Right-wing media falsely claim White House “supported” release of Lockerbie bomber

The right-wing media are distorting a U.K. Sunday Times article to claim that the “White House backed [the] release of [the] Lockerbie bomber,” Abdel Baset al-Megrahi. In fact, the Sunday Times article right-wing media figures are citing makes clear that “the United States wanted Megrahi to remain imprisoned in view of the nature of the crime.”

Right-wing media falsely claim that Obama “backed [the] release” of the Lockerbie bomber

Geller claims Obama “Backed Release of Jihadi Lockerbie Mass Murderer,” calls for “special investigation,” “charge of treason.” In a July 25 Atlas Shrugs post, Pamela Geller falsely claimed that the Obama administration “Backed [the] release of Jihadi Lockerbie Mass Murderer.” Geller wrote:

Back in September 2009, when the jihadi mass murderer, Abdel Baset al-Megrahi, was released when he should have been executed, I called for Obama's impeachment, knowing full well that the Obama administration had to have known, had to have signed off on it, had to have approved it. At the time, the Obama spin was that Megrahi's release blindsided Washington, and that it was appalled by the decision.

Geller called this a “LIE. This is another terrible betrayal and crime against the American people by the Post-American president.” Geller ignored reporting that the administration advised Scotland not to release Megrahi, writing: “Today, the Australian reported that the Obama administration secretly advised Scottish ministers that it would be 'far preferable' to free the Lockerbie bomber than to jail him in Libya. More of Obama's transparency. ... He knew. He knew. He didn't stop it. This would never happen under Bush.” The post's title asks readers to “Demand [a] special investigation, file charge of treason.”

Drudge: “White House Backed Release of Lockerbie Bomber.” The Drudge Report linked to an Australian article under the headline, “White House Backed Release of Lockerbie Bomber.” From the July 25 front page of the Drudge Report:


Hoft: “Obama White House Backed Release of Lockerbie Bomber.” In a July 25 Gateway Pundit post, Jim Hoft posted the Drudge Report headline and wrote, “The US backed the release of Lockerbie bomber Abdel Baset al-Megrahi.” Hoft posted a section of the Australian article but left out the portion of the article which reported that the U.S. wanted Megrahi to remain imprisoned.

Ace of Spades falsely suggests administration “didn't reject both and demand continued jail in Scotland.” In a July 25 post, blogger Ace falsely claimed, “The choices offered to the White House were 'compassionate leave' for that terminal, last-stages cancer that hasn't taken the spring out his step yet, or continued jailing in Libya.” Ace cited the Australian's article on the Sunday Times' report and not only omitted the portion of the article that reported that the administration supported continued imprisonment but asked, “Why the White House didn't reject both and demand continued jail in Scotland I don't know.”

Perino ignores reporting that the Obama administration supported continued imprisonment. On the July 26 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, Fox News contributor Dana Perino said: “I thought what was the most interesting development over the weekend was the report that the White House actually supported the release for the terrorist into Scotland on compassionate grounds, they just didn't want him to go to Libya.” Neither Perino nor the Fox & Friends hosts mentioned that the administration opposed releasing Megrahi.

FoxNews.com: “U.S. Backed Freedom, Not Prison, for Bomber.” A FoxNews.com graphic misleadingly claimed, “U.S. Backed Freedom, Not Prison, for Bomber.” The article it linked to correctly reported that "[t]he Obama administration told Scottish officials last August that, although it opposed any release of the Lockerbie bomber, it would rather see him released in Scotland than transferred to a Libyan prison." From FoxNews.com:


In fact, the Obama administration opposed Megrahi's release

Sunday Times: "[T]he United States wanted Megrahi to remain imprisoned." The Sunday Times article made clear that the administration supported keeping Megrahi imprisoned, but that in the event he was released, they preferred to release him in Scotland rather than send him to Libya. From the Sunday Times (accessed via Factiva):

In the letter, sent on August 12 last year to Alex Salmond, the first minister, and justice officials, [deputy head of the London US embassy Richard] LeBaron wrote that the United States wanted Megrahi to remain imprisoned in view of the nature of the crime.

The note added: “Nevertheless, if Scottish authorities come to the conclusion that Megrahi must be released from Scottish custody, the US position is that conditional release on compassionate grounds would be a far preferable alternative to prisoner transfer, which we strongly oppose.” LeBaron added that freeing the bomber and making him live in Scotland “would mitigate a number of the strong concerns we have expressed with regard to Megrahi's release”.

The US administration lobbied the Scottish government more strongly against sending Megrahi home under a prisoner transfer agreement signed by the British and Libyan governments -- in a deal now known to have been linked to a £550m oil contract for BP.

It claimed this would flout a decade-old agreement reached by the UK and US governments that anyone convicted of the bombing would serve their sentence in a Scottish prison.

Todd: “The last thing [the Obama administration] wanted was him going to Libya.” On the July 26 edition of MSNBC's Morning Joe, senior White House correspondent Chuck Todd said, “I think there isn't a contradiction about what was reported and what [the White House is] claiming.” From Morning Joe:

TODD: In the letter itself, it seems as if the position that [National Security Council chief of staff Denis McDonough] is taking with your email there and what was said in the letter, which was, look, we don't -- the last thing they wanted was him going to Libya, and that was the point of the letter. And then the people I've talked to about it -- that that was the point they were trying to drive home to the Scots, which was don't send him back to Libya. You're going to do a compassionate release, keep him in Scotland, keep him under some sort of house arrest there, but don't send him back to Libya. And I think the actual letter itself and even the parts that were reported by the Sunday Times of London doesn't contradict that.