The Lockerbie Bombing: The Search for Justice

Mar 24, 2017

In 1988, a bomb detonated on Pan Am 103, killing all on board and devastating the Scottish town of Lockerbie. A Libyan was convicted of the crime. His subsequent release from prison and deportation to Libya caused an international controversy. Kenny MacAskill explains his decision to release him and the complex intrigues involved in this case.


JOANNE MYERS: Good evening, everyone. I'm Joanne Myers, director of Public Affairs Programs. I'm sitting in for my colleague David Speedie tonight, who organized this program, but unfortunately he couldn't be with us.

Our guest is Kenny MacAskill, who was until recently a Scottish National Party politician, member of the Scottish Parliament for Edinburgh Eastern, and former cabinet secretary for justice in the Scottish government. Mr. MacAskill will be discussing his book The Lockerbie Bombing: The Search for Justice. It is a fascinating read. It reads like a whodunit.

As many of you may recall, on December 21, 1988, Pan Am Flight 103 departed London Heathrow for New York. Shortly after takeoff a bomb detonated, killing 270 people including 11 on the ground, devastating the small Scottish town of Lockerbie.

The trial did not begin until May 2000, and that was 11 years, four months, and 13 days after the destruction of Pan Am Flight 103. After a 36-week trial, Scottish judges sitting in the Netherlands on an unused American airbase near Utrecht convicted only one man for the crime, Abdelbaset al-Megrahi.

To many people the verdict did not make sense then, and subsequent revelations have only reinforced a widespread belief that al-Megrahi was a victim of a shocking miscarriage of justice. In 2009 a request was made by Libya for his release. Dying of cancer, Mr. al-Megrahi was, under Scottish law, released from prison on compassionate grounds.

Mr. MacAskill, who was justice secretary at the time, had sole discretionary authority under Scottish law to grant or deny that request. He authorized the release and takes sole responsibility for his decision. Al-Megrahi flew home to Tripoli with Gaddafi's son, Saif, to a hero's welcome. He died there two years later in 2012.

The decision at the time attracted significant news coverage, engendering widespread celebration in Libya. However, his release met with a largely hostile reaction in the United States and a more equally divided reaction in Britain. Questions about the trial and its outcome continue to this day.

With the publication of The Lockerbie Bombing, Mr. MacAskill explains his decision and the international dimensions involved, which includes the commercial and security interests that ran in the background throughout the investigation and trial. This will be the focus of his conversation this evening.

In a previous interview, Mr. MacAskill, you said, and I quote: "I have to say I think this is my opportunity to tell people what happened. There are a lot of things out there that people want to know, and I think I'm entitled to do that. That's how I see it. I think this is a matter more of setting the record straight."

So in the next 30 minutes or so we invite you to do just that, after which we will encourage our audience to raise any questions that may be on your mind. Perhaps we can begin by having you add anything that I may have left out in my introductory remarks.


KENNY MacASKILL: Well, I think just maybe a point of clarification, because you talked about the hero's reception, and we're in an age of false facts. That was a false fact. I remember being in my flat watching it, and I too was perturbed because I thought, Here comes a problem. It was only when I started researching the book that I realized that there was no hero's reception.

I had always been surprised, because I'd listened to the British ambassador in Tripoli saying, "No, no, there was no hero's reception." What I found out from a former State Department official, and indeed confirmed by WikiLeaks, what happened was that there were two separate events. Gaddafi—presumably it was Gaddafi—conjoined them through television because not only had we in the Scottish government said to the Libyans, "Look, you've got to be respectful to the victims' families," but the State Department, through John Brennan and others, said, "You better be respectful to the victims' families and there better be no celebration."

What happened was that he was met by Saif Gaddafi. But the crowd scenes that we saw were in fact a separate scene, an incident that took place at [Tripoli's] Tahrir Square, the equivalent of something down at the very bottom of Manhattan, where people did not know what it was. They were celebrating something entirely different. But of course, when they were merged on TV, it made it look—and, indeed, Gaddafi did it himself. The only thing I have to say is—and it made me extremely cynical—David Miliband, the foreign secretary for Britain, knew that; President Obama knew that. Of course, it suited both of their agendas to say that it was shocking and that the Scots had been patsies and we had allowed this to happen.

But there was no hero's reception. They agreed to a de minimus meeting. Saif Gaddafi did meet al-Megrahi. But the cheering scenes that you saw of crowds, they had an idea of what they were celebrating, but it wasn't the release of al-Megrahi because they did not know; it was something entirely separate. So that's the only point of clarification.

The only other thing to say is—and I understand why for victims it's the "Lockerbie bombing"—but the one thing I've become clear in researching this, because that's only part of my life—I was justice secretary for seven-and-a-half years and it took up almost all of it—Lockerbie was a whole series of events. It was a process. It didn't start on the 21st of December and end with the trial. It started long before that.

People in Britain and in America sometimes forget terrorism didn't start with 9/11. Before that you had players with different names. You can take your Islamic State of Iraq and Syria/Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS/ISIL), al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, and you can insert the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine – General Command (PFLP-GC), Red Army Faction. You go back to bombings and attacks that took place in airports in Vienna and Rome. They were precursors.

And on it went. There was an attack by a terrorist group; there was a retaliation by the West. There was an attack by a terrorist group; there was a retaliation by the West. There was an attack by a terrorist group; there was the USS Vincennes in July of 1988. That was the precursor for the events on the 21st of December, 1988.

Nor did it end with the trial, because the West wanted access to Libya because they wanted to have a strategic interest and a bulwark against the rise of Islamic terrorism in Jaffa and places like that. Because of things like Babcock & Wilcox, Marathon Oil, British Petroleum (BP), Halliburton—all were wanting their share of the natural resources because Libya was hurting with sanctions—they came together and the trial was agreed in the Netherlands. The West and Libya subsequently fell out, but then they wanted to get back together again.

What you find is in the situation in 2007, in the prisoner transfer agreement, BP and Halliburton were going head-to-head. And indeed, before that—I don't have time because it'll interfere in other things—in 2004, three years before I became justice secretary, Tony Blair embraced Gaddafi for the "deal in the desert."

The following day—I put this in because people say my decision was based on oil; we got nothing out of this, and I got nothing out of this—three years before I became justice secretary, day one Blair embraced Gaddafi; day two Shell signed a deal for $550 million; day three MI6 rendered a Libyan dissident to the CIA, who returned him to Gaddafi, and it was the start of a rendition process that was ongoing where many people were returned to be tortured and abused by Gaddafi. This idea that the Scottish government were patsies who embraced al-Megrahi—it was President Obama who shook his hand in July of 2009; it was Secretary of State Clinton who said to the al-Megrahi family, I think it was in May of 2009, "We can do business"; Gordon Brown shook his hand.

So I stand by what we did in Scotland.

But this bombing was a series of events. It was a personal tragedy for all of the families involved, whether they were in America or whether they were in Scotland. But it straddles 45 years.

JOANNE MYERS: How did you become involved? Twenty years after this incident happened, you entered the scene. You were justice minister at the time, so I guess that's one way.

KENNY MacASKILL: It was almost Whitsun. I had just become justice secretary in 2007, and Britain and Libya decided to enter into a prisoner transfer agreement. It was the only prisoner transfer agreement that the United Kingdom ever entered into where an application could be made not simply by the prisoner but by the nation-state. Scotland had one prisoner who was a Libyan national. We have only ever had one prisoner who was a Libyan national.

As soon as the United Kingdom sought to enter into a prisoner transfer agreement with Libya to transfer Libyan prisoners, or indeed bring Scottish prisoners back—we did bring a lot of prisoners back, but it was usually Scottish drug traffickers from Peru or from Spain. We never brought back people from Libya because they were all working hard in the oil industry and behaving themselves.

So the United Kingdom sought to enter into a prisoner transfer agreement. Jack Straw, who was the justice secretary, was quite clear to me. He said, "We're doing it because it's critical for a deal for BP."

Now, I know America has been very critical about the deal for oil because that's what Jack Straw was trying to do. What I would say—and I'm not here to defend Jack Straw because I'm not an admirer of his in any shape or form because he was the one responsible for returning the people for torture, and he is being pursued in courts in London—I was told they were going head-to-head with Halliburton. I don't know what would have happened if the deal hadn't gone to BP and the deal had gone to Halliburton. Would that have made it less acceptable, more acceptable, or whatever?

So there were commercial interests behind this as well as strategic interests, because you've also got to remember Gaddafi got this. I was being pilloried, I remember, in September of 2009, for having returned him.

The police service of Northern Ireland were sent over in September 2009 to train Gaddafi's elite brigade. Why do you get the police service of Northern Ireland? Because what police service in Western Europe is better trained in dealing with counterinsurgency than the police service of Northern Ireland? America was providing munitions but at a low level; Britain was providing ammunition. So there were commercial deals going on there.

What I have to say is I was picked for the position of the prisoner transfer agreement. I have to say I investigated it. The person who was most helpful was actually Eric Holder, the former attorney general. He was quite clear that there had been a deal done. I have to back up and say I would normally grant a prisoner transfer agreement, and I would do so because I think prisoners should serve their sentences where their communities are.

I always remember meeting Gerry Conlon, who was one of the prisoners fixed up by the British for the Birmingham Six. I remember him telling me how him and his father were in prisons in England and they used to put them in different prisons. They did it deliberately so that his mother, who wanted to meet her husband and her son, couldn't possibly do it. I can remember the pain in him, and I said, "Look, you know, prisoners should be where their families are. The families haven't committed an offense, and the families should be able to access them." So I would normally grant the prisoner transfer agreement.

But I refused this one because Eric Holder was quite clear that Britain and America, brokered by the United Nations because—let's remember, when the trial came about in the Netherlands, that's the first and only trial that Scotland has ever carried out outside of our jurisdiction—it wasn't pursued by us; it was the United Nations on behalf of Western interests that were driving it.

America wanted the trial in America, and Libya went, "No way." The option then was a trial in a neutral country, and the Libyans were worried about that. They were prepared to have it under Scots law but wanted it in a neutral venue, and that's why you got a trial under Scots law carried out in the Netherlands.

It was a deal brokered by Kofi Annan in which the British and the Americans entered into and signed agreements. There were two agreements: (1) there would be no regime change, which meant Gaddafi got a "get out of jail" card; (2) those below him wouldn't be, and the patsies who would be offered up were Fhimah and al-Megrahi, because the Scottish prosecution authorities wanted to pursue an awful lot more further up the tree than these relatively low-grade individuals who were put forward.

But another clause said that if the prisoners were convicted, they would serve their sentence in a Scottish prison. So on that basis, I refused to grant the prisoner transfer application because it superseded what would normally be my desire to return—whether it was Gerry Conlon or whether it was al-Megrahi, a prisoner should be back with their own people, and I'll bring Scots girls back from Peru and I send back ETA prisoners to Spain or whatever. That's what it was.

JOANNE MYERS: Scottish law had nothing to do with al-Megrahi's guilt or innocence, correct?

KENNY MacASKILL: Oh, no, it was. It was done under Scots law. It was done under Scots in a court in the Netherlands.

JOANNE MYERS: And the authority to release him was also done under Scottish law?

KENNY MacASKILL: Under Scots law.

JOANNE MYERS: Okay. The subtitle of your book is The Search for Justice. As the release of Mr. al-Megrahi is still swirled in controversy, I think what often happens is that the idea of what is morally right or wrong is often confused with justice, which is what is legally right or wrong.

Could you talk a little bit about this and how that maybe influenced your decision?

KENNY MacASKILL: Well, that was the point we were talking earlier. I am a lawyer. You trained in law as well. Law is meant to be about justice. Sometimes, as justice secretary, the hardest thing was to meet with people where the law had not served them justice. Sometimes that's what happens, because law is also a system of rules. It's meant to get it right, but sometimes it doesn't get it right. I have no doubt it's the same in America. The justice secretary will have to meet individuals and say, "We're very sorry. It didn't work out there."

Equally, the laws are also supposed to represent the values of your country. I have to say we have compassionate release. I explained why I believe that people should always serve their sentence and that's why I would return prisoners.

I have to say people never came back to America. There was a prisoner I was trying to send back to America, but because of the period which he would have spent in prison, they declined my willingness to return him here and he chose to spend that time in Scotland. Equally, we'd bring them back. But I digress.

Equally, the same is for compassionate release. I believe prisoners' families have committed no crime. I believe that people have the right to some dignity in death, no matter what it is that they have done. I believe they should have the opportunity to make their peace with their family and their family should also have that opportunity with them.

So I have to say in Scotland we do have compassionate release. I have to say every application that meets the criteria—and the criteria is not an individual whim. It's not a matter for me saying, "Joanne, you're out on compassionate release." It doesn't work that way. There is a clear set of criteria and laws that were made long before I became the justice secretary. If that criteria is met—and it's not a decision triggered by me; it's decided by the prison service—then every application prior to my becoming justice secretary was granted, every application that came to me I granted, and every application that has gone before my successor has been granted.

I do accept that al-Megrahi lived far longer than the period of time. I think there were reasons for that, and I can comment on that. But I actually believe that compassionate release is the right thing.

I did get phone calls. Al-Megrahi was in a different circumstance. People were dying in hospitals and they were convicted of reprehensible offenses. I don't think that's how they should spend their dying days. I think their families should be able to go in. It is not as if they're going to jaunt out of hospital and do a jig down the road. They were too ill to do that. But I do think the families should be able to go in and have their final moments with them.

So that was the background there. Al-Megrahi met the criteria. I granted that. He lived way beyond the period of life expectancy, but there were reasons for that.

The first reason is probably, first and foremost, had he remained in a Scottish prison cell, he was not going to accept any treatment. He was away from his family. He had made it quite clear that he was ill. He knew he was terminally ill. He wasn't going to take any treatment that we were giving him, and I think death would have been fairly quick and sudden.

As it was, he was returned home. First of all, on returning home there was a drug—I've forgotten the name of it; I'm not very good with chemical compounds or whatever—that we didn't at that stage prescribe under the National Health Service (NHS) in Scotland, under which our prisoners are treated—we do now. But it does increase the longevity for those who have terminal prostate cancer. That was given to him.

Equally, he was provided with the best medical care that money can buy through the Gaddafi regime, who felt sorry for him because he had taken the rap for the country, so to speak.

And third, I think, it is also about the will to live. If you've got something to live for—you've got your grandson's birthday, you've got Christmas coming up—there is something in the human spirit. If you're remaining in a prison cell in a foreign land, you turn your head to the wall and you bow out pretty quickly.

I think what you can also say is there was no doubt he was a sick man. So he did live beyond the period of life expectancy, but there is nobody, I think, who denies that he was terminally ill with prostate cancer, and certainly in his dying days the footage showed a man who was feeling badly, and life was a bit of a misery, no doubt, for him.

That was the basis. We do have compassionate release in Scotland. I stand by it because I think there should be dignity in death.

Imprisonment—I was actually thinking about that because you mentioned it. I wrote a piece for a newspaper column I write in Scotland because there are different views on these things. It's not just between Scotland and America. I wrote in the newspaper column—I'd gone out for dinner once with my friend who was the consul-general for Sweden. And he told me when he was a senior prosecutor how his brother had been gunned down by an off-duty soldier in Sweden and he'd been sentenced to five years. We just about coughed and spluttered—"Five years? That's ridiculous." But that was the sentence in Sweden.

Some of you will remember Anders Breivik, who carried out the appalling atrocity, killing almost 80. They had to change their law because he wasn't going to be able to be imprisoned—I think he was going to get prison something like 15 or 20 years.

So that's the Scandinavian way. I have to say in Scotland we look at Scandinavia and go, "Five years for machine-gunning somebody? No way. In Scotland you'd get 15 to 20, maybe 25." And I have to say probably a prosecutor in America would say, "Fifteen to 20? You must be joking. You'd get 50 to 150."

So there are different perspectives there. Scotland takes perhaps a middle way. It's something that people in Sweden might find too severe; it's something people in America might find too lenient.

Certainly it would be fair to say that in Scotland sentences have been edging up because I think we have become a much more retributive society. I have to say I don't think it's made us any safer a society. The irony in Scotland is that the period of imprisonment has been rising at the time at which the level of criminality and offending has been declining. You would have thought, perceived wisdom would be, that if you're becoming a safer, better society you might become a more liberal society, but not so in Scotland.

I think there's a drive in Scotland by tabloid papers and by the media, as there is here. When somebody commits a dreadful offense, it's 20 years. I faced great challenges with knife offenses in Scotland, and we always held the minimum. I know in America it tends to be guns. In Scotland young men stab each other, and it was a significant problem when I was the justice secretary.

But I always remember we held the line because not everybody who carried a knife was a bad kid. I used to meet them in prison, and actually most of them carried a knife not because they were bad, but because they were scared. And I would say to them, "But you'll go to jail if you get caught." They'll say, "Yes, but before I get caught by a police officer I might meet somebody from a different gang and he will stab me, and if I don't have my knife I'll be dead."

So actually, the solution wasn't to ratchet up, because it wasn't fear of imprisonment that changed them; it was the belief that they wouldn't necessarily harm themselves. So actually holding the line.

But I just digress there because we had the opposition. One opposition party said six months mandatory for carrying a knife; the other one was saying two years for carrying a knife. Another member of Parliament was saying, "Why stop there? Why six months, two years? Why not five years, why not ten years, if that's what it's about?" It isn't solving the problem.

So as I say, compassionate release, I think that's a good thing. I'm also told that actually a lot of American states have it, and I think that's a good thing if states do it. Prisoner transfer agreements, I think that's the right thing.

Should people, our people in Scotland, go to jail and spend all their life there? Yes. Some people will stay and spend all their life in prison. Those are the ones who are too dangerous to be released because they're psychopaths, and until such time as they are too old and infirm we can't as a society allow them out. Prison, in my view, should be based on their risk to society, not necessarily simply on retribution.

JOANNE MYERS: Your decision to release al-Megrahi was based on the rules and values of Scotland at the time, 2009. So what you're saying is that the values have maybe evolved to a different standard now, eight years later, because crime has changed and you have to look at the reality on the ground; is that correct?

KENNY MacASKILL: No. The laws haven't changed. The laws have remained exactly the same.

JOANNE MYERS: But your thinking perhaps?

KENNY MacASKILL: A lot of this actually I think comes from the media. I used to face significant challenges as the justice secretary from people in the street who would say, "What are you doing about that murder?" I'd go, "What murder?" And of course, we live in a world of 24/7 news, and people would switch on their TV, and actually there would be a murder down in South London. And I would say, "That's not Scotland. That was London." But, of course, if you're an old lady and you switch on the TV and you see a murder, it doesn't really matter that it's in Brooklyn or the murder is down the street. You worry about it. So part of it is just the news agenda and the society in which we live affects matters.

But the laws remain exactly the same. My successor I think would do exactly the same as my predecessors would have done if the criteria was met. Indeed, we could have been challenged in court on the basis—it would be arguable—that we hadn't followed the position.

I think what I was trying to say in terms of changing things, society does view the judges—because I was watching CNN with the hearing for the Supreme Court nominee. Judges are humans. They live in a society. When they go in and put on their robe of office, they do swear to be separate from politics. But they live in our world, so they're affected as you or I are affected by it. They can't live in a vacuum or a bubble all the time. So if there's a mood swing in society, it clearly affects them, and we see that. That's why laws ebb and flow. I just tend to think that at the present moment, certainly some things in Scotland have gone the wrong way. But the position remains there exactly the same as it was.

Equally, what I can say, and I'll be brutally frank about this—I say it in the book—we would not have allowed al-Megrahi to die in a Scottish prison cell. We would have Medivac-ed him out if it looked like he was on his way out. Whether it would have been a helicopter, whether it would have been a plane, he was going out, because there was no way, as justice secretary with responsibility to the people of Scotland, to whom who serve in our prison service, who serve in our police service.

When I look at what has happened in the streets of Paris or Brussels, I listened to John Brennan or whatever, but did he want us to be responsible for what might occur?

So he would have served his time until it looked as if he was on his way out had he not qualified. But he would have been moved out because under no circumstance were we going to allow ourselves to face the consequences of that. He would have stayed until it looked as if we would have to put him on that plane.

Why is that? Because nobody in Libya or North Africa knew or cared where Scotland was, exactly the same as they didn't really know or care when he was returned. Had it not been that, and had there been lots of fingers pointing, then I would have been the one that would have been at the funeral services if a Scottish prison officer had been murdered by a jihadist or an Islamist or whatever.

I have had to go. We had a horrendous police helicopter crash. I went to every funeral. It wasn't pleasant. I associate with those people.

So I make no bones that he wouldn't have died in a Scottish prison cell.

Equally, had the criteria not been met, he would have stayed until that "time to board" was being tannoyed, and he would have been sent away with a nurse or a doctor on a plane that would have taken him to wherever they wanted him.

JOANNE MYERS: Is there a definition for what compassionate release is?

KENNY MacASKILL: Well, compassionate release is set out in the criteria. They have to be not a danger. So you wouldn't be able to release them if they were a danger. That's why when people say, "Would you let a serial killer out?"—well, I agree al-Megrahi was involved in serial killing, but he didn't meet the danger because who was he going to be a danger to? He wasn't a child predator and children in Tripoli were going to be faced with him. So he met the criterion; he wasn't a danger.

Then, it is supposed to be within three months of life expectancy, which comes back to that. That's a decision I didn't make. The information that came to me from the director of health and social care in the Scottish prison service who had spoken to the doctors treating al-Megrahi and said that it met that criterion.

I think there was one other clause. You have to be prepared to interact with the parole board in Scotland. But again, that was a factor that didn't enter into it because he was going to be in Tripoli. There isn't a direct flight between Scotland and Tripoli. He was never going to come back. Our people weren't going there.

So he met all the criteria.

The criterion that was the most relevant was, of course, was he at a life expectancy of three months or less? The information from the doctors was that it was three months or less. As I have explained, it was significantly longer than that that he lived. But equally, it's not my job as the justice secretary to say to the director of health and social care, "You're wrong." He's got a medical degree; I don't. He had also taken information and advice from others.

So I respect him. People have asked if I blame him for it. No. I know him personally, and he's a good guy. He got the call wrong, but I defend him.

JOANNE MYERS: Being in the eye of the storm—and the controversy still swirls around you—what is your biggest takeaway from all this? What would you say when people ask?

KENNY MacASKILL: I'm cynical. I always knew international politics was about vested interests for countries. But the whole Lockerbie—not bombing, but event—is just full of cynicism and vested self-interest by countries: why the trial came about, why it fell out, why the application came about, why the United Kingdom and the United States could say "Scotland's dreadful" at the same time as they were doing the exact opposite, "How appalling that MacAskill met al-Megrahi," but how fine it is for presidents and prime ministers to meet Gaddafi. How it was dreadful for me to go to Greenock Prison, but it's fine for them to train Gaddafi's elite brigade. Indeed, it's not just cynical; it's almost laughable.

Some of the people who were rendered were then supported by Britain and America when they decided to overthrow Gaddafi again, and they are now the very same people that we're seeking to bomb again. So we've gone full circle between people who we ostracized, then people who we embraced, then people who we ostracized again. That was the relationship with Gaddafi: Gaddafi was out, then Gaddafi was in, then Gaddafi was out again, then Gaddafi was in, and then he was out and eventually gone. Equally, people that we rendered to Gaddafi to torture were then the people we supported as we took them out, and now they are the same people that we're actually launching bombs on.

I have to say we as a Scottish government don't have foreign affairs. That's why I didn't know what was going on in Libya, and I didn't know that the hero's welcome wasn't a hero's welcome, and that the State Department and the British government lied and allowed that lie to perpetuate, they were out there saying it.

So call me cynical. Maybe it's age. I stand by what I did. I stand by I think what the Scottish courts did. I grieved in Scotland because there's a section of Scottish society that thinks al-Megrahi is some choirboy. I've always said you don't seem to realize if he wasn't a Muslim they would turn him into a saint. They think that he's an innocent that's been stitched up.

Al-Megrahi and I have met. He wasn't a major player. He wasn't a nice guy—I'm not suggesting that—but he wasn't the major player. You're looking for the bad guys, you look at Gaddafi, you look at Senussi, you look at Moussa Koussa.

Equally, what also has to be said, people see me, "Do you know that's true?" Well, you don't need to ask me. You can go and ask Moussa Koussa.

Now who was Moussa Koussa? Moussa Koussa was the foreign minister under Gaddafi. Where is Moussa Koussa? He is in a six-star hotel in Qatar. How is he there? Because he could see the wind blowing. He went ostensibly on holiday to Tunisia. MI6 got him out and took him to London. They debriefed him so they knew everything about Lockerbie and Gaddafi before Gaddafi fell. He was then allowed to go on his way. I don't know who's paying for him to be in Qatar. Maybe it's the Qatar government; maybe it's money he filched from Libya because they got rich themselves; maybe it's the CIA or MI6. But he's living "the life of Riley."

So when people say, "MacAskill, you're almost responsible for the bomb," go and speak to Moussa Koussa because he seems to be on a quite friendly relationship.

I was speaking to somebody from Human Rights Watch who referred me to information, and they have a report—I've forgotten the name—how the British ambassador in Tripoli had sent a wee note saying how unfortunate it was he wasn't going to be able to have Christmas dinner with him. So even the British government was looking forward to having dinner with the man who was in the regime that they were about to launch airstrikes on.

The CIA had sent euphemistic notes about "we hope you enjoyed"—I can't remember; it was something like "the oranges that we sent you," which I assume is a euphemism for some other money or goods.

As I say, I am cynical about that. It was a great privilege to be the justice secretary for seven-and-a-half years. I was honored to do that. Actually, investigating this, I was humbled to meet the police investigators because there had been accusations, not just against the Scottish police, but against the FBI and the CIA. There was no stitch-up here. There was no planting of evidence. It was Dante's Inferno.

Those police officers who went in were young boys who suffered post-traumatic stress because what they saw was truly awful. The idea that CIA were there at the time was nonsense. They came in later. The FBI were very helpful. The Scottish police didn't have the resources or expertise to do it. The information and CSI stuff that came in from Quantico was vital to the evidence.

So I take my hat off to all those involved in the investigation and the prosecution. They did a good job. I take my hat off to the judiciary because I think they did a decent job. Was the case against al-Megrahi ropy? Absolutely. It wasn't a very strong case against al-Megrahi.

But why would it be? This plane was delayed six minutes. It was meant to blow up over the North Atlantic. People sometimes in America don't perhaps realize this plane never took off in Scotland. It wasn't going to land in Scotland. It was an accident that it blew up over our town and killed 11 of our people, proportionally actually a greater percentage-wise Scotland loss than America loss. But loss isn't quantified that way.

I'm cynical about what happened, but I take my hat off to those who were involved because I thought the Scottish judiciary did a decent job. They brought it together. Was there evidence there? Yes. Was it a case that could have gone either way? Yes. But judges are human beings.

Let's remember, to end on this, when al-Megrahi and Fhimah were brought to Camp Zeist in the Netherlands, they came in on an Italian Air Force jet bearing United Nations livery. This was a trial being carried out under Scottish law, but it was a trial being prosecuted under the auspices and reality of the United Nations to bring peace between the West and the Third World or Arab World. There was a lot riding on this.

I actually think the judges got the right decision in al-Megrahi because he was a small bit player but he had a bit part to play. He wasn't the bomber, but he had a role. He knew what was going on.

Had they not convicted, what was going to happen there? TV were going to say, "There's been an acquittal." News teams had already run on CNN: "The Lockerbie bombers have gone to trial in the Netherlands." It wasn't "Two men have gone to face trial for an alleged incident." It was, "The Lockerbie bombers have gone to face trial in the Netherlands." Equally, I think the right decision was got there.

Also, it comes back to, what about al-Megrahi getting out? Well actually, he'd been in prison for quite a period of time for being a small cog in the wheel. He wasn't a choirboy; he was the head of security for Libyan International Airlines. You do not, in the world of Gaddafi, hold a position like that unless you are trusted and you are part of the in crowd. He was part of that because he was married into Senussi's family.

JOANNE MYERS: I think this is one time that I have to thank the speaker for being so cynical because without your cynicism we wouldn't have your point of view and allowing us to be privy to information we normally wouldn't have. So I thank you very much for your presentation.


QUESTION: My name is Richard Zimmerman.

Wasn't there a point at which the Libyan government offered some compensation to the victims' families?

KENNY MacASKILL: Yes, the families were compensated. Libya paid compensation to the families, quite significant compensation. The families did receive compensation. It was after the trial, but it was part also of the brokered deal that Libya agreed to pay compensation.

QUESTION: Richard Horowitz.

Could you tell us what the evidence was that was used to convict al-Megrahi and why you think the trial could have gone the other way?

KENNY MacASKILL: Because the evidence against al-Megrahi was quite—there is one complete mystery: Nobody knows how the case went on at Malta.

But the background to this is that the Scottish police, aided by police services from around the world—Mossad was involved; the Germany security police; all of these people were involved—meticulously gathered up evidence, bits of clothing. The crime scene actually went for something like 700 miles. It went from the Solway Firth that is on the edge of the Atlantic in Scotland to northeast England, on the other side of the country, because things got scattered.

They managed to work out where the seat of the bomb had been. They managed to work out the bags that had been there. They managed to work out the clothes. And they worked out that the bomb had gone on at Frankfurt, and they worked out from Frankfurt they took it back. It had gone on at Luqa Airport in Malta. They also worked out that the clothes that were in the case had been manufactured at a factory. It came down to outstanding police work and a bit of luck, but down to hard work and endeavor. So they traced all that back and managed to show that. So that was where the evidence came from.

The evidence against al-Megrahi was pretty slim. There was a shopkeeper who said, "It looks like the guy." It never got higher than "it looks like the guy." Myself, I don't think it was al-Megrahi that bought it. But literally, the Libyan People's Bureau, their embassy, was something like 700 meters around the corner from this particular shop. But somebody, I believe, from Libya bought it.

But it comes back to: Why do I believe they got it right? Al-Megrahi was there. Those who say he had nothing to do with it have never answered, "Why did a man fly in on a false passport that he would never use again, with apparently no clothes to stay overnight?" That's what makes me think he brought the case in. That was the background there.

So why was it a difficult case? There were no clear eyewitness who said, "It was a six-feet-one guy in a blue suit with rimless glasses. He looked aged 50 to 60." It was like, "It was a guy that could have been 25 to 55 who looked a bit like this." What made the case difficult is it became quite clear that the shopkeeper eventually got given a reward. The evidence I have—and I know defense agents as well—my understanding is I don't think that the shopkeeper who gave the evidence did so on the basis of money. I think he got the money afterward.

But there had also been a CIA informer who had been rubbished by the judiciary in Scotland because he had been a CIA informer. Equally, I have to say just because you're an informer doesn't mean everything you say isn't true, and I think some of the things he said were true. But the court said, "Because he got money we're going to exclude his evidence."

So that made it difficult when it becomes clear that the guy who is the shopkeeper, who says, "This is al-Megrahi, he's the man who bought it," even though it's weak—I think it would be very difficult for a Scottish appeal, had the appeal finally gone through, not to say, "Well, we took this view about that guy, so we're going to have to take a logical view about this guy and exclude his evidence because there was money involved."

So I think they got the right decision in the right way.

But it comes back to why do I think Libya did it. I've always said there are three reasons why Libya did it: (1) the evidence points toward it; (2) Gaddafi said Libya did it. He did an interview with The Washington Post that said, "Yes, we did it." Moreover, in Scotland it would be something that would add to the evidence. He said—and I thought it gave great weight to it—"Look, had we planned it, we wouldn't have done it in Libya, and Malta was too close to us," because that's where Libyans went. But I'll mention a wee factor about that.

Equally, the National Transitional Council—I spoke to them on the telephone as shells were raining—and I spoke to their justice secretary to say, "Can you ensure that there's protection of the site scene?" Their view was, "We've got a war on here, mate. Can you hurry up?"

But their view was, "We know al-Megrahi did it, but he was a bit-part player." Equally, the view I think of the Libyan people was, "Look, we've paid damages, we've suffered, we've served our time. Will you leave our people alone?" So I think Libya did it.

Equally, it comes back to the point. It was a senior cop, and I thought he got it right. I asked him, "How did it come about?" He said, "Who did the war in Iraq?" I said, "The coalition of the willing." He said: "Think about it. Who did Lockerbie? Iran put up a bounty—Pentagon sources have said that—after the USS Vincennes. The PFLP-GC (Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine General Command) said, 'We'll do it.'"

In October of 1988 the PFLP-GC cells got huckled by—detained by—the police, as we would say in Scotland. In Germany they had Pan Am flight timetables; they had Pan Am air tags. They were going to do it because that's why you had the Helsinki warning where American intelligence was putting out information to their embassies that said "there's something bad going on."

But when the Palestinians couldn't do it because they'd lost their key players who were the bombers, Libya went, "We'll do it." So who did it? Iran, PFLP, the Libyans, and the Syrians were probably in there somewhere. Exactly the same as who did the investigation. FBI, CIA, British intelligence, Scottish police, Metropolitan police, Germany security police, Mossad. This was the West versus the Arab World.

QUESTION: Laurence Meltzer.

Was there a reason why they picked this plane? Were there any people on it who were very important that perhaps they wanted to do away with?

KENNY MacASKILL: No. There has been a suggestion and there are lots of conspiracy theories. One of the conspiracy theories was that it was the South African apartheid regime taking out somebody who'd been involved in Namibia. I don't believe it was anything like that. There were people of some significance, but nothing like that.

Equally, the suggestions that it was the CIA that did it are just fanciful and absurd. I'm not here to defend the CIA, and some of their actions I would deplore. But they didn't do it.

Why this flight? I think it was just almost random. Which was why, as I say, the Helsinki warning, because American embassies were putting up notices saying, "There's bad things happening." It's not bad luck because the victims didn't have bad luck, they were murdered. But they just decided that was the one. It could have been one a week before; it could have been one a week afterward. It was just that one.

Probably the Palestinians were going to put it on at Frankfurt, which is why they were detained at Frankfurt. They would have put it on at Frankfurt or a German airport. But when Libya said, "You've taken this $10 million bounty from the Iranians, you're not going to return it, we'll help you finish it off," they just went, "Here's our agents" and they went and finished it.

So I think it was just pure chance. There was no logic. It could have been any flight.

QUESTION: Sondra Stein.

Since you have compassionate release, could you say something about how you treat the prisoners in prison? Do you have things like solitary confinement or education?

KENNY MacASKILL: No, we don't. Occasionally people would be for their own security, but we don't have solitary confinement. It would be contrary to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).

Also, one of the guys—people say, "What was the best thing about being justice secretary?" I got to meet some people who were fantastic. I met Albie Sachs, who was the African National Congress guy who'd been blown up by the South African security service. I always remember him saying, "The worst thing you can do to anybody"—because he did experience it—"is solitary confinement."

So the short answer is no, never. We would not allow it. I think it is an appalling thing to do. And Sachs was quite right.

Scotland had to prepare for al-Megrahi. I don't want to be whimsical about this, but actually he was a model prisoner in Scotland. The prison officers actually quite liked him. He used to watch football. The Libyans looked after him. They had put up their guy who was taking the rap for the nation, because that was the perception. We put him in prison. It wasn't a prison within a prison because we don't really do that except for Irish terrorist prisoners who had to be held in higher security.

So he actually had his own cell. It wasn't special. It was nothing like Al Capone, when he was in Philadelphia, being able to go and dine with the warden or whoever it was on a Friday night. Nothing like that. But actually the prisoners didn't dislike him. The staff found him a model prisoner. He behaved himself. He got nothing special other than Libya opened a consulate in Glasgow specifically for him.

I always remember—and it comes back to why I get upped by those in Scotland who say, "Oh, al-Megrahi was an innocent"—I always remember the governor saying—and I noticed it myself when I met the Libyan delegation—they were very hierarchical. They would troop in, and the most senior one would sit first and then the second one. It went in the pecking order. It didn't go in order of height; it went in order of seniority. I remember the warden saying that the person who was the consul-general in Scotland always deferred to al-Megrahi. Al-Megrahi was above him in rank. He obviously wasn't an ambassador; he was only a consul-general. But as far as he was concerned, al-Megrahi was their man.

Libya felt guilty about putting him out there. They always wanted him back because he was taking the rap for the country to some extent. He was involved, and therefore the conviction I think stands.

He was given no special treatment other than the security aspects. I didn't know about it at the time, but when he was convicted at Camp Zeist, literally you had air force jets, you had every helicopter scrambled. When we left, we had to make arrangements.

We don't have prisoners like that in Scotland. We had to hire a prison van because we had to have a van that would be able to sustain an improvised explosive device as we were taking him to the airport in Glasgow to remove him. We had to bring it in, I think, from Northern Ireland because they have these things; we don't have them. We had to have snipers on the roof. Every prison officer was wearing body armor, other than my good friend, the communications officer, who was so busy getting everybody else's body armor he forget to get it for himself.

So we treated him as an ordinary prisoner. He actually was an ordinary prisoner.

I've met really, really bad people in Scotland, serial killers who scared me. I have to say I didn't put al-Megrahi in that. I didn't meet Moussa Koussa, though, but my staff did, and they said he was a scary guy. They said Moussa Koussa was a seriously scary guy. He is the one I said that's in Qatar in the six-star hotel with a whole floor.

QUESTION: Marlin Mattson.

I thought I would still make my comment, although I think the question was previously asked. I had a close friend who was on this Pan Am flight, who of course died, and he was a Swedish diplomat. He was actually on the staff at the United Nations. So I was curious too when you mentioned that this trial was carried out under the auspices of the United Nations and wondered if there were other UN individuals that were involved. I know this friend of mine was very much involved with the United Nations for many years.

KENNY MacASKILL: The United Nations was involved all the way through. Kofi Annan's sidekick—I've got the names in the book—was involved in brokering the trial.

Equally, when it came to the appeal and to the release and the prisoner transfer, Nelson Mandela had been involved in the appeal. Nelson Mandela, as far as I'm concerned, was arguably the greatest man of the 20th century. I never had the privilege to meet him, but I hold him in huge regard. But he had been involved because it was the West versus—at one stage the West was keen to get access for minerals, but they were also keen to have a bulwark against Islamic terrorism.

Equally, there was also a swing going the other way. Africa was beginning to say, "Actually, Libya is suffering. The people aren't getting medical supplies. Their hospitals are collapsing. What is this Western world doing? Who do they think they are? Libya has paid. They've given all this compensation. What's going on here?"

So there was pressure coming to break sanctions, and there was pressure coming in the United Nations from African countries that were going to say, "Look, stop the sanctions on Libya." It suited the West at one stage because—

QUESTIONER [Marlin Mattson]: The United Nations was very much involved in that.


Although the bomb happened in Scotland, it was a global issue because the West was involved, sub-Saharan Africa was involved, the Middle East was involved. I got requests coming from the government of Qatar on behalf of the Arab League basically saying, "Libya has served its time, Libya has paid its dues, let the guy out." We can't do it that way. That's not how it operates. But the Arab League was lobbying on behalf of Libya.

So it ebbed and flowed. When the West wanted a deal with Libya, things happened; when the West wanted to, they moved away. So the UN's involvement was more in trying to be a rapprochement. Actually, Nelson Mandela came and visited al-Megrahi in prison and he was allowed in to see him as a visitor. Mandela came to Barlinnie Prison, which is almost like your Riker's Island. It's got a reputation in Scotland. It's not salubrious at all; it's pretty infamous.

But Mandela went and met al-Megrahi. What he was lobbying for was prisoner transfer, and that was before I became justice secretary. He was saying this guy should be back in Libya because prisoners—actually he takes the same logic as me —should be in prison in their own society, near their families.

QUESTION: Ryan Gibson.

Just to give context to my question, I'm from Syracuse University and I represented one of the victims on the flight. I wanted to know how Scotland has changed its stance on educating its citizens about terrorism since Pan Am 103 and since the ruling that you were a part of.

KENNY MacASKILL: First of all, I'm sorry for your loss. I have to say I've met young people from Scotland who actually go to study because—

QUESTIONER [Ryan Gibson]: Yes, through the Lockerbie Scholars.

KENNY MacASKILL: —from everything there's always something good that comes. So kids from Lockerbie get scholarships, and I've spoken to those kids who have gone to America. Some have stayed and not come back, which is our loss and your gain. Others have come back and helped to make Scotland a better place. I think it's like two go every year.

Both for Scotland and for the United States of America, Lockerbie was pivotal. It was huge in America because it was the first time American civilians had been attacked. There had been the bombing of the Marine Corps in Lebanon, but this was the first time, I think, that U.S. civilians had been attacked.

We live in a world now where—you know, my partner and I, we went through Brussels Airport about eight weeks after the atrocity there. It is now just part of life almost.

In Scotland at that time terrorism was something that happened elsewhere; it didn't happen in Scotland. It happened in Northern Ireland because we would see it on television every night. I've just seen the death of Martin McGuinness, and Northern Ireland and Britain are better places because of what McGuinness and others did. So terrorism was something that happened elsewhere.

What happened was airlines changed their whole policy. It comes back to the point the gentleman was asking about evidence. Pan Am went bust as a result of this. I felt very sorry for Pan Am, because Pan Am's defense was, "Look, we just did the same security as everybody else did." "No, no, you didn't check bags," because now you can't have baggage that travels unaccompanied. You have to have every bag accounted for.

The great million-dollar mystery: We don't know how that bag went on at Libya. What we do know is an extra bag came off at Frankfurt that then went on to Pan Am, and that was our bomb. We don't know how it got on.

Equally, I don't think it's rocket science to work out that Fhimah was head of Libyan Arab Airlines at Luqa Airport and al-Megrahi was head of security for Libyan Arab Airways. Both had passes to get them behind airport security.

There was also a thing that was never used as evidence, and it was denied by Luqa Airport, that said if the bags were less than five out then they just let it fly. That's got credibility to me. I think in 1988 I said this at a book festival in Edinburgh, and somebody said, "Oh no, get off the plane."

Susan and I traveled around the world when I stood down from Parliament. I've been on planes all over the world. I have never once been pulled off and told to reconcile. I do not believe that on each and every occasion I have flown there hasn't been a miscalculation. Actually I think probably it was probably less than five.

So my perception is that al-Megrahi gives the case to Fhimah. Fhimah goes behind the desks. He would know the staff—it would be, "How are you doing there? How's your mom and dad?"—he'd put it on, and that's what happened.

These things ebb and flow. I'd only been justice secretary for four weeks and we had an attempted bombing at Glasgow Airport by people masquerading as Islamist terrorists. But I'm very friendly and I have many good friends who are of Islam. Terrorism doesn't respect any religion, and Islam is no more responsible for these atrocities than the Presbyterianism that I was born into is for the tragedies and atrocities of the Ulster Volunteer Force.

Life changes, ebbs and flows, and you almost get used to it. Airline security changed significantly. Scotland was shocked because we'd seen young soldiers die in Ulster. We had seen terrorism on our screens in Rome and Vienna airports. We never thought it would come here.

But equally, the very day of the attempted bombing— we were very lucky—a guy tried to drive a car into Glasgow Airport; he miscalculated and and the car jammed. Had he gotten in, which he could have, and set the bomb off, you'd have had a firebomb that would have killed dozens, if not hundreds.

I remember going around to Parliament, because it was the opening day of Parliament, saying to my friend, the minister actually of the emergency committee—and we've got the help phones going there for civil emergencies—"That'll never happen here." They're saying, "It'll never happen here." And I went home, put on the TV, and saw an attempted bombing at Glasgow Airport. So all of these things come. So airline security changed.

Probably in 1988 Scotland still thought "it happens elsewhere," because it was just—the plane was six minutes late leaving Heathrow. Had it not been six minutes late, it would have blown up somewhere northwest of Ireland. It wouldn't have been our problem. We'd have had nothing to do with it. It was a quirk of fate.

So it changed Scotland in some ways, but we still went around thinking "terrorism happens elsewhere. It happens in New York, 9/11 came. It doesn't happen here." And then we saw what happened in Glasgow Airport.

Equally, as justice secretary I got the security briefing: there was an attempted bombing and the guy blew himself up in Stockholm. He had actually come from Scotland. We actually prosecuted him in Scotland. He didn't try to bomb up Scotland, but he came from Scotland. He wasn't a Scot, but he'd been at a mosque in Scotland. It could have been us.

Airline security changed. Scotland was devastated by it. Lockerbie is one of these things seared on your soul. Every Scot who is old enough can tell you where they were.

There are various things. There is the Lockerbie bombing; there was the Dunblane massacre when our kids were killed by a man with a gun. I'm older, so I can remember something called the Ibrox disaster. It was a disaster at a football stadium. But it's these things.

You run a wee bit cold, the hairs stand up on the back of your head when somebody says "Lockerbie, Dunblane, Ibrox." Just like every American will know where they were on 9/11. You'll remember when you saw it.

So there wasn't a change as such. It was just a wake-up.

QUESTION: Don Simmons.

Why do you think Gaddafi owned up, acknowledged that the Libyan government had done this, and paid a lot of compensation? What was in it for him and his government? Was there military pressure?

QUESTION: Ally Matherowitz [phonetic], State University of New York, Office of Global Affairs.

So you're talking about your becoming cynical, which one could easily understand. What would you say to people who are going to be faced with similar situations in the future? It seems like it must have been a horrible thing of all the different pressures from the CIA, FBI, and others, and then the hypocrisy that it seems like you were saying was very clear and going on until today. How do you deal and address that if you're looking at ethics in international affairs?

KENNY MacASKILL: Libya was suffering under sanctions. The sanctions were biting. Their hospitals were running out of medical supplies. Al-Megrahi as an agent had actually been going by in Peugeot cars because—the other thing people forget is hundreds of thousands of pounds of money, if not millions, ran through al-Megrahi's account. Apparently he was a businessman, to those who say he is innocent. Well, he was a businessman masquerading on behalf of the Libyan government.

But Libya was really suffering. The sanctions that the West had imposed were really biting, which is why Nelson Mandela—because you did have people in Africa saying, "Whoa, wait a minute . . ." So that's why they offered up al-Megrahi."

I remember speaking to the defense lawyer. There are defense lawyers in every country, but the Scots lawyers who would represent them in court flew to Libya and said, "Our advice is don't agree to come to the Netherlands. Stay in Libya."

But what happened was Gaddafi appointed the lawyers in Libya, and the lawyers in Libya changed. I remember my friend, who was one of al-Megrahi's lawyers, basically said, "al-Megrahi and Fhimah just went, 'The deal is done. We know we're getting sent.'"

Libya was suffering. Gaddafi through the United Nations did a deal with Britain and America that said, "We'll give you these two guys, there will be no regime change," which was basically "you won't touch me" for Gaddafi, but it also went down a few minions. "You can have these two." But it was the sanctions because Libya was really feeling it, the people were feeling it. So that was the bargain. It wasn't military threats. That wasn't going to happen. It was that impasse. And equally, the West wanted eventually later to make deals. But the sanctions were hurting Libya and that's why they got offered up.

In terms of the cynicism, I have to say although I'm cynical there, I still want to be a perpetual optimist, and I wouldn't swap. How do you deal with it?

I've played a lot of—you'd call it soccer—football. The ball goes up in the air, you keep your eye on the ball. It doesn't matter who's coming. Somebody's coming in at speed, you keep your eye on that ball.

We knew it was going to be difficult for us in Scotland because you've got to remember we were the first Nationalist administration. The Scottish Parliament had only been reformed in 1999. We didn't have foreign representatives.We knew we were being stitched up; we didn't know how. We knew things were going on; we didn't know the extent of it, which is why I say in the book I knew we were a cog in a wheel. I didn't realize how small a cog we were and how big a wheel it was.

We're open. Every letter we sought to put out. The only letters that are not out there are letters from the State Department because they don't allow us to publish the letters that they sent to us or us to them, or the British have refused. There was a Personally Identifiable Information (PII), where the British threatened to close down our Scottish paper. I remember speaking to the minister because this happened in 2010 or something like that. I said, "It would be like the equivalent of The New York Times isn't going to appear. The people of Scotland will notice if The Herald doesn't appear."

It was all to do with a letter that was sent in 1992 by the king of Jordan—since deceased and replaced by his son—that said, "We know it was the Palestinians." Actually he got it wrong. The Palestinians were going to do it but didn't. But the British—again cynical —said: "It had nothing to do with Lockerbie. It was all to do with Abu Qatada," the man with the hook, who was a Muslim cleric who the British wanted to get back to Jordan, and they didn't want to upset the Jordanian administration.

So I'm cynical in terms of how business—Scotland is a small place. I used to play football with al-Megrahi's defense agent for many a year. His wife worked for me when I was a solicitor. We all knew each other. The judges knew the prosecutors. But I always remember him telling me, he was going out initially for his first trip to meet when Libya hired them before the trial. It didn't take place in Camp Zeist. He got phoned up and said, "Would you like a seat on our plane?" And it was the guy, Robert Black, who Gaddafi had hired to advise him. They were going out on Babcock & Wilcox's plane.

This was a time of sanctions. Babcock & Wilcox had a private plane taking Gaddafi's Scottish legal adviser. It wasn't just oil. People say it was oil, but it was actually minerals.

He didn't go on the Babcock & Wilcox plane, but they were stuck there and they were going to have to wait a couple of days. They were in a five-star hotel and they bumped into Tiny Rowland, who was a major businessman, who said, "I'll help you out." So they got a flight back on Tiny Rowland's private jet. So even before the trial took place in the late 1990s, Babcock & Wilcox and Tiny Rowland were all over Libya. This was all to do with strategic affairs in terms of global politics by the West wanting a relationship and a deal against the rise of Islamic terror; it was about oil and minerals; and equally it was about Gaddafi, first of all just surviving, and then at the second time obtaining from Britain, America, and wherever else the training for these troops, the provision of military hardware that then had to be taken out by NATO bombers that was provided in 2009.

Equally—call me cynical again—I always remember I came across it: the American oil companies were complaining not so much about the British—because if you think Blair and Obama were cynical, look at Sarkozy and Berlusconi—because whatever the relationship between Obama, Clinton, Blair, and Brown with Gaddafi, it was nothing like the relation that President Sarkozy and Prime Minister Berlusconi had with Gaddafi. There are all these allegations that Sarkozy's election campaign wasn't funded by the Russians but was funded by Gaddafi.

So Marathon Oil were complaining that the Europeans—not so much the British, but the French, Germans, and Italians—are all over oil. They went to see the president to say, "When are we getting our share on behalf of America?"

JOANNE MYERS: I thank you very much for this who-did-it, why-they-did-it, and how-they-did-it. It was a very revealing and candid discussion.

I invite you all to continue the conversation. If you have questions, Mr. MacAskill will be there. Thank you all.

KENNY MacASKILL: Thank you.

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MAR 11, 2010 Journal

Ethics & International Affairs Volume 24.1 (Spring 2010): Essay: The Politics of Punishing Terrorists [Full Text]

Debates about trying and punishing terrorists reveal how the failure to construct a shared normative consensus in international criminal justice continues to bedevil the international ...

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