disaster, catching a plane to Tripoli. It only becomes a coincidence (or not) if the bomb was also at Luqa airport that morning. If the bomb was introduced at Heathrow, for example, there's no particular significance in what Megrahi was doing on Malta that day. He was a thousand miles from the scene of the crime.

Same thing with 7th December. If the clothes purchase occurred on 23rd November, as it most probably did, then Megrahi being on Malta two weeks later isn't significant of anything in particular.

Remember that Megrahi was a frequent traveller to Malta. He didn't just show up on those two dates, he was in and out all the time. 7th December was simply fixed on because that was the only one of his visits during the time period in question where he would have had the opportunity to visit Mary's House. The prosecution ran around in circles trying to show that this was the date of the clothes purchase, but almost everything pointed away from this, especially that it wasn't raining that evening, and the Christmas lights were already lit.

DI Bell admitted that the main reason for pushing 7th December as the date of purchase was that Megrahi was on Malta that day. Other than that, the evidence was a much better fit for 23rd November. The SCCRC report found that there was no basis in evidence for the court's decision that the purchase took place on 7th December.

So where's the coincidence? They decided the purchase took place on 7th December because that was the day when Megrahi was on Malta. Then you say, oh it's an unbelievable coincidence he just happened to be on Malta on the day the clothes were purchased.

No, it isn't.

Originally Posted by Bunntamas View Post
his affiliations with MEBO, Libyan Secret Service, etc...... It's far too much for me to just brush off as just "he was just a bad guy doing something else, in the wrong place at the right time". No way.

MEBO made the timer. That's a whole other can of worms, but let's leave that for now and assume that timer really was part of the bomb. Megrahi didn't even meet Edwin Bollier until quite a long time after the timers were supplied to Libya. He didn't have anything to do with that purchase, and he was never shown to have had such a timer in his possession.

Megrahi was in procurement, and it's not that surprising he did business with Bollier. What is the connection really? MEBO as a company did a lot of business with Libya, and quite a lot of Libyan officials (who would be JSO) had dealings with the company. Megrahi was one of these officials. There really doesn't seem to be any more to it than that. It doesn't link Megrahi as an individual to the Lockerbie bomb.

Even if the timer fragment was the genuine article, it doesn't even provide a conclusive link to Libya. The sale of the timers was two years before the disaster. Examples turned up in Togo and Senegal. Libya was well-known in the 1980s for supplying armaments to various terrorist groups, including the IRA. They were the main supplier of Semtex, and the Semtex Khreesat was playing with was probably of Libyan origin. It's perfectly possible they sold on some of the timers as well.

Originally Posted by Bunntamas View Post
I think that's ultimately what the judges saw as well.

What the judges were thinking is a whole other question.

Originally Posted by Bunntamas View Post
I know this is going to seem like a ping pong match on evidence re: what was and what was not discovered. However, what I would like to see is the actual evidence that the bomb wasn't on KM180. Anybody have any? Court records from the Air Malta libel lawsuit? I know it was settled, but here in the US, court process happens leading up to settlement, and documents are recorded. Not sure about Malta / UK.

There seem to have been two such lawsuits, although I think they were both settled. I'm afraid I don't have the book that details that with me at the moment. I could quote Paul Foot though, whose factual accuracy on this case is very high.

Originally Posted by Paul Foot
Norton Rose, the London commercial solicitors, compiled a huge dossier detailing almost everything about the flight from Malta to Frankfurt on the day of the Lockerbie bombing and proving that all 55 bags checked in on the flight could be ascribed to passengers, none of whom travelled on to London. The evidence was so powerful that Granada settled the action before it got to court. They paid Air Malta £15,000 damages and all the costs of the case.

I don't know how you'd access that documentation though.

What weighs very heavily with me on this point is the complete inability of the court to come up with a plausible scenario whereby the bomb could have gone on KM180. We note that they were so predisposed to convict that on other points they seized on even the slightest hint that the incriminating version just might be possible, however unlikely, and ran with it.

A good example of this is the rain in Sliema. The meteorological records showed no rain at all on the evening of 7th December. Under cross-examination the meteorologist conceded a mere 10% possibility of some rain, but said that even if that had occurred, it would have been no more than a few drops. This was in contrast to a clear record of light rain, just as Gauci described, on the evening of 23rd November. However, the court was so keen to convict that they decided the 10% chance of a few drops of rain was enough for them to prefer 7th December over 23rd November.

So where is the comparable reasoning for the unaccompanied bag getting on KM180? There isn't any. It's a complete mystery.

Originally Posted by Trial court judgement
The absence of any explanation of the method by which the primary suitcase might have been placed on board KM180 is a major difficulty for the Crown case.

Originally Posted by Lord Osborne, appeal judge
But is it not a different matter to say, on the basis of these features of the situation, that the bomb passed through Luqa Airport, standing that there is considerable and quite convincing evidence that that could not have happened? [....] Now, it’s quite difficult rationally to follow how the Court take the step of saying, ‘Well, we don’t know how it got onto the flight. We can’t say that. But it must have been there.’ On the face of it, it may not be a rational conclusion.

We have no idea who might have put the bomb suitcase on the flight. Megrahi didn't do it, as he didn't go airside that morning. We don't even have a sighting of a possible culprit. The intensive and prolonged investigation by the FBI and others failed to find a shred of evidence to undermine the Air Malta records. There is literally nothing.

So no, I don't know how we are supposed to find harder evidence that something didn't happen, nearly 22 years ago. But if something did happen, why has nothing at all been found to support that, in all this time, given the amount of effort put into it (including more offers of bribe money, too)?

Originally Posted by Bunntamas View Post
Actual evidence? I know, I know, the Zeist court said they couldn't say, and you've all gone on and on about the "triple check" of bags. However, there was not a triple check of "bags". There was one check of bags, one check of head count on the plane and another check of the log (the latter of which you've all said is questionable). Hence, the bags themselves, were counted once, not thrice.

I haven't read that section of evidence in detail, so maybe more will emerge when I do. However, I come back to, if there was even a remotely plausible hole in the evidence where this unaccompanied bag could have been weaselled in, by God only knows who, why aren't we hearing about it?

Originally Posted by Bunntamas View Post
Lastly, (and no, I'm not trying to create a CT with the following, but...) has anyone read about the amount of Maltese government and police corruption, including beatings and killings by the Maltese police during investigations (not necessarily relative to Lockerbie) that were taking place on Malta during the 80s and prior and following?
I'm just sayin'.

You're not creating a CT, it's already a CT and not of your making. The entire prosecution case rests on the assertion that it was somehow possible for Libyan agents (don't know who they were) to have smuggled the bomb suitcase on to a plane at Malta, and then completely covered their tracks so successfully that no trace was ever found of this. That's a CT, whichever way you slice it.

If you're trying to suggest that the Maltese police colluded in the cover-up by threatening and intimidating Maltese citizens to keep quiet about the origin of the Lockerbie bomb, again where is the evidence? Evidence of anything like this would have been happily seized on by the prosecution and brought to court, except it wasn't.

If you could provide links to what you're saying about Maltese police brutality and corruption then I'll read them. But against that you have to set the general position of Malta as a western country with a devoutly Catholic population who didn't much like Libyans no matter how much their own government was cosying up to Libya. Despite the recent independence, social ties to Britain were strong. It was a popular holiday destination for British tourists all through that period. Many British ex-pats lived on the island.

So while there's certainly truth in the assertion that some very questionable things were going on in Malta at that time (in particular the number of terrorist groups running around the island is quite startling), the other side of that is a population of ordinary people who still felt quite British and not at all inclined to support murderous terrorist actions by "Libyan pigs".

Rolfe.
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Old 29th September 2010, 05:35 AM   #202
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I'd like to recap quickly on my own take on all this.

The reason for the investigation homing in on Malta as the point of introduction was the fact that the purchase of the clothes in the bomb suitcase was traced to a shop in Malta, shortly before the disaster. I believe this was a cardinal error. It was almost inevitable though, given the situation as regards London and Frankfurt which built up in the eight months following the bombing. Each airport and its associated law enforcement was adamant that they were not at fault and the bomb had been introduced at the other one. Relations were poisonous, and the investigation was going nowhere. But from September 1989 everyone was singing from the same hymn-sheet. The bomb went on at Luqa, great, that lets both big airports off the hook.

However, was it a sensible conclusion?

If a terrorist group has contacts and influence on Malta so that it can introduce a bomb into the airline baggage there completely undetected, and use a timer to ensure that the explosion doesn't happen till much later and on a completely different flight from a completely different airport, that's one helluva trick. So then, they decide to set the timer early enough so that the plane will probably crash on land so that evidence can be collected, rather than hours later when it will be over the mid-Atlantic. This in itself is quite odd.

Then, to supply this scenario where there's a good chance the wreckage will be all over Scotland, the group decides to make a very conspicuous and memorable purchase of brand new, locally-manufactured, easily traceable clothes in a shop only three miles from the airport where the undetectable introduction of the bomb will take place. And the person who makes this conspicuous and memorable purchase is the same person who has to be visibly present at the airport at the time the bomb goes on the plane (even though we don't know what his exact role in this was). Bang goes the lack of a trail to Malta, the minute an identifiable rag of that clothing is picked up.

Er, right....

How might that purchase be better explained though?

If you're planning on smuggling a bomb on board a plane at Heathrow, then making such a purchase in a shop on a Mediterranean island a thousand miles away might make some degree of sense. It's a deliberate red herring. If the clothes are found and traced, maybe it will send the police off on a wild-goose chase, waste a bit of time at least.

Malta is a good choice, precisely because of its situation at the time. More than one terrorist group using the island as a base. Cosy and profitable relationship with Libya, a pariah terrorist state whom the US authorities will be only too happy to blame for any sort of mayhem, and Libyans on and passing through the island all the time. Who knows what the investigators might find on the island to distract them?

I think it worked beyond someone's wildest dreams.

LN147 from Luqa to Tripoli left about the same time as KM180, the Frankfurt flight that would conceivably connect with PA103. A flight which might well have had a JSO officer or other suspicious Libyan on it any day you cared to investigate. It was Megrahi's bad luck that it happened to be him, that day.

The rest just flows from that. It was also his bad luck that although he bore no resemblance to Tony Gauci's verbal description of the clothes purchaser, he looked a bit like one of the (very generic) photofit images Gauci produced. And that although he wasn't on the island on the day of the purchase, he was there on a different day which could be made to look like the day of the purchase if you torture the evidence enough.

He had no known history of involvement in terrorism, or of handling explosives, or of bomb construction. But he was a JSO officer, involved in procurement (of aircraft parts at least), and he was one of many Libyans who had some dealings with Edwin Bollier.

And there you have it. I don't believe that bomb was ever within a thousand miles of Malta, on 21st December or any other date. I don't belive the 6-foot-tall, burly 50-year-old who bought those clothes on 23rd November was the 5-feet-eight, average build, 36-year-old Megrahi who wasn't even there that day.

I don't think there is any evidence whatsoever to connect him to the bombing of Pan Am 103.

Rolfe.
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Old 29th September 2010, 10:23 AM   #203
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This is part of that old declassified DIA doc I referenced awhile back. It's from Pgs. 138/9 Doesn't look like all of the data is accurate, e.g., the last sentence on "Al Maqrahi" (Megrahii?) setting the timer in London. But perhaps it does add a bit of a new twist on things... maybe?

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Old 29th September 2010, 12:48 PM   #204
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Bother, I left my memory stick with the primary evidence on it plugged into my computer at work, and that has the whole of the document (I think, if that's what you linked to earlier).

Remember, spelling of these Arabic names is always phonetic. Look at the number of different ways of spelling Gadaffi and Giaka, for a start. So anything in the "sounds like" department is close enough.

I have to say I think that's fabricated. Who said it, and when? We know that the CIA and DoJ were in the business of soliciting "evidence" specifically implicating Megrahi and Fhimah in mid-1991 and probably later. Look at the circumstances surrounding Giaka's remarkable revelations. This looks like more of the same. How much was this guy being offered if he produced evidence that led to a conviction, I wonder?

I'm particularly suspicious of it because of the mention of Fhimah. My impression of him (subject to better information and I'm afraid this isn't that) is that he was an ordinary little man doing an ordinary little job, who happened also to be a friend of Megrahi's. It was never even shown that he was a JSO member as far as I know, and everything implicating him was simply made up by Giaka.

As you say, it's inaccurate, and inaccurate in a way that suggests it was being invented to fit a misunderstood scenario. It's trying to tie the two sets of suspects together - the PFLP-GC and Libya - possibly to give greater credibility to the "Libya did it" proposition by linking Libya with the suspects against whom there was a greater weight of evidence.

However, the writer seems to have misunderstood the whole issue of the timer, and become confused between the MST-13 timer, the alleged smoking gun that implicated Libya, and the barometric timers used by the PFLP-GC. If Jibril was responsible for the bomb, it probably had a barometric timer which would have had to have been introduced or at least actively primed at Heathrow. It would then have exploded about 40 minutes after take-off whether or not the plane left on time. (Which is of course when the bomb actually did explode.)

So the writer, having implicated Jibril as the designer of the device, thinks it has to be primed at Heathrow. However he's also trying to implicate Megrahi as the bomber, so he thinks of course Megrahi must have travelled with the bomb bag to London to do the priming.

Quote:
4. The piece of luggage containing the bomb and timer was dispatched from Malta, but the timer was not set until it arrived in Europe.
Comments: 1. [redacted] The luggage containing the bomb was purportedly intercepted in London by al Maqrahi who probabley claimed the bag, set the timer, then switched luggage tags to route it on the Pan Am flight 103.

Of course the whole point about the MST-13 timer was that it could have been set absolutely anywhere at all in the world to go off whenever the terrorists chose, time-wise. Therefore this supported the possibility that the bomb could have been introduced at Malta and proceeded unaccompanied through the baggage system. Which was what Megrahi was alleged to have done. (Except that rather than do the sensible thing and set the timer for about midnight when the plane would have been way out over the deep Atlantic, he unaccountably set it so that it detonated pretty much exactly when a PFLP-GC barometric timer would have gone off.)

The writer of this little fantasy (sorry, but that's what I think it is) seems to have thought, Jibril, PFLP-GC, 38-minute explosion, barometric timer, therefore priming at Heathrow. So if I'm supposed to implicate Megrahi as the bomber, he must have travelled with the device to Heathrow to prime it. So that's what I'll say he did.

I'm sorry, the whole thing is about as credible as Giaka, if that, and that's my honest opinion.

Rolfe.
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Old 29th September 2010, 01:25 PM   #205
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The above excerpt of the full document is (I think) simply a stream of intel as it came in to DOI / CIA. Not sure "who" wrote it. I suspect there may have been multiple contributors.

So, okay. I hear ya on the "fantasy" and Giaka. I just thought it was an interesting take. Doesn't sound unreasonable to me that Iran paid the PLO / PFL-GC to get it done, they got busted in Neuss, and (even though they were released shortly after they were too much under the microscope to carry out the task), trained the Libyans, and the Libyans got it done. That scenario is noted elsewhere in the same document. I'll see if I can find it and post. It notes specific payment amounts, who was paid, and when.

If you're interested in the Giaka "intel", you can access that here: http://www.foia.cia.gov/. Search "Malta", and a whole bunch of stuff comes back, including the interviews w/ Giaka.

More later.
~B.
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Old 29th September 2010, 02:30 PM   #206
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Originally Posted by Bunntamas View Post
The above excerpt of the full document is (I think) simply a stream of intel as it came in to DOI / CIA. Not sure "who" wrote it. I suspect there may have been multiple contributors.

So, okay. I hear ya on the "fantasy" and Giaka. I just thought it was an interesting take. Doesn't sound unreasonable to me that Iran paid the PLO / PFL-GC to get it done, they got busted in Neuss, and (even though they were released shortly after they were too much under the microscope to carry out the task), trained the Libyans, and the Libyans got it done. That scenario is noted elsewhere in the same document. I'll see if I can find it and post. It notes specific payment amounts, who was paid, and when.

It's not an unreasonable scenario, right enough. I'd like to see some concrete evidence for it though. Stuff that was coming in to the CIA and the DIA from "informants" who were having large amounts of money dangled in front of them to provide incrimination against the selected suspects isn't that concrete, maybe.

I don't see any particular reason to suspect Libya, really. The Neuss bust doesn't seem to have damaged Jibril's crew significantly - only two of the 17 men arrested were detained, and only one of the IEDs was seized at that time. The circumstances of the release of most of those picked up are interesting in their own right.

Against that, one has to set the fact that Libya was a very acceptable scapegoat, politically, as far as the US government was concerned. Reagan went off on one against Libya on about day seven, with precisely no evidence. Cannistraro practically made a career out of getting Libya blamed for stuff it may or may not have done.

But sure, Libya probably supplied some of the munutions for the attack (the Semtex, anyway). Might they have had a more hands-on role? It's not implausible, I agree. I just haven't seen the solid evidence.

However, that's quite a different question from whether Megrahi was involved, and instrumental in getting the bomb into the baggage system at Luqa. That's where the flaws are.

Originally Posted by Bunntamas View Post
If you're interested in the Giaka "intel", you can access that here: http://www.foia.cia.gov/. Search "Malta", and a whole bunch of stuff comes back, including the interviews w/ Giaka.

As you say, later. There seems to be no end to the amount of material one might assimilate in relation to this subject.

Rolfe.
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Old 29th September 2010, 05:03 PM   #207
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Lawsuits. Two of them.

On 30th October 1989 the Independent published an article claiming that the German police had found that the baggage list for KM180 didn't correspond with the checked-in passengers. The resulting lawsuit was settled in April 1991, with the newspaper printing a full retraction and apology, and paying "a substantial sum" in compensation plus costs.

Quote:
The court was informed that Air Malta had undertaken a careful examination of its security and other procedures in force on the day in question and had shown to the Independent the relevant documents concerning the passengers and baggage carried on that flight. The Independent accepted Air Malta's assurance that the quantity of baggage and passengers checked in tallied with the number of pieces and passengers that were carried on the aircraft.

In November 1990, Granada TV showed a dramatised documentary which included showing a mysterious Arab arming the bomb at Malta, then checking the suitcase in as passenger luggage and standing watching as the flight took off without him. The resulting libel case ended a year later with Air Malta accepting £15,005 in damages and Granada also being landed with half a million in costs.

The statement read out by Air Malta is interesting, because it seems to argue against the theory about the Caruana luggage.

Quote:
The bomb could not have been introduced into the airline system in this way, since all passengers who checked in for Air Malta flight to Frankfurt on December 21st 1988 did travel on that flight and further none of them were routed through London to New York as would have been necessary if checked baggage was to reach the Pan Am flight. [Air Malta] operates standard procedure to ensure that all its checked-in passengers board before its flights take off and it counts passengers' baggage at check-in and on the aircraft ramp to check for unaccompanied bags.

I don't think any of that really helps Bunntamas. It's mostly about luggage being checked in, and the passenger then failing to board. Nobody has investigated the allegation that all the Maltese staff were in on the plot, allowed the terrorist to add the bomb to the luggage pile, and then falsified the paperwork.

The Zeist testimony is still going to be the place to look for that.

Rolfe.
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Old 29th September 2010, 05:17 PM   #208
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Rolfe,
I think you said you had a searchable .PDF of the trial doc's. Would you mind posting that for upload somewhere? Was it you, or Buncrana, or someone else who suggested sites for upload to which we could link? I'd rather download it from one of those places, than try to suck it through on Email, which may take forever, or most lkely get bounced back due to size limitation.
Thank you!
~B.

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Old 29th September 2010, 05:46 PM   #209
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Yes, I can put that up somewhere. I sent it to Caustic Logic as seven separate emails with about 2Mb on each, but then Buncrana got it as a single fie of 14Mb, apparently successfully. I had thought that last was impractically large, but it's actually the one I'm using myself now as the searches run very fast after the first one has indexed the pdf, and it's incredibly handy to have the whole thing in one file.

I need to sort out my access to my own domains. My ISP changed the passwords because of a security issue, and I never got round to re-entering the information to my ftp client. So my web sites have been cobwebs for ages. If I get that sorted, I can set up a folder for stuff like this.

Rolfe.
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Old 29th September 2010, 06:15 PM   #210
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Originally Posted by Rolfe View Post
I'd like to recap quickly on my own take on all this.

[...] Each airport and its associated law enforcement was adamant that they were not at fault and the bomb had been introduced at the other one. Relations were poisonous, and the investigation was going nowhere. But from September 1989 everyone was singing from the same hymn-sheet. The bomb went on at Luqa, great, that lets both big airports off the hook.
It was a mess. Airline security everywhere was lax. 103 was the first event that actually resulted in more strict airline security measures. The world trade center made them even more strict to what we now have today. Pan Am was also facing huge lawsuits by families following the bombing, and had been cited on numerous occasions for their faulty "procedures", including security. However, the FAA was also to blame, because they never followed up on the citations, nor actually fined Pan Am.


Originally Posted by Rolfe View Post
If a terrorist group has contacts and influence on Malta
as the Libyans did. Megrahi was well known and liked by Luqa employees (have you seen the pinings for him on Facebook by some woman - who is not his wife, who was/is a LAA employee expressing her undying love for him?), and able to move freely about Luqa, often bypassing security / customs via the "VIP" access (or whatever it was called).

Originally Posted by Rolfe View Post
so that it can introduce a bomb into the airline baggage there completely undetected, and use a timer to ensure that the explosion doesn't happen till much later and on a completely different flight from a completely different airport, that's one helluva trick.
Honestly, I don't think it was all that tricky back then, when, again, airline security was quite lax, and the Libyans clearly had access via their "security" titles and Megrahi's "charm" e.g., he really was quite believable when he lied through his teeth in that Salinger interview. Have you seen it? He should have gone into acting, but I suppose that's part of the job of a terrorist, and acting probably wouldn't pay quite as much as the millions he ended up with in his bank account.

Originally Posted by Rolfe View Post
So then, they decide to set the timer early enough so that the plane will probably crash on land so that evidence can be collected, rather than hours later when it will be over the mid-Atlantic. This in itself is quite odd.
103 was delayed. I believe they were hoping that it would be over the Atlantic by the time the bomb went off.

Originally Posted by Rolfe View Post
Then, to supply this scenario where there's a good chance the wreckage will be all over Scotland, the group decides to make a very conspicuous and memorable purchase of brand new, locally-manufactured, easily traceable clothes in a shop only three miles from the airport where the undetectable introduction of the bomb will take place. And the person who makes this conspicuous and memorable purchase is the same person who has to be visibly present at the airport at the time the bomb goes on the plane
The identification of the clothing came from a stamp by the manufacturer on the inside pocket of the Yorkie trousers. When was the last time you looked at the inside pocket of newly purchased clothing? Who would think to look there for some specifically identifiable source that would track the clothing back to Malta? Plus, the bombeat radio was also tracked back to Libya, and that came from Japan! I said the Libyans had access and charm. I never said they had brains. Hence their need for the PLO training (which obviously was not thorough enough).

Yep, the libyans are pretty darn stupid with their huge egos and arrogance (which most likely earned them the "Libyan Pigs" moniker by the Maltese). Note the way Saif blabs on in the media about putting Megrahi on the table at each negotiation. I got another laugh over a recent interview he did about tourism in Libya. When asked what sort of things there were for tourists to do in Libya he stammered and then said something to the effect of "well... alcohol. We have alcohol. They can drink." But I digress.

Originally Posted by Rolfe View Post
(even though we don't know what his exact role in this was).
I don't think it's too hard to figure out. As I've said before, there is too much evidence against him, and not enough for his "alleged" innocence, to say that he had no role, and that it's all just a coincidence.


Originally Posted by Rolfe View Post
How might that purchase be better explained though?

[...] I think it worked beyond someone's wildest dreams.It was Megrahi's bad luck that it happened to be him, that day.
Bad luck? More like dumb luck. I think he's a really dumb guy. More like karma (particularly considering the nature of his illness) for being involved in terrorist activities that kill many innocent people.

Originally Posted by Rolfe View Post
The rest just flows from that. It was also his bad luck that although he bore no resemblance to Tony Gauci's verbal description of the clothes purchaser, he looked a bit like one of the (very generic) photofit images Gauci produced.
There is more to Gauci's ID of him. I ran across it recently, and I'll dig it up and post later.

Originally Posted by Rolfe View Post
And that although he wasn't on the island on the day of the purchase, he was there on a different day which could be made to look like the day of the purchase if you torture the evidence enough.
You're talking about Dec. 7th?

Originally Posted by Rolfe View Post
He had no known history of involvement in terrorism, or of handling explosives, or of bomb construction.
known history would be the operative words. I guess every terrorist has to start somewhere. Perhaps he was hanging out with all those other known terrorists and people who fit the puzzle of the bombing of 103 together because they were just pals who maybe got together to play bingo or something. Right. That's what he was doing.
Originally Posted by Rolfe View Post
But he was a JSO officer, involved in procurement (of aircraft parts at least), and he was one of many Libyans who had some dealings with Edwin Bollier.
Bingo again! Bollier, who manufactured timers, for bombs designed to blow up airliners and discos.

Originally Posted by Rolfe View Post
And there you have it. I don't believe that bomb was ever within a thousand miles of Malta, on 21st December or any other date. I don't belive the 6-foot-tall, burly 50-year-old who bought those clothes on 23rd November was the 5-feet-eight, average build, 36-year-old Megrahi who wasn't even there that day.

I don't think there is any evidence whatsoever to connect him to the bombing of Pan Am 103.

Rolfe.
Well, here we are again, and I think maybe we can agree to disagree. Please don't take my comments as snipes. That's not how they're intended. I'm just trying to add levity, and sort of go along with the seemingly "lighter" tone you've presented.

~B.
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Old 29th September 2010, 06:24 PM   #211
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Rolfe, RE: .PDF posting. Thank you!
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Old 30th September 2010, 04:11 AM   #212
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Oh dear, maybe it was a mistake to post my own take on the affair, because I'd rather discuss the actual evidence than my own take on it.

Originally Posted by Bunntamas View Post
as the Libyans did. Megrahi was well known and liked by Luqa employees (have you seen the pinings for him on Facebook by some woman - who is not his wife, who was/is a LAA employee expressing her undying love for him?), and able to move freely about Luqa, often bypassing security / customs via the "VIP" access (or whatever it was called).

Honestly, I never look at Facebook. What do the ravings of some demented woman have to do with evidence anyway? I know about the "VIP access" thing from the trial. As I understand it, this was shown only to be a means of expediting the processing of VIP luggage, which was still subject to all the normal security checks. The prosecution accepted this.

Also, that was when Megrahi was actually a LAA employee. He wasn't an LAA employee in December 1988, he didn't have an airside pass, and there's no evidence he did anything that morning but catch his flight to Tripoli. It was shown in evidence that if a VIP transfer happened, it would inevitably be seen by other airport staff - it wasn't a clandestine thing. Megrahi wasn't involved in anything like that on 21st December - nor indeed could he have been, because he was only passing through as a passenger, he no longer worked in the airline industry.

I know the whole story about whether you could get airside by sneaking through the Ladies' toilets or something like that, and what Fhimah would or wouldn't do with VIP passengers' suitcases and all the rest. None of that happened on 21st December 1988.

Originally Posted by Bunntamas View Post
Honestly, I don't think it was all that tricky back then, when, again, airline security was quite lax, and the Libyans clearly had access via their "security" titles and Megrahi's "charm" e.g., he really was quite believable when he lied through his teeth in that Salinger interview. Have you seen it? He should have gone into acting, but I suppose that's part of the job of a terrorist, and acting probably wouldn't pay quite as much as the millions he ended up with in his bank account.

Airline security wasn't that lax in 1988. I know it was appalling for domestic flights in the USA right through to 2001, but not elsewhere. The point about Heathrow and Frankfurt was that proper procedures weren't followed, not that they didn't exist in the first place. The bloody airports were so huge, it just didn't happen. Luqa, on the other hand, was a small place with relatively little traffic so much less pressure. They didn't have an x-ray machine so they relied on sniffer dogs and bag-counting. And they appear to have carried out their procedures properly and effectively. Anything else is pure speculation.

I've never been very comfortable with the facility many Arabs seem to have for lying fluently. It seems to be a cultural thing. I had an Arab (Saudi) PhD student once, and I have to say, how did you tell when Aziz was lying? His lips were moving. He had these lovely dark eyes and he would fix them on my face and say "Believe me, Dr. [Rolfe]...." and launch into his next semi-plausible excuse for not having done what he had promised to do. It was utterly predictable. I could cheerfully have throttled him.

I don't think he blew up any airliners though.

I am also not in the least bit surprised Megrahi lied to Salinger under the circumstances. Going into "deny everything" mode is a fairly understandable reaction to what was going on, even if he wasn't under instructions from on high to do exactly that. Which he may well have been.

How does the fact that he seems to have been a pleasant person and people liked him, advance the theory that he subverted/theatened/bribed Maltese ground staff to become accessories in the murder of 270 people? It just doesn't compute.

And as for the money, again, what does anyone know about that? Megrahi was in procurement, getting aero parts and suchlike for Libya past the embargoes and sanctions that were in place at the time. Expensive stuff, that had to be paid for. It doesn't seem unlikely that he would have had access to funds to do that. Or there are other possible explanations for the money, from tax avoidance to embezzlement. Do you know where it came from and why? You don't.

This is all just innuendo and peripheral irrelevancies.

Originally Posted by Bunntamas View Post
103 was delayed. I believe they were hoping that it would be over the Atlantic by the time the bomb went off.

No, that's a myth.

PA103A was late, so much so that the Heathrow ground staff had only 15 to 20 minutes to do the tarmac luggage transfer. But they managed it, and all the luggage and passengers from Frankfurt were on board before the scheduled departure time of 6pm.

The problem was Mr. Basuta, a Heathrow-origin passenger, who was still in the bar with the people who had come to see him off, while his luggage was on board. There was some discussion about what to do about this, and the duty manager took the decision to depart anyway, leaving Mr. Basuta behind, because he judged that a US citizen on the return leg of his flight was low-risk as far as unaccompanied luggage was concerned.

PA103 left the stand at 6.03pm, callously abandoning the extraordinarily fortunate Mr. Basuta, who was at that point running frantically to the gate (or maybe staggering, he'd had a few, apparently) trying to catch his flight. They left him behind specifically to avoid the risk of losing their take-off slot. This was not a delayed plane.

No flight becomes airborne the second it leaves the stand, so giving 6pm as the scheduled take-off time for PA103 is misleading. How long after leaving the stand do most flights actually leave the ground? It varies, but in my experience it's seldom less than ten minutes and often quite a bit more. In the case of PA103 that evening, it was 25 minutes. That's probably on the outer end of tarmac delays, but for a 7-hour transatlantic flight, it's a fleabite.

So, the plane left the stand essentially on time. It didn't lose its take-off slot. It was a bit longer than average on the taxiways before takeoff, that's all. It wasn't "late" in any normal sense of the word.

If everything had gone completely swimmingly (unlikely at Heathrow at that time of day, when there are a lot of flights coming and going), the earliest that plane could reasonably have been expected to be airborne would have been about 6.15. (And anybody who knew anything about the airline industry and was prepared to bet that would actually happen for sure, was delusional.) It actually became airborne at 6.25pm.

Take a look at the flight path for PA103. It would still have been over land ten minutes later, almost certainly. It was heading towards the archipelago of islands on the west coast of Scotland (Benbecula was its next check-in point), but it couldn't possibly, by any stretch of the imagination, have been "over the Atlantic". It might have been the slopes of Ben Nevis they'd have been combing.

If it had missed its take-off slot at Heathrow, which is hardly an unheard-of occurrence, it would still have been on the tarmac at 7pm. And another thing, even on time, if the explosion hadn't been completely catastrophic, it would have been close enough to Prestwick airport to attempt an emergency landing.

Why do you think the terrorists set that timer for 7pm GMT when the plane wasn't scheduled to reach JFK until 01.40am GMT the following morning? After filling the suitcase up with brand new clothes that could all be traced back to factories on Malta and then to a shop on Malta where someone pratically made a point of being remembered when he bought the stuff only a few weeks earlier?

Originally Posted by Bunntamas View Post
The identification of the clothing came from a stamp by the manufacturer on the inside pocket of the Yorkie trousers. When was the last time you looked at the inside pocket of newly purchased clothing? Who would think to look there for some specifically identifiable source that would track the clothing back to Malta?

Er, the clearly visible label of the Babygro that said "Made in Malta", maybe? That was what actually led the detectives to Malta, where they then found the Yorkie clothing company, also a clearly legible label, and all the rest. It's batsqueak insane.

Originally Posted by Bunntamas View Post
Plus, the bombeat radio was also tracked back to Libya, and that came from Japan! I said the Libyans had access and charm. I never said they had brains. Hence their need for the PLO training (which obviously was not thorough enough).

Almost supernatural cunning and planning, when necessary, when it comes to getting an unaccompanied suitcase on a plane past a pretty tight security set-up, and without leaving any trace that the bomb or the suitcase were ever anywhere near the island of Malta. But then an attack of suicidal insanity when setting the timer far too early, and sourcing the clothes so conspicuously. This isn't making very coherent sense you know.

And if that cable transcript is the only evidence you have of "PLO training" I'm sorry but it doesn't fly. It's an obvious fabrication.

Originally Posted by Bunntamas View Post
I don't think it's too hard to figure out. As I've said before, there is too much evidence against him, and not enough for his "alleged" innocence, to say that he had no role, and that it's all just a coincidence.

I'm sorry, but I'm completely failing to see any of this evidence. I'm talking about evidence that he was in some way connected to the bombing of PA103, not evidence that he was a JSO officer, or that he was a nice guy, or that he was an evil psychopath, or that he told lies under pressure, or that he had access to a lot of money, or that he once had airside access to Luqa, or any of the other things that might indeed be pretty interesting once we have evidence he was actually connected to the PA103 bombing.

First things first.

Originally Posted by Bunntamas View Post
Bad luck? More like dumb luck. I think he's a really dumb guy. More like karma (particularly considering the nature of his illness) for being involved in terrorist activities that kill many innocent people.

Well, if you could point to the evidence he was involved in terrorist activities that kill many innocent people, that would be good. Squaring the "really dumb guy" part with the utterly undetectable smuggling of the suitcase on to KM180 is also doing my head in.

Originally Posted by Bunntamas View Post
There is more to Gauci's ID of him. I ran across it recently, and I'll dig it up and post later.

You're talking about Dec. 7th?

Oh, there was a lot more to Gauci's evidence. It's amazing how much someone can change their story when they realise their original description doesn't match the guy they have to identify to get $3 million.

And beyond that, you come up against the fact that 7th December was the only day Megrahi could possibly have been in Mary's House and bought anything. Tony Gauci's evidence simply doesn't fit 7th December being the day of the purchase.

Originally Posted by Bunntamas View Post
known history would be the operative words. I guess every terrorist has to start somewhere. Perhaps he was hanging out with all those other known terrorists and people who fit the puzzle of the bombing of 103 together because they were just pals who maybe got together to play bingo or something. Right. That's what he was doing.
Bingo again! Bollier, who manufactured timers, for bombs designed to blow up airliners and discos.

I don't care whether he was a nice, charming guy who wowed the ladies and was beloved by all, or whether he was consorting with evil scum. Is there credible evidence to implicate him in the Lockerbie bombing? You haven't presented any that I can see. Just speculation, and maybe, and innuendo.

Originally Posted by Bunntamas View Post
Well, here we are again, and I think maybe we can agree to disagree. Please don't take my comments as snipes. That's not how they're intended. I'm just trying to add levity, and sort of go along with the seemingly "lighter" tone you've presented.

I have absolutely no issue at all with what you've posted, so please don't feel defensive. I do feel, though, that you seem to have made up your mind that Megrahi was guilty, and damn the evidence.

You continually talk about coincidences you can't believe are coincidences, but actually they aren't necessarily coincidences at all. If the bomb didn't originate at Luqa, and you have shown no evidence that it did, then Megrahi being at Luqa that morning isn't coincidental with anything. It places him a thousand miles from the scene of the crime.

If the clothes were bought on 23rd November, which is where the evidence leads, then Megrahi being in Malta on 7th December isn't coincidental with anything either.

Nothing else you've brought up connects him to the bombing at all. There were lots of JSO officers in 1988. Lots of people, including quite a lot of JSO officers, knew Edwin Bollier. And so on. Why assume everything about Megrahi, when the only real reason you have is that he was they guy the investigators chose to pin it on?

Rolfe.
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Old 30th September 2010, 04:44 AM   #213
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About the flight path. Look at this map.

http://maps.google.co.uk/maps?f=q&so...,27.685547&z=5

London is marked, and the flag is on Benbecula. I think, going by the co-ordinates given for where PA103 was supposed to leave Scottish airspace, it would have passed a little to the north of Benbecula, but it's close enough.

Lockerbie on the "U" of the word "United" on the map, as far as I can tell. In fact the plane would probably have passed over or just to the west of Glasgow. Given that it took 38 minutes to get from London to Lockerbie, it's quite easy to see from that map that it would have been over land for at least another 15 or 20 minutes.

And look at the hours and hours of empty ocean to the left.

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Old 30th September 2010, 06:46 AM   #214
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Rewards and bribery

There's been more stuff today about the matter of the bribery of witnesses by the US Department of Justice in the Lockerbie case. I was thinking about this anyway, as I examined the pdf Bunntamas showd us a few posts back. How comfortable are those who believe in Megrahi's guilt with the amount of bribery that was going on?

Rewards for information are a recognised part of crimefighting. They're often aimed at people in the underworld themselves, or on the fringes of it. If people with that sort of inside knowledge see more benefit to themselves from turning "grass" than from their criminal activites, they may squeal.

That sort of information has to be taken with a huge health warning of course. Petty jealousies and feuds may easily lead criminals to invent false allegations against their colleagues. So it has to check out. Give us the information, yes, but be prepared for it to be scrutinised and verified and corroborated before you'll see a penny.

Ordinary members of the public might get such a reward too, but what for? Not for simply telling the truth about what they know after the police have approached them about a matter. In that case, you'll be lucky to get your bus fare to court and a limp sandwich for lunch. These rewards are for crucial information the police hadn't found out for themselves, and which leads on to the Big Breakthrough.

And again it has to be corroborated and verified. Nobody gets millions of dollars or pounds for simply making stuff up to suit what the police want them to say.

Or do they? What really happened in the Lockerbie case?

Regarding the Gauci brothers, it's a matter of public record that they eventually received (probably more than) $3 million. This is not in respect of approaching the police with any new or valuable information, but simply for giving an account of a clothes purchase Tony recalled, after the police had identified them as the vendors of the clothes by independent means.

It has been hotly denied that this was ever promised in advance, and indeed there was probably no actual promise. However the documents now available show a lot of evidence that Paul in particular was very much interested in receiving money for giving evidence, and that heavy hints were dropped. Start at page 90 of the pdf, page no. 149 of the document. A couple of extracts.

Quote:
on 28th September 1989 the FBI discussed with the Scottish Police an offer of unlimited money to Tony Gauci, with $10,000 being available immediately.

And later, in relation to a luxury holiday in Scotland that was given to Tony and his father in 1991.

Quote:
He wondered how he would explain the cost of such a trip. He was told [by Godfrey Scicluna] to suggest the National Lotto as having won a prize!

How is this possibly be justifiable, if the only interest is in ensuring the witness gives as accurate an account of what he saw as possible?

And Tony wasn't the only one having hints about large sums of money dangled in front of him. At Zeist, Fhimah's business partner Vincent Vassallo gave evidence. He knew Fhimah very well, but only met Megrahi on 20th December 1988. He was pressed on a number of matters, including whether either of them had a bronze Samsonite suitcase with them that day. If he had chosen, he could have "remembered" stuff that would have been highly incriminating. Here's part of the transcript.

Quote:
Q Mr. Vassallo, do you recollect that in April 1991 you were approached by a number of police officers at Luqa Airport in Malta?
A Yes.
Q And in particular, a number of Scottish police officers, including a Mr. Bell?
A Yes.
Q And do you recollect being interviewed by those police officers at Luqa Airport on 18th April 1991? [7642]
A I do not remember the exact date, but that they had met me the first time at Luqa Airport, I do remember.
Q And do you recollect them discussing Lamen Fhimah when they interviewed you?
A Yes.
Q And do you recollect them referring to Mr. Baset [Megrahi] when they interviewed you?
A I don't remember.
Q Do you recollect if the subject of a reward or money was raised with you?
A What I remember is that when they came to my office, Harry Bell asked me -- he said "Try and remember well. You know there is a large reward, and if you wish to have more money, perhaps go abroad somewhere, you can do so."
I am not saying, to be clear, that Harry Bell was offering me something. He was simply telling me what the conditions were; that for information that I might be able to give, there is a large reward. And I also read it, and I also heard it on the news.
To be clear, he didn't say "Here, this is the money," to give the wrong interpretation. He only said "There is a reward, and if you for any reason wish to be more relaxed with money, we would not find any [7643] difficulty, even if you do not wish to give us information here"; that is, in Malta.

Oh sure, this isn't a policeman offering a bribe to a witness to invent incriminating evidence against a suspect. Of course it is. If Vassallo had been greedy enough, and clever enough to take the hints he was offered about what sort of things the police would like him to "remember", he could have joined the Gaucis in Australia and never worked again.

And then there was Giaka. There's tons about that in the records. I'll post Paul Foot's version of it, which I think is accurate.

Originally Posted by Paul Foot
It was obviously important for Giaka to impress his CIA contacts. He depended on them for money – he got a thousand dollars a month rising to $1500. The CIA showered him with gifts of clothing and radio sets, and even arranged for sham surgery to his arm. [To avoid conscription into the Libyan army.] But in spite of this largesse the CIA handlers in Malta got increasingly fed up with Giaka’s prevarications, and started to conclude he was not worth the money. By December 1990, their cables decribed Giaka as “desperate”. Somehow he managed to keep the CIA’s confidence all through the Gulf War but by July 1991 his situation seemed to be even worse.

The CIA contacted him in Libya, and he returned to Malta to meet them. He was told that a meeting had been set up with officials from the US Department of Justice, and that his future depended on what he disclosed at that meeting. Almost at once he started to barter with his handlers, only to be met with a threat that unless he could come up with something about his former colleagues in the JSO [Megrahi and Fhimah] that might incriminate them in the Lockerbie bombing, he would be abandoned in Malta and cut off without a penny.

Not a single statement about having any information about Lockerbie until 1991, despite much questioning. Then when he's threatened with loss of his income (not even getting his fare back to Tripoli) if he doesn't come up with something, he "remembers" a bunch of fairy-tales.

Originally Posted by Paul Foot
[William Taylor, QC for Megrahi] “You see the documents speak for themselves. They build up to a crescendo as I’ve described. It’s not me that is doing it. It’s the documents that are doing it. And lo and behold the deafening silence (about Lockerbie) ends the very next day, when you come up with a brown Samsonite suitcase and this rubbish about Customs. The very next day is the first mention by you, Giaka, of these matters. What do you have to say about that?”

Giaka could only stammer: “When I met with the representatives of the Department of Justice, they are very good investigators, and they can distinguish truth from lies. One way or another, they can obtain what they want.”

Giaka was immmediately, that very day, spirited out of Malta and en route for the USA where he was given a luxurious new life in the witness protection programme.

Giaka's evidence was actually the main basis of the indictments issued later that year. Tony's tentative "well he looks a bit like the purchaser" would never have been enough. It was entirely down to Giaka that Megrahi and Fhimah were charged at all. And we must remember what happened after that. Libya tried to adhere to the terms of the international convention whereby their own nationals were entitled to be tried in their own courts. The USA refused to hand over the evidence Libya would have needed to try them, and insisted on the accused being handed over instead. Stalemate, the result of which was a 10-year international blockade of Libya, keeping out essential goods and medical supplies, and resulting in thousands of preventable deaths.

All because of Giaka, and the evidence given under the circumstances outlined above.

And then, in court, the prosecution fought tooth and nail to conceal from the defence the evidence showing that Giaka had just made it all up for money - up to the point where the Lord Advocate blatantly lied to the court.

Is any of this something people are comfortable with? Note, it's not "I have a new lead that will lead you to the Lockerbie bombers". It's bare-faced solicitation to witnesses to invent details such as the possession of a brown Samsonite suitcase, that will implicate the suspects the police have already decided they want to charge.

So this is the background against which I view Bunntamas's cable pdf. A blatant attempt to provide information naming both Megrahi and Fhimah as involved in the bombing, as invented by someone who is trying quite hard but doesn't have all the details - such as the fact that Megrahi never went near London on 21st December.

I don't think that was given in evidence. I don't see how it could have been, as anonymous uncorroborated tittle-tattle isn't admissible. But that's clearly the sort of "intelligence" the US authorities were dredging up with their $4 million reward offers. They wouldn't touch that one with a barge pole, because of the blatant inaccuracies. But if someone is coached well enough to provide credible detail, as Giaka clearly was, then bingo.

I ask again, is anyone comfortable with this?

Rolfe.
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Old 30th September 2010, 08:16 AM   #215
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The best system of Justice that money can buy.

Not only is the obvious enticement of reward obscene, but also the rafts of details about this matter that was concealed from the original trial at Zeist.

The sheer amount of undisclosed interviews and statements that were, ahem, "missing" from DCI Bell's diaries, uncovered by the SCCRC, is nothing short of criminal in itself. At Zeist we were presented with Giaka, the paid stool pigeon, and despite the best efforts of the Crown to conceal this evidence from the court, was exposed as the liar and fraud (even his CIA handlers were of that opinion and still brought him to court!).

Had the Crown been successful in suppressing the cables, of which they stated had no bearing on the case against the accused, then we may never have known of the vast sums paid to him, and only when threatened with being cut loose, felt pressurised to come up with something linking the two Lybian's to 103.

Of course, the money discussed and rewards already provided to Gauci (and his brother) was never uttered in court, and still to this day, we have the likes of Messrs Marquise and Henderson, who will deny until they are blue in the face that no witness was ever promised money for testimony, before or during the trial. Despite the "Give us these terrorists and we'll give you $4m" posters and adverts. With the obligatory "no comment" on any payment made subsequent to Zeist.

Are all those who have conspired to pervert and obstruct the due processes of law and the court simply above the law and completely unaccountable? Yes, apparently so.

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Old 30th September 2010, 09:06 AM   #216
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Indeed. If Giaka had come forward spontaneously because of the reward, and the investigators had believed him, it would have been bad enough. If he'd come forward spontaneously and they'd presented him as a witness despite suspicions he was making it up, it would have been worse.

But the CIA and DoJ deliberately solicited the false testimony from him, and not just with bribes but with threats as well. They presented him as a witness despite knowing that he was lying. They based the indictments and the 10-year blockade of Libya on a witness they knew was lying.

I find Colin Boyd's behaviour particularly disgusting. The man was Lord Advocate at the time. (The current holder of the position seems to be a worthy successor.) He LIED to the court in an attempt to conceal the evidence that Giaka was making stuff up for money. This is beyond contempt.

Originally Posted by page 6097 passim
Boyd said: "First of all, they considered whether or not there was any information behind the redactions which would undermine the Crown case in any way. Second, they considered whether there was anything which would appear to reflect on the credibility of Majid [Giaka]... On all of these matters, the learned Advocate Depute reached the conclusion that there was nothing within the cables which bore on the defence case, either by undermining the Crown case or by advancing a positive case which was being made or may be made, having regard to the special defence... I emphasise that the redactions have been made on the basis of what is in the interests of the security of a friendly power... Crown counsel was satisfied that there was nothing within the documents which bore upon the defence case in any way."

One judge, Lord Coulsfield, then intervened: "Does that include, Lord Advocate... that Crown counsel, having considered the documents, can say to the Court that there is nothing concealed which could possibly bear on the credibility of this witness?"

The Lord Advocate replied: "Well, I'm just checking with the counsel who made that... there is nothing within these documents which relates to Lockerbie or the bombing of Pan Am 103 which could in any way impinge on the credibility of Majid on these matters."

It's funny, really, that Peter Fraser, who was Lord Advocate at the time of the indictments, comes over sometimes as a bumbling idiot, but more fundamentally honest. He's the one who cheerfully described Tony Gauci as "an apple short of a picnic".

Originally Posted by Christine Grahame
The former Lord Advocate, Lord Fraser, recently told journalists that he was unhappy about the manner in which the police investigation failed to thoroughly pursue the links to the PFLP-GC. Lord Fraser implied it was “reasonable” to conclude that members of that terrorist organisation were in fact US intelligence assets and this was the reason that end of the investigation was not followed through and the suspects released before Scottish police investigators were able to interrogate them.

I haven't found the original of that, the quote is from a press release issued by Miss Grahame. However, I think it's reasonable to assume it's true as the statement is said to be in the public domain.

I think if we're looking for a possible reason why the authorities were so desperate to acquire evidence to implicate Megrahi when none seems really to have existed, this may be the clue.

Rolfe.
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Old 30th September 2010, 03:34 PM   #217
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I'm not sure Rolfe, but I think Christine Graham is making that claim, quite rightly imo, based on the interview given by Lord Fraser in Gideon Levy's Lockerbie: Revisited.

Here's the appropriate series of questions and answers from Richard Marquise and Lord Fraser:

Originally Posted by Lockerbie: Revisited
Richard Marquise: There were a total of sixteen people arrested in October 1988, some arrested in Sweden, the majority arrested in Germany, and as a result of that investigation, the German's ended up convicting two people, er, leaders of that cell who blew up US troop trains in Germany in 1987.

Gideon Levy: And what happened to the rest of those people?

RM: They were released, based on lack of evidence.

Lord Fraser: One moment they were all in gaol, the PLFP, and in a very short space after that, before we'd had a chance to interview them, they had just disappeared. We subsequently discovered where one of them, a very important individual, we understood he had gone back to Jordan.

Richard Marquise: Hahaha...well, the man who was building the bombs, a man named Marwen Khreesat, was sent back to Jordon.

GL: Why?

RM: And...I...you'll have to ask the German's that question. I don't know.

GL to Lord Fraser: Did you ever ask the German's why he was sent away that quickly?

LF: We never got a clear answer to that.

GL: No?

LF: We never got a clear answer from anybody about that.

GL: Okay. What do think? What are your suspicions or your ideas on Mr Khreesat?

LF: I...I think Mr Khreesat may have been playing a double game.

GL: A double game?

LF: A double game, in the same way which, while on one hand, he appeared to be involved with the PLFP-GC, and at the same time he may have had an involvement in the CIA. I don't know.

GL: It's strange. No matter how you look at it.

RM: Well, apparently he was a member of the Jordanian intelligence, as well as being a bomb maker for the PFLP-GC. So, as a result of that no charges were made and he was sent back to Jordan.

GL to LF: So, an American double agent.

LF: I don't know....but, I find it inexplicable that one minute he's in gaol, next minute he's, when it seems to me he's been, dare I say it, caught pretty well red-handed making bombs, and I would have thought would have attracted a very long prison sentence for that, instead for reasons I still don't wholly understand, finds himself back, with no charges against him in Germany, but he's back in the Middle East somewhere I think, yes, I think Jordan. Whether he's still there I don't know.

GL: And did the Scottish police ever try to go over to Jordan to talk to him?

LF: Yes, as I said, tried to.
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Old 30th September 2010, 04:23 PM   #218
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Hmmmm, possibly. These documentaries start to merge into one after a while, but I do remember that. My vague impression is that Christine is talking about a different interview, but I could well be wrong. I thought Peter was possibly a little "relaxed" during some of his interviews with Mr. Levy, perhaps he got a bit indiscreet.

Of course the PFLP-GC "Autumn Leaves" detainees were released well before Pan Am 103 blew up, so I'm not quite sure how the Scottish police could have got there to interview them anyway.

I do find it likely that the CIA were running - or trying to run - the Frankfurt cell of the PFLP-GC, and it all went quite spectacularly wrong. Hence the complete panic reaction every time the investigation gets anywhere near Frankfurt. But that's nothing but speculation, very off topic, bad Rolfie.

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Old 30th September 2010, 05:22 PM   #219
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Might be better if I try to drag this back on-topic. Bunntamas maintains that Megrahi somehow smuggled a bronze Samsonite suitcase, tagged for PA103, on to KM180, without this ever being discovered. I don't know if she thinks he did this alone, but I don't think that would have been possible so we have to assume help from person or persons unknown.

In fact it was never established in court what Megrahi's supposed role in the plot actually was. He didn't have a suitcase. He didn't go airside. All he did was check in for his flight and get on it. Sure, KM180 was checking in at the adjacent desk at the same time, so presumably there's potential for something, but I'm damned if I know what. And obviously what he did was very important, so that he had to be there, identifiable, even though he was also the person who'd made the very conspicuous clothes purchase (the Director of the Centre for Strategic Studies had to go and buy a bunch of clothes, in person, even though he also had to be at the airport for some mysterious reason.... I'm honestly not following this.)

Early assumptions were that someone had simply checked the case in at Luqa for JFK via Frankfurt and Heathrow, then failed to board. This has been definitely disproved. So what's left?

Also disproved is the theory that the terrorists switched a genuine bag for the bomb bag, thus retaining the correct bag count. None of the passengers' bags was left at Luqa, and none of the passengers was a terrorist sympathiser who wouldn't have reported a missing bag. This was investigated ad nauseam.

So I think the implication has to be that there were really 56 bags, even though only 55 were recorded, and that the extra one was smuggled in airside. How?

Bunntamas seems to be more familiar with the procedures at Luqa than we are (though I can read and will become familiar, never fear). So I'd like her to explain how this "quite easy" feat was accomplished. Who had to be complicit in the plot? How were they induced to falsify the paper records? At what point was the rogue case introduced? Who brought it there? Were Maltese staff charmed by Megrahi into assisting in mass murder, and remained so charmed that they kept quiet about it forever after? Or were they beaten and threatened by their own police force in order to force them to comply? And even now, when Malta is wholly civilised and an EU member, they still keep quiet?

We seem to have had all of these things implied, but I'm not seeing a picture.

Bunntamas can't just hand-wave "oh I think it would have been easy". The investigators bust a gut trying to show how it might have been done, and failed. Unlike Heathrow, where it would indeed have been "easy" and this was admitted, we don't have any sort of narrative of where and how and so on.

Bunntamas, you must have thought about this. Where in the luggage transit system do you think it happened, who co-operated in making it happen, and why did they keep quiet?

I'd also like your thoughts about Frankfurt. How did the terrorists know that all the baggage records at Frankfurt were going to disappear? If that hadn't happened, we'd have an independent count of 56 bags coming off KM180, and all would immediately be clear. And if the bags weren't counted for some reason, the full computer records would have eliminated the doubts about tray B8849 being related to KM180.

Given the fact that the trail of the bag through Frankfurt should have been clear, and the terrorists planned to leave clothes traceable to their main conspirator and Malta strewn all over the Scottish landscape, one begins to wonder why they bothered covering their tracks at Luqa at all!

And how did they know Kurt Maier would be asleep at the wheel? Maier had received the Helsinki warning, and the specific warnings about the Khreesat Toshiba bomb - with pictures, I think. Everyone agrees he was conscientious. He x-rayed that case, if it came through the system as alleged. The expectation would have been that he would have seen the radio and pulled the case out for checking.

I just want to know. What's the theory, and how is this supposed to have been accomplished?

Rolfe.
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Old 1st October 2010, 02:39 AM   #220
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It's mind numbing quite how wanting even the apparent circumstantial evidence against Megrahi was. There certainly isn't a shred of irrefutable evidence other than Megrahi was travelling under a coded passport and caught a flight to Tripoli from Luqa on 21st December 1988. However, under even the most cursory examination this 'circumstantial evidence' simply collapses under the weight of contradiction and unsupported speculation.

Gauci didn't, with any interpretation, describe a buyer who fits Megrahi in 1988. Tony's judgement on size, height and age, which one might expect to be rather good given he was in the business of selling clothes, of the buyer in no sense even 'resembled' Megrahi. Megrahi was too small, too thin and too young in relation to the man who entered the shop. When Gauci was eventually presented with the photograph of Megrahi by DCI Bell he commented, 'similar, if he was ten years older'.

'Resembled' being the closest Gauci could ever attest to even in the court room at Zeist with Megrahi sitting accross from him. Really, the closest anyone could construct Gauci's description of the buyer tenuously to Megrahi was his early assertion the buyer was a 'Libyan Pig', but someone who spoke English. And I'm sorry, that's simply nowhere near enough to bring someone to court, let alone convict with.

Over the subsequent weeks and months, Tony's statements of the identity of the buyer became increasingly confusing, contradictory and irrational: the buyer whom he had sold the clothes to in "late november" had actually returned to the shop in order to buy some "children's skirts" in 1989; he had spotted the man in a bar in the town; he had delivered clothes and towels to a man who looked similar to the buyer at the Hilton Hotel on Malta in 1987; the man had never been in the shop before.

This is ignoring Gauci's undeniable statement that he was certain the buyer had made the purchase in the early evening, when it was raining causing the man to purchase an umbrella, the Christmas decorations were not yet up or lit, and his brother was unusually absent from the shop watching a football match on television. None of these were shown to have been possible on the December the 7th, the only date that Megrahi was on Malta in those last two months before Christmas.

This is also ignoring the swathes of information, only disclosed through investigation by the SCCRC, that relate to Tony, and his brother Paul's, inducement and enticement of financial gain by the investigators from very early into their questioning and throughout the interviews over the years.

In contrast, Tony's recollection with regards to the actual clothing purchased was quite remarkable, perceptive and pretty much matched, with the odd exception, some of the clothing found around Lockerbie and determined due the scorching exhibited to be packed in the same suitcase containing the bomb.

However, pretty reliable evidence or testimony that the clothes found amid the debris of 103 were indeed purchased from Gauci, does not in any sense essentially implicate Megrahi in the purchase of said clothing, and certainly does not by necessity equate that the bomb was therefore introduced at Luqa in Malta.

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Old 1st October 2010, 08:27 AM   #221
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In general, I place most reliance on the statements Tony gave during September, before it all turned into such a big deal and he started feeling pressurised. I know the Golfer has said that Tony's first statement was altered by the investigating officers, but he hasn't said how or how significantly, and until this guy is prepared to stand up and be counted I'm not inclined to take much heed of what he's saying.

The description given verbally was quite clearly not of Megrahi. Tony seems to have remembered the buyer's height, build and so on pretty well - or thought he did, because these were the features he described in detail. And it makes sense, because he was sizing the man up for the fit of clothes, which was his job after all. In these respects, he described someone completely different.

He said almost nothing about the face, but a couple of weeks later they sat him down with an artist and a photofit compiler and tried to get a facial image out of him. The interesting part of that is that the photofit really does look quite like Megrahi's passport photo, sufficiently so that it would make anyone stop and think about this guy's guilt. However, there are a few problems with that.

First, trials on photofit images have been quite unconvincing over the years. People asked to compile a photofit of someone well-known seldom manage to produce something recognisable by other people - I saw a demonstration in the 1980s when people were asked to produce a likeness of Maggie Thatcher, and the results really weren't something you'd have easily recognised as Maggie at all.

Second, Tony produced two images, the photofit and an artist's impression. They look like two different people. Tony said it was the artist's impression which looked more like the purchaser, of the two.

Third, both images are essentially generic. Pretty much anybody clean shaven, with the same hairstyle and approximate shape of face, is going to look a bit like one or the other. The artist's impression is actually a reasonable likeness of Abu Talb. Tony also picked out a picture of a guy called Mohamed Salam as resembling the purchaser, and again his photo is a decent likeness for the artist's impression.

And fourth, the age. Mohamad Salem was in his early 30s. Tony agreed a likeness, but said the purchaser was "older by about 20 years". He also repeatedly said that Megrahi's picture was younger than the purchaser.

So although I agree that taking the photofit and that passport photo of Megrahi together, it's quite striking, I don't think it's as significant as it might seem at first sight.

The problem is that the cops did two things very very wrong. One was that they completely ignored Tony's description of the purchaser's height and build and showed him photo after photo of faces. He could have identified a skinny midget with the right general facial appearance under those circumstances.

Second, they ignored his repeated statements about age. His initial assessment of the purchaser's age was "about fifty". Tony Gauci himself was 44 at the time. Megrahi was 36, and until he developed cancer has never seemed to look "old for his age". The likelihood of someone misidentifying a stranger who is eght years younger than himself as being six years older is not high.

Despite Tony's statement, the police persistently showed him photographs of men much younger than the stated 50 years. His initial response to the photospread which included Megrahi's picture was to say that all the men were too young. So far as I can tell, they never showed him pictures of men of fifty or in their fifties.

By the time they got to Zeist, Megrahi was 47. However, the purchaser should by then have been around 62! So what did they do? Even after the defence had objected to stand-ins as young as 25(!), the line-up was significantly skewed. Four of the seven stand-ins were in their thirties. The others were in their forties. The oldest was only 49, and Megrahi was the second-oldest. There were numerous other problems with that line-up identification, which have been documented elsewhere. The overwhelming likelihood is that Tony knew which person in the lineup was Megrahi, and was merely trying to decide whether he should agree that he was the purchaser. Then he said, "Not [exactly] the man I saw in my shop...."

I don't see how it's possible to accept that as a positive identification, even if you ignore the evidence about the date.

Rolfe.
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Old 1st October 2010, 09:13 AM   #222
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Buncrana mentioned Tony's opinion that the purchaser was Libyan. I think this weighed with the court. However, Tony seems to have had two classes of "Arab" in his mind - Libyans and Tunisians. His opinion that the purchaser was Libyan was mainly based on the fact that he didn't think he was Tunisian, and that was mainly based on the fact that the man didn't try to speak French to him!

Subsequent claims about being able to recognise a Libyan accent were pretty much shot down, when it was revealed that Tony didn't speak or understand Arabic at all. I don't think he was ever asked if he would have been able to distinguish a Libyan from, say, a Syrian or a Jordanian.

Arab and not Tunisian was the real strength of this "Libyan" assessment.

Another thing the court seemed to weigh heavily was that Tony at one point (early I think) said the sale occurred about two weeks before Christmas - which would of course fit 7th December better than 23rd November. However he was always vague about the date, only saying in his first statement that it was "in the winter". To put so much weight on "about two weeks before Christmas" in the context of all the conflicting things Tony said about the date, assuming that such a statement couldn't possibly be consistent with four weeks before Christmas, even though Tony never said 23rd November was too early, and the evidence of the rain and the football match pointed overwhelmingly to that date, is completely unjustifiable.

Which is what the SCCRC report said. "No basis in evidence for the conclusion that the sale occurred on 7th December."

I haven't heard Bunntamas say she still believes Megrahi bought the clothes though. I'd welcome her opinion on that.

Rolfe.
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Old 1st October 2010, 05:23 PM   #223
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Over the Atlantic?

OK, I'm one sick puppy. I'm not very good at this, but here's my best shot.

The flight began at Heathrow, which is just west of London. We know it flew over Lockerbie. We also know it was cleared to exit Scottish airspace at co-ordinates 59N 10W.

The flight path should describe a shallow curve linking these points, but I'm not that smart with the graphics stuff so I've just done two lines - London to Lockerbie and Lockerbie to 59N 10W.

We know it took 38 minutes to do the first part of that route. Even if it had been cleared for a very fast departure, say wheels up at 6.10, it couldn't possibly have cleared land. It just might have hit a sea loch.



The entire flight path would be a Great Circle route, obviously. I don't know enough to draw the whole thing and show the hours of ocean to the north and west. It might have crossed a bit of Greenland also.

It's true there are more southerly Great Circle routes which may leave land behind sooner - though you have to remember Ireland is in the way too. However, frequent travellers on the route have remarked that the one PA103A was on that day was common, and might be described as standard.

Setting a timer for 7pm, as Megrahi was alleged to have done, makes no sense at all to me.

Rolfe.
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Old 2nd October 2010, 10:04 AM   #224
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Wow, Rolfe, you're burning the midnight oil! Nice work on the flight path graphic.
You probably are aware of this, but Here is a link to the Aviation Safety Network site. Scroll down to near the bottom for a graphic of the flight path.
Also, the full "official accident investigation report and appedices have a ton of info. The latter includes some very detailed illustrations of the baggage hold & containers.
~B.
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Old 2nd October 2010, 10:06 AM   #225
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Oops... just noticed the commentary above the flight path graphic that says it does not display the exact flight path. But I think it's a good addition to your graphic. Plus you can zoom in on the map.
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Old 2nd October 2010, 10:14 AM   #226
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So, after looking at that map I posted, it makes no sense. The flight path doesn't even go over Lockerbie. Weird. Tried to delete the post, but I can't figure out how to do it. Sorry for the confusion. Still very weird (if not stupid) that that flight path would be noted in the investigation report.
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Old 2nd October 2010, 11:38 AM   #227
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They stopped the facility for deleting posts here a few years ago, because too many people were deleting their contributions to threads, leaving the remainder unintelligible.

The 2-hour window on edits is for a similar reason. One poster in particular, if he made an error, would go back and change the post retrospectively - leaving the two pages intervening, where others had pointed out his error and patiently explained where he'd gone wrong, looking completely inexplicable.

During the two-hour edit window, although you can't delete the entire post, you can of course replace the text with anything you want - even just a couple of full stops, or the word "deleted". You can write a complete new post saying what you now think you should have said in the first place, if you want. It's just bad form to do that if someone has already replied - if you do that, you should include some acknowledgement of the reply to the now-vanished text.

If you notice a terrible howler in a post you've made after the 2 hours is up, you can ask a mod to edit it for you - the easy way to do that is to report your own post, and make the edit request in the dialogue box. Mods aren't too charmed to be asked to fix ordinary typos this way, but I had one of mine fixed a few days ago when I noticed I'd typed "Khreesat" instead of "Talb", thus making a nonsense of an entire paragraph.

The forum format is really quite versatile, and the restrictions not really onerous once you know how to get round them.

Rolfe.
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Old 2nd October 2010, 12:12 PM   #228
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Originally Posted by Bunntamas View Post
Wow, Rolfe, you're burning the midnight oil! Nice work on the flight path graphic.
You probably are aware of this, but Here is a link to the Aviation Safety Network site. Scroll down to near the bottom for a graphic of the flight path.
Also, the full "official accident investigation report and appedices have a ton of info. The latter includes some very detailed illustrations of the baggage hold & containers.
~B.

Originally Posted by Bunntamas View Post
So, after looking at that map I posted, it makes no sense. The flight path doesn't even go over Lockerbie. Weird. Tried to delete the post, but I can't figure out how to do it. Sorry for the confusion. Still very weird (if not stupid) that that flight path would be noted in the investigation report.

The Aviation Safety Network site looks like a private site, and it seems just to be providing summaries and statistics. They've just drawn a straight line between London and New York, which I agree is a bit pointless.

I'm sure there must be a proper representation of the actual flight plan somewhere, but I've never seen one. It seems to be almost an article of faith that the aircraft was "near the coast" and would have been "way out over the Atlantic" by the time of the explosion if it hadn't been "late". This is so much horse-feathers.

I heard some woman on the radio several months ago dementing on that Scotland had no right to claim jurisdiction anyway, because it was only a fluke the explosion happened over Scotland. Certainly the plane was only a few minutes over the Scottish border when the disaster happened, but the other half of her complaint was that "in another ten minutes" it would have "crossed the Scottish coastline at Girvan".

Er, no madam, transatlantic airliners don't normally make 80-degree turns in mid-flightpath.

It's obvious when you see the line from London to Heathrow that it was going to go on towards Glasgow, but all I knew after that was that one solitary poster had said it would have crossed the Long Island heading north-west. It was only when I saw "Benbecula" and "59N 10W" in the court transcript that I could see the whole thing.

There's absolutely no possibility the plane could have cleared land by 7.03pm, even if it had departed from Heathrow at the earliest possible moment. And that wasn't an unusual flightpath. It wasn't the only one possible, but it was a normal, regular route. I think you can also see from my diagram that if it had happened to be on a more southerly route, it would still probably have been over Ireland at 7.03.

Why were we thinking the terrorists set that timer for 7.03pm, again? And buying brand new, easily-traceable clothes to scatter across the landscape, that could lead straight back to a conspicuous, memorable purchase in a shop only three miles from the airport where the miraculously-concealed introduction of the bomb was planned?

Rolfe.
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Old 2nd October 2010, 02:19 PM   #229
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Anyway, Bunntamas, you said you were good with graphics applications. I don't think it would be hard to do a much better job than I did, with the right tools (I was only using the image editor that came with my camera). And chance you could give it a shot?

If you have three points, then surely it is possible to draw the shallow curve that intersects all three. And to do it with a finer line than the magic-marker thing that seems to be all Digimax can offer. It would be great to have a decent-looking image. You just need to pinpoint London, Lockerbie and 59N 10W. I used this page to find the latitude/longitude point.

We can't extrapolate beyond the third point because that map is a Mercator projection and it's away with the fairies in far north latitudes. The whole flightpath would probably be some sort of Great Circle route, but I'm not familiar enough with the geometry/geography to know how to plot it. (It would be obvious on a globe though.) I think the latter part of the flight would have been over land for longer than I realised, as it would have come in over Canada. (I remember coming in over Labrador or Newfoundland or somewhere on a flight from Paris to Detroit last year, too.) However, I'm sure we can agree that there would have been several hours of cold salt water in the middle.

Rolfe.
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Old 3rd October 2010, 06:45 AM   #230
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Still on the subject of when the plane blew up.

I've found a map of the Great Circle route from Heathrow to JFK. That's the shortest route between the two points. I note that it passes over Ireland, not Scotland. It's possible the terrorists thought the plane would take that route, but even if they did, it still illustrates the insanity of the 7.03 explosion.

I can't find a full map of the actual route, but it's not very hard to extrapolate it from the Great Circle route - it's just a wider curve, above the marked route. It might just clip Greenland. By my estimates of the timing, the furthest PA103 could possibly have got on its actual heading before 7.03 was about Fort William. That, of course, would not have taken it over water at any stage.

If we then look at the Great Circle route, and extrapolate the same distance along it - the plane crashes on Ireland, still on land.

It's true that on that route the plane does pass over a stretch of water, the Irish Sea. However, given the vagaries of departure times and headwinds, it would have been impossible to have guaranteed hitting that section with the explosion - it looks to be only about a ten-minute window.

Now look at all those miles and miles of water to the west.

Bunntamas says Megrahi was just "a really dumb guy". Well, he studied at Cardiff university, unusual for a Libyan. He himself said "I finished the Air Transportation course in New York and obtained the American FAA licence when I was below the permitted age," though I'm conscious that lying to journalists isn't hard. But then he had a couple of pretty responsible jobs, not the sort usually given to someone demonstrably deficient in the IQ department, even in Libya.

He worked in the aviation industry. The normal routes of aircraft flying from Heathrow to JFK are not hard to discover. And even the merest schoolboy knows that the Atlantic Ocean is pretty wide.

I could almost understand the bomb being set too late, by someone allowing for delays and not realising just how much of Canada the route crosses before it reaches its destination. Although even at that, we're talking about someone actually in the aviation industry, who should have had no difficulty accessing a route map. Hell, there were probably schematic maps in the in-flight magazines!

My earlier estimate of midnight for the optimum detonation time was probably a bit late. The plane was scheduled to leave at 6pm and arrive at 01.40am. Look at the map. You want it to drop into the blue bit. 10pm maybe? 11?

Somebody, please tell me why Megrahi stuffed that case with clothes that could be easily traced to his otherwise fiendishy-concealed place of introduction, then set the timer so that when the plane blew up, it was a racing certainty it would have been over land?

Rolfe.
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Old 3rd October 2010, 09:15 AM   #231
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Obviously flight routes vary, up to a point, when taking into consideration possible traffic congestion or weather conditions and high altitude winds (which will have significant bearing on fuel consumption).

The Great Circle Mapper can be a little deceiving. It will show you the shortest distance between the points on the sphere, but I find Flight Aware to provide a more accurate result and the various routes and flight 'corridors' that are assigned by controllers to a particular flight.

The map that Rolfe linked is the nominal route, however if you look at this route, via Prestwick, it shows a quite different route, but only 1 mile shorter than the 'direct' Great Circle route.

Another couple of examples from flights departing Heathrow today.

Here is the flightpath for today's BA flight 193 - http://flightaware.com/live/flight/BAW193

and, for today's BA flight 209, just approaching offshore as I type - http://flightaware.com/live/flight/BAW209

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Old 3rd October 2010, 05:37 PM   #232
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Originally Posted by Buncrana View Post
The Great Circle Mapper can be a little deceiving. It will show you the shortest distance between the points on the sphere, but I find Flight Aware to provide a more accurate result and the various routes and flight 'corridors' that are assigned by controllers to a particular flight.

The map that Rolfe linked is the nominal route, however if you look at this route, via Prestwick, it shows a quite different route, but only 1 mile shorter than the 'direct' Great Circle route.

Another couple of examples from flights departing Heathrow today.

Here is the flightpath for today's BA flight 193 - http://flightaware.com/live/flight/BAW193

and, for today's BA flight 209, just approaching offshore as I type - http://flightaware.com/live/flight/BAW209

That's really interesting, Buncrana. The first one you linked to is seems to do an 80 degree turn over Ayrshire, but having said that I think it actually lands at Prestwick so it isn't really comparable.

The BA 193 flight path looks exactly the PA103 route on the fatal day. Of course it deviates later, because it's going to Dallas not JFK, but the part in UK airspace seems spot on. It goes over Lockerbie, and seems to cross the Long Island just about where the co-ordinates indicated. (I see it actually passed just south of Skye.) Bingo.



The Florida one isn't terribly relevant as it's heading so much further south.

I think we've established a few facts here.
  • The flight path the plane actually took is not at all unusual for planes on that route.
  • On this flight path, it couldn't possibly have cleared land by 7.03pm, even if it had departed extraordinarily promptly.
  • The same is true for the more southerly route over Ireland, which some commentators have suggested it might have been expected to take, unless it had fortuitously ditched in the ten minutes or so it would have been over the Irish Sea.
Some posters elsewhere suggested that perhaps the terrorists wanted the plane to go down over land, but that doesn't fly well at all, if you'll pardon the pun.
  • It appears the terrorists did not want to be detected after the event. In that case, the amount of evidence a crash over land would generate is a problem.
  • In particular, these very conspicuous, traceable clothes!
  • Presumably, the terrorists wanted to succeed in downing the plane. However, setting the timer as early as 7pm introduced a serious risk the explosion would have happened on the tarmac, if the plane had missed its slot (for Basuta or any other reason).
  • Having regard to that last point, anyone wanting to cause a crash on land would almost certainly go for the arrival end of the journey - and hopefully hit the USA while it was at it.
So, once more, someone please tell me why Megrahi allegedly set that timer for 7pm?

Bunntamas says, well he was a really dumb guy.
  • His CV, so far as we know it and even allowing for its having been sexed up a bit, is not compatible with "really dumb guy".
  • He had worked in the airline industry, and should have had little trouble getting hold of the details of the usual routes planes take from Heathrow to JFK.
  • "Really dumb" isn't enough to explain that timing. "Really dumb" would reckon the plane was crossing the Atlantic, that's a big lot of water, I need to aim for the middle, more or less, so - 7hr 40min flight, leaves at six, let's call it ten o'clock. And that's without looking at any maps at all. You'd have to be comatose to set it any earlier than that.
SO WHY DID THE PLANE CRASH AT THREE MINUTES PAST SEVEN?

(Sorry, I'll go and lie down now.)

Rolfe.
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Old 4th October 2010, 09:04 AM   #233
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As quick clarification that the route taken by Maid of the Seas is not unusual, here is one of today's Continental flight 113 from Heathrow to Newark -



and the same flight route slightly closer...

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Old 4th October 2010, 01:07 PM   #234
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That's interesting too, I see that one goes north of Skye! I can't really tell which one is closer to the 59N 10W heading of PA103. Of course the map projection is different from the one I was able to plot that point on. I suspect somewhere between the two but closer to the BA one. It doesn't make any difference from the point of view of the discussion really. The plane was a long way from leaving land behind, any way you slice it.

That tracking site illustrates very well how the flight paths vary from day to day, too. I see today's BA193 took a left and went directly over the Isle of Man. The lower picture you post above is particularly interesting because it seems to illustrate the two extremes - the green line looks like the Great Circle route, which I think is probably about as south as these routes would tend to go, and the dotted blue line is the furthest north I've seen.

Even if PA103 had left the stand very promptly and been cleared for immediate take-off, it couldn't possibly have been airborne for longer than about 50 minutes by 7.03pm. No matter which route it had been assigned, it couldn't possibly have cleared land by then.

On a more southerly route it might have dropped into the Irish Sea, but we can see from the map how chancy that would have been, given the impossibility of predicting exactly when the plane would actually take off even if you could be sure that was going to be the route. Some commentators, apparently noticing that the mantra of "it would have been out over the Atlantic if it hadn't been late" is wrong, have declared that actually, PA103 was supposed to take the route over Ireland, and the explosion was intentionally timed to drop the plane in the Irish Sea. Although the 6.25pm take-off might indeed have been over the Irish Sea at 7.03, you can see from the map what a narrow window there is when that route would be over water - if it had taken off at 6.15, it would have been over Ireland.

The received wisdom that "the plane was late, and if it had been up to time it would have exploded far out over the Atlantic" is so ingrained I've seldom seen it challenged. Even Bunntamas, who has had uncommonly close exposure to the case, thought that was the case. But it's not.

I simply cannot see a single possible reason for setting a timer so early in the flight. And to do that while taking no care at all to ensure there's nothing in that suitcase that can be used to trace the bomber (indeed quite the opposite!) is completely bizarre. "Really dumb guy" doesn't begin to explain it, even if there was evidence that Megrahi was a really dumb guy. And that Gadaffi didn't have access to any agents with functioning neurones between their ears....

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Old 5th October 2010, 02:55 AM   #235
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So, why did the plane crash at three minutes past seven?

At Zeist, the allegation was that Megrahi had deliberately set the timer for that time. In fact, I think one of Giaka's fairly-stories was of actually seeing him setting the timer for seven o'clock (I need to check that). Insane or not, no other explanation was proffered for the timing.

Other suggestions have been put forward, theories never advanced at Zeist. However, they all seem to me simply to be attempts to force the narrative into the pre-determined "Megrahi did it" mould, whether it fits or not.

The more I look at this, the more convinced I become that the detonation of that bomb had nothing to do with any MST-13 timer set to go off at a pre-determined time. The entire scenario is so consistent with one of the barometric devices Khreesat was caught with. Devices that would have been safe indefinitely at ground level, but would have exploded about 30 to 50 minultes after take-off irrespective of when take-off actually was.

The disadvantage of such devices was that the time couldn't be set by the operator, so they couldn't arrange for a mid-Atlantic explosion. The advantage was, of course, that it wouldn't have mattered if the plane had been delayed or missed its slot entirely.

In fact, from the maps, if the plane had taken the more southerly route that evening, it could well have dropped into the Irish Sea, if the 38-minutes-after-takeoff was a fixed functionality of the device. However, the minute the northerly route was decided on, Lockerbie's fate was sealed no matter when the wheels actually left the tarmac.

I consider, how would the world appear, if in fact this bomb was a Khreesat device loaded at Heathrow?
  • There would be no trace of the bomb or the suitcase on the island of Malta. Check.
  • There would be no evidence of a security breach at Luqa airport. Check.
  • There would be evidence of the bomb or the suitcase at Heathrow airport. Check.
  • There would be evidence of a security breach at Heathrow airport. Check.
  • The explosion would occur at 30 to 50 minutes after take-off from Heathrow. Check.
That's how the jigsaw fits, as far as I can see it. The whole "Megrahi did it" narrative seems to be an attempt to force the jigsaw pieces into a picture they simply don't support, leaving a few lying at the side, and dragging in other pieces that are actually part of a different jigsaw altogether.

Rolfe.
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Old 5th October 2010, 03:17 AM   #236
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In some ways this whole thing seems to me to have some parallels with the shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes. Jean Charles was a Brazilian electrician whose immigration papers weren't entirely in order, though it's possible he didn't even realise that. He was going about his ordinary business, heading from his home to the house in north London where he was in the middle of a job.

The police had traced a gym membership card belonging to one of the 7/7 terrorists to an address in the same block of flats where Jean Charles lived. A surveillance officer saw Jean Charles leaving his home that morning, and became suspicious. Various innocent happenings (such as Jean Charles getting off the bus then getting back on again, because the first underground station he went to was closed) served to convince the police even more that he was indeed one of the bombers.

An entire, fictitious scenario was built up around this completely innocent young man, to the point where the anti-terror squad became convinced he was actually on his way to blow himself up on an underground train right there and then. Evidence contrary to this belief (that Jean Charles had been identified as "Caucasian", that he quite clearly wasn't wearing a suicide belt and so on) were ignored. Another example of "scenario fulfillment", in fact.

It culminated in police officers jumping on him as he sat on the train reading his newspaper, and pumping seven bullets into his head.

OK, a lot different in many ways, not least because it became very very clear within a very short time that the police were completely mistaken. (Though bear in mind that for the first few hours they nevertheless tried to continue the narrative that Jean Charles was "behaving suspiciously" and the killing "was linked to the attacks of 7th July".) Also, Megrahi's actions on 21st December 1988 were probably not as innocent as Jean Charles going to work with a dodgy passport.

It is similar though. Megrahi was going about his business in Malta that morning, whatever it was, without a thought in his head of exploding airliners. But one or two mis-read pieces of information got the attention of the investigators, and it all just snowballed from there. Evidence pointing to this being the wrong scenario was ignored, and irrelevant and peripheral information used to build up the case for the fantasy.

It's hardly the first time this sort of thing has happened in a criminal investigation. It's probably one of the most blatant. Outrage over the appalling nature of the atrocity shouldn't be allowed to blind us to the very real possibility that the police latched on to and went after the wrong guy, though.

Rolfe.
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Old 5th October 2010, 03:32 AM   #237
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Originally Posted by Rolfe View Post
In some ways this whole thing seems to me to have some parallels with the shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes...(snipped details of post)
Hmm... are the things you cited not just parallels with (nearly) all miscarriages of justice?
The police over valuing anything which confirms their hypothesis and ignoring anything which contradicts it, until they end up convicting the wrong person.
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Old 5th October 2010, 05:27 AM   #238
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Well, yes, really. That was just a high-profile example - and one discussed in other threads with a lot of heat, at the time.
  • He was dark-haired and looked a bit foreign
  • His passport had a forged stamp on it
  • A gym membership card with his address on it was found among the property of one of the 7/7 terrorists
  • He got off the bus then back on the same bus - a classic trick if you're trying to shake off a tail
  • He was wearing a bulky jacket on a hot day
  • He vaulted over the ticket barrier at the tube station
  • There were wires trailing out of the collar of his jacket
  • He ran away when the pursuing police identified themselves
Hey, how could he not be a suicide bomber, with all that mountain of evidence?

Except he wasn't. Some of these things were true, but had nothing to do with the 7/7 bombings. Some of them were simply false, but were insisted to be true by eyewitnesses in the early stages of the investigation. So this blameless electrician simply travelling to work became an imagined terrorist, and had his brains blown out.

I just get the feeling that all this "evidence" that's being put forward against Megrahi is of the same nature as the evidence that led the police to think Jean Charles de Menezes was a suicide bomber. The same sense of someone getting on with his own business while police are constructing an elaborate fantasy around him that has no bearing on reality.

Rolfe.
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Old 5th October 2010, 11:06 AM   #239
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Not sure if this is helpful, as you've probably already read it, but following is testimony from day 2 of the Zeist trial on flight path.
(beginning at pg. 53 of Rolfe's trial .PDF - thanks again for that!)
~B.

Quote:
Q And then, "upper alfa 2 Pole Hill UB for [156] Margo direct Glasgow."
A That's the route that the aircraft would continue to take. After Trent, it would proceed via Upper Humber 2, via Pole Hill, upper Bravo 4 to Margo, flight direct from Margo to Glasgow, and then follows the upper air route 590 to 59 north and 10 west.
Q And then we see, "/ mach No. 0.84." What does that refer to?
A As it crosses the oceanic boundary and comes under oceanic control, the separation on the ocean is made by reference to a mach number rather than a physical speed and knot. And therefore the aircraft had planned to fly at mach decimal 84.
Q Mach being the speed of sound?
A Mach being the speed of sound.
Q And then "estimated elapsed times," what does that refer to?
A The estimated elapsed time in number 5 are -- it takes him one hour 24 minutes to get to 10 degrees west. To 20 west is two hour nine minutes. To 30 west is two hour 47 minutes. So it's cumulative times as it proceeds across the north Atlantic.
Q Thank you very much.
Now, could we then go back, please, to production number 1, and to the chart. If we could
[157] just go in once more to that. We see other markings other than the solid green line
on that. And the first one, if you are looking from the foot of the screen, is a green cross; is
that correct?
A That's correct.
Q Did you make that?
A I did.
Q And could you just scroll to the right, please. Thank you very much.
What does that green mark then refer to?
A That was the position that I computed to be where the aircraft was at the time it made its
48
initial call to Scottish Air Traffic Control Centre.
Q And that would be at 1856?
A At 1856.
Q And then the next one is "PAA 103 EST Margo 1900." What is Margo?
A Margo is the reporting point that the aircraft was making between Pole Hill and Glasgow, and it is the transfer of control point or it is the position for which the transfer of control message between London and Scottish is based on. And the estimate of control or the control message from London indicated that the Clipper 103 was estimating Margo at time
19.00. [158]
Q Then if we follow this line up. I think at Margo it takes a turn to the west; is that correct?
A That's correct.
Q And we then follow -- you've marked, I think, Carlisle. Is that your marking on it?
A That is. That's the town of Carlisle, as distinct from the airfield of Carlisle.
Q Right. And then the position of a shuttle at 19.05. Is that right?
A That's right.
Q And then in red, a red cross, you have marked a computed position of last radar,
1902-40. Is that correct?
A That's correct.
Q Now, when you say that the last radar, what exactly do you mean by that?
A That is the position taken from the radar screen of the last recorded position, the distance always measured on the radar screen and transposed then onto this map.

This is Crown Production 9 and is headed "National Air Traffic Services Recorded Speech
Transcript Cover Sheet." The reason for extract is recorded as "Accident Involving Aircraft
PAA 103 (N739PA)".
The ground station is recorded as: SC & OATCC Atlantic House.
The call sign recorded as Shanwick, the frequency or telephone recorded as 123.95
megahertz, the facility recorded as Shanwick Oceanic Area Control clearance delivery
officer, and the period covered by extract, from 18.57 to 19.10 on 21st December 1988.
If we look at page 3 of that production, please.
Reading from line 5, the following [181] communication is recorded at 18.57 from Pan Am
103 to Shanwick, "Eh Shanwick good evening it's the Clipper 103." The response recorded
from Shanwick to Pan Am 103 is "Clipper 103 Shanwick."
At 18.58 there is is a communication from Shanwick to Pan Am 103 reading "Clipper 103
Shanwick."
There is then a communication from Pan Am 103 to Shanwick recorded as, "Roger 103 is
estimating 5, 9 north 10 west at eh -- make it eh 19 eh 47. We are requesting a random
track 310.84."
There is a reply from Shanwick to Pan Am 103, "Clipper 103 Shanwick copied stand by."
Could we look at page 4 of that production, please.
Reading from line 42, at a time of 19.02 and 36 seconds, there is a communication from
Shanwick to Pan Am 103, "Clipper 103 Shanwick your clearance." At a time of 19.02 and
56
40 seconds, there is a communication from Pan Am 103 to Shanwick, "Ah this is Clipper
103 go ahead."
At 19.02 and 44 seconds there is a communication from Shanwick to Pan Am 103,
"Shanwick clears the Clipper 103 to Kennedy from 59 north 10 west 62 north 20 west 63
north 30 west 62 north 40 west 60 north 50 west Hopedale to maintain flight level 310 [182]
mach decimal 84 from 59 north 10 west cross 59 north 10 west not before 1947."
It is recorded that that communication ceased at 19.03 and ten seconds.
Thereafter there was a further communication at 19.03 and 31 seconds from Shanwick to
Pan Am 103,"Clipper 103 Shanwick did you copy."
At line 68 there is a further communication at 1904 from Shanwick to Pan Am 103, "Clipper
103 Shanwick."
That production can be closed now.

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Old 5th October 2010, 12:15 PM   #240
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I hadn't noticed the section about estimating the time of arrival at various points over the Atlantic, or that the flight path was quoted in ten-degree increments as the plane progressed to the west. With that information you could plot the entire planned flightpath in real time, if you had the right application.

It's clear that the "solid green line" mentioned in the transcript is in fact the flight path shown on a production before the court. The odd thing is that I've never seen a copy of this, and we're having to plot it ourselves from the text references.

Nevertheless, I think we've got a pretty fair idea now, and it was somewhere between those shown in posts 232 and 233. Not going to be over clear water for well over an hour past take-off. (One hour 25 minutes to 59N 10W, which is out beyond Harris.) The more southerly routes are much the same. Although there's water in the middle on these, it would be a very chancy enterprise indeed to hit that with a detonation primed to go off at a certain time by the clock, and clear water isn't reached until the flight is beyond Ireland.

So why did Megrahi set that timer for seven o'clock, again?

Rolfe.
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