Saturday 22 August 2009

Mass murder - a tale of two sentences

So Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, the Libyan convicted of the Lockerbie bombing, got his release, to cries of outrage from the United States government. It was “absolutely wrong”, said Secretary of State Hilary Clinton.

Then in a bizarre coincidence, up popped former US army officer Lt William Calley – not much heard of since the 1970’s when he was convicted of the mass murder of 500 Vietnamese civilians at My Lai. Yesterday Lt Calley offered his first public apology for the crime.

Back in 1971, he was sent to gaol for life. And what was the reaction of the US government? The unbending determination that it would be “absolutely wrong” to release a mass murderer before he had served his full sentence? No, actually President Nixon quickly cut his punishment to three years’ house arrest.

And there were no doubts about Calley’s guilt unlike that of Megrahi (see my blogs of July 27 and Aug 16), nor was he dying of cancer. Double standards, anyone?


  1. Great blog, John, and another reminder, if one were necessary, of the solemn tones of hypocrisy and lies that still colour the palette of world politics. What is amazing about this callous and brutal farce is the fact that there isn't one dissenting American voice; the right-wing meeja (well done, Rupie) have done it again; they all seem convinced of Megrahi's guilt, yet the case always had more holes than Bonnie and Clyde from what I remember.

    You'd think the victims' families would be after something like the truth, but of course that would be unbearable. Too much truth would confuse and confound. Does Obama know? Would he have been let in on this and a thousand other secrets that make the world a safer place? Or will this appear in David |Aranovitche's new volume of Conspiracy Theories? As I wrute this, Edward Kennedy has finally given up the ghost, and we all know what he will be remembered for. But Cappaquidick wasn't mentioned once by the great and good who were proffering their tributes this morning. Maybe unpalatable truths, when they get old, just don't have much appeal.
    Go to which is the website of Jim Swire, whose daughter, Flora, died on flight 103. He's dedicating his very existence to getting to the truth. Let's hope he gets it and will survive the smug accusations of being a sad conspiracy theorist.

  2. JB - good to see you back. The ghost at the Lockerbie feast of misinformation is, of course, the USA's shooting down of the Iran Air airliner in Iranian air space on July 3, 1988 - killing all 290 people on board. Apparently it was a "mistake", so that's all right then. (Imagine if the Iranians had shot down an American airliner "by mistake") I detected no enthusiasm from the US government for bringing to justice those responsible for this "mass murder", though the US did eventually pay out c£100m compensation.
    You mention Sen Ed K (RIP). I always remember when he started kicking up a fuss about the nuclear accident at Three Mile Island in the late 1970's, and someone produced the immortal bumper sticker: "More people died at
    Chappaquiddick than at Harrisburg"