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BP: drenched in oil and blood

They told us he had days or weeks to live. That he was being released on humanitarian grounds. But nearly a year later, Abdel Basset al-Megrahi is alive and well in Tripoli, Libya. The same cannot be said for the 270 people, including 189 Americans, he helped murder when Pan Am Flight 103 was blown out of the sky over Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1988. To make maters worse, BP -- the same folks who have brought us the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history -- confirmed yesterday that it lobbied the British government to speed up the conclusion of prisoner transfer agreements with Libya so that a 500 million pound oil deal with the country could go through.

Oil and water don’t mix. But blood and oil apparently do.

BP swears that it didn’t specifically ask for al-Megrahi’s release. As if that makes its actions a smidge less unconscionable. This story from yesterday’s Guardian lays out the ugly allegations, which have been known since last year.

Last September then-justice minister, Jack Straw, admitted that Britain had been partly motivated by the need to secure fresh oil contracts when ministers tried, in 2007, to make it easier to release Megrahi.

Straw accepted in an interview that he had decided in 2007 to drop his plan to exclude the bomber from a prisoner transfer agreement (PTA) that was being negotiated with Libya. Straw's change of mind followed lobbying by British oil interests, notably BP, and the Libyan government.

Straw was lobbied on 15 October and 9 November 2007 by Sir Mark Allen, a former MI6 officer, who then worked for BP as a consultant. Libya was stalling on a £500m-plus oil deal with BP.

Documents last year showed Straw originally promised a PTA would only be reached with Libya if Megrahi were excluded. But he later acceded to Libyan demands to include Megrahi. The change followed a warning from BP that not including the bomber could hurt its business interests.

A group of U.S. senators, including Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) have called on the State Department to investigate whether BP specifically lobbied to free al-Megrahi. “We will obviously look into it,” Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said yesterday.

Given what know already, it should be a short look-see. I’m just unclear on what exactly the U.S. can do to right this egregious wrong.

By Jonathan Capehart  | July 15, 2010; 12:56 PM ET
Categories:  Capehart  | Tags:  Jonathan Capehart  
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Comments

criticizing BP for facilitating the release of convicted Terrorists is UN-AMERICAN!

Posted by: Please_Fix_VAs_Roads | July 15, 2010 12:58 PM | Report abuse

Isn't this old news?

I recall last year that it was reported that British sources admitted a link to Megrahi's release and economic ties with Libya, including petroleum. So now we know BP is among the lobbyists? Ok, I guess that's news.

Let me ask you all; how does this change your view of oil companies?

Posted by: slatt321 | July 15, 2010 2:01 PM | Report abuse

Man!, what next "BP stomps on kittens for fun"??????????

Posted by: JRM2 | July 15, 2010 2:48 PM | Report abuse

Wow, an American newspaper complaining about other western governments doing shady deals in return for improving economic and political dies with a dictatorship? classic.

Posted by: Christopher7 | July 15, 2010 7:33 PM | Report abuse


Hillary will look into it? Ha! She's in BP's pocket as much as anyone.

Game's over folks. The triumvirate of big oil, Wall Street (incl. The Fed), and the Pentagon's procurement networks run the show.

The gov't exists today only to ratify through legislation decisions made in corporate board rooms.

Posted by: HumanistPatriot | July 16, 2010 9:43 AM | Report abuse

I agree with this columnist about little, but he's right about this. BP, like Exxon et al. is a fine organization full of hard working and talented people. We all benefit from BP. But the BP top echelon and policy-makers responsible for the disgraceful al-Megrahi episode should have the spotlight trained on them. Moral worms.

Posted by: Roytex | July 16, 2010 9:55 AM | Report abuse

I am curious: where was Capehart during the original debate? Why let the bastard out of jail in the first place, regardless of his health? He freaking KILLED those people. Was Capehart all for squishy humanitarian gestures back then, and now he's furious because oil was tied to the deal?

I honestly don't know the answer to that, but I sure would like to. If he condemned the release at the time, I would respect his current posture.

Posted by: NNevada | July 16, 2010 11:51 AM | Report abuse

Excellent comment by NNevada. Mr. Capehart, were you indeed troubled by the release of the murderer al-Magrahi before you learned of BP's role? Did you say so?

Posted by: Roytex | July 16, 2010 12:18 PM | Report abuse

We can end our so-called "special" relationship with this shower of spineless eurotrash. It's always been an almost completely one-way relationship anyway.

Posted by: scvaughan | July 16, 2010 12:31 PM | Report abuse

There is plenty of evidence that this man is not the Lockerbie bomber, even though he was convicted by due process. That aside, Mr Capeheart obviously knows little about UK governance. The UK government had no say in the release of Megrahi. It was the Scottish Government that made the decision. Whether the Prisoner Transfer Agreement included Megrahi or not is irrelevant because the final say rested not with the Home Secretary in London, but with the Scottish Justice Secretary in Edinburgh. BP did not lobby the Scottish Government. There is no love lost between the Scottish and UK governments (Scotland is run by the Scottish National Party) so it is highly unlikely they colluded. No doubt though, the UK government was equally happy with the decision - and that the SNP would take the rap.

Posted by: myke3 | July 17, 2010 4:16 AM | Report abuse

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