"So, now as Libyan strongman Muammar Gaddafi reprises his old role as 'mad dog of the Middle East,' Americans are being prepped for another Middle East conflict by endlessly reading as flat fact that Libyan intelligence agents blew up Pan Am Flight 103 back in 1988.
"These articles never mention that there is strong doubt the Libyans had anything to do with the attack and that the 2001 conviction of Libyan agent Ali al-Megrahi was falling apart in 2009 before he was released on humanitarian grounds, suffering from prostate cancer.
"Though it's true that a Scottish court did convict Megrahi -- while acquitting a second Libyan -- the judgment appears to have been more a political compromise than an act of justice. One of the judges told Dartmouth government professor Dirk Vandewalle about 'enormous pressure put on the court to get a conviction.'
"After the testimony of a key witness was discredited, the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission agreed in 2007 to reconsider Megrahi's conviction out of a strong concern that it was a miscarriage of justice. However, again due to intense political pressure, that review was proceeding slowly in 2009 when Scottish authorities agreed to release Megrahi on medical grounds.- Advertisement -
"Megrahi dropped his appeal in order to gain an early release in the face of a terminal cancer diagnosis, but that doesn't mean he was guilty. He has continued to assert his innocence and an objective press corps would reflect the doubts regarding his conviction."
But today, the United States has anything but an objective press corps. That should be obvious when you contrast the U.S. media's certitude about Megrahi's guilt last year -- when outrage over the Lockerbie bombing was crucial in lining up public acquiescence to another Middle East war -- against the nuanced doubts noted in Megrahi's New York Times obit on Monday.