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Ron Radosh

Trading a Terrorist for Oil. Did Barack Obama Know in Advance?

August 31st, 2009 - 8:49 am

The Left used to have a chant: “No war for oil.” But now that  Britain has let a terrorist who killed 243 passengers go free, because to do so meant access to a multi-million-pound oil exploration deal for British Petroleum (BP), we have not heard a word. This is especially the case for the British Left, who, for some time now, has been anti-Israel to the hilt and excessively silent about the crimes committed by Arab nations.

The facts are clear, as the London Times reported. Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s government, after discussions between Libya and BP, made the decision to free Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi, the Lockerbie bomber who brought down Pam Am 103 in 1988. Among the passengers who died were 180 Americans.

Until now, it was thought that Scotland made the deal alone to free al-Megrahi. But investigative reporting found firm evidence that, as Edward Davey,  the Liberal Democrat foreign affairs spokesman, put it, “the British government has been involved for a long time in talks over al-Megrahi in which commercial considerations have been central to their thinking.”

It was a decision, Justice Secretary Jack Straw said, that was in the British national interest. Britain agreed that the terrorist could go free. Six weeks later, Libya ratified the BP deal that the government wanted concluded. So much for “compassionate grounds,” the so-called official reason that led to Al-Megrhai’s freedom.

One other issue has to be raised. After al-Megrahi  was freed and given a hero’s welcome when his plane landed in Libya, the Obama administration and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton protested. But this was  after he gained his freedom. So the question must be stated: Would Britain have allowed this deal to be undertaken without informing President Obama in advance?

After all, scores of Americans were murdered by his action. The families have suffered for close to twenty years. A moving account of one family’s trauma appeared in an op-ed yesterday written by Robert P. George. As George writes: “What did American officials know about the decision to free Megrahi and when did they know it? What, if anything, did our government do to try to prevent it? Remember, 180 of Megrahi’s victims were our fellow citizens. President Obama had a right to be informed in advance of what Scotland was planning to do and a duty to do everything in his power diplomatically to prevent this outrage.”

Did Barack Obama phone Gordon Brown and object strenuously before the release? Did he really not know of Britain’s plans until after it was too late? Frankly, this is rather hard to believe. If almost 200 British subjects were killed on American soil in a terrorist attack, and the perpetrator was freed in a commercial deal by the U.S. government, it is hard to imagine that any administration would not first have informed the British government of what was going to take place.

So the question remains: What did Barack Obama know, and when did he know it?

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