During the six-month uprising against Muammar Gaddafi, major U.S. news outlets repeated again and again that the Libyan dictator was behind the 1988 bombing of Pan Am 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, and they ignored warnings that militant Islamists were at the core of the anti-Gaddafi rebel army.
Indeed, for Americans to get alternative views on these points, they had to search out Web sites, like Consortiumnews.com, which had the audacity not to march in lockstep with the rest of the Western media. Only outside the mainstream press would you find significant questions asked about the certainty over Libya's guilt in the Pan Am bombing and about the makeup of the rebels.
Now, after the United States and its NATO allies have engineered the desired "regime change" in Libya -- under the pretext of "protecting civilians" -- those two points are coming more into focus.
The New York Times and the Washington Post on Thursday finally acknowledged that radical Islamists, including some with links to al-Qaeda, are consolidating their power inside the new regime in Tripoli.
And, the proverbial dog not barking -- even as Libya's secret intelligence files have been exposed to the eyes of Western journalists -- is the absence of any incriminating evidence regarding Libya's role in the Lockerbie case. Earlier interrogations of Libya's ex-intelligence chief Moussa Koussa by Scottish authorities also apparently came up empty, as he was allowed to leave London for Qatar.
Since Gaddafi's fall, news outlets also have reported that Libyan intelligence agent, Ali al-Megrahi, who was convicted of the Lockerbie bombing by a Scottish court and was later released on humanitarian grounds because of terminal prostate cancer, is indeed gravely ill, bedridden and seemingly near death.
Megrahi's trial in 2001 before a panel of Scottish judges was more a kangaroo court than any serious effort to determine guilt -- even a Scottish appeals court expressed concern about a grave miscarriage of justice -- but the Western press continues to describe Megrahi, without qualification, as the "Lockerbie bomber."
It also was common in the West's news media to smirk at the notion that Megrahi was truly suffering from advanced prostate cancer since he hadn't died as quickly as some doctors thought he might. After Gaddafi's regime fell, Megrahi's family invited BBC and other news organizations to see Megrahi struggling to breathe in his sick bed.
His son, Khaled al-Megrahi, also continued to insist on his father's innocence. "He believes and we know that everybody will see the truth," the younger Megrahi told the BBC. "I know my father is innocent and one day his innocence will come out."
Asked about the people who died in the bombing, the son said: "We feel sorry about all the people who died. We want to know who did this bad thing. We want to know the truth as well."
Convicted or Railroaded?
As more information becomes available inside Libya, the facts may finally be clarified about whether Gaddafi's government did or did not have a hand in the bombing over Lockerbie. However, so far, the indications are that Megrahi may well have been railroaded by the Scottish judges who found a second Libyan defendant innocent and were under political pressure to convict someone for the crime.
After Megrahi's curious conviction, the West imposed harsh economic sanctions on Libya, agreeing to lift them only if Libya accepted "responsibility" for the bombing and paid restitution to the families of the 270 victims. To get rid of the punishing sanctions, Libya accepted the deal although its officials continued to insist that Libya had nothing to do with the Lockerbie bombing.
However, amid this year's propaganda campaign in support of the Libyan rebels, none of this uncertainty was mentioned in the New York Times, the Washington Post or other leading U.S. news outlets. Gaddafi's guilt for Lockerbie was simply stated as flat fact, much as the same news organizations endorsed false claims about Iraq's WMD in the run-up to the 2003 invasion of that Arab country.
Similarly, there was scant U.S. media attention given to evidence that eastern Libya, the heart of the anti-Gaddafi rebellion, was a hotbed for Islamic militancy with that region supplying the most per-capita militants fighting U.S. troops in Iraq, often under the banner of al-Qaeda.
Instead, Gaddafi's claims that he was battling Islamic terrorists in the Benghazi region were widely mocked or ignored in the West. Even a report by analysts Joseph Felter and Brian Fishman for West Point's Combating Terrorism Center got short-shrift.
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