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Tags Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi , Abdul Giaka , Lockerbie bombing , Pan Am 103 , Tony Gauci

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Old 28th July 2010, 03:02 PM   #1
Rolfe
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US authorities framed al-Megrahi for the destruction of Pan Am 103

The US senators currently spinning silly conspiracy theories about the compassionate release of al-Megrahi seem to be completely ignorant of a couple of quite important points. First, he really didn't do it. We've got a few threads here and there if anyone wants to challenge that. But second, it was the CIA and the US Department of Justice who deliberately framed him for the crime in the first place. With invaluable assistance from the Dumfries and Galloway constabulary and the Scottish Lord Advocate, I hasten to add. (I don't think the police realised they were framing an innocent man, but the prosecutors don't get off the hook that easily.)

When Megrahi and Fhimah were indicted in 1992, it was done largely on the basis of evidence the US authorities said they had, and they didn't show it to anybody. Here's the head of the CIA anti-terrorist unit who was in charge of the investigation, speaking before the trial.

Silence over Lockerbie

Originally Posted by Vincent Cannistraro
Oh I think the evidence available to the Department of Justice in their case, which they're keeping under wraps, is overwhelming, it's conclusive. I think it is mind boggling in the amount of detail that they have. They have also.... they have a live witness for one thing, who would be presented in a court of law. I think there is a tremendous amount of evidence that will allow the prosecutors to present the chronology of the operation from its very inception, and that chronology would start even before Malta, go to Malta and then.... you know.... describe and in almost excruciating detail exactly how they made the bomb, how they secreted it, how they got it on board the aircraft, and I think that's a fairly strong case.

Well, if they had had that evidence, I'm sure everyone would have agreed it was an open and shut case. This was the basis on which the Scottish criminal justice system agreed to issue the indictments and bring the case to court.

All of that evidence was called Abdulmajid Giaka. Giaka was a garage mechanic who maintained JSO (Libyan Intelligence) vehicles, who had approached the CIA in August 1988 with a view to selling information for cash and favours. He grossly exaggerated his importance and position, and the quality of the information he could provide, but the CIA had very few Libyan agents, so they took him on. He named both Megrahi and Fhimah as JSO agents quite early (though he was probably wrong about Fhimah), and even reported that Megrahi had visited Malta on 7th December 1988 (the day he would later be said to have bought the clothes in Mary's House) before the actual incident.

He was interviewed on many occasions over the next three years, during the height of the Lockerbie investigation, but he didn't reveal any information of interest. The detectives didn't start to consider a Libyan connection until the autumn of 1990, and when they did, Giaka had nothing to do with it. He had still given them nothing about the bombing by February 1991, when the detectives started trying to get Tony Gauci to identify Megrahi as the purchaser of the clothes.

Paul Foot, who attended the whole trial, has written quite extensively about this aspect.

Flight from Justice (£5 paywall)

Originally Posted by Paul Foot
For many years before the Camp Zeist trial there were carefully-nurtured rumours that the CIA and the American Justice department had been taking care of a witness who would conclusively prove the guilt of the two defendants. [....] “What is the evidence which leads the US government and, in pathetic chorus, the Scottish Lord Advocate and his government in Whitehall to the certainty that the two Libyans are responsible? The answer is that they have ‘a witness’.”

When documents started to be revealed before the case, this witness turned out to be the garage mechanic Abdul Majid Giaka, who had been spirited out of Malta on an American warship soon after the Gulf War was over in July 1991. Down on his luck, irritated by his employers in the Libyan intelligence JSO, Giaka secretly approached the CIA in the American embassy in Malta several months before the Lockerbie bombing. For many months after the bombing he said nothing at all about Lockerbie, even when he was asked about it. The CIA’s rather bleak assessment of Giaka in all those months was sent back to CIA headquarters in the US by cable from Malta. [These cables were eventually admitted in evidence, which is how we know all this.]

Foot goes on to describe Giaka's fantastic inventions about other matters, his lack of useful intelligence, and the pressure the CIA began to put on him to produce something to justify what he was being paid.

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.

And that is where the overwhelming, mindboggling, excruciating detail came from.

None of this was revealed to the Scottish prosecutors until the early stages of the Zeist trial. Prof. Robert Black, Emeritus Professor of Scots law at the University of Edinburgh, an expert on the Lockerbie trial, describes the sequence of events.

The SCCRC decision also here

Originally Posted by Robert Black
Charges would not have been brought against Megrahi (and Fhima) by the Crown Office had it not been for Giaka. And no representative of the Scottish prosecutors was allowed to interview Giaka until the run-up to the Zeist trial. In other words, the charges were brought and the indictment was drafted purely on the basis of what our American cousins told the Crown Office their Libyan defector would say.

When the Scots were eventually allowed access to him and discovered that he was a joke, they had two options: to abandon the prosecution or to try to convince the court that he was, after all, a witness of credit. To their eternal shame, they chose the latter.

Giaka's evidence was ultimately found by the court to be utterly untrustworthy. This was largely due to the devastating effectiveness of the cross-examination by defence counsel. Their ability to destroy completely the credibility of the witness stemmed from the contents of cables in which his CIA handlers communicated to headquarters the information that Giaka had provided to them in the course of their secret meetings. Discrepancies between Giaka's evidence-in-chief to the Advocate Depute and the contents of these contemporaneous cables enabled the defence to mount a formidable challenge to the truthfulness and accuracy, or credibility and reliability, of Giaka's testimony. Had the information contained in these cables not been available to them, the task of attempting to demonstrate to the court that Giaka was an incredible or unreliable witness would have been more difficult, and perhaps impossible.

Yet the Crown strove valiantly to prevent the defence obtaining access to these cables. At the trial, on 22 August 2000, when he was seeking to persuade the Court to deny the defence access to those cables in their unedited or uncensored form, the then Lord Advocate, Colin Boyd QC, stated that the members of the prosecution team who were given access to the uncensored CIA cables on 1 June 2000 were fully aware of the obligation incumbent upon them as prosecutors to make available to the defence material relevant to the defence of the accused and, to that end, approached the contents of those cables with certain considerations in mind.

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... 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."

Notwithstanding the opposition of the Lord Advocate, the court ordered the unedited cables to be made available to the defence, who went on to use their contents to such devastating effect in questioning Giaka that the court held that his evidence had to be disregarded in its entirety. Yet, strangely enough, the judges did not see fit publicly to censure the Crown for its inaccurate assurances that the cables contained nothing that could assist the defence.

Paul Foot describes something of the hay that was made from this lot by Megrahi's defence team.

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.”

As a result, Giaka's evidence was thrown out of court.

So, it failed. How does this add up to the framing of al-Megrahi?

It certainly failed as regards Fhimah. There wasn't a shred of anything left against him: everything implicating him had come from Giaka, as transmittted in these cables. However, they didn't give up on Megrahi, because Giaka wasn't the only witness who was bribed and manipulated. I'll go into this in the next post.

Rolfe.
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Old 28th July 2010, 03:05 PM   #2
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Unlike most other conspiracy theories, this one is plausible. It reminds me of my time back in Illinois, where the Chicago cops (no, I didn't live in the city, but a suburb) were infamous for being able to get nearly anyone to confess to nearly anything. I'm not saying that this is the case here, mind you, just the whole attitude of "someone must pay for this."
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Old 28th July 2010, 04:43 PM   #3
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The prosecution had a real witness too, as well as the highly suggestible Giaka. Ten items of clothing found on the ground at Lockerbie extremely blast-damaged were determined to have been packed with the bomb in the bronze Samsonite suitcase. Detailed investigation showed that this clothing had been manufactured on Malta (well, a label reading "Made in Malta" was a good start), and was brand new. The manufacturers were traced, and they looked at their order books, and retail outlets were followed up.

This resulted, on 1st September 1989, in a visit to a shop called Mary's House, in the town of Sliema on Malta. This was a small family business - the elderly Edward Gauci and his sons Tony and Paul. The detectives asked them about one particular item, showed interest in a second, and Tony suddenly came up with a hugely important memory. He had sold a number of items to a stranger he believed to be Libyan, in late November or early December 1988. These included the two items under discussion, and five other (pretty random) purchases. He then spontaneously named five of the remaining eight items identified as having been in the Samsonite suitcase.

He was able to give quite a detailed description of the purchaser, but in his own terms, that of an outfitter who had sized a customer up for fit. He described size and body shape in remarkable detail, but said almost nothing about the face. A couple of weeks later he was asked to produce a photofit and an artist's impression, but the two images look like different people and they're rather generic faces. One of them does resemble Megrahi's passport photo, but the other resembles a Palestinian terrorist called Abu Talb. In fact, both of them could resemble a squillion people with the same hairstyle and fairly nondescript features.

Facsimile of 1st September 1989 statement

There are about 20 more statements, as Tony was encouraged and badgered and flattered to produce more information. He was able to pinpoint the day in a number of ways. It was midweek, early evening, and he was alone in the shop because Paul was watching football on TV. The Christmas lights weren't up in the street outside at the time. It was drizzling - enough to prompt the customer to buy the umbrella which was one of the items on the list.

I could type paragraphs about what happened next, but the information is available from a number of sources. It wasn't until February 1991, over two years after the purchase, that Megrahi entered the frame, and his picture was used in a photospread. Tony rejected all the pictures, and said all the men were too young. The detectives told him to forget about age and try again. He picked Megrahi.

This exercise has been demolished by a couple of experts.
Prof. Valentine's report
Prof. Clark's report

Megrahi's picture was subtly different from the others, he was one of the oldest in the line-up (although he was 14 years younger than Tony's estimate of the purchaser's age), and his appearance was about the closest to Tony's actual description. Once he was given a heavy hint that he was supposed to pick someone out, Megrahi's was the likely photo that would be picked. Also, all Tony said was that the picture resembled the purchaser - and that he wasn't actually as close a resemblance as Abu Talb, the Palestinian terrorist who had been the earlier target suspect.

It didn't get any better. Tony never said Megrahi was the purchaser. Even at the live identity parade (by which time half the population of Zeist could probably have picked Megrahi out, given the extent of the publicity, and Megrahi was actually about the age Tony had said the purchaser was 11 years earlier in 1988), the best he could do was, this isn't the man, but he looks a litle bit like him. In court, he had to be prompted shamefully before he managed to point to the dock and say, this man resembles the purchaser. And most of the other men in that parade were actually younger than Megrahi. From Tony's original description, by 1999 they should have been looking for a man in his sixties.

Tony's original detailed description of the purchaser's body size and shape was subject to a serious back-track. From confidently saying about 50 years old, 6 feet tall, big head, broad chest, not fat or paunchy, heavily built, 17-inch collar, 36-inch waist, and the 42-inch jacket he bought would have been too small for him, in court we get, oh, 50, under 50, under six feet, I don't know, I'm not a judge of height or age.

What happened? The expert witness reports explain it. As Tony picked up more and more information about the man he was supposed to be identifying, he realised that his original body size and build description didn't match the suspect. He back-tracked, and claimed to have no expertise in something he obviously was expert in - sizing men up for the fit of clothes.

And why? A holiday in Scotland in the middle of all that, fishing, and staying in a 5-star hotel. The Scottish police just loved Tony. But it was also about Paul, who was a lot more shrewd, and realised early on that there could be money in this. It was Paul who was coaching Tony to pick out the right person, showing him magazine articles with pictures of Megrahi and so on. Paul knew that a $4 million reward had been mentioned in connection with the case. And in the end they got it - $3 between them, and relocation to a new life in Australia. Paid for by the US Department of Justice.

The evidence regarding the bribery of the Gaucis is available here (go to page 90 of the pdf, page no. 149 of the document.)
Guardian article summarising the bribery evidence
Caustic Logic's compilation of the bribery evidence

In spite of the money, Tony only ever said Megrahi resembled the purchaser. The conclusion that he was the purchaser depended on him being in Malta on the day of the purchase. Which was held to be 7th December.

Tony said the purchase was midweek, and it was raining, and Paul was watching football, and the Christmas lights weren't lit.

7th December was midweek - but 8th December was a public holiday when the shop was shut, which makes the "midweek" description questionable. No rain at all was recorded on that day, three miles away. When pressed, the meteorologists suggested there was perhaps a 10% chance of a few drops of rain in Sliema about that time, but not enough to wet the ground. The football match Paul was interested in that day was in the afternoon, and the purchase occurred in the evening. And the Christmas lights were lit in Sliema on 6th December 1988.

On the other hand 23rd November was also a Wednesday. Light rain was recorded in the early evening, exactly as Tony remembered. The football match Paul would have been interested in was played in the evening. And the Christmas lights weren't yet lit.

When DCI Bell was asked why he was so keen on 7th December rather than 23rd November, he replied,

Originally Posted by Harry Bell
It really has to be acknowledged how confusing this all was. No date was signficant for me at the time. Ultimately it was the applicant's [Megrahi’s] presence on the island on 7th December 1988 that persuaded me that the purchase took place on that date. Paul specified 7th December when I met with him on 14th December 1989 and I recorded this....

Even that last seems not to be true, and certainly isn't substantiated. Paul Foot reported,

Originally Posted by Paul Foot
The Eye has obtained some of Paul Gauci’s statements to the police, including one on 19 October, 1989 to DCI Bell from Dumfries and Galloway and Inspector Scicluna of the Malta police. “On Thursday 19 October 1989 Mr Bell called at my shop at 63 Tower Road where I was shown a list of European football matches I know as UEFA. I checked all the games and dates. I am of the opinion that the game I watched on TV was on 23 November, 1988: SC Dynamo Dresden v AS Roma. On checking the 7th December 1988, I can say that I watched AS Roma v Dynamo Dresden in the afternoon. All the other games were played in the evening. I can say for certain I watched the Dresden v Roma game. On the basis that there were two games played during the afternoon of 23 November and only one on the afternoon of 7th December, I would say that the 23rd November 1988 was the date in question.” No wonder Paul Gauci was not called to give evidence for the prosecution.

Bear in mind that Tony's memory was actually rather good. He got the clothes startlingly right. The amount of detail he originally gave about the purchaser's height and build was also impressive - he just didn't remember the face well. Any dispassionate assessment of what he said describes a man quite different in build, height and age from Megrahi, buying the clothes on 23rd November 1988.

The back-flips and circular reasoning demonstrated by the police are deplorable. But the hints about life-changing amounts of money, coupled with the manifest desire that this particular person should be picked out, demonstrate a fixed determination to implicate Megrahi regardless of the tenuous nature of the connections.

The clothes purchase was the only other piece of evidence linking Megrahi to the crime. It was only because Tony's bribed, cajoled and prompted evidence was accepted by the court that other tenuous inferences were accepted to draw the net tighter.

By the use of various inducements including monetary reward, the US Department of Justice and the Scottish police and prosecutors conspired in the conviction of Megrahi.

Without Giaka, the case would never have got to court, given the weakness of Gauci's evidence. But once Giaka's fairly-tales were discarded, the prosecution chose to press the case regardless, and by relying on another manipulated witness, secured the unjust conviction.

And now, with Megrahi dying of cancer, US senators want to drag the man back to prison to punish BP for the Gulf oil spill. They have turned him into an international hate figure for their petty power politics. They want to investigate various sovereign foreign governments for possibly having been lobbied by BP over a prisoner transfer agreement that wasn't even used.

They should be investigating the conviction and imprisonment of an innocent man, and the complicity of their own government in the frame-up.

Rolfe.
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Old 28th July 2010, 05:13 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by TheRedWorm View Post
Unlike most other conspiracy theories, this one is plausible. It reminds me of my time back in Illinois, where the Chicago cops (no, I didn't live in the city, but a suburb) were infamous for being able to get nearly anyone to confess to nearly anything. I'm not saying that this is the case here, mind you, just the whole attitude of "someone must pay for this."

Whether it was just that, or whether there was an active desire to turn away from more plausible suspects, is difficult to prove with certainty. I won't insist on the latter, though I suspect it.

There are wilder CTs surrounding this. Fabricated physical evidence to match the fabricated witness evidence. Deliberate intention to implicate Libya (rather than Iran, now there's an irony) for political reasons. I would give credence to this, though proving it is a different matter.

There are people who suspect a LIHOP, and even one who promotes a MIHOP scenario. There's even one where the explosion on the plane was actually an accident, but due to the plane illegally transporting munitions, and then those who would have been blamed for the accident managed to spirit away all the real evidence and plant evidence of a suitcase bomb with all the trimmings, immediately after the crash and on the wet winter fields of Dumfriesshire.

I think that's part of what has made some people dismiss this as "just another CT", and carry on baying for Megrahi to die in prison. However, you don't even need the deliberate misdirection from the real culprits theory, never mind the wilder suggestions, to realise that this was a frame-up worthy of the Louvre.

I harbour a small hope that this current brouhaha might just conceivably raise the profile of the piss-poor evidence and the deliberate stitch-up so that Megrahi might eventually be exonerated, even if only posthumously for the sake of his wife and children.

People now are hearing "Moslem terrorist", and thinking 9/11, and crazed Mohammed Atta-type fanatical jihadist. This was never about that. This was alleged to be a political revenge mission, following on from the US bombing of Tripoli and Benghazi, in which Gadaffi's adopted infant daughter was killed. In that scenario, Megrahi was only an employee following orders, and he was only an accessory, nevery convicted of being the actual bomer at all. Now he is demonised by an American public blinded by the spectre of the Twin Towers falling, and unable to see that this is a completely different scenario.

It's difficult to get over that instinctive reaction, to realise that this happened in a different era, and that it is actually possible that a man was convicted who had nothing at all to do with it.

Rolfe.
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Old 28th July 2010, 06:00 PM   #5
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The US end of the investigation was the prime mover in the frame-up, but the Scottish end co-operated, without a doubt. The policemen can be seen pushing Tony for an identification of Megrahi in a way that is contrary to all proper procedures for eyewitness identification. DC Bell admits he liked the implausible 7th December over the probable 23rd November because 7th December was the day Megrahi might have been the purchaser. They constantly showed Tony pictures of men younger than his description, and failed to pay any attention to his descriptions of height and build. Tony's selection of Megrahi's picture in February 1991 was probably a "Clever Hans" trick.

The Scottish prosecutors were worse. When they finally saw the full horrorshow that was the evidence Giaka had made the whole lot up, they could have folded, and withdrawn the prosecutions. They didn't, and actively sought to conceal the evidence that Giaka was lying from the defence - even to the extent of lying to the judges. They also performed back-somersaults to try to make the evidence fit Megrahi's guilt, when it clearly didn't.

Now I might expect a defence advocate to try every trick he can to get his client off. That's the game, the accused is entitled to the benefit of any doubt that can reasonably be cast. However, I don't expect prosecutors to lie and hide evidence and twist evidence to get a clearly innocent man convicted. And I think that's what was done here.

But it's even worse. It wasn't just the Lord Advocate (Colin Boyd, you bastard, I'm talking to you) and his minions, it was the actual judges. At every possible turn, the judges chose the unlikely explanation which would incriminate Megrahi over the probable explanation which wouldn't. They were prepared to infer all sorts of wickedness on the part of Megrahi and his alleged co-conspirators without any evidence, but at the same time they rejected far stronger evidence of similar mayhem on the part of the alternative suspects as "not proven".

A decent summary of this twisted thinking is here. Summary of grounds of appeal
The actual twisted thinking can be read in all its horror also.
Judgement of the trial court Judgement of the appeal court
The opinions of the official UN observer to the trial and first appeal don't mince many words.
Dr. Hans Kochler's report on the trial Dr. Hans Kochler's report on the appeal

A particularly egregious example occurs in the first appeal judgement, relating to the decision that an unaccompanied bag must have been carried on the Malta flight, because an ambiguous computer entry of dubious provenance at Frankfurt airport seemed to show an unaccompanied bag coming off that flight, despite extremely solid evidence at the Malta end that no such bag could possibly have got on board.

The Shadow over Lockerbie documentary, made before the trial, gives a good explanation of the watertight nature of the Malta records, and includes the statement by the baggage supervisor at Malta that "with the systems that we had at the time, and we still have today, it is an impossibility to put in an extra bag on an aircraft unnoticed." There's a lot more there that's worth reading.

Unfortunately, at the actual trial, the same witness gave all that evidence and said all the same things, but was asked at the end, Mr. Borg, is it really absolutely and completely impossible for an unaccompanied bag to have got on that plane? This was 12 years later, remember. Mr. Borg hesitated, and said, well, anything's possible I suppose.

During the appeal, Hans Kocher records one of the judges probing this point.

Quote:
Lord Osborne, in a debate with the Prosecution on the question of the insertion of the luggage containing the explosive device at Luqa airport in Malta, said: “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.” He further stated: “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.” And in response to a remark of the Prosecution, he went on: “Well, all sorts of irrational conclusions may have a basis in fact, but … the problem is that they don’t logically relate to the facts.”

However, with no new evidence, by the time the judgement came to be written this had become

Quote:
Those records [the ambiguous computer printout from Frankfurt] demonstrated the carriage of an unaccompanied bag from Malta on flight KM180. The evidence of Mr Borg did not rule out the possibility of that happening. It was to be remembered that the Crown case was that the security measures at Luqa had been deliberately circumvented by a criminal act.

OK, it was agreed that coding anomalies happened at Frankfurt sometimes. A coding anomaly could have caused a bag to appear to have come from Malta when it didn't. There was no evidence to show that had happened in this case, but the records from Frankfurt were only very partial and what was available had a very bizarre provenance. Meanwhile, it appears that as far as a bag getting on the plane at Malta, "there is considerable and quite convincing evidence that that could not have happened." But the judges decided there had been such a bag, because Wilfrid Borg has said, anything's possible, and because the prosecution said the Libyans had got the bag past the Malta security in a way that was so dastardly it didn't show up in the records.

This is scandalous. The evidence is all there to be seen, of course, but the official position is that Megrahi is guilty and the court verdict is sound, and that's their story and they're sticking to it. Official recognition that the verdict was unsound would open the floodgates to scrutinise just how any democratic justice system could perpetrate such a travesty. Why did it all happen?

Professor Black has an explanation

Originally Posted by Robert Black
So why did the judges convict, given their rejection of Giaka's evidence and the manifest weakness of the rest of the Crown case?

It is my firm view that the crucial incriminating findings made by the judges were unwarranted by the evidence led in court and were in many cases entirely contrary to the weight of that evidence. I am convinced that no Scottish jury, following the instructions traditionally given by judges regarding the assessment of evidence and the meaning and application of the concept of reasonable doubt, would or could have convicted Megrahi. So how did it come about that the three distinguished and experienced judges who concurred in the verdict felt able to convict him?

In paragraph 89 of the Opinion of the Court it is stated: “We are aware that in relation to certain aspects of the case there are a number of uncertainties and qualifications. We are also aware that there is a danger that by selecting parts of the evidence which seem to fit together and ignoring parts which might not fit, it is possible to read into a mass of conflicting evidence a pattern or conclusion which is not really justified.” Regrettably, in my submission, the judges’ intellectual recognition of the danger does not appear to have enabled them to avoid it.*

*In John Lawton's excellent novel A LITTLE WHITE DEATH (1999) -- a fictionalised account of the Profumo affair and the Stephen Ward trial -- the hero (at p501 of the paperback edition) describes the presiding judge in the trial (Mr Justice Mirkeyn) as follows: "Everyone doing what they think is expected of them. Mirkeyn did the same. It's probably never crossed Mirkeyn's mind that he's a bad judge or a bent judge. He simply did what was expected. Didn't even need a nod or a wink."

Whatever the reason, it seems likely that reluctance within the legal profession and the government in Scotland (who know all this, and more) to air this absolutely filthy linen in public is the reason for the current stonewalling on any challenges to the legitimacy of the verdict, and the apparent manipulation of Megrahi to withdraw the appeal that would probably have acquitted him by now.

I wonder, does anyone in power in the USA today even know what was done, never mind the USA's leading role in the frame-up? Would the senators be making such a fuss, if they realised the risk they were taking of bringing all this to the surface, and prompting an enquiry into something a damn sight more serious than possible commercial pressure on political negotiations?

Rolfe.
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Old 28th July 2010, 06:40 PM   #6
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I'd just like to comment on what I think happened.

The very conspicuous purchase of brand new, locally-manufactured, traceable clothes from a small shop only four weeks before the bombing seems completely insane. Even more insane to do this only three miles from the airport where the bomb was to be smuggled past security in a way so fiendish that it would never be discovered. And completely certifiable for the person who bought the clothes to show up at the airport too, at the time the smuggling was being done - and for no readily apparent reason.

On that last point, remember that Megrahi was never convicted of putting the bomb on the plane - it was recognised he had had no opportunity to do that. He was convicted of involvement, because he (allegedly) bought the clothes, and was merely present at the airport when the bomb was (allegedly) introduced. By someone else, unidentified. (Bet you didn't know that....) And he didn't even wear a false beard.

This is frankly batcrap crazy. As is the rest of the alleged plot, involving sending the suitcase on its unaccompanied way across Europe, in winter, with two changes of planes - the possibility of getting lost, of planes being grounded by bad weather, of being detected when the case was x-rayed at Frankfurt by an operator on high alert for exactly this sort of device, of being loaded on the inboard side of the baggage container at Heathrow where it would have exploded without damaging the airframe, or of exploding while the plane was still on the tarmac due to a delay. (The alleged plan involved setting a timer to explode at 19.00 GMT, only about 45 minutes after take-off, when the flight wasn't due to touch down at New York for another six-and-a-half hours.) Oh yes, and were the conspirators relying on all the Frankfurt baggage records vanishing, so that the passage of the bomb through the computer-controlled system would be difficult or impossible to detect?

On the other hand, if you're going to introduce a bomb into a baggage container at Heathrow, where there is ample evidence the bomb was actually introduced, maybe staging a conspicuous purchase of easily identifiable clothes on a Mediterranean island a thousand miles away is quite a clever idea. If the clothes are actually traced, it might tie up a bunch of cops for a while, rather than having them sniff round Heathrow. So long as the purchaser is someone Tony Gauci never saw before and will never see again, and has no other connection with the plot, why not?

I think it worked. I think it worked beyond someone's wildest dreams. Britain was insisting Heathrow was in the clear, and the bomb had come from Frankfurt. Frankfurt was insisting the opposite. When evidence appeared to take the heat off both airports, they fell on it like wolves.

Megrahi had the misfortune to be passing through the airport at Malta at just the wrong moment, and travelling undercover too. Add a coding anomaly at Frankfurt, and you have the perfect storm. Nobody wants to know about unexplained brown Samsonite suitcases seen at Heathrow, or break-ins to the terminal building that night, and especially they don't seem to want to know about these Palestinians for some reason. Libya is to be consigned to the outer darkness, and maybe this will stop the bastards selling Semtex to the IRA, to be paid for with funding supplied from the USA, to blow up Irish and English children in the streets of the UK.

I want to know why everyone was so darned reluctant to keep going after the Palestinians, considering the stacks of circumstantial evidence against them. I want to know why all the baggage records at Frankfurt vanished from under the noses of the German police only days after the bombing, even though they were on-site very quickly. I want to know why the German police refused to co-operate with the Scottish police and withheld what little evidence they had for more than six months. I'd even quite like to know what the CIA officers on the plane were up to, and did they have anything in their luggage the CIA didn't want anyone else to find first.

It's perfectly possible the conspiracy is deeper than I have outlined. But only by understanding that Megrahi really didn't do it, can any of that be probed.

And only by understanding that Megrahi really didn't do it, can this demonisation of a dying man be brought to a halt, and inquiries set up into the really important questions.

Rolfe.
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Old 29th July 2010, 05:35 AM   #7
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This is simply stellar writing you're providing us all with Rolfe.

It would appear that there are, in what we term our 'democratic' and 'free' society, groups and individuals who are accountable to no-one. We are surrounded by liars, hypocrites and those who say they follow the rule of law, while doing whatever they damn well like if the desired result is the conclusion they would seek.

It is absolutely clear, to even the most docile, that we had an innocent man languishing in a Scottish Prison for nearly 10 years, put there by individuals who have performed every deceitful illegal manoeuvre available, manipulated the due course of law, suppressed vital and legitimate evidence and capitulated to the subterfuge of international Politics and Governments - all paid for by the UK taxpayer.

The crown in the Megrahi appeal, under instruction of the UK government, created a ‘National Security’ which only serves to prohibit ordinary people from the truth under the pretence that it is in the publics benefit not to know, and provides those with power, authority and those attuned sympathetically such as judges and lawyers ‘on the inside’ with the cloak of protection to carry out the very injustices and hidden agendas we have witnessed in the whole Pam Am case and Megrahi's conviction.
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Old 29th July 2010, 07:18 AM   #8
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It does seem rather damning. One small point:

Originally Posted by Rolfe View Post
Bear in mind that Tony's memory was actually rather good. He got the clothes startlingly right. The amount of detail he originally gave about the purchaser's height and build was also impressive - he just didn't remember the face well.
The amount of detail he originally gave may have seemed impressive, but there appears to be no evidence that it was actually correct. Memory is notoriously unreliable, and while he may have demonstrated an unusually good memory for some things, that doesn't necessarily mean he was able to accurately describe someone he met once, briefly, two years earlier.
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Old 29th July 2010, 08:19 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by Cuddles View Post
The amount of detail he originally gave may have seemed impressive, but there appears to be no evidence that it was actually correct. Memory is notoriously unreliable, and while he may have demonstrated an unusually good memory for some things, that doesn't necessarily mean he was able to accurately describe someone he met once, briefly, two years earlier.

That's one way of looking at it. However, it doesn't advance the case against Megrahi one iota. Either Tony's description was accurate, and it wasn't Megrahi, or he really didn't remember the purchaser at all (despite rattling off a string of vital statistics), in which case why were we thinking it might be Megrahi, again?

Taken together, his original description of a man whose size and build were strikingly different from Megrahi's, and facts which are a best fit to a day when Megrahi wasn't even on the island, don't point well to Megrahi as the purchaser any way you slice it.

Also, you're slightly off as to the timing. The purchase happened late November/early December 1988. Tony was first interviewed on 1st September 1989, so nine months after the event at that stage, not two years. That was when he gave the detailed description. It's surprising he remembered the sale as clearly as he did, but his performance on the clothes purchased (as checked against what was recovered blast-damaged) was remarkable - 100% specificity and 70% sensitivity. It's Kim's game, and Tony seems to have been a natural.

The description of the purchaser was volunteered at the same time, and there's no real reason to believe it was any less accurate than his recollection of the clothes. It's the recollection of a man who was literally sizing up his customer for fit (and surprised the man was buying stuff that wouldn't have fitted him).

However, he wasn't asked about Megrahi until February 1991, which was indeed more than two years after the event. By that time Tony had been shown a large number of mug-shots, photospreads and so on, and there had been a serious attempt to persuade him to identify Abu Talb as the purchaser. In fact he identified Abu Talb just as well as he did Megrahi - said the man resembled the customer a lot. At one point he said that Talb looked more like the purchaser than Megrahi did.

Given that he'd been through all that lot, and looked at so many pictures, it's very unlkely any residual memory of the actual customer's face remained. He never described the face at all - just said the man was clean-shaven, had very black hair and a large head. By the time you get to the stage where he's being asked to identify Megrahi it's pretty clear he's just trying to please these nice policemen. And Paul, of course, who has figured out that there's money in this if Tony can be coached to get it right.

Rolfe.
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Old 29th July 2010, 02:36 PM   #10
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Sorry I've missed out so far. Itshould be noted off the bat, as a CT that's gaining acceptance around here, wouldn't this seem to fall into the realm of 'too big for a conspiracy'? I admit it's petty steep and didn't expect, when I started, to find that was actually true. But a man was completely railroaded on evidence that onlt makes sense if the plotters wanted to be caught, or if it was planted. Not that everyone from DC MacPlod (did I get that right?) on up had to be involved in the frame-up. But no one apparently noticed and blew the whistle. No one wrote a prize-winning tell-all book that sold millions. Much of the world and about all of the United States still believes the results of this supposed fraudulent case.

By normal standards I've seen widely cited in JREF discussions, this defies the usual definition of a "real conspiracy." These are almost always exposed, except maybe in Russia or something where the state runs the media. And that's not the case in the UK or US.

So... anyone want to champion that obvious point?
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Old 29th July 2010, 03:15 PM   #11
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Bear in mind that the sequence of events I have outlined involves no fabrication of physical evidence. It need, by that narrative, be no more than what The Red Worm said.

Quote:
It reminds me of my time back in Illinois, where the Chicago cops (no, I didn't live in the city, but a suburb) were infamous for being able to get nearly anyone to confess to nearly anything.
They couldn't get any hard evidence against anyone else. Maybe because they were looking in the wrong place, maybe because the terrorist group was too damn clever. They saw the clothes purchase in Malta and tray B8849, and became convinced the bomb had gone on the Malta-Frankfurt flight. They stopped looking at Heathrow, with a truly relieved sigh.

Then they discovered "Abdusamad" was a Libyan agent travelling under cover, in the right place at the right time, and bingo. They were sure he did it. And they ignored all the evidence that he didn't, and pressurised and bribed Tony Gauci and Giaka to tell the tale, and there you go. Some of this was done by the Scots, with the knowledge of the Americans, and some of it was a pure US operation, but it was all with the same aim, and as police operations go, the tactics wouldn't be all that unusual, let's face it.

If you look back at Dick Marquise's protestations, they fit that scenario. He has a bad case of cognitive dissonance, but he doesn't come over as being involved in anything shadier than a common-or-garden frame-up of a useful suspect who had the misfortune to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

The fact that the plot they were fitting Megrahi up as having been involved in was actually batcrap insane probably didn't even occur to them. It worked didn't it? The fact that it had worked, in that case, in spite of multiple serious risks of it going badly wrong, and in the last analysis by a mere fluke, wasn't their concern. A bit like a lottery winner, after the win, declaring that it was pretty inevitable really, because hey, I did win you know!

This is actually quite plausible. It could be that it's all there is. It's the narrative that should be emphasised by those seeking primarily to achieve Megrahi's exoneration - which should be everyone who is interested, as trying to figure out if it's really more complicated than that is extremely difficult if it's constantly being hampered by people who are convinced the bomb really did travel from Malta.

The question of the anomalies in the physical evidence, and the possibility that laying the blame on Libya +/- Megrahi might have been planned a lot earlier than the winter of 1990/91, is a whole other ball game, a ball game we haven't addressed at all in this thread.

Maybe if we see general agreement on the easy bit, the bit that accepts Megrahi didn't buy the clothes and the bomb didn't travel from Malta, we could see if anything else flies.

Rolfe.
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Old 29th July 2010, 03:18 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by Caustic Logic View Post
These are almost always exposed, except maybe in Russia or something where the state runs the media. And that's not the case in the UK or US.

If you were sitting where I'm sitting right now, watching Newsnight, and Gavin Esler blandly going on about this bomber who was obviously given a wrong prognosis, and these poor families who are so upset that the man who killed their loved ones is free (he was interviewing Alex Salmond, and the BBC is virulently anti-SNP), you wouldn't be so sure.

There's nothing in the media apart from the letters columns and comments pages explaining that Megrahi didn't do it. It's dismissed as "conspiracy theory".

Rolfe.
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Old 29th July 2010, 03:25 PM   #13
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To explain more simply. The real discussion/argument isn't between the camp that thinks it was all a huge CT involving Bush and Thatcher and the higher echelons of the CIA, and those who think Megrahi put the bomb in the plane at Malta. That's a false dichotomy.

The real discussion/argument is between Megrahi simply being the victim of a fairly standard-issue police frame-up, much the same as what was done to the Maguire Seven, and the whole nine yards of Bush/Thatcher telephone calls and Thurman/Hayes/Feraday planting evidence with the deliberate intention of pointing to Libya. Yes, the frame-up got pretty complicated, and was pressed way beyond what it could really support, because the case was so political. But at bottom, that version is pretty banal.

If we could get that much accepted, without having to take time out every few weeks to explain to yet another batch of incandescent Americans that Megrahi isn't actually "the Lockerbie bomber", so back off a bit OK?, then we might get on a bit better.

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Old 29th July 2010, 04:00 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by Rolfe View Post
Paul knew that a $4 million reward had been mentioned in connection with the case. And in the end they got it - $3 between them, and relocation to a new life in Australia.

Oops. They wouldn't have got very far on $3! $3 million between them, of course. Or so it's said. The exact sums were never confirmed and it could even have been more.

I was up way too late last night typing all that, and it's a miracle there were only about four typos. I'm zonked. It is now midnight. I'm away to my bed!

Nighty-night!

Rolfe.
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Old 30th July 2010, 03:45 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by Rolfe View Post
That's one way of looking at it. However, it doesn't advance the case against Megrahi one iota.
I never said it did. I was merely pointing out that your claim of remarkable accuracy for the description does not appear to be supported. If it was Megrahi, clearly the description was completely wrong. If not, then we have no idea who it was and therefore no idea if it was accurate or not. The good memory on other aspects does suggest that the description may also be good, but without actual evidence to support it we just can't say how accurate it really was.

Quote:
However, he wasn't asked about Megrahi until February 1991, which was indeed more than two years after the event.
Ah, that must have been where I got the two years from. My mistake.
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Old 30th July 2010, 04:19 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by Cuddles View Post
I never said it did. I was merely pointing out that your claim of remarkable accuracy for the description does not appear to be supported. If it was Megrahi, clearly the description was completely wrong. If not, then we have no idea who it was and therefore no idea if it was accurate or not. The good memory on other aspects does suggest that the description may also be good, but without actual evidence to support it we just can't say how accurate it really was.

I wouldn't disagree with that at all. I was simply preferring the view that says, this shopkeeper described a sale of seven items of clothing to a particular customer. He listed the clothes, and even gave details of the total bill, the method of payment and the change given. We have independent confirmation that his recollection of the items purchased was accurate. It is therefore not unreasonable to imagine that his recollection of the customer's vital statistics, which he estimated and mentally judged against the sizes of the items being purchased, was also accurate.

If it was accurate, the customer wasn't Megrahi. If it wasn't accurate, then Tony's evidence is worthless. It's perverse to say that his first, unprompted recollection of the customer (expressed as vital statistics) was wide of the mark, but then press him and press him on the matter of the face, which he never spontaneously described, and then select just one of several people he said resembled the customer and declare you have an identification.

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Old 30th July 2010, 06:43 AM   #17
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The point Cuddles makes illustrates the blatant circular reasoning that was going on.

Tony Gauci never gave a positive identification of Megrahi as the purchaser. His best effort, at the identity parade in 1999 was, "Not exactly the man I saw in my shop. But the man who looks a little bit exactly like, is [Megrahi]." His written statement only says Megrahi is the one who looks most like the purchaser, of the men in the identity parade. He had had in his possession a magazine photograph of Megrahi, identifying him as the alleged bomber, until only four days before that parade, and in fact Megrahi's picture was all over the media as one of the accused. To quote Prof. Valentine, "Anybody who viewed these pictures several times over the period of time they were available to Anthony Gauci could have identified Mr. al-Megrahi from a subsequent lineup or photospread."

At the identity parade there were 7 stand-ins. Most of these were not in fact plausible stand-ins - the youngest man would have been only 21 at the time of the purchase 11 years earlier (said to have been made by a man of 50) and Megrahi, said all along to have been too young to be the purchaser, was the oldest-but-one of the entire group (the one older man was only 2 years older). Actually knowing which man to pick, given this line-up and the previous exposure to photographs, would have been a piece of cake. But Tony only said, well, I'm not sure, this is the man who looks most like the purchaser.

The judges appreciated that, but nevertheless went on to declare that this identification of Megrahi was "beyond reasonable doubt". Why? Because it "fitted a pattern".

The date decided on for the purchase having taken place was 7th December, in spite of Tony's evidence as to the day being a much better fit for 23rd November. Why? Because Megrahi was on Malta on 7th December but definitely elsewhere on 23rd November.

It was decided that tray B8849 on the Frankfurt computer baggage printout was indeed "beyond reasonable doubt" an unaccompanied bag from the Malta flight, even though coding anomalies at Frankfurt were agreed to happen, and the baggage records from the Malta end provided unbreakable evidence that no such bag existed. Why? Because Megrahi was passing through Malta airport at the time that flight was checking in.

Anybody seeing a pattern here?

Megrahi seems to have been the victim of a coincidence. The clothes were bought in Malta, and the apparent coding anomaly at Frankfurt seemed to point to there having been an unaccompanied bag on the Malta-Frankfurt flight. The detectives got very excited about that, and there's a very strong suspicion that this theory was welcome in principle because it took the heat off both Heathrow and Frankfurt airports, each of whom had been trying to blame the other for the best part of a year, and that wasn't pretty I can tell you.

It was then discovered that one of the passengers who was passing through the airport at Malta at the relevant time was a Libyan JSO officer travelling under cover - Megrahi. Certain other features of the evidence also tended to suggest Libyan involvement, though as Libya was at that time supplying munitions to most of the world's terrorist groups, it's questionable how signficant that really was. And Tony's original description of the purchaser had included his impression that he was Libyan.

It's pretty understandable that the detectives got very excited and believed they had their man. The trouble was, they hadn't. He didn't buy the clothes. There was no unaccompanied bag on that flight. And the evidence from the airport showed that Megrahi had been merely passing through, had never gone airside, and had had no opportunity to put anything on the Frankfurt flight.

However, by this time they were so sure they were right, they didn't give up. Vincent Cannistraro invented this ridiculous conspiracy theory that the ground staff at Malta were all suborned by the Libyan government and had falsified the paperwork to conceal the extra bag - there was never a shred of evidence to support this though. The Scottish cops embarked on a campaign to get Tony to say the purchaser was Megrahi anyway, and the FBI hovered around that with heavy hints about large amounts of money if it all went the right way. And the CIA got hold of Giaka and told him in no uncertain terms to give them information to incriminate Megrahi and Fhimah in Lockerbie, or else.

They also seem not to have realised what an improbable conspiracy they were actually alleging - the conspicuous purchase of traceable clothes, in the very town where the fiendishly clever plan was going to get the bomb on the plane without ever being detected. The clothes purchaser also showing his face at the airport at the crucial time, for no known reason. A three-flight hop, in winter, relying on the bag not getting lost, and the flights not being disrupted due to bad weather or similar. The bag routed through Frankfurt, which had a computer system that should have made the bag east to trace back (if all the records hadn't vanished), and where the luggage was all x-rayed by an operative specifically alert for bombs disguised as radio-cassette players. The impossibility of choosing the location of the bag in the final baggage container on PA103, when the small amount of explosive made positioning right up against the hull absolutely imperative. And the inexplicable setting of the digital timer for 7pm, when the plane could easily still have been on the tarmac due to weather or traffic problems, even though the flight time was well over seven hours (had been due to touch down at 01.40am, GMT).

Giaka's evidence was thrown out. If it had been thrown out before the start of court proceedings, there would have been no court proceedings, because the remainder was tenuous in the extreme despite all the efforts. However, the judges decided to buy it, by that process of circular reasoning I've outlined, which can be summarised as "we can't believe his presence in the airport that day was just a coincidence, after all that!"

Banging Megrahi up on this evidence was bad enough. Dragging out the appeal process until he developed a fatal illness before it came to court was worse. Blackmailing him to drop the appeal so that he could get home before he died was unconscionable. And turning him into an international hate figure because BP had a drilling accident in the Gulf of Mexico is something I don't really have words for.

Rolfe.
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Old 30th July 2010, 07:12 AM   #18
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What I would say about the above, is that it is the non-conspiracy theory version. The version where it's just another regrettable example of police and prosecutors being too keen on what seems to be a promising theory, and manufacturing and/or distorting evidence to support it.

This is not the only possible explanation for the affair.

Next up is the obvious one. The police and prosecutors actually realised they were barking up the wrong tree, but went right on barking because they didn't see another tree handy. In my opinion it's a bit of one, a bit of the other. Some of the people involved probably believed he was "really guilty" all along and the sexing-up of the evidence was simply being done in order to achieve justice. However others must surely have realised they were on the wrong track. I suspect they may have rationalised this by saying, well he was a Libyan JSO officer so he was probably a terrorist anyway, even if he had nothing to do with Lockerbie.

But beyond that there is other stuff. Two pieces of evidence with extraordinarily suspect provenance, leading to very strong suspicions they were planted. Persistent turning away from evidence pointing strongly to this having been a Palestinian operation, paid for by Iran - even to allegations that this was agreed on at presidential/prime ministerial level. Very strong suspicions of a large-scale cover-up at Frankfurt airport, in which the German police may have been involved.

These lead to the actual conspiracy theory (or theories) of Lockerbie, which are that Megrahi wasn't just framed because he was the only suspect handy, but because something else is being determinedly covered up. Theories as to exactly what that is, then vary.

I think it is extraordinarily important to distinguish these two aspects.

I think the fact that Megrahi was framed is beyond any reasonable doubt. (And I have no idea whether being a JSO officer in the 1980s inevitably implies involvement in terrorism, and we have precisely zero evidence to that effect.) I have quite strong suspicions that the cover-up version may be real, and that's where the investigation actually gets interesting.

However, it's quite difficult to look sensibly at any of that, until the basic premise that Megrahi didn't do it and the bomb was not carried on the Malta-Frankfurt flight is understood.

Rolfe.
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Old 30th July 2010, 09:40 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by Rolfe View Post
If you were sitting where I'm sitting right now, watching Newsnight, and Gavin Esler blandly going on about this bomber who was obviously given a wrong prognosis, and these poor families who are so upset that the man who killed their loved ones is free (he was interviewing Alex Salmond, and the BBC is virulently anti-SNP), you wouldn't be so sure.

Here's the gory details. BBC presenter "speaking nonsense" over Megrahi release.

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Old 30th July 2010, 04:46 PM   #20
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I vaguely wonder, if I'd entitled this thread "US government framed an innocent Moslem for crashing an airliner full of Americans into buildings" I'd have got more of a response?

I'm probably going to have to start alleging fabrication of evidence pointing to Libya and deliberate suppression of evidence pointing to Iran, in order to cover up the fact that the disaster was caused by a CIA operation that went wrong, before anyone will pay any attention....

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Old 30th July 2010, 06:36 PM   #21
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No offence Rolf, you are a very good poster (even if we occasionally disagree).
But no-one cares.
If they had hanged the wrong man and proven him innocent that would have been something. But all we see is a guy that got away with mass homicide and is living it up at home.

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Old 30th July 2010, 06:47 PM   #22
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Originally Posted by Caustic Logic View Post
By normal standards I've seen widely cited in JREF discussions, this defies the usual definition of a "real conspiracy." These are almost always exposed, except maybe in Russia or something where the state runs the media. And that's not the case in the UK or US.

So... anyone want to champion that obvious point?
I suspect the faitly slow speed at which things moved helped. By the time guy came to trial the wider public appear have had only limited interest so much of the media stuck to the straightforward approach of reporting rehashed press releases mixed with speculation that a not proven verdic would be returned. Pre trial things were probably kept quiet by people assuming the CIA knew more than it admitted (and this still may be keeping some players from taking an interest).
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Old 30th July 2010, 11:23 PM   #23
Caustic Logic
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Originally Posted by geni View Post
I suspect the faitly slow speed at which things moved helped. By the time guy came to trial the wider public appear have had only limited interest so much of the media stuck to the straightforward approach of reporting rehashed press releases mixed with speculation that a not proven verdic would be returned. Pre trial things were probably kept quiet by people assuming the CIA knew more than it admitted (and this still may be keeping some players from taking an interest).
A few typos but I got it. So the slow build-up helped sneak the thing through - not too much shadiness at once to tip people off? Or like the frog in heating water?

While we might find reasons this was able to buck the trend, I was atleast as much being a little smart-ass about that prevailing ethos - it could be called the Watergate effect. If there's no Woodward and Bernstein moment where everyone learns and accepts the truth, then there's no conspiracy. Of course we've had Paul Foot (and Lester Coleman for that matter), just their findings haven't been accepted as true.

I guess we could say if there was a way to sneak through a coverup-frameup of this scale, the prospects of other large conspiracies existing in secret could be higher than most think.
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Old 30th July 2010, 11:43 PM   #24
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Originally Posted by A.A.Alfie View Post
No offence Rolf, you are a very good poster (even if we occasionally disagree).
But no-one cares.
If they had hanged the wrong man and proven him innocent that would have been something. But all we see is a guy that got away with mass homicide and is living it up at home.
Do you mean that in the sense of "All the public perceives ...." ?
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Old 30th July 2010, 11:58 PM   #25
Caustic Logic
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Originally Posted by A.A.Alfie View Post
No offence Rolf, you are a very good poster (even if we occasionally disagree).
But no-one cares.
If they had hanged the wrong man and proven him innocent that would have been something. But all we see is a guy that got away with mass homicide and is living it up at home.
Thanks for mentioning this mindset. "No one cares" clearly isn't correct, but perhaps "very few people" would be. Or rather, they don't care the wrong man was imprisoned and hated (not hanged, and not legally "proven" innocent). Most people are too busy caring very much that, as you put it, "a guy that got away with mass homicide and is living it up at home." People love clear-cut villains and black-and-white reasons to get angry. Real-world complexity, like that guy perhaps being innocent, really rains on those parades, so they do try not to hear it.

Rolfe, I appreciate your fine-tuning of this as different kinds of conspiracy theories but it's just too noodly for me at the moment. It's partly the forum and how I'm so not needed here, relative to audiences closer to home. I am still following, more or less. Awesome letter to the Herald.
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Old 31st July 2010, 12:21 AM   #26
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Originally Posted by GlennB View Post
Do you mean that in the sense of "All the public perceives ...." ?
Pretty much, and what CL said too: I may have been a tad black and white - unintended.
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Old 31st July 2010, 03:35 AM   #27
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I appreciate that indeed it appears that not many seem to care, but what gnaws me is, why? Why does the unimaginable manner of the 270 deaths that happened over and in Lockerbie not matter? Why indeed did the deaths of those 290 over the persian gulf not matter? Why does it not matter that two Libyan's were indicted, resulting in severe economic sanctions being placed upon a whole nation causing tens of thousands of deaths through shortages of medical supplies that we take for granted, and then doesn't really matter that the whole indictment and conviction was based on, at best, threadbare assumptions, and more likely skewed evidence and witnesses? What have we become when these matters are of no consequence?
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Old 31st July 2010, 03:55 AM   #28
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Originally Posted by Buncrana View Post
I appreciate that indeed it appears that not many seem to care, but what gnaws me is, why? Why does the unimaginable manner of the 270 deaths that happened over and in Lockerbie not matter? Why indeed did the deaths of those 290 over the persian gulf not matter? Why does it not matter that two Libyan's were indicted, resulting in severe economic sanctions being placed upon a whole nation causing tens of thousands of deaths through shortages of medical supplies that we take for granted, and then doesn't really matter that the whole indictment and conviction was based on, at best, threadbare assumptions, and more likely skewed evidence and witnesses? What have we become when these matters are of no consequence?
Oh, they care, in this mechanized way. They get mad that those people were murdered, and point their anger right where they think it belongs without swerve. That kind of anger is not compatible with re-thinking things. Relativism is soft. Justice should be hard. (how the point of anger was first secured is of no import).

And at the end, I've yet to see anyone acknowledge a real weakness in the case and also profess to not care. It's the caring and something else, I suspect, that makes them unable to grasp or consider that possibility.

"It simply must be true, for the heavy price on Libya to have been just, and we ARE just."

Their brains go fuzzy when the questions come up, and they remain effectively unaware. So... they have the old anger-certainty thing, and a lack of care about those fuzzy, probably weak "questions" that one guy mentioned.

"Tony Gauci and Mr. Giaka paid millions? So what? There were fifty other witnesses who saw it all and weren't paid, it was proven..."

It's a scale of cognitive dissonance worthy of a good study, or comparison to Orwell's writings, or maybe Stalin's USSR. #1 is that the victims' families (here) are ironclad behind the government story. People follow the families, apparently not realizing that they too can and surely would be led.
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Old 31st July 2010, 06:26 AM   #29
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Originally Posted by A.A.Alfie View Post
No offence Rolf, you are a very good poster (even if we occasionally disagree).
But no-one cares.
If they had hanged the wrong man and proven him innocent that would have been something. But all we see is a guy that got away with mass homicide and is living it up at home.

Maybe Caustic Logic has understood this in a way I find difficult.

I take it you'e saying "we" meaning people in America? In this forum, we have a lot of people with a lot of time to spend debunking conspiracy theories that are frankly lunatic. Space beams and dustification and huge skyscrapers invisibly wired for demolition and "morphed" telephone calls and so on. Oddly, though, almost no one in the forum seems to care to debate this one.

Nobody in America cares that the man currently being turned into an international hate figure on his deathbed, was actually innocent. This is quite shocking, actually. I have to say that a lot of people in Scotland care - there are letters to the newspapers about it quite regularly, and a sizeable proportion of the population is aware that "he didn't do it" even if they couldn't explain in detail the reasoning.

Caustic Logic suggests that it's all about justifying the way Libya was treated during the 1990s. He can't be innocent, because otherwise we're guilty of atrocious behaviour.

I don't buy it. I don't imagine most people in America are even aware what was done to Libya in the 1990s on account of this. And even if they are, I suspect there would be a lot of justification to the effect that the country deserved it anyway even if Lockerbie wasn't one of its crimes.

I think that was a lot of the reason for bringing in the conviction in the first place - the judges can't have been unaware of the ramifications, and that if they brought a not guilty verdict then it would imply a huge wrong had been done to a whole country. So they decided to do a huge wrong to one man instead.

I don't think the population of America is even aware of the evidence, or the obvious fact that this was a frame-up. What I find surprising is that in this forum, when the subject is brought up, it is ignored.

Not debunked, not challenged, not argued with, and certainly not agreed with. Just ignored. Odd.

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Old 31st July 2010, 06:55 AM   #30
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Originally Posted by Caustic Logic View Post
"It simply must be true, for the heavy price on Libya to have been just, and we ARE just."
....
It's a scale of cognitive dissonance worthy of a good study, or comparison to Orwell's writings, or maybe Stalin's USSR.
Originally Posted by Rolfe View Post

He can't be innocent, because otherwise we're guilty of atrocious behaviour.
All of which reminds of Lord Lane's attitude at the Birmingham Six appeal, which was (essentially) that if the defendants were innocent then the police were guilty of fabricating evidence, and we can't accept that our protectors could be so evil, therefore the Six must be guilty.

"Cognitive dissonance" is a pretty fair description of the attitude, but in the case of USA the sheer lack of any public debate suggests this dissonance is happening at the level of the news media and that the truth about Lockerbie isn't even being presented to the public.
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Old 31st July 2010, 07:19 AM   #31
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Originally Posted by Rolfe View Post

I don't think the population of America is even aware of the evidence, or the obvious fact that this was a frame-up.
The population of the US is not aware of most things.

However, it's not unknown. Alexander Cockburn did a write up on it recently, he writes on counterpunch.com which is a pretty well read left political blog. But I can't see why it would generate much excitement. There was after all a conspiracy to fabricate evidence of WMD in Iraq that was used to justify an invasion and occupation of the country which took place in broad daylight so to speak and had infinitely greater consequence. There is the finance conspiracy to de-industrialize and bankrupt the US (ref. Hudson). There is the conspiracy to turn the US into a third world country racially (ref. MacDonald). There is the current conspiracy to attack Iran that even has a house resolution, #1553, attached to it. So, the Lockerbie prosecution conspiracy pales by comparison to these conspiracy which are having dramatic effects on everyday life.
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Old 31st July 2010, 07:30 AM   #32
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Considering that it's likely Iran was the guilty party in Lockerbie (commissioned and paid for it rather than hands-on), I'm mildly surprised nobody has seen the potential though.

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Old 31st July 2010, 07:36 AM   #33
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Originally Posted by Saggy View Post
However, it's not unknown. Alexander Cockburn did a write up on it recently, he writes on counterpunch.com which is a pretty well read left political blog. But I can't see why it would generate much excitement.

Screaming vindictive hate against an innocent man is just something that can go on being done "without generating much excitement"?

I appreciate your points about other conspiracies, though I'm not familiar with some of what you mention. However, the extraordinarily high profile of this case over recent weeks makes the "don't care" attitude quite astonishing. People do know we were lied to about the WMD, and we know there was a conspiracy to do that. We're quite narked about it. But what can you do, right now? It's water under the bridge.

This one's different. I find it quite inexplicable that people demonising a man dying of cancer could take note that he didn't commit the crime they're demonising him for, and then get right back to spewing hate about the "Lockerbie bomber".

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Old 2nd August 2010, 12:42 AM   #34
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You know, this could be an awesome thread, pulling on the strengths of our previous threads. This is pretty much the core assertion of it all, the master conspiracy theory, that U.S. authorities framed al Megrahi. I feel plenty of parties in the UK went right along, and a few folks (Feraday and I think Harry Bell especially, aside from the top few) took leading positions in the fabrication of a new storyline. But clearly it was an American-led operation, and no surprise Americans - both in an out of government - have the hardest time grasping that concept as even a distant possibility.

I know going excessively CT with planted evidence is a turn-off to many, but darn it, the threads here have borne the notion out repeatedly, and so it deserves to be said (with links to where it's explained if people think that's crazy.) Strategically,of course.

And so we (the forum, by collective action) have established (just the first few):
Problems with the Libyan timer fragment - discrepancies in its host fragment's paperwork, and its own: Numbered out-of-order, the page numbering of the exam notes suggest back-dating. The fragment itself is reasonably unlikely to be possible, given the proximity to the accepted explosion magnitude. We've found many or all of the claims forwarded by the board's makers, MEBO, to be spurious. There's no sign of substitution mid-stream - the same fragment entered the evidence chain once only, by act of terror or by fraud. Other assorted points I don't recall at the moment.

Actually, that's all I should do for now. Would anyone else care to summarize some of the other threads? People who still actually believe the stoory the government elites and corporate media seem to believe without swerve? Can anyone so inclined skim the threads to gather and compile and polish the best counter-arguments? Or find the counter-info ANYWHERE else and bring it here? Sorry to be a little obnoxious- just shaking the tree again to see if any counter-fruit is ready to fall this time.

Threads:
http://www.internationalskeptics.com...ad.php?t=85523
http://www.internationalskeptics.com...d.php?t=155657
http://www.internationalskeptics.com...d.php?t=158909
http://www.internationalskeptics.com...d.php?t=163182
http://www.internationalskeptics.com...d.php?t=165404
http://www.internationalskeptics.com...d.php?t=165824
http://www.internationalskeptics.com...d.php?t=170711
http://www.internationalskeptics.com...d.php?t=178176
http://www.internationalskeptics.com...d.php?t=176962
http://www.internationalskeptics.com...d.php?t=179319

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Old 2nd August 2010, 12:56 AM   #35
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Originally Posted by GlennB View Post
All of which reminds of Lord Lane's attitude at the Birmingham Six appeal, which was (essentially) that if the defendants were innocent then the police were guilty of fabricating evidence, and we can't accept that our protectors could be so evil, therefore the Six must be guilty.

"Cognitive dissonance" is a pretty fair description of the attitude, but in the case of USA the sheer lack of any public debate suggests this dissonance is happening at the level of the news media and that the truth about Lockerbie isn't even being presented to the public.
Exactly. However it's controlled, the debate and the public mind is just locked in a certain mode, and it happens from the top. It puts the lie to the vaunted claims of such a free and open and just society. And I realize I'm about to go off a little, so here's a grain of salt. But the United States claims these amazing virtues in Nebraskan abundance as the reason that of COURSE we can exert special leadership of the world, invade, nuke, sanction, harrass, deceive, assassinate, overthrow nations and world leaders until they bend over and take it like we say.

Or, as the case may be, until they kick us in the balls so hard we erase that tape in embarrassment. And then film a new tape to start the cycle over again, wherever it's most expedient. Libya in this case.

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Old 2nd August 2010, 07:58 AM   #36
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I've posted some speculation about planted evidence and cover-ups on Robert Black's blog, which I might try to tidy up and post here. I see this as two parallel narratives of the case, and I'm unsure which to favour. Here.

On the one hand we have the relatively non-CT version, where the investigation stalled badly after it got to Malta, probably because the bomb was never anywhere near Malta and the investigators had been duped by the Maltese-bought clothes. Then a couple of coincidental facts came along reinforcing the idea of an apparently supernatural spiriting of the bomb on board KM180, and Megrahi, who had the misfortune to be one of these coincidences, was duly fitted up. All by people who were only to happy to concentrate on Malta rather than Heathrow, for rather obvious reasons.

And then we have the other version. The one where we note that the provenance of the crucial piece of evidence which points away from the PFLP-CG and towards Libya (the timer fragment) appears to be a fabrication placed in the chain of evidence in September 1989 but with a restrospective provenance manufactured to trace it right back to a particular field in Roxburghshire in mid-January. And that the one piece of evidence which identifies the model of the radio-cassette player (also linked to Libya) simply could not have survived that explosion unless it had been thoroughly coated in asbestos, and itself seems to have been introduced into the chain of evidence in May 1989.

The version where we note that all the Frankfurt baggage records disappeared from under the noses of the German police within days of the incident, with no explanations or recriminations, and no sign of any frantic search to turn up any little bit of printout or back-up tape or floppy. Where the German police repeatedly rebuffed Scottish requests for any such baggage records, saying they didn't exist or had been destroyed, and relations between the two police forces were abysmal. The version where the Frankfurt airport security people were conspicuous by their absence, and nobody at all was asking any questions or giving instructions to preserve evidence. The version where Mrs. Erac's souvenir printout emerges from a black hole of incompetence or worse, eight months later, bearing exactly the evidence needed to support a Malta introduction of the bomb.

And we wonder what the hell was going on there.

Rolfe.
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Old 2nd August 2010, 08:29 AM   #37
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Note, I'm not saying that the non-CT simple frame-up and the Big Conspiracy theory are alternatives. Whichever way you slice it, the simple frame-up happened.

My point is that it's possible that's all there is to it. We could, in the end, be completely satisfied there was nothing else reprehensible going on bar a bunch of monumental incompetence, and drop it. Megrahi is still innocent.

On the other hand, underlying all that, there may be a genuine conspiracy to distort and divert the investigation. In my opinion this has more to do with diverting attention away from the PFLP-GC and Frankfurt, than with implicating Libya in general or Megrahi in particular.

The current raving cover-up may be no more than a cover-up of the simple frame-up, as investigators and justice systems go into overdrive to prevent scrutiny of the fact they colluded in a show trial that railroaded an innocent man. On the other hand, whatever it was that was being covered up in the first place may still be the driving force preventing us getting answers today.

This bit, I find intriguing. If any debunkers were interested.

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Old 2nd August 2010, 02:09 PM   #38
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This is a bit like how I formulated a "smart" approach to 9/11 yeeeaaars back. The MIHOP stuff, maybe, but either way LIHOP had to be part of an inside job, so we should focus on that.

Now, as I finally decided, that was more a standard conspiracy theory, in which the actual implementation is highly unlikely and the conspiracy theorists are on the outside, making stuff up and the official info wound up making way more sense all in all. This situation really seems to be that on its head - the CTists making things up are inside the walls of power, and the rationalists are outside, branded CTists.

I'm agreed the hardcore of it is that Megrahi is almost certainly innocent of the crime AND, the moral flip-side, someone ELSE did this atrocity and got away with it. That's the most important point however you get there, but you do need to get there.

I sometimes enjoy making the contextless but informed-sounding prophetic statement of innocence to baffle and frighten the natives here. But when it comes to explaining how this conclusion can be reached, it's a judgment call. First for me lately, the quashed appeal and questions why. If necessary, a reminder of the fallibility of verdicts, then the failings. Gauci usually comes first, then Giaka. We've got millions for misinformation right there, which is just improper even if it's not part of a master plan. I usually mention planted evidence in a qualified sense like "it seems all too likely, considering the physical details, ..." and might suggest an image search for PK/689 or link to that Newsnight episode from January.

It's a multi-front attack. Sincee I don't have a media echo chamber, got to use all strengths in the windows I get.

And still no counter-fruit here, huh? The debunkers here must be too "rational" to engage in this, like my new buddy Kaddafi Delenda Est. (see comments)
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Old 2nd August 2010, 02:38 PM   #39
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Oh dear. I feel dirty now.

I'm glad I'm not American, to be honest. Even the comments on the Hootsmon are light years better than that.

Rolfe.
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Old 2nd August 2010, 03:23 PM   #40
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I was thinking about this one and the Xanta challenge. Xanta is a mad homoeopath who occasionally trolls the JREF forums under varions hosiery guises. Her favourite challenge is, would you agree to watch your loved ones being horribly tortured to death if it were proved that homoeopathic remedies worked?

The answer to that, in context, is piss off troll. But it's an interesting thought experiment to see how convinced one is of a particular argument. I have to say I'm close on this one, that is on whether Abdelbaset al-Megrahi was involved in a plot to smuggle the bomb that blew up Pan Am 103 on to KM180 at Luqa. I can't see it as a rational possibility any way you slice it. Even if this was really a Libyan exercise, and Gadaffi's revenge for those US bombing raids, that wasn't how it was done.

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