10 TEHRAN TIMES INTERNATIONAL DAILY http://www.tehrantimes.com/international JULY 15, 2010 Did BP play a role in the release of a notorious terrorist? By Brett Michael Dykes A U.S. lawmaker is calling on the Senate Commit- tee on Foreign Relations to investigate whether BP influenced the release of Pan Am Flight 103 Lockerbie bomber Abdel Baset al-Megrahi.
Democratic Sen. Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey wants to know whether a quid pro quo led to the 2009 decision by U.K. and Scottish lawmakers to set the Libyan terrorist free.
Megrahi was sentenced to life in prison in 2001, but released last year when doctors said he had only three months to live before dying of cancer. A doctor now says he could live a decade, according to the Associated Press. The senator wants to know whether the bomber 9s release was connected to a BP plan to drill for oil off Libya, which the senator says could earn the company up to $20 billion.
A bomb aboard Flight 103 blew up over Lockerbie, Scotland, on Dec. 21, 1988, killing 270 people, 189 of them American. The plane was headed from London 9s Heathrow Airport to New York 9s JFK International Air- port.
In a letter written to ... more. less.
Sens. John Kerry and Dick Lu- gar, the committee chairman and ranking Republican, respectively, Lautenberg called for a full investigation. He wrote: cReports have surfaced indicating that a 2007 oil agreement may have influenced the U.K.<br><br> and Scottish governments 9 positions concerning Mr. Megrahi 9s re- lease in 2009. BP admits that in 2007 it 8told the U.K.<br><br> government ... it was concerned that a delay in con- cluding a prisoner transfer agreement with the Libyan government might hurt 9 the oil deal. Furthermore, let- ters have been released showing that Jack Straw, the U.K. 9s Secretary of State for Justice, initially intended to exclude Mr.<br><br> Megrahi from the prisoner transfer agree- ment but later switched his position, citing the 8wider negotiations with the Libyans 9 and 8overwhelming inter- ests for the United Kingdom. 9 BP has just announced it will begin deepwater drilling next month off Libya 9s coast, and it is estimated BP could earn as much as $20 billion from the deal. It is shocking to even contemplate that this com- pany is profiting from the release of a terrorist with the blood of 189 Americans on his hands. d Megrahi 9s August 2009 release 4 on ccompassion- ate d grounds due to supposed imminent death from cancer 4 caused an uproar in the U.S. and Europe.<br><br> Anger over the decision has cascaded with Megrahi 9s continued survival in the months after the release, cli- maxing with the news that the doctor who diagnosed him may have been paid off by the Libyan government and that Megrahi could survive for 10 to 20 years. In response to the letter, the British Embassy in Washington defended the decision to release Megrahi, saying it was cmade on the basis of advice from the Director of Health at the Scottish Prison Service, who drew on the advice of a number of medical experts. d BP has refused to comment on what it calls mere cspeculation. d (Source: THE UPSHOT) EUROPE/AMERICA DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) 4 A billboard cre- ated by an Iowa tea party group that compares President Barack Obama to Adolf Hitler and Vladimir Lenin is drawing sharp criticism 4 even from fellow tea party activists who have condemned it as offensive and a waste of money. The North Iowa Tea Party began display- ing the billboard in downtown Mason City last week.<br><br> The sign shows large photographs of Obama, Nazi leader Hitler and communist leader Lenin beneath the labels cDemocrat Socialism, d cNational Socialism, d and cMarxist Socialism. d Beneath the photos is the phrase, cRadical leaders prey on the fearful & naive. d The co-founder of the roughly 200-person group said the billboard was intended to send an anti-socialist message. But Bob Johnson admitted Tuesday that the message may have gotten lost amid the images of fascist and communist leaders. cThe purpose of the billboard was to draw attention to the socialism.<br><br> It seems to have been lost in the visuals, d Johnson said. cThe pictures overwhelmed the message. The mes- sage is socialism. d He said he didn 9t know of any plans to remove the sign.<br><br> But others in the tea party movement criti- cized the sign. cThat 9s just a waste of money, time, resourc- es and it 9s not going to further our cause, d said Shelby Blakely, a leaders of the Tea Party Pa- triots, a national group. cIt 9s not going to help our cause.<br><br> It 9s going to make people think that the tea party is full of a bunch of right-wing fringe people, and that 9s not true. d Blakely also expressed outrage at linking Obama to Hitler, the leader of Nazi Germany who oversaw the killing of 6 million Jews and whose invasions of neighboring countries led to World War II. cWhen you compare Obama to Hitler, that to me does a disservice to the Jews who both survived and died in the Holocaust and to the Germans who lived under Nazi regime rule, d Blakely said. John White, an Iowa coordinator of the Tea Party Patriots, said that he can understand the North Iowa group 9s perception that Obama is cHitler-esque, d but he thinks the billboard is of- fensive and unproductive.<br><br> White said that he planned to discuss the matter with national tea party officials. cI fear they may end up in some kind of trouble over it, because it 9s basically slander- ous, d White said. cI don 9t know that it 9s the message we want to send.<br><br> I 9d much rather see billboards that say 8Remember in November. Get Out and Vote. 9 c The billboard is owned by Waitt Outdoor of Omaha, Neb. Waitt general manager, Kent Beatty, said the company didn 9t have a prob- lem with the message.<br><br> cWe believe in freedom of speech, d Beatty said. cIt doesn 9t reflect our views, necessar- ily. d The White House declined to comment on the sign. One person who welcomed the billboard was Dean Genth, a Democratic activist from Mason City, a city of 30,000 people just south of the Minnesota border, who said he thinks the sign lays bare the views of tea party sup- porters.<br><br> cI welcome them to continue to spew that kind of stuff because I think it 9s going to do a lot of good for the good Democrats around the state, d Genth said. Ex-UN chief peacekeeper Marrack Goulding dies LONDON (AP) 4 Marrack Gould- ing, a British diplomat who served as the first head of UN peacekeep- ing operations has died at age 73. Goulding died on July 9, ac- cording to a death notice published by his family in The Times and The Daily Telegraph newspapers.<br><br> The cause of death was not an- nounced. Goulding was appointed under- secretary-general for special politi- cal affairs, in charge of peacekeep- ing operations, in 1986. He was closely involved in setting up the UN Department for Peacekeeping Operations in 1992.<br><br> cHis sure-footed diplomatic judgment and firm leadership were indispensable assets as he dis- tinguished himself on delicate as- signments ranging from Namibia 9s post-independence settlement to the Iran-Iraq conflict, while also in- volved in the U.N. 9s work in Cambo- dia, Central America, Lebanon and former Yugoslavia, d UN spokesman Farhan Haq said in New York. From 1993 to 1996, Goulding was undersecretary-general for po- litical affairs, then returned to Britain to serve for a decade as warden of St. Antony 9s College, Oxford.<br><br> Goulding also served as Brit- ain 9s ambassador to Angola from 1983 to 1985. Goulding published his memoirs in 2002, titled cPeacemonger. d Troubled treasurer of Sarkozy 9s party to resign PARIS (AP) 4 The treasurer of Nicolas Sarkozy 9s conservative party says he will resign at the end of the month, amid pressure from the French president and a scandal involving allegations of il- legal campaign financing. Sarkozy said he wanted Eric Woerth to resign from his job as UMP treasurer.<br><br> Woerth told re- porters after a Cabinet meeting Tuesday cyes, I will do it. d Woerth was later quoted in the daily Le Figaro as saying he will resign July 30, to allow time to find a successor. UK: Anna Chapman 9s citizenship, passport revoked LONDON (AP) 4 A redheaded sleeper agent who became the most high-profile figure in the U.S.-Russia spy case has had her British citizenship revoked, the government announced Tuesday. Anna Chapman, 28, was among 10 suspects who pleaded guilty in New York last week to a charge of procuring information for a foreign government.<br><br> The undercover agents were sent to Russia from the United States on Friday in a swap for four Russians accused of spying for the West. Chapman, whose sultry photos gleaned from Facebook and other social-networking sites made her a tabloid sensation, previously lived in Britain and held both a U.K. passport and British citizen- ship following a 2002 marriage to a British man, Alex Chapman.<br><br> Billboard linking Obama, Hitler draws complaints A billboard ordered and paid for by the North Iowa Tea Party shows President Barack Obama, Adolf Hitler, left, and Vladimir Lenin, on South Federal Avenue in Mason City, Iowa, July 12, 2010. (AP Photo/Globe Gazette, Deb Nicklay) Tony Blair condemned Gordon Brown as a 8mad, bad, dangerous 9 mafia don at the height of their civil war for control of the Labour Party, Lord Mandelson has revealed. The former prime minister sought to buy off his chancellor in November 2003 by promising to stand down before the next election - but then reneged on the deal.<br><br> The collapse of the arrangement led to open warfare in the New Labour high command and prompted Mr Blair to dismiss his future successor as 8flawed, lacking perspective and having a paranoia about him 9. Lord Mandelson 9s revelations in his memoirs paint a devastat- ing portrait of the dysfunction at the heart of the Labour govern- ment. They prove beyond doubt that Brown 9s most senior col- leagues knew he was deeply flawed but were powerless to cut him down to size before he became the 8inevitable 9 candidate to succeed Blair in the top job.<br><br> Early in 2005, months after Blair had finally reneged on the deal and announced that he would fight the next election, Mr Brown demanded an exit date from the prime minister. Blair said: 8He 9s like something out of the mafiosi. He 9s ag- gressive, brutal ...<br><br> there is no one to match Gordon for someone who articulates high principles while practicing the lowest skull- duggery. 9 Lord Mandelson writes that Blair 8variously believed, and told me, that Gordon was mad, bad, dangerous and beyond hope of redemption 9. In his memoirs, the peer recounts a strategy meeting last October when Har- riet Harman suggested Labour campaign on the 8three Fs 9 - future, family and fairness. Alistair Darling, Douglas Alex- ander and Lord Mandelson responded with three more Fs: 8****ed 9, 8futile 9 and 8finished 9.<br><br> Lord Mandelson also revealed that, despite his denials, David Miliband plot- ted to challenge Brown several times over the past three years but never took the plunge. One opportunity came in the summer of 2008 follow- ing a series of disastrous by election results. Miliband, who publicly protested his loyalty, texted Lord Man- delson from holiday, saying: 8Large mountain ahead.<br><br> Orienteering/ climbing/ planning skills much needed. 9 Lord Mandelson, who had been encouraged by Tony Blair to assist the former foreign secretary, fired a message back offering help: 8Guides, sherpas available. 9 Lord Mandelson said that Miss Harman and the former justice secretary Jack Straw also harboured grave doubts about Brown 9s leadership. But he noted they took no action even when there was an attempted coup against the then premier early this year. n Tony Blair 9s publishers have changed the title of his autobiography from The Journey to A Journey, apparently in order to make it sound 8less messianic 9.<br><br> Random House paid a £4.6million advance for the book due out in the autumn. (Source: dailymail.co.uk) Mad, bad and dangerous! Blair branded Brown a Mafia don BELFAST (AFP) 4 Rioters in North- ern Ireland fired shots and hurled petrol bombs at police during a third night of violence blamed on republicans opposed to the British province 9s peace process.<br><br> Young children were among hundreds who took to the streets of Ardoyne in north Belfast overnight Tuesday as vio- lence continued following the peak of the marching season, a traditional flashpoint for sectarian tensions. First Minister Peter Robinson and his deputy Martin McGuinness, who have appealed for calm, were to meet Northern Ireland 9s police chief Matt Baggott later Wednesday to discuss the ongoing tensions. Authorities are blaming a small group of trouble- makers for the unrest, with Baggott describing trouble earlier this week as crecreational rioting with a sinister edge. d Witnesses have also told of how children got involved.<br><br> cI was directly confronted by a nine-year-old last night, d Fa- ther Gary Donegan, a local priest, told BBC radio, saying he had cphysically pulled stones out of children 9s hands. d cAt one stage, it looked like the Milan catwalk, d Donegan add- ed. cIt was ridiculous. There were girls out with little parasols...<br><br> it was a bit like a Eurodisney theme park for rioting. d Local councillor Gerard McCabe, of republicans Sinn Fein, said the culprits were can anti-social group hell bent on torturing the community. d There were reports of four to six shots being fired at police in mainly Catholic Ardoyne which police are investigating, while rioters also threw stones and missiles. Police deployed a water cannon in response but reported no new injuries to officers, although 82 have been hurt in clashes on previous days, including a female officer who had a con- crete block dropped on her. The disturbances come at the height of Northern Ireland 9s marching season, a traditional flash- point in the troubled province 9s his- tory.<br><br> Unrest often flares as Protestant marchers -- in favor of continued Brit- ish rule of the province -- pass through areas mainly populated by Catholics, who are generally opposed to rule from London. In the most violent riots of the past few days on Monday, dissident repub- licans threw petrol bombs and con- crete slabs at Protestant Orangemen and their police escort as they marched through Ardoyne. Monday was July 12, which is the climax of the marching calendar and sees Protestants mark Prince William of Orange 9s victory over the Catholic King James II at the Battle of the Boyne in 1690.<br><br> Despite the relative calm in Northern Ireland since the 1998 peace accords, violence frequently breaks out around July 12 as Catholics try to prevent the marches from going ahead. The province 9s First Minister Peter Robinson and his deputy Martin McGuinness both criticised the violence Tuesday, saying it was out of keeping with modern-day Northern Ireland. cI am disgusted at the outright thuggery and vandalism that has taken place over the course of the last 48 hours, d said Robinson, leader of the Democratic Unionists, Northern Ireland 9s largest Protestant party.<br><br> cThere is no excuse and no place for violence in civilised soci- ety... We must keep our entire focus on defeating those who would seek through violence and destruction to drag us back. d McGuinness, of Catholic republicans Sinn Fein, said: cOur ex- perience demonstrates that the way to deal with any disputes or contention is through dialogue and agreement. d The leaders 9 response came after Northern Ireland police 9s number two Alistair Finlay criticized their grip on events and urged them to speak out against the violence, in a rare challenge. N.<br><br> Ireland rocked by third night of sectarian riots There were reports of shots being 4red at police in Ardoyne, while rioters also threw stones and missiles GOULDING