American Media Review: Locking out the Truth

Posted 10 September 2010
last updated 21 September

This page of the Lockerbie Divide will collect a number of outstanding media reports from within the United States, where slack acceptance of the official story is the journalistic norm. I'd like to emphasize articles that break or strain the mold, and recent articles from the last month or so and every good one I catch one from here on. These are the rare stories that expand awareness of the "questions" surrounding the case and Megrahi's guilt. It is quite sparse at the moment, so I'm also going to praise some of the older landmarks, and collecting noteworthy bad American articles and how I'd make them better. Some are covered in separate posts, linked here.

See also: A review by "Bensix" of American media coverage.

Any good article links, again from US sources, can be submitted via comment (at this separate post - apparently pages don't have comments). 

Good Articles
(August 2010 and later)
+ Better / less dumb than average
++ unusually open-minded, spots of genius perhaps
+++ Amazingly informative (for an American article)

++ Time: Five Questions about Lockerbie Bomber's release
My original praise was a little thicker than warranted, on consideration. But this article published by such a major news outlet as Time has included in the five valid questions posed "Could al Megrahi have been innocent?" and whether his return was in trade for surrendering his appeal.

+ Lockerbie Doubts Dramatized in New Play. NYTimes blog The Lede, Robert Mackey. Fairly addresses Dr. Swire's position and offers faint supports. Just for mentioning the play he gets props among Americans, and he's allowed some great comments (he accepted my second draft - it was worth the effort ).

++ Things Which Don’t Go Away" by William Blum, Foreign Policy Journal, 2 September 2010. The journal is "an online publication dedicated to providing critical analysis of U.S. foreign policy outside of the standard framework offered by political officials and the mainstream corporate media." One passage:

But how many of our wonderful leaders are upset that Abdel Baset al-Megrahi spent eight years in prison despite the fact that there was, and is, no evidence that he had anything to do with the bombing of flight 103? The Scottish court that convicted him knew he was innocent. To understand that just read their 2001 “Opinion of the Court”, or read my analysis of it at
Wall Street Journal, "A Year On, Bomber's Release Spurs Calls." 20 August. Listed as good for now just for including this rare acknowledgment:

Mr. Megrahi previously has called his conviction "unjust" and said he had been the victim of a miscarriage of justice.
Last year, following his release, he posted hundreds of documents online detailing arguments supporting his abandoned appeal in an effort to clear his name.
No mention that the Scottish Criminal Case Review Commission (SCCRC), which also felt Megrahi may have suffered a miscarriage of justice and ordered a second appeal be allowed. Unlike Megrahi's released appeal papers (not hundreds but a few great ones), the SCCRC's documents remain under wraps

13 Sept: A cursory Google News Search for "Megrahi" uncovered no other clearly worthy American articles. One search for US only papers yields 53 "Megrahi" news stories. Adding "appeal" narrows it to three, with only Vivienne Walt's piece in Time doing it much justice. Adding "innocent to the search instead also yields three - one describing the victims (good distinction, USA Today!) Voice of America acknowledges that "in Libya the assumption is that Megrahi was innocent." Another notes only that those suspicious Arabs feel he's innocent. 

22 Sept: Special coverage of US coverage of Swire's recent trip to see Megrahi 
to the New York Daily News article therein, one and a half even, for reasons given.  

Good Articles 
(earlier than August 2010)

(forthcoming - could get big unless I focus on the few high points)

Mixed feelings: 
Articles that challenge the official story, but have other problems that won't let me put green plusses next to them:

Washington Report on Middle East Affairs March 2010
From Andrew Kilgore, the editor of WRMEA, an article that expands awareness of the doubts, but then messes them up. WRMEA is a source notorious for blaming Israel for everything. Not surprisingly, this piece suggests, as much as is possible, that the 1988 bombing might also have an Israeli genesis, or aspect.
My review

Bad Articles:
There are many that are simply wrong in their presumption - these stand out for making exceptionally twisted claims designed to deepen, not just reflect, the misunderstandings that prevail.

- Average, ignorant, American coverage
-- Suspiciously biased, poorly reasoned, obnoxious
--- "Obvious disinfo!!11!"

-- "The Record: Lockerbie Injustice." North 24 August. Worst passage:
CONVICTED Lockerbie bomber Abdel Baset al-Megrahi spends his days at home in Tripoli, surrounded by family. New Jersey's two U.S. senators spend their days in Washington, pressing Scotland to provide details about its decision to release al-Megrahi from prison. So far the senators' attempts have been futile, and they may never yield answers.
They have so been given answers and have ignored them, as they're waiting for the answer that proves their conspiracy theory. Nothing short of "yes, we are weak-kneed Euro-concessionists who freed a real-live mass-terrorist to help someone else secure oil deals."

What they haven't got is personal appearances. The United States excels in this and did the same thing to Libya over the same case in the 1990s. Demand an appearance to face imaginary charges, under circumstances honorable people cannot accede to. Call this vindication of your case and commence the useful punishment/grandstanding/political vamprism.

-- Why no investigation into release of Pan Am bomber?
Jab at Republicans - BP oil deals - very sloppy reasoning. As usual no grasp of any hint of innocence in the terrorist - he's nothing more than a political turd, pure and simple, to smear the opposition with.

- Glens Falls NY Post Star
"I couldn't understand why he was released," Engelhardt said, "and I didn't think he would die in three months." When she read a British newspaper article some three weeks later making connections between al-Megrahi's release and a deal with BP for Libyan oil, she said, she knew. [...] "A-ha. That's what it is," she said. "What else could it be but oil?" 

- For Pan Am Flt 103 Families, Not a Happy Anniversary
This one quotes former PA103 American families leader Bert Ammerman saying "There's no question in my mind our government was involved in the release" of the fully guilty terrorist. Along with the one above, further proof that these people have far too few questions in their minds.

--- Christian Science Monitor: Lockerbie Bomber Megrahi: Conspiracy Theoriess persist
I was far from impressed with this one. Posted a dedicated review of it here.

Obama administration now asking Libya to return Lockerbie bomber to prison in ...
American Thinker ... forthcoming

--- Jeff Stein Blog Spy Talk, 27 August 2010: "CIA retirees call for escalated probe of Pan Am 103 bomber's release"
Gene Poteat of the Association of "Former" intelligence Officers
My review: "As the layers are peeled away..."

-- "Post-Lockerbie Shame," Charleston (SC) Post and Courier. 1 September 2010.
My Review
Worst passage:
Libya has paid billions in reparations to victims' families in acknowledgement of its role in the bombing, but Col. Gadhafi has never expressed the slightest remorse.
-- "Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset al-Megrahi's cancer doc: I would've been more vague on terrorist's fate." 14 August 2010. New York Daily News. My review. Worst passage:
According to a Scottish doctor paid by Libya, he had only months to live. [... MacAskill later] released al-Megrahi, citing the doctor's opinion.

CNN Blog 20 August: Was it right to free al Megrahi?
Should society allow convicts to go free at the end if they suffer illnesses? Does the fact al Megrahi is still alive change your opinion from what when he was freed last year?
Does the fact that there is serious and widespread doubt about his guilt even get mentioned?