Deny. Deny. Deny.
It’s becoming a daily thing for Britain’s Prime Minister Gordon Brown as the fallout surrounding the release of convicted Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset al-Megrahi snowballs. It's now being reported that Mr. Megrahi has been hospitalized in Libya.
And earlier today – one day after Brown's government released previously classified documents in a bid to quell mounting allegations of ulterior motives in the release of Megrahi – Mr. Brown again denied any unsavory actions on the part of the British government: “There was no conspiracy, no cover-up, no double-dealing, no deal on oil, no attempt to instruct Scottish ministers, no private assurances by me to [Libyan leader] [Col. Muammar] Qaddafi.”
It’s ‘shambolic,’ I say
Brown’s words come in response to comments from opposition Conservative party leader David Cameron, who leads in the polls less than a year before an election.
“We are now in a shambolic situation where the government has upset one of our most important allies,” Mr. Cameron told BBC radio. “They stand accused of double-dealing, saying one thing to the Libyans in private ... and something else to the Americans.”
Unfortunately for Brown, however, his denials come as Foreign Minister David Miliband confirmed that the British government did not want Megrahi to die in prison.
Mr. Miliband’s comment suggests that Britain had “no interest” in fulfilling assurances that top-level US officials say were made to the United States when the bomber was sentenced, according to David Rivkin, a former Justice Department official. ‘’This will damage US relations with Britain for years to come,” Mr. Divkin told the BBC. ‘’I really can’t think about a more duplicitous act by Britain vis-à-vis the United States in the post-war period.’’
The issue has caused some strain in the vaunted “special relationship” between the US and Britain, including some hyperventalating by commentators.
“The row over the decision to allow Abdul Baset Ali al-Megrahi to return to Libya is the final nail in the coffin for the transatlantic bond first identified by Winston Churchill after the Second World War,” writes columnist Rachel Sylvester.
That may be a bit much. But the Scottish Parliament didn't think so. Asked to endorse the compassionate release of the Lockerbie bomer, the members voted 75 to 50 that it was not "consistent with the principles of Scottish justice."
What do you think?