Thursday 25 May 2017

For Robert Mueller is an honorable man

On 30th August 2009 Professor Robert Black published the blog which we have reproduced in full below, together with a letter from Mueller to Kenny MacAskill, Scottish Justice Minister.

Let us hope that in his new role as special prosecutor Mr Mueller will take more
trouble to find the facts than he did in the case of the 2009 release of Baset al-Megrahi on compassionate grounds. 

If he had consulted his own FBI researchers, and the other fifteen intelligence organisations of America, plus the huge intelligence gathering contractor Stratfor, he might have discovered that the case against al-Megrahi was not as solid as he and his cohorts trusted as some God-given truth from heaven. 

He would have observed key facts such as:

1. The Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission, two years prior to his hysterical, hectoring letter, had discovered six reasons for concluding that the conviction of al-Megrahi was unsafe.

2. They had discovered that the chief Scottish police investigator had concealed a police diary from the trial; a diary proving that within days of the commencement of the police investigation, an offer of huge reward was available to the sole identification witness, a Maltese shopkeeper. In the words of the Department of Justice, it would be "unlimited monies, with $10,000 available immediately". The purpose of the $10,000 has never been established.

3. Also at the date of his letter, he should have been aware that the sole forensic item said to point to Libya was highly suspect. Carefully controlled scientific trials performed by two reputable scientists proved
Pure tin.
70/30% alloy tin/lead.
that a fragment of timer circuit board could not have come from a batch of timers available to and used by Libya. The details of those experiments, plus hand-written notes by a scientific witness who carried out metallurgical and other tests on the fragment, proved that the witness had either perjured himself, or had been grossly negligent. 


Here is the blog, followed by Mueller's letter.

30th August 2009.

What do US cops know about justice?

[This is the headline over Ian Bell's article in The Sunday Herald. The last section reads as follows:]

Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi, the only man to be convicted of the Lockerbie bombing, is
released from a Scottish prison on compassionate grounds with three months left to live. The
staged celebrations upon his return to Libya anger some people. His appeal against
conviction - feasible even for a dead man, but pointless - has already been withdrawn, angering
others. Some are desperate for the truth; others suspect a political fix. But America's fury appears

Consider that. Scottish jurisdiction is not disputed. Nor is it news to Washington that Tony Blair
stitched up a prisoner transfer agreement with Libya's Colonel Gaddafi in 2007 when only one
Libyan was held in Britain. Nevertheless, Kenny MacAskill, Scotland's justice secretary, rejects
that mechanism explicitly. Yet suddenly the whereabouts of the prisoner in the last dozen
miserable weeks of his life matters hugely. And the word compassion causes unbridled anger.

Scotland is treated to the thoughts, none kind, of Obama, Hillary Clinton and that dying paragon,
Ted Kennedy. MacAskill and Alex Salmond don't raise the possibility that Megrahi's conviction
was unsafe. No-one mentions the many efforts expended by Kennedy on behalf of Irish

No-one asks how many Americans were convicted after the USS Vincennes brought down Iran
Air flight 655 in 1986 with the loss of 290 lives. Guantanamo, Iraq, secret CIA torture prisons, the
carnage in Afghanistan: Scotland's government remains circumspect.

Then a cop intervenes. I say "cop"; I mean Robert Mueller, director of the FBI, a man with a
shaky grasp of the Scottish system but every confidence in his all-American right to give a
foreign government a dressing-down. He's "outraged", says his letter to Caledonia. "Your
action makes a mockery of the rule of law," he tells MacAskill. "Your action gives comfort to
terrorists around the world".

There is little comfort, though, for anyone still harbouring illusions over American attitudes to
American power. So now the head of the FBI, an institution with a fascinating history in the civil
rights field, is laying down his law to someone else's democracy, to the country that gave the US
many of the notions that fleshed out its constitution? Let's say we'll cope.

In other parts, predictably, the Scottish cringe is at work. MacAskill has outraged "the world"
("To reprieve a seriously ill prisoner is an act of humanity" - Frankfurter Allgemeine, Germany).
Tourists will scorn us; whisky sales will suffer; and Jack McConnell will have to do penance for
our "shame". In other words, we will lose the essential friendship of America thanks to the
unforgiveable crime of compassion.

What is that sort of friendship worth? And what sort of friendship is it that loads rights on one
side and responsibilities, defined unilaterally, on the other? Does it occur to no-one that some of
America's actions have looked rather more heinous lately, and certainly more costly to human life,
than a single ministerial decision? All that stirring talk of democracy sounds a little hollow, and not
 for the first time.

MacAskill might be wrong, and those of us who have agreed with him might turn out to be wrong.
I happen to believe Obama is wrong about Afghanistan: how many lives lost so far? But if the
minister has erred, what is the nature of the error? You could say - though I do not - that he has
been played for a dupe by London and Washington. The motives at work in the larger game stand
little scrutiny, as usual. But MacAskill has made a moral choice: imagine. Those can go wrong.

Megrahi, convicted of mass murder, may enjoy a startling recovery. If that happens the justice
secretary and several doctors will look very stupid.

They will not become culpable, however, and they will not have deserved the insults that flow
from the likes of Mueller. We do things differently. In this regard, I'm certain, we do them better.

It is America's curse that it finds the possibility inconceivable.

[An opinion piece headed "MacAskill’s crime wasn’t to release a murderer but to disobey America"
in The Sunday Herald by writer and lawyer Paul Laverty contains the following sentence:

'I suspect MacAskill is castigated not so much for the release a dying man, but because he has
refused to obey. US politicians expect their UK and Scottish counterparts to take up automatic
poodle position just as Straw and Blair have always done. True to form New Labour in Scotland
do the same; they seem more concerned with parochial point scoring or whisky sales in the US
than any genuine concern for the understandable feelings of hurt on part of the families of the
victims. But the great tragedy revealed by this circus is how we have collectively sacrificed our
critical faculties, our sense of history, and replaced them with spineless humiliating subservience
to the powerful. MacAskill's decision is a brave exception, but it is a disgrace to see him so
cornered while the nauseating hypocrisy of the US goes virtually unexamined.'


Letter to Kenny MacAskill from FBI Director Robert S Mueller

Dear Mr. Secretary:

Over the years I have been a prosecutor, and recently as the Director of the FBI, I have made it
a practice not to comment on the actions of other prosecutors, since only the prosecutor handling
the case has all the facts and the law before him in reaching the appropriate decision.

Your decision to release Megrahi causes me to abandon that practice in this case. I do so because
I am familiar with the facts, and the law, having been the Assistant Attorney General in charge of
the investigation and indictment of Megrahi in 1991.

And I do so because I am outraged at your decision, blithely defended on the grounds of

Your action in releasing Megrahi is as inexplicable as it is detrimental to the cause of justice.
Indeed your action makes a mockery of the rule of law.

Your action gives comfort to terrorists around the world who now believe that regardless of the
quality of the investigation, the conviction by jury after the defendant is given all due process, and
sentence appropriate to the crime, the terrorist will be freed by one man's exercise of "compassion."

Your action rewards a terrorist even though he never admitted to his role in this act of mass
murder and even though neither he nor the government of Libya ever disclosed the names and
roles of others who were responsible.

Your action makes a mockery of the emotions, passions and pathos of all those affected by the
Lockerbie tragedy: the medical personnel who first faced the horror of 270 bodies strewn in the
fields around Lockerbie, and in the town of Lockerbie itself; the hundreds of volunteers who
walked the fields of Lockerbie to retrieve any piece of debris related to the breakup of the plane;
the hundreds of FBI agents and Scottish police who undertook an unprecedented global
investigation to identify those responsible; the prosecutors who worked for years - in some cases
a full career - to see justice done.

But most importantly, your action makes a mockery of the grief of the families who lost their own
on December 21, 1988.

You could not have spent much time with the families, certainly not as much time as others
involved in the investigation and prosecution.

You could not have visited the small wooden warehouse where the personal items of those who
perished were gathered for identification - the single sneaker belonging to a teenager; the
Syracuse sweatshirt never again to be worn by a college student returning home for the holidays;
the toys in a suitcase of a businessman looking forward to spending Christmas with his wife and

You apparently made this decision without regard to the views of your partners in the investigation
and prosecution of those responsible for the Lockerbie tragedy.

Although the FBI and Scottish police, and prosecutors in both countries, worked exceptionally
closely to hold those responsible accountable, you never once sought our opinion, preferring to
keep your own counsel and hiding behind opaque references to "the need for compassion."

You have given the family members of those who died continued grief and frustration. You have
given those who sought to assure that the persons responsible would be held accountable the
back of your hand.

You have given Megrahi a "jubilant welcome" in Tripoli, according to the reporting. Where, I ask,
is the justice?

Sincerely yours,

Robert S. Mueller, III

[Note by Robert Black:]
 On 6 August 2009, The Times published a report containing the following:

"The investigating officers who led the original inquiry into the Lockerbie bombing have made an
unprecedented intervention in the case to argue against the release of the Libyan convicted of
the attack.

"In a letter to the Justice Secretary, Kenny MacAskill, the Scottish police chief and the FBI boss
who led the international investigation 20 years ago launch a powerfully worded plea against the
release of Abdul Baset Ali al-Megrahi, who is serving a minimum sentence of 25 years for his part
in the bombing.

"In the letter obtained by The Times, Stuart Henderson, the retired senior investigating officer at
the Lockerbie Incident Control Centre, and Richard Marquise, the FBI special agent in charge of
the US taskforce, whose detective work helped to convict Abdul Baset Ali al-Megrahi, insist that
he is guilty. They also argue that his release would “nullify the dedicated work of dozens of law
enforcement and intelligence officials around the world”."

It is therefore untrue for the Director to suggest that the decision was taken without regard to, or
in ignorance of, the views of the investigators (or at least some of them). His complaint (if he has
one at all) therefore has to be that the ultimate decision was not one that they approved of.

In civilised countries decisions regarding liberation of prisoners are not placed in the hands of
policemen and prosecutors, nor are they accorded a veto over those decisions. Mr Mueller (and
Mr Marquise) would probably wish that this were otherwise. The rest of us can be grateful that it
is not.]