The attack on Pan Am Flight 103 from London to New York in December 1988 killed 270 people, many from the New York-New Jersey area. Mr. Megrahi, the only person convicted of a crime in the case, was released by Scottish authorities in August 2009 on the grounds that he was ill and had only a few months to live. He has since lived openly in Tripoli, supported by the Qaddafi regime.
"As a transitional government takes hold in Libya, it should seek to undo the injustice of al-Megrahi's release by returning him to the jail cell where he belongs," said Sen. Charles Schumer (D) of New York in a statement on Monday.
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D) of New York on Monday called his release a “miscarriage of justice” that a new Libyan regime should correct.
Others, including Sens. Robert Menendez (D) and Frank Lautenberg (D) of New Jersey and GOP presidential hopeful and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, are calling for his extradition to the United States.
Such calls are counterproductive, say some foreign policy analysts. “It is reasonable to make this issue one of the first we raise quietly, but it would be foolish to make it the preeminent one when trying to establish relations with a new group,” says Michael O’Hanlon, a senior fellow and defense analyst at the Brookings Institute in Washington. “It makes us seem insensitive and almost indifferent to the huge and pressing challenges they now face in holding together a nation.”