Document:Lockerbie - Bomber, Bomber, Bomber
Editor's blog- Bomber, bomber, bomber.
Those of us in journalism know (or ought to) that one of the fundamental tactics in what used to be called propaganda but is now called public relations -or communications, by those in Government- is to control the terms of the engagement. That might mean simply choosing your words carefully. For instance instead of sending for reinforcements in a battle an army is losing, they call it a troop “surge”. The term is repeated by the reporting media, and the terms of the engagement are controlled. You see examples every day, in every brief and on every agenda. Politicians have it drilled into them during their media training, to ensure they stay “on message”, and only answer any questions put to them with the answer they want to give. The punters find it frustrating and tune out, but the result is that the exchange is limited. And controlled. But that’s OK. We’re trained journos, we can work with it, and we aren‘t complaining.
Our job is to engage more deeply and see through the cheap tricks to the truth. When the subject at hand is harder to bat away with a scripted line, odious, and association with it smells so bad no matter how far back you stand from it, you see a degree of choreography and symmetry to the “communications” that makes you sit up. It has been happening right before our eyes in connection with the long term international fiasco that is the Lockerbie trial, in the news of the last several days, an event whose smell lingers even today precisely because no matter how much you polish a turd, pass it around, walk away from it and focus on the paper you wiped it with, it is still a turd. Calling it a Mars Bar won’t change it. And we in journalism know why it still smells. And it is still a turd.
No one in Edinburgh, Washington, London or Libya wants to talk about the embarrassment to Scots law and affront to international justice that was the Lockerbie trial. No one wants to talk about the fabricated material that was introduced as evidence, or the flaws in the Crown case or the bribery of key witnesses. No one wants to talk about the daily briefings imposed upon the bereaved families to try and persuade them all was well when the show trial had collapsed under the weight of its own inadequacy. Or how the UK relatives wouldn’t listen to them any more. No one wants to talk about the touted defence case that was quietly and almost totally dropped without comment on the imbalance. No one wants to talk about the witnesses whose testimony wasn’t heard, and those witnesses who were heard, but whose testimony was a tissue of lies and inconsistency paid for by US intelligence. No one wants to talk about the prevarications of the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission, whose report into the Megrahi conviction -at least, those parts of it released- went to great lengths to dismiss the work of investigative journalists over the 19 preceding years, before reluctantly, grudgingly, yet narrowly choking on its acceptance that a miscarriage of justice had in all probability taken place. No one wants to talk about the closed courts, the security vetted, court appointed defenders, the intelligence documentation that is protected by PII, the pressure applied to ensure Megrahi dropped his appeal, the refusal to hold a public inquiry despite the obvious need, the destroyed police notebooks, the inconsistent testimony, the limitations and narrowness of the appeal process, the clear and evident lack of guilt of the man convicted of doing something even the court agreed could not be established with any logic that fit the evidence, far less proven.
No. Instead, our Prime Minister, our First Minister, our Foreign Secretary, a gaggle of US Senators and their Foreign Secretary want to talk about why a bomber was released. The circumstances of how a bomber was released. Who made the decision to release a bomber. Whether BP had anything to do with a bomber’s release. Why a bomber hasn’t died yet. Whether a bomber should be returned to a Scottish jail. Bomber, bomber, bomber. Are you getting it?
On 21 December 1988 a plane was destroyed above Lockerbie. The only evidence of a bomb that was introduced turned out to have been fabricated, and any physicist who knows his semtex -together with any engineer who knows his Boeing 747- will tell you that the tale told by the prosecution was not only incredible, but impossible.
That fantasy tale was spun by US intelligence, sold to a docile media, and kept from our own Crown Office until the trial was well underway, past the point of no return, as it were. By the time the Crown were told how hollow the star witness’s testimony was, and how empty the prosecution case was, the circus was already into its third act.
Our Crown Office were assured by our allies that they had a solid case, and they believed them and felt privileged to have the opportunity to prosecute it before the eyes of the world. They can be forgiven for going into this like babes in the wood, tripping over themselves to be part of the golden ticket. However, they cannot be forgiven for perpetuating the fiction over later years, in the light of its exposure, collapse and discredit, which they do even to this day.
Most journalists these days are not given the time to investigate this complex and lengthy chain of events. They are not given the opportunity to visit witnesses, speak to the principals, past and present, analyse the key documentation or form reasoned conclusions based on evidence. News editors at respected national titles are not always aware of the identity of the dramatis personae, nor do they know the agendas to which some of them work, their hidden affiliations, or their intelligence connections. They don’t have the time, budget or even interest in many cases. Journalists and commentators who use wikipedia to begin their research are not aware of the extent to which that site is reported - reliably, apparently- to have been compromised by the intelligence services. Instead they attribute and repeat what is said by figures in Government. Much of the recent coverage relating to the Pan Am 103 legacy has served principally to amplify the statements and serve the agendas of compromised governments or prosecuting authorities. So when they say bomber, that is what you read. Repeatedly. But look back. What bomb, exactly? Not the one the court was told about. Is there another? Is anyone else concerned that no one in Government is talking about what actually caused that plane to founder? Or that those in Government and prosecuting authority speak with one voice that is completely at odds with the facts, as well as logic. Only political ends are served by this voice that repeats bomber, bomber, bomber.
An international petition for a wide ranging inquiry is before the UN, yet none of the compromised governments are willing to sponsor it. They are however very willing to talk with some coordination and vigour about the release of a bomber, but not about what happened or how he came to be incarcerated, the questions which our judicial process had not yet answered before it was halted.
Bomber, bomber, bomber. And throw in some BP, too. That is the agenda, so that is what we read about. Even if you have no sympathy for BP, to see them used as a whipping boy by the very nation whose culpability in creating and sustaining this lengthy farce is an offence to the truth, and a barely credible distraction.
Our allies sold us a lie and sold us out. Our government bought into it then, and our governments shore up that error to this day. It is our justice system and international reputation that is wrecked as a result. And the truth is lost.
But no one wants to talk about that, do they? The terms of the engagement are fully under control. Did someone say bomber?