Helsinki Warning Re-Considered, pt 3

28 September 2010

<< See part 2 - distribution and assessment

Would it / did it serve as an effective warning?
Actually, I'm not up to filling in this post at the moment, but I've chosen to make them sequential. If anyone else cares to write up a guest post to address this question, I'd be happy to post it. Submission deadline is just before I finally get around to it. No rush I should think - if I've bought some time, I'll take it.

(this text to be replaced)
Go to part 4: Can we be sure it was a coincidental hoax? >>

Debate Call: Anyone

15 September 2010
last update 4 October

In the past I have issued a couple of debate calls here at the Lockerbie Divide, for Brian Flynn and one "Kaddafi Delenda Est." I've thought of challenging Frank Duggan and Richard Marquise, but figured they were too smart to take me up and it would be a waste.

But here is my challenge to anyone who can step up and defend the official story.
If the official story were really true, it could be jointly:
1 - used as a legitimate basis for indictments and thence crippling economic sanctions
2 - used to rightly convict one of the two accused in a court of law and allow sanctions to end once compensation was rendered by Libya
3 - be discussed at length and in detail after the fact without fear of it falling apart like that Cinderella spell after midnight.
If the facts of the 3-D world we inhabit matched the legal reality, the proofs of Megrahi's guilt (the bomb bag from Malta, Tony Guci's ID, etc.) should be something these people know front to back. It would be easy to shut us down by showing the ruling was more like science than magic. They call it fact of the science type, but defer to the Zeist judges' formulaic encoding with the unquestioning reverence afforded the magical class. Not a good sign.

The evidence in its details, like how we totally know the bomb came from Malta - aside from Megrahi being there at the time - should be Bunntamas' forte.

It's not.
It's noted.

Take it as a challenge, folks. Sharpen up over there.
Who can discuss the actual details of what Megrahi was convicted on? Moussa Koussa, human right violations, supposed meetings, and other peripheral issues are not relevant. Megrahi (and to a lesser extent Fhimah) matter here. None of this "Megrahi was on Malta Dec 21" nonsense. we all agree on that, under an alias, and looking just suspicious enough to frame. What's the evidence the bomb was there that day? That's what's in dispute here. What is the evidence and why is it convincing to you? None of this "well, the judges accepted it" tripe. Again, we all know what they accepted. Why do you think they were right to do so? Without explanation it looks like blind faith to me.

Gauci's supposed identification of Megrahi also needs re-explained to me and many others. Why isn't that a total crock? I'd also love to hear a defense of Mr. Giaka's smoking gun testimony that Cannistraro hyped back when we were starving Libya over it. Since 2001, (most) everyone just ignores that one.

In short then, I'm looking only for anyone who can hold up the official story's explanations of why Megrahi is guilty. You needn't be any of the higher profile people I've mentioned yet - anyone who feels they have a grasp of the facts to try and sort out this conspiracy theorist will do. If it works out, the comments section right below might do, but ideally that would be for you to accept the challenge and decide a format for a more formal debate.

One notably excellent place to put me "in my place" is the JREF forum. You can see many of our links and the back story here, and the best thread to jump directly into is this one, currently occupied by two PA103 victim's family members - Matt Berkley for the Swire side and "Bunntamas" for the American side.

And here, the comments are open.

Helsinki Warning Re-Considered, pt 2

27 September 2010

<< See part 1: the call and its contents.

Assessment and Distribution 
News of the strange phone call in Helsinki was sent to Pan Am and the Federal Aviation Authority within a day of its placement on 5 December, 1988, and apparently bounced around about two days before being acted on. Jim Berwick, Pan Am’s head of security for London, learned of the threat on the morning of the 8th. He soon flew to Finland and met with security experts who told him what they knew.

The Finnish feds had been tapping the line that the call came in on (no word whether they got a recording or not). The picture that emerged from the outset was of a hoax from someone who knew nothing and was driven by his own irrelevant agenda. The phone was found by the Finns to belong to one Samra Mahayoun, “an unfortunate creature,” as Emerson and Duffy put it - a displaced Palestinian student, perhaps 30 years old, whose girlfriend had recently dumped him for another man. [E+D p 54] It seems Mahayoun had taken to prank calling the Israeli embassy to frame his rival as a terrorist who might be worth deporting.

This rival is given by the authors as one Yassan Gharadot - the man who was to pass the bomb from “Abdullah” to the Finnish woman. The BBC's Conspiracy Files (who wouldn't give Mahayoun's name and gave the other as Ghassan Jaradet) suggests the woman in question was the coveted woman in the middle of the dispute. De Braeckeleer says the Finns had suggested it was drug gang rivalries behind it all. Whichever the case, it was apparently evidence of a personal crisis, and not a civi aviation one.

But the tense times called for a little caution. Berwick agreed the call was a hoax, but was already aware of the earlier “Toshiba Warning" regarding weaponized consumer radios. He ordered special screening of all female passengers from Finland, and sent out a memo instructing all Alert (Pan Am security) personnel to place “special emphasis on the handling of interline baggage” at Frankfurt.” [E+D 186]

On 9 December the warning was also distributed to embassies worldwide, the only one of which to respond was Moscow. The mission the the USSR put out an advisory on 13 December, over a week into the two week period of possible danger. It was widely seen and remembered in that community. One of the chiefs there told the PCAST panel in 1990 that 80 per cent of the Pan Am reservations by embassy staff for the holiday season were cancelled after the so-called Helsinki warning. [dB] He explained:
“It named a carrier. It named a route. And it covered a time period when many Americans in Moscow would be going home for Christmas. Here, it seems to me, we have a moral obligation to let people know." [Coleman and Goddard, chapter 9]

In contrast, the head of aviation security at the UK Department of Transport told victim's families in June 1989 the since the warning had been a hoax, its posting around Moscow had been a "mistake," rather than a moral obligation. Family member Martin Cadman is said to have replied
“[A]re you really telling us that there may be some Americans alive today because someone in the embassy in Moscow made a mistake in issuing a warning? Are you saying that 259 passengers [including his son William] are dead because the British Government did not make the same mistake?" [de Braeckeleer]

That question, whether the apparent hoax would likely have really saved any of the passengers on PA103, will be covered in part 3 - "Would it be an effective warning?"

Justice for Megrahi Campaign

 21 September 2010
last update 29 November

The following is a document - part history, part constitution, part resource list - for the Justice for Megrahi campaign (website). It was sent in by committee member Robert Forrester, and will have to go on their website as well once that's expanded.

This is also the best spot to post this link to all posts at this blog regarding (or tagged as) the JFM campaign.

Justice for Megrahi (JFM) is a single issue justice campaign group comprising the committee and the signatories. It maintains that on the basis of the evidence laid by the Crown before the three judges of the High Court of Justiciary at Kamp van Zeist (Netherlands), the 2001 conviction of Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi for the 1988 bombing of Pan Am flight 103 over Lockerbie (Scotland) was a miscarriage of justice. Although the central plank of JFM’s position is concerned with the contention that no reasonable court could have convicted on the basis of the evidence as presented to the court, it also acknowledges other factors beyond this relating to, amongst other things, the fact that whilst the Crown was aware of evidence of value to the defence case before the trial, this evidence did not become public knowledge until after the verdict had been passed. JFM exists to address issues surrounding the investigation of the destruction of the aircraft and the subsequent trial of Mr al-Megrahi and Mr Al Amin Khalifa Fhimah. Its main objective is to campaign to have Mr al-Megrahi’s conviction quashed.


Justice for Megrahi (JFM) was founded in November of 2008 following the judicial hearing which set out the arrangements for Mr al-Megrahi’s second appeal. The appeal had been referred back to the Court of Appeal on a total of six grounds (largely concerned with the quality of evidence provided by the Crown’s star witness at Kamp van Zeist, Maltese shopkeeper Mr Tony Gauci) by Scotland’s expert and independent legal authority which has responsibility for referring cases to the Court of Appeal: the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission (SCCRC). The initial aim of JFM was to campaign, by means of a public petition to be submitted to Scottish Government (see: for the compassionate release of Mr al-Megrahi in light of his terminal medical condition. The founding committee members felt that the Crown in its decision to break Mr al-Megrahi’s appeal into sections to be spaced out over a considerable period of months was not giving due regard to the prisoner’s medical state, and that in prolonging the appeal thus, the appellant could well succumb to his illness before the appeal concluded, with the possible result that no judgement might be produced.

Following a private meeting between the Scottish Cabinet Secretary for Justice, Mr Kenny MacAskill, and Mr al-Megrahi in HM Prison Greenock in August of 2009, Mr al-Megrahi dropped his second appeal and became the beneficiary of compassionate release, which brought about his repatriation to Libya. JFM takes no credit for having had any influence over the decision to avail Mr al-Megrahi of the provision, under Scots Law, of compassionate release. In September of 2009, following the prisoner’s release, JFM began its campaign to have the 2001 verdict overturned by means of a comprehensive public inquiry or other judicial means into the Lockerbie case covering:
• The Fatal Accident Inquiry into the downing of Pan Am 103.
• The police investigation of the tragedy.
• The subsequent Kamp van Zeist trial.
• The acquittal of Mr Fhimah and conviction of Mr Al-Megrahi.
• The Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission's (SCCRC) referral of Mr Al-Megrahi's case to the Court of Appeal.
• The dropping of this second appeal and the compassionate release of Mr Al-Megrahi.
JFM additionally contends that the reputation of Scotland’s justice system has suffered a severe blow because of the Zeist verdict and that only through testing the validity of the verdict can this reputation be redeemed.

In support of JFM’s call for a full and open public inquiry, the group has lobbied the following bodies and individuals:

The President of the General Assembly of the United Nations Organisation
All missions with a seat at the General Assembly of the UN
The African Union
The League of Arab States
The Non-Aligned Movement
The President of Egypt
The Government of Libya
The Government of Malta
The Government of Cuba
The Government of Nicaragua
The Government of Venezuela
The Senate of the United States of America
The Government of Scotland

With the exception of the Maltese and Scottish Governments, none of the above has responded to JFM’s advances.

In September of 2010, JFM made representations to the First Minister of Scotland Mr Alex Salmond in the hope that the Scottish Government would establish an inquiry into the affair under the auspices of the Scottish Government citing the following reasons:

• The event occurred over and on Scottish territory.
• The case was investigated by a Scottish police force.
• The trial was conducted under Scots Law.
• Mr Al-Megrahi was convicted under Scots Law.
• Mr Al-Megrahi was imprisoned in a Scottish gaol.
• The SCCRC referred the second appeal to the Scottish Court of Appeal.
• Mr Al-Megrahi was given compassionate release by the Scottish Cabinet Secretary for Justice.
In declining JFM’s submission, a Scottish Government spokesman stated the following as justification for the decision not to endorse the campaign’s request that Edinburgh set up an inquiry into the Lockerbie case:

“The Scottish Government do not doubt the safety of the conviction of al-Megrahi. Nevertheless, there remain concerns to some on the wider issues of the Lockerbie atrocity. The questions to be asked and answered in any such inquiry would be beyond the jurisdiction of Scots Law and the remit of the Scottish Government, and such an inquiry would, therefore, need to be initiated by those with the required power and authority to deal with an issue, international in its nature.”

JFM continues to maintain that more than adequate evidence required to establish that there was a miscarriage of justice at Kamp van Zeist falls well within the jurisdiction of Scotland. Amongst other things, JFM points to all documents and testimony pertaining to the investigation, the trial and the referral of Mr al-Megrahi’s conviction back to the Court of Appeal, on no fewer than six grounds, by the SCCRC. Moreover JFM asserts that in accordance with “current UK legislation as expressed by the Inquiries Act 2005 (c12), which indicates, in sections 1, 27 and 32, that the Scottish Government possesses more than adequate powers to open an inquiry into the Lockerbie case under its own auspices.”

It is JFM’s intention to maintain its strategy of lobbying governments, judicial bodies, international groups and individuals to realise its aims irrespective of whether Mr al-Megrahi is alive or dead.


Justice for Megrahi comprises the committee, made up of the remaining founding members, and the signatories who endorse the JFM campaign.

The current (August 2010) committee members:

Professor Robert Black QC
Mr Robert Forrester
Father Pat Keegans
Mr Iain McKie
Doctor Jim Swire

The current (August 2010) signatories:

Ms Kate Adie (Former Chief News Correspondent for BBC News).
Mr John Ashton (Co- author of: ‘Cover Up of Convenience’).
Mr David Benson (Actor/author of the play ‘Lockerbie: Unfinished Business).
Mrs Jean Berkley (Mother of Alistair Berkley: victim of Pan Am 103).
Mr Peter Biddulph (Lockerbie tragedy researcher).
Professor Robert Black QC (‘Architect’ of the Kamp van Zeist Trial).
Professor Noam Chomsky (Human rights, social and political commentator).
Mr Tam Dalyell (UK MP: 1962-2005. Father of the House: 2001-2005).
Mr Ian Ferguson (Co- author of: ‘Cover Up of Convenience’).
Mr Robert Forrester (Justice for Megrahi Committee).
Ms Christine Grahame MSP (Member of the Scottish Parliament).
Mr Ian Hislop (Editor of ‘Private Eye’).
Fr Pat Keegans (Lockerbie parish priest on 21st December 1988).
Ms A L Kennedy (Author).
Mr Andrew Killgore (Former US Ambassador to Qatar).
Mr Adam Larson (Editor and proprietor of ‘The Lockerbie Divide’).
Mr Iain McKie (Retired Superintendent of Police).
Ms Heather Mills (Reporter for ‘Private Eye’).
Mr Charles Norrie (Brother of Tony Norrie: victim of UT 772).
Mr Denis Phipps (Aviation security expert).
Mr John Pilger (Campaigning human rights journalist).
Mr Steven Raeburn (Editor of ‘The Firm).
Mr James Robertson (Author).
Dr Jim Swire (Father of Flora Swire: victim of Pan Am 103).
Sir Teddy Taylor (UK MP 1964-2005. Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland).
Archbishop Desmond Tutu (Nobel Peace Prize Winner).

Whilst JFM has no formal constitution, the following general rules apply:

• JFM operates on the basis of mutual trust between the committee and the signatories that everyone who is party to the campaign will act in furtherance of its principal aims.
• All committee members are signatories.
• The signatories are free to adopt as active or passive a role as they wish.
• The committee takes ultimate responsibility for all material reaching the public domain.
• The committee will consult and keep the signatories fully informed of all JFM activities at all times.
• Anything published in the name of JFM is not authorised without prior approval by the committee and its signatories.
• JFM does not sanction having its name associated in conjunction with any policy which seeks retribution for any shortcomings in either the investigation into the destruction of Pan Am flight 103 or the Kamp van Zeist trial. Furthermore, JFM does not indulge in speculation that seeks to attribute blame for the destruction of the aircraft. JFM accepts that individual campaign members may have their own opinions and may wish to express them in public, JFM does not recognise this as being incompatible with the policy of the campaign insofar as it is clear that such views represent the individual’s position and not that of JFM.
• Additions to the list of signatories are normally made via invitation.

Links (provisional)

Recent press links

Help Wanted

8 September 2010
last update 11 Sept.

A few contributions to The Lockerbie Divide by illustrious folks - Jim Swire, Robert Black, Robert Forrester, etc. - are listed in the permanent top post above this. But it's been almost single-handedly that, over the last eight months, I've made this a valuable destination for those wanting to learn more about the case against Megrahi and Libya. Using tags (the cloud of different sized names and phrases on the right-hand sidebar) and the "search this blog" window, quite a bit of the relevant info, some unavailable anywhere else, can be located all at one site.

Unfortunately, there's a lot of information I haven't addressed, fully or at all. At one point I was creating blank posts to fill in later, but I wasn't getting back to them and stopped. And as things stand, I'll be having considerably less time to work on the site or do much other discussion in the next several months at least. I'm beginning to feel I won't be able to fill in but a few of the existing gaps,

However, I have noticed many new commentators appearing at the Lockerbie Case and elsewhere, in addition to the numerous informed commentators on both/all sides of the issue. I'd therefore like to repeat an earlier faint request for contributions and help. Are there any specific aspects or points of view that you're excited about or have done some research on? Encyclopedic collections of facts, opinions, theories, all are welcome for submission (especially the first). Ideally, I'm thinking of semi-scholarly, sourced essays, and I probably won't post anything that's patently absurd or useless in my estimate.

All contributions will show as "posted by Caustic Logic," but will have a header explaining where it comes from. All contributions will be linked to in the permanent top-post along with the other submissions now listed.

ANY opposing viewpoint supporting Megrahi's guilt (within social norms, etc.) that is submitted will be hosted for argument's sake, but I and others will own the comments. So keep it sharp, and try to defend your position in the little pop-up window if possible.

If you see an existing post that you can add something to, or an annoying error, drop me a line via a comment there or by e-mail. ( If you can help fill in the gaps often labeled "forthcoming," or think a previous post should be replaced by something better, you can submit that and I'll consider it. Anyone interested in doing original research for a detailed post can ask me about sharing links and source material they may not have, and for tips on where to look for info.  

The subject areas in need that pop to mind (there are others to be sure) are as follows:

Other Libyan terrorism charges
Just how terroristic are they anyway? Aside from support for certain struggles from Palestine to Northern Ireland and across Africa, looking at acts allegedly directed from Tripoli:
- assassinations of dissident Libyans through the years
- Yvonne Fletcher 1984
- LaBelle discotheque 1986
- Various alleged retaliations for "Eldorado canyon," 1986/87
- Alleged vengeance again by blowing up PA103 (this one is fairly well-covered)
- UTA 722 bombing, Niger 1989
- Bulgarian nurse torture
- any others?

Iranian connection
More details on Iran Air 655 shoot-down, revenge promises, evidence for payments and contracting with PFLP-GC or anyone else, etc. Existing posts tagged IranIA655 [sic - actually IR655]

More on Abu Talb, other PFLP-GC actors
Ahmed Jibril, Abu Elias, Dalkamouni, Khreesat, Goben, etc.

Operation Autumn Leaves
The early releases and bombs found six months later... For this I'd really like to hear from Germans (Nennt Mich Einfach Adam?) and media reports we haven't seen in English yet to hear the German side.

The Heathrow Break-In
An important aspect I haven't looked at in great detail yet.

Air Malta's Records for flight 180

More on Giaka, Gauci, Bollier

Libya Sanctions
Especially structural considerations. From what they did, what seems to have been the hidden purpose behind this economic squeeze? It wasn't really securing a fair trial over the airtight evidence, was it?

Zeist trial and appeal

SCCRC considerations  and Megrahi's appeal

Megrahi's illness, prognosis, release

Media critique / article reviews

Activism notes and ideas


All Lockerbie Theories, In Context

18 September 2010

Broadly speaking, there are five classes of explanation for the fall of Pan Am 103. 

1) Libya did it
  a) via Megrahi, as determined at Camp Zeist. 
  b) by some other agent, 
2) Iran did it 
  a) via the PFLP-GC using a Khreesat bomb
  b) via some more direct method
3) Someone else did it (CIA, Israel, South Africa)
4) No one did it - the whole thing was an accident. 
5) It's not clear who or what caused the bombing, but it wasn't Megrahi

The first class is worth discussing, at least in that subset a) is the legally established, officially accepted, and culturally real version (within the US anyway) and b) follows from a) mixed with the doubts of the intelligent over the case against Megrahi. It's what we're debunking here, so of course it gets mentioned a lot and in detail. Tellingly, most proponents of the official 1a) conspiracy theory are less enthuusiastic about discussing the details in depth. They'd rather just point to some judges twice acting as if they believed it all. We know this, and just aren't impressed with their reasoning.

The second category is the most widely accepted alternate to Libya. The circumstantial evidence is strong, and anchored by Iran's epic grievance over Iran Air-655. This all but necessitated they do something like PA103 around the time it was done, and there's reasons to believe the German PFLP-GC cell making altimeter bombs was on this job. I'm all about informing or reminding people about this. To be sure there are many versions that aren't quite correct, like the drug swap theory. But the clues for a London infiltration of the bomb fit superbly with the Iran's desire to actually succeed, and with the known PFLP-GC technology. 

Subset b) of "Iran did it" is occupied, to my knowledge, by Charles Norrie only. He also falls into group three, suggesting a joint Iranian-CIA operation. His theory is discussed in this post. Continuing with the scant category three, Patrick Haseldine has proposed - widely, loudly - the notion that apartheid South Africa carried out the bombing. At the Divide, that's discussed here and nowhere else. Andrew Killgore of WRMEA has hinted that - perhaps - Israel was to blame. That's covered here and nowhere else (no need).  

It's the last two categories that I have yet to address. On #4, the sparse allegations that a tragic accident was to blame for those 270 deaths, are - so far as I've seen - too irrational to bother discussing. To the extent I may be wrong, I've just created a post and invite full commentary on such issue there - and nowhere else on my blog, if you please.  For some reason, I've also lumped in different explosion theories in the same post - allegations the blast was too powerful, too far this way or that, a second bomb elsewhere, etc. In short, if your problem is what caused the plane to break up (and there is some room for legit questions), that is where I'd like to have it discussed.

Of these four, only "Iran did it" account for the obvious grievance Iran held in latter 1988. The others, proposing that Libya, or the South Africans, or happenstance, happened to blow up a mostly American plane within six months of its mirror image, while the Iranians apparently decided to let it slide at about the same time raises the question why?What amazing evidence compels you to propose such an amazing coincidence?

On option 5, proclaiming no good guess just always seems to me like a cop-out. Really, after all this time to consider the facts, you still don't have a best guess who or what caused such a historic event? Alright, well I suggest you read up a little more and try to at least narrow it down.

Other than links and some elaborations I may add, that pretty well sums up the allegedly confused field of "whodunnit" conspiracy theories. Five groups, four of which have something concrete to say. One dominates with the collusion of political power, one solidly challenges with the legitimacy of dethroned reality, and two are appear to be just wacky ideas supported by a small handful of persistent wingnuts.

Please do not allow yourselves to be too confused by all this. 

Charles McKee's Suitcase

17 September 2010

In the recent murder trial of two Libyans for the Lockerbie bombing, reference was made to the fact that a suitcase belonging to Major Charles McKee, a senior CIA agent who had been involved in the negotiations for the release of hostages in Beirut, had been mysteriously carried away from the piles of wreckage left by the crash and even had a large hole cut into it before it was returned to the investigators. The specific intention of cutting the hole, it was agreed, was to inspect the contents of the suitcase long before its evidential value could be established.
- Paul Foot, Flight From Justice, page 9

The enigmatic major McKee is central to the discredited drug swap theory - the main target, in fact, for planning to rat out the CIA protection of a terrorist heroin pipeline. This was supposed to be related to freeing the hostages in Lebanon, which McKee was also working on in a high-level manner. McKee's targeting by the CIA is also central, in a different way, to Charles Norrie's theory; as his book A Tale of Three Atrocities explains:
The explanation came to me very quickly indeed. Poor McKee was killed by his colleagues. Unknown to him, his last duty was to help them locate baggage container AVE4041 PA among the debris, by using the transpondered suitcase he was carrying. [...] Transpondered suitcases must have a basis in fact since they appear frequently in fiction, for example in recent film No Country for Old Men.
As for why, he writes:
Once the CIA had used McKee's suitcase transponder to locate it, it must have been easy to determine which baggage container was AVE4041 PA. [...] In the remains of AVE4041 PA, the CIA placed a pre-blown suitcase, the remains of a Toshiba cassette recorder and various miscellaneous items. They hoped that, when the Lockerbie investigation team found the suitcase, they would follow the concocted evidence to a suitable CIA selected target, which would become Libya.
Norrie believes the CIA approved this operation, so it might have been better to include pre-blown materials in a suitcase to be placed right next to the bomb. Done. This tromping around in the open after the fact seems to me incompatible with someone who was in on the set-up.

More to the point, there was no intact "luggage container" near McKee's bag. Pieces of AVE4041 were scattered across many square miles. Likewise the suitcase fragments would have to planted across H, I, and K sectors - a wide swathe indeed. McKee's suitcase is described as item PD/889, suggesting it was found in D sector, near Lockerbie itself and miles west of the Samsonite remains.

All you'd need a transponder for is to locate a bag with sensitive (???) you didn't expect to become compromised. But you were prepared for the unexpected - you follow the bag's signal, remove and conceal the sh*t, then put it back before anyone notices, if possible. In fact, it seems that's what happened, except for the part about not being noticed. For one, they didn't just open the bag, they cut it open in a way that was clearly not from the explosion, nor likely there before. The scientific report from RARDE, signed by Hayes and Feraday noted:
PD/889. This is a partially disrupted grey hardshell suitcase. The suitcase measured 685 millimetres by 510 millimetres by 190 millimetres and was constructed from a rigid dark grey sheet plastics with a simulated leather finish, lined with a woven cream-coloured material backed with a white fibrous material which adhered to the grey plastics skin. The suitcase was fitted with a rigid plastics handle, bright metal trim and locks, which were devoid of any proprietary or owner's identification. A rectangular hole had been cut in the hard shell above the handle.

The left-hand edge of the suitcase showed evidence of having been damaged by an explosion, with disruption and blackening of the outer skin and bright metal body frame.

This had come up in a JREF discussion of Norrie's theory. Therein a notion was mentioned that the cutting was "to remove a secondary security lock that incorporated some kind of anti tamper device that would destroy the contents if activated." That would be a better explanation that removal of the transponder, which would only require the lock picked or opened with the known combination. Such a special lock mechanism would require special manufacture, perhaps by a CIA proprietary company. This then could explain the removal of all identifying markings (why a secret company's labels would ever be there is, however, left un-answered).

RARDE Dr. Thomas Hayes gave interesting details about the bag in his evidence at Camp Zeist in 2000 (day 16, pp 2637-2641).

Q Now, I would just like to examine your contemporaneous note of this case a little further, Dr. Hayes. If we look to the right of your diagram, we see the reference "Unidentified suitcase"; is that right?
A Yes, it is.
Q And then the entry "Labels, name tag, brand name apparently removed."
A Yes.
Q All of these items had been removed from the suitcase. And then, if we look to the left at the diagram, we can see the notation "Hole cut"?
A Yes, we can.
Q Do you recollect this case and its examination, Dr. Hayes?
A No more clearly than any other examination, I'm afraid.
[...snip - discussion on whether "sawn" or "cut" was the better word for the obvious rectangular hole...]
Q Taken together with the removal of all labels, name tags, brand names, would that perhaps attract your attention, Dr. Hayes?
A Yes, it would.
Q And if we go on in your notes, after you record "clear indications of explosives involvement", do we see in the margin towards the bottom of the page "PD/889 attached above"?
A Yes, we do.
Q And then plastics bag and contents with attached ID label marked "Contents of grey suitcase belonging to Charles McKee."
A Yes, I see that.
Q Was it disclosed to you that Charles McKee referred to there was in the service of the United States government?
A No, it wasn't.
Q Or that this case had been returning from Beirut?
A No.
Following this, he was asked about his description of the case's contents.

Q I see. You then make this entry: "Contents: Assorted clothing with [sic] unlike the suitcase from which it was supposedly taken showed little evidence of explosives involvement."
A Yes, I did.
Q Now, I see the use of the word "supposedly" employed by you, Dr. Hayes. And I take it you chose that word with care?
A Yes, I did.
Q And was that intended to convey that in your own mind the assorted clothing which had been passed to you labelled as the contents did not appear on the face of it to represent the contents of the suitcase which had been damaged in the way already described?
A Yes, that's certainly one interpretation.
Q Indeed, looking to this case and the examination note on page 22 as a whole, the reasonable inference, is it not, is that some party has interfered with the case following the disaster and prior to it being made available to you for forensic examination?
A That is an inference that could be drawn.
This is certainly an interesting story in its right, but I for one suspect it's no clue to the attack itself or the larger cover-up. More likely it's simply a nexus of two separate paths of clandestine mystery, and until I change my mind on that, the subject probably won't come up much around here. McKee's unusual profile make him useful to attach new fictions to - reminiscent in fact of Abdelbaset al Megrahi's clandestine  appearance on Malta earlier that day.

What's New at the Divide

14 September 2010

Over the last few months, too much has happened here to relate. Most importantly, Robert Forrester, a co-ordinator of the Justice for Megrahi campaign invited me to be a signatory on the campaign's letters to various leaders. I'm now listed alongside the likes of Robert Black, Jim Swire, Denis Phipps, Teddy Taylor, Noam Chomsky, and Archbishop Desmond Tutu. (first letter can be read here). I and my larger head appear at the bottom of this totem pole (tho in the middle alphabetically) as:
Mr Adam Larson (Editor, writer and proprietor of ‘The Lockerbie Divide’).

The site had slowed down lately while I took a partial break and worked on other things. Now with some time available again, I'm getting a lot of half-done things completed and up. Just before and during that span I put up various article reviews from within the United States, which are now collected at an American media review page. Most recently, one critique turned into an extended explanation of how Karol Sikora insinuated himself into the public scene around Megrahi's release.

Planted evidence, the allegation of Israeli involvement in the bombing, and "help wanted," soliciting wider contributions from others. I've had a few promising responses to that so far and will gladly accept others as they trickle in over whatever time span.

Last night I updated watching the flags. It's too long of a post now needing a cut in the tedium between where I was hovering over the small numbers, waiting for something to happen. With some help from abroad it's taken off - props to Canada, Saudi Arabia, USA, UK, Switzerland, Germany. 3,844 distinct viewers, nearly 1,200 British, now just over 600 from the US. Nearly eight months later that's finally a good start.

On Planted Evidence

14 September 2010

The possibility of planted physical evidence is a divisive issue among Lockerbie researchers, and one the Lockerbie Divide so far has had no problem promoting. That might be a problem, but it's natural when the blog's voice is almost exclusively my own. Physically inserted clues to implicate Libya suggests active investigative malfeasance many would rather not consider. A sort of mix-up is acceptable to some,  spurred by denying the best clues but needing to nab somebody. A few coincidences that suggested Libya that took on a life of their own, or some witnesses leaned on, seem plausible.

But in at least a few cases, planting is a more rational explanation than the official one. Consider PK/689, the nearly-intact cover of the bomb-radio's paper manual, made "a bit tatty around the edges" by the Semtex blast just a few inches away, and torn to shreds by forensic tests. Still says almost completely "Toshiba stereo radio/cassette recorder, RT-SF16 BomBeat SF16," a model that could be traced primarily to Libya. Consider also the problems with PT/30 and AG/145, 4-6 mm fragments from the Toshiba radio's main circuit board. Which side, if any, of the board experienced even the slightest explosive blast? The wrong side on PT/30 and neither on AG/145. Both of these show a high convenience-to-plausbility ratio, the key measure of how likely something is to be a work of fiction rather than physics.

And then the pivotal timer fragment PT/35(b), four times the size of the radio board bits listed above. Nearly one cm square, it was from the most identifiable corner of a super-traceable timer made by Swiss swindlers Mebo, and traceable to Libya of course. A Libyan timer set to blow up over land and leave such a lucky fragment is stupid for a Libyan terror plot, excellent if short on subtlety for a frame-up. Papers altered, exam log clearly backdated, no explosive residue testing, bizarre timeline unless it appeared four months later than recorded.

The issue came to the forefront most recently about a week ago when more details were revealed about the tests of Dr. John Wyatt. Professor Robert Black was so kind as to re-type much of a print-only version of an article about the tests and their suggestion that the pivotal timer fragment  was planted. The findings are to be part of Megrahi's upcoming book, and I think they solidly indicate a frame-up of Libya. The new article adds some technical detail to what he told the BBC for a January broadcast.

What's new, briefly, is that the 10mm square PT/35(b) is hundreds of times larger than it should be by his tests. Only at about 150 grams of Semtex-H was he able to recognize circuit board fragments - under a microscope but not with the naked eye. This is less than half the alleged explosive force used on Flight 103 (350-450 grams or as high as 680 by the Indian Head tests, or higher yet minus the small radio presumptions there that topped the testing off at 680, as all a RT-SF16 could hold). At any of these levels of force, nothing remotely like the radio fragments, timer fragment, or manual would survive. It's doubtful so much would survive of the Maltese clothes or perhaps the suitcase itself, as what we were presented with. In short, this body of findings suggests a lot of planting.

Again as before, this 150 gram threshold of plausibility is anecdotal, based on Dr. Wyatt's own characterizations. No detailed report has been released.  We still don't know how he came to do these tests or why - although it was apparently 2008 or earlier, and most likely at the Megrahi team's request,for the second appeal that was never heard.

The story also featured an interview with Lockerbie trial "architect" Robert Black who expressed disinterest in commenting on or promoting this development:
Last night, Robert Black, Professor Emeritus of Scots Law at Edinburgh University ... said: "I have decided to stop commenting on new evidence because, interesting as it may be, it takes the eye off what really matters, namely, that he should never have been convicted in the first place on the flimsy evidence before the court."
There are good reasons to gloss over this evidence. Even if what Wyatt says is totally true, it's something most people can't accept, and so a distraction from whatever more digestible points showing the verdict unreasonable. No need to start off telling novices the science was dishonest too - at least not until they're ready. That's ideally well after the notion of his innocence has been broached and all but proven by a careful look at the facts over the myths. Dissolve the Malta link, explain the alternative actors who make more sense, and cover the testimony of Giaka and Gauci, under the DoJ's money for misinformation program. Any closer look at the securing of the G-guys' testimonies suggests willful intent and frame-up, and from there, some convenient circuit board doesn't seem so outlandish.

But sometimes people will counter, whether they've been mentally prepared or not, "well, there was forensic evidence implicatiing Libya..." At that point, their belief in the science they've heard is the distraction from coming around to the bigger picture. Those of us who seek to reach the fuller truth, or want an answer to that science, will have to consider whether or not this Libyan-linked timer really was involved and left such a huge and recognizable fragment. And at that point there are Dr.Wyatt's tests, complete with the uncertainties noted above. And there is common sense, which suggest about what the tests are said to show - if the plane was ripped open, the radio would be vapor and dust. The things we were shown came from somewhere else.

Commentator "Pete" put it well in the comments section beneath Black's post.
Re that 'bloody timer fragment':
Certainly it would be easier to persuade those with the power to launch a new inquiry if we don't stress the implication that it might expose malfeasance on the part of our agencies and those of our allies.
However... firstly, it could be argued that the BTF was ultimately responsible for Megrahi's conviction. The implication of the Opinion of the Court is that the judges took the BTF to be absolutely conclusive proof of the Libyan origin of the bomb. Forensic evidence is scientific and as such outweighs all else (cf. the conviction of Barry George.) It was Libya what done it; Megrahi is Libyan; therefore Megrahi done it. Hence the perverse interpretation of all the other evidence. Science has spoken.
Secondly, while the BTF remains unchallenged, any exoneration of Megrahi is likely to be painted by Marquise, Duggan et al as 'technicalities'.
Thirdly, isn't it likely that if the investigation is ever reopened, even with Megrahi out of the frame,
McKnacker will restrict the scope to Libya unless there is some reason to doubt the clear implication of the BTF?
Damned if that's not a clear-eyed view. Science has spoken, and judges seem unwilling to question it. But what it said doesn't make sense. We can call science out when it lies, and we should. A fully documented, transparent, non-Libyan-sponsored study would be ideal now to compare with what Wyatt says he's got. Science can, if it hasn't already, allow us to see which is correct here: common sense, or those who accept miracle after miracle as their natural right in chasing Libya.

Further thoughts in comments section.

One Last Time: Sikora was not THE Doctor

13 September 2010
last edits 14 Sept

I just stumbled onto a New York Daily News article from a month back titled "Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset al-Megrahi's cancer doc: I would've been more vague on terrorist's fate." This in reference to a Dr. Karol Sikora, who is widely perceived as the or a doctor whose advice to the Scottish government was paid for by Libya and freed Megrahi a year ago.
A cancer doctor who predicted Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset al-Megrahi had just three months to live now thinks he should have hedged his bets. [...] "If I could go back in time, I would have probably been more vague and tried to emphasize the statistical chances and not hard fact," Dr.Karol Sikora, one of several experts who examined Megrahi, told Britain's Observer newspaper.
This has been repeated by many, many others before and after that and widely taken as fact - a characterization Sikora himself did nothing to discourage. A later article of 1 September in the Charleston, SC Post and Courier said "according to a Scottish doctor paid by Libya, he had only months to live. [... MacAskill later] released al-Megrahi, citing the doctor's opinion."

No one can know what really happens in the shadows, but there's no reason to believe Sikora was actually relevant to the decision made. The image of such is like cotton candy - a little sugar, no nourishment, some color, hot air, and abundant spin.   

The Illusion
Dr. Sikora (pictured at left posing with a large book) has a colorful history in medical consultancy. He's apparently something of a hired gun, or acts like one, and has worked with an American political campaign to counter the move towards "socialized medicine." He was first mentioned in connection with the Megrahi case by Herald Scotland, 20 August 2009, just hours before MacAskill's announcement.  After speaking with him, Lucy Adams reported (incorrectly as it turns out):

"...the assessment given by Professor Karol Sikora goes some way to explain why the Justice Secretary may have reached the decision he has. 
Dr Sikora, who visited Megrahi in prison, had called for an "urgent" decision on the future of the Lockerbie bombing prisoner before his condition worsens further. "We believe he has only a very short period of time to live," said Dr Sikora, who assessed Megrahi last month."
Around 6 September, a few weeks after the release, the Sunday Telegraph reported that the Libyans had paid for the medical advice of three doctors including Sikora and "encouraged" them to form the opinion that Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi had just three months to live.  ( The Daily Mail) Coincidentally, at least one of them quite vocally did. 

Seven months later in April, as all other involved doctors remained fairly quiet, Sikora said the clues suggested Megrahi "will be dead within four weeks." (Times) Twelve weeks later, on July 4, he gave an interview with the UK Sunday Times (unavailable online, but re-quoted by the Daily Mail and many others).  Sikora found it "embarrassing" his irrelevant three-month call was so wrong. He acknowledged that he was aware of what the prognosis meant,:
"It was clear that three months was what they [the Libyans] were aiming for. Three months was the critical point. On the balance of probabilities, I felt I could sort of justify (that). [...] There was a 50 per cent chance that he would die in three months, but there was also a 50 per cent chance that he would live longer."
Scottish Denials
Sikora did in fact receive money from Libya and tried to lobby Kenny MacAskill - but the justice secretary had already decided based on another prognosis by proper authorities with no such (known) conflict of interest.

There was a summary of medical reports that was publicly available, but it did little to clear up the issue, with all the names of all relevant consultants redacted. Sikora either fits or comes darn close for the first listed oncologist. (this only fits with Hammersmith hospital, where he served 12 years as clinical director of cancer research - source - but he seems to have moved onto other things before August 2009)
But as pointed out to me, this would be a rather stupid and unwarranted thing to do, including Libya's consultant in the official decision. They specifically denied this shortly after the release last year. In the Daily Mail's 6 September article about the suspect three, they included this response from the Scottish government:
The Director of Health and Care at the Scottish Prison Service drew on expert advice from a number of cancer specialists in coming to his clinical assessment that a three month prognosis is now a reasonable estimate for the patient.

These included two consultant oncologists, two consultant urologists and a number of other specialists, including a palliative care team, who had reviewed and contributed to the clinical management of the patient.

They did not include Karol Sikora, Jonathan Waxman or Ibrahim Sherif, whose assessments played no part in considerations – including no part in the report submitted by the Scottish Prison Service Director of Health and Care.
I had originally been taken by the confusion as well, and called Sikora the responsible doctor. But with prompting from "Jo G," I corrected that to "unnamed doctor" on 7 August  (see comments here). As the articles we started with shows, some journalists are still behind in coming to their senses here. A conscious media campaign could hardly have done a better job of helping create the illusion (which does persist here heavily) that Scotland under the dread SNP freed the bomber based on Libya's paid prognosis. 

The Actual Relevant Doctor
Before the health director, Dr. Andrew Fraser made his decision to call three months reasonable, he read one opinion to that effect from an unnamed "primary care physician" of al-Megrahi's. He examined Megrahi on 26 July 2009 and again on 3 August. The deterioration he perceived between the two is what led him to state "the clinical assessment, therefore, is that a 3 month prognosis is now a reasonable estimate for this patient." [PDF source]

Peter Kay rather is the name, rudely announced 15 August, the day before the NYDN article we started with. the UK Express reported on the actual doctor who made the crucial call.

Dr Peter Kay can now be named as the primary care doctor at Greenock Prison from the time Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi’s prostate cancer was discovered in autumn 2008 to his release one year ago this week.
And while official records – published in the aftermath of the decision to send Megrahi home – revealed four specialists were unwilling to say how long the bomber had left to live, it was a prognosis by Dr Kay that his condition had “declined significantly” that led to his eventual release.
Interestingly, the article manages to raise questions even about this doctor, who was found to be shy of attention:
Allegations have also surfaced the relatively inexperienced GP, believed to be in his late 30s, may even have been put under pressure by Megrahi and the Libyan authorities after he initially described the symptoms as “minor”.
I've seen anonymous US family member "Bunntamas" suggest just this, but that person has a vivid imagination and littlegrasp of the facts. But that's another issue - this post is about chatterbox Sikora.

Sikora's Actual Involvement
As our oncologist explained to the Daily Mail "I got invited (by the Libyan government) because I had been to Tripoli a few times." Once on the job:
"At first sight I thought it was more likely that his life expectancy was six to 18 months. But we went up there and saw him, and looked at everything, talked with the prison doctor. After that, I thought it would be three months, and I stand by that."
Sikora's last look at the prisoner was on July 28, meeting prison doctor (presumably Dr. Kay) two days after Kay's most recent check. Sikora came along with Ibrahim Sheriff from the Tripoli medical centre, and Dr Abdulrahman Swessi (or Abdullah Swissi), Libya's consul-general in Scotland. (Herald Scotland) Sikora's report, specifying three months, was apparently lodged soon thereafter, but as the Daily Mail reported:
"The Scottish government claimed the advice arrived too late to be considered by Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill, but Professor Sikora said he doubted this. 'We submitted our report three weeks before his return so I think there was plenty of time to consider it.'"
That would be somewhere around the beginning of August - just about when Dr. Kay himself decided three months on the 3rd. It seems the timing wasn't so much the issue as the source, but this first or second opinion, depending, was officially irrelevant.

From all the above, a clear pattern has emerged of a Libya-tainted man whose thoughts paralleled a separate decision, and has attached himself to the case, dug in like a tick. He's persistently taken every chance to re-affirm the illusion of his relevance to the media, and occasionally has added other fuel to the fire along the way. As he says, his report was submitted in time, and so he may genuinely believe he's involved. But the effect is not the intent is hugely dishonest.

In his 4 July statement Sikora, trying to explain the uncertainties of diagnosing cancer, unfortunately stated:
"There was always a chance he could live for ten years, 20 years ... But it's very unusual."
This was widely and predictably taken by the American media to say the ten or 20 year "prognosis" was more real than the "sort of justified" three month one. That a doctor they believed responsible so "erred," pleasing his Libyan customers, enraged the empty-headed poseurs in the U.S. Senate. Armed with Sikora's nonsense plus a revived, post-spill reminder of the BP angle, within days Senators Lautenberg, Schumer, Menendez, and Gillibrand were urging an inquisition into the black magic that freed Megrahi. Within days of that, Sikora stated with annoyance that his recent talk of decades was taken out of context, but it fell on deaf ears as the Senate Foreign Relations Committee set to requesting audiences.

Again on 14 August NYDN repeated as relevant that Sikora "added that the released terrorist could even survive another 10 years." And he speaks of time travel that would give him today's knowledge then, in which case he "would have probably been more vague." It was less than comforting, especially given that his decision still didn't matter. "Some families of the victims," who fail to grasp this, "were livid over Sikora's musings," NYDN reported.
"This is an added kick in the face and another example of them throwing rocks in the face of the families," said Susan Cohen of Cape May Court House, N.J., who lost a daughter, Theodora, 20, in the attack.
The effect of this behavior,  which Mrs. Cohen senses most acutely in the face, is keeping the American victims and public nice and angry, feeding into confusing misinformation and pressure for the proposed Senate investigation into the release. This is ultimately a probe into the imaginary conspiracy theory that has arisen to explain the "terrorist's unjust release." Again, as usual, Sikora's antics are convenient for someone, but not for the purpose of calmly establishing truth.

Evidence for Israeli Execution of the Lockerbie Bombing

11 September 2010
last edit 12 Nov

As I turn to a slim section of the Lockerbie field, it so happens to be nine years since the attacks on Washington and New York blamed in some circles on Israeli operatives. The bombing of Pan Am 103 in 1988 is itself not quite devoid of such charges. Consider a March 2010 article in Washington Report on Middle East Affairs. From Andrew Killgore, the editor of WRMEA, an article that expands awareness of the doubts about Megrahi's guilt, but then messes them up.

WRMEA is a source notorious for blaming Israel for everything. Not surprisingly, this piece starts with Israeli commandoes, framing Libya for their own bombing of the LaBelle discotheque in Germany, early 1986. Most of the article covers this side-note, from Ostrovsky's challenged and tenuous account (I have no close knowledge or opinion on it).

The remainder of the piece deals with the Lockerbie case. Mr. Killgore offers a decent list of points against Libya's guilt - Dr. Wyatt's tests suggesting the Libyan timer fragment was planted, altered labels relating to the timer fragment, and the skepticism of Jim Swire and Has Köchler. By ignoring the widespread Aviv nexus of disinformation, and by specifying a London clue (the break-in), this short and sweet rundown is better than average - either by insight, by some luck, or by Aviv's Israeli pedigree...

Not knowing who the perps were, Killgore states that their intent was to crash the plane at sea and leave no evidence. But such an intention would have had an explosion probably hours later than happened - the plane was only perhaps 20 minutes behind shecule and blew up well over land, with predictable inland winds. Why not aim for a bit shy of Newfoundland? Why 7:03 pm instead of midnight? Or even 8:15? (clue: It was Iranians, not Israelis, who had commissioned bombs that wound up detonating about 38 minutes after takeoff, like 103 did after leaving London.)

A further random Israeli is mentioned, as someone who wrote a report on airport security, in case that's a clue. And so he closes:
Thus the downing of Pan Am Flight 103 remains a mystery. If two years of investigating Iran produced no evidence, and the evidence used to convict Megrahi was fake, who was responsible for the horrific crime?
Well, Israel, clearly. (?) "No evidence" of Iranian involvement is quite inaccurate. I don't know where he got that from except investigators who said that as they were switching to the Libya track. The fake evidence was designed for Libya alone, and the real clues strongly suggest Iranian revenge via the PFLP-GC and a Khreesat bomb loaded in London. Unfortunately for Mr. Killgore and others like Patrick Haseldine, this isn't a wide open case where any villain can be inserted at will based on a few points of unfounded suspicion. Hell, at least Haseldine has a genuine anomaly (the supposed cancellations of the Botha party, but not of Carlsson) to lean on.

Update: I just noticed another theorist, the late Joe Vialls, had proposed Israeli execution of this bombing.
When Pan Am 103 exploded at Lockerbie, the media hyped up "Moslem Terrorists". First the Syrians, then the Iranians, and finally the Libyans. The most obvious suspect should have been the State of Israel, because it alone stood to gain from blackening the reputations of Arab nations. Despite an earlier known attempt to bomb one of its very own El Al airliners in 1986 for media effect, the probability that the Mossad was also responsible for bombing Pan Am Flight 103, was ruthlessly suppressed. [source]

Blue Babygro Controversies

July 8 2010
last update Oct 31

The “blue babygro” is a relatively famous piece of evidence in the Lockerbie case. It was originally a full-body pajama-type suit, perhaps of stretch material (hence “gro”), with foot covers built in. It bore a lamb motif in fluffy material across the chest. Bits and fibers of it were found everywhere in the blast-damaged luggage, suggesting it was in the bomb bag and perhaps wrapped around the bomb radio. It stands out as a morbid reminder that the plotters knew children might be killed, depending on the investigative phase a poignant in reflecting either Gaddafi’s infant daughter terminated by American bombs in 1986, or of the many children on Iran Air 655 more recently sent into the Persian Gulf by a Navy warship.

Among the numerous fragments of the item is the tiny body suit’s tag (left, from a video screen capture, "fire" line enhanced). Dubbed PK/669, it remained to show it was made in Malta (bottom line), spurring an early and fruitless visit to the island in the spring of 1989. On a second try in September spurred by the Frankfurt printout, investigators found that it was one of the more memorable items (along with the umbrella) that shopkeeper Tony Gauci recalled selling to the “mystery shopper” some weeks prior to the bombing. It was a breakthrough.

The following article from 2005 discusses arguments that Megrahi's lawyers were making to the Scottish Criminial Case Review Commission. The SCCRC was in the middle of a three year probe that resulted in a 2007 recommendation for a second appeal). Props to Buncrana at JREF for the tip.
Forensic mix-up casts fresh Lockerbie doubt
Tony Thompson
The Observer, Sunday 9 October 2005
Dramatic new evidence of forensic errors could see the man accused of planting the Lockerbie bomb win a new appeal against his conviction, The Observer has learned. Lawyers acting on behalf of Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi are said to have uncovered anomalies suggesting vital evidence used to convict their client came from tests conducted months after the terror attack.
This refers to the Indian Head Forensic Tests, run largely by RARDE's Allen Feraday, a notorious manipulator of evidence. He oversaw the low end test and did not keep notes detailing the results and debris, relying instead on the notes of Scots policeman Harry Bell.

"Megrahi's lawyers now believe material produced during these tests was mistakenly presented to the court as if it were the original suitcase. One source told The Observer: 'To say that the evidence recovered from the ground at Lockerbie and the material produced during the tests became mixed up would be something of an understatement. They became thoroughly confused.

'It casts serious doubts over the prosecution case because certain items that should have been destroyed if they were in the case containing the bomb are now known to have survived the blast.'

In one instance a charred Babygro was produced as evidence that it had been used to wrap the bomb. However, new evidence has emerged which suggests the garment was completely undamaged when it was found. Instead, a similar Babygro used during the explosive tests was presented to the court.
Further tests are now set to be conducted to see how the mix-up happened.
The "new evidence" has never been explained that I know of, but it might be quite good. It's not clear what sort of "test"could find out why Allen Feraday might have slipped his test debris into the crash debris. If this mix-up happened, a "mistake' is one theory, but not the best.

SCCRC Findings:
At the time it may have seemed the SCCRC would follow such clues of frame-up, but in the end they denied all planting evidence allegations, their four public grounds (out of six total, two secret) all dealt with Tony Gauci's "identification"of Megrahi.

SCCRC news release, 28 June 2007
(PDF link)
"Main grounds that were rejected by the Commission [...] do not form part of the grounds of referral." The defense had "sought to challenge the origin of various items which the trial court accepted were within the primary suitcase,” including “a babygro” as well as the Slalom shirt, Yorkie trousers, and Toshiba manual.
“Underlying each of them was a suspicion about the conduct of the investigating authorities who, it was alleged, had manipulated, altered or fabricated statements, productions and other records in order to make out a case against the applicant. The Commission conducted extensive investigations into each of the allegations and is satisfied there is no proper basis for any of them. The allegations were further undermined by records recovered by the Commission from the Forensic Explosives Laboratory."
They presumably trusted the documents, so the finding is less than ideal. They did good by questioning Gauci's evidence, but get weak-kneed when it comes to active fabrication of evidence. How they could look at PK/689, hear Mrs. Horton's recall of it being even less vaporized when she found it, and still decide it really was in the bomb bag is beyond me, unless they were determined to avoid such a charge, to the point of being willfully obtuse.

Intact Discovery
I'll return when I've found the best sources that support the allegation the babygro was found in one piece at first.

Lab Notes
(Perhaps what the SCCRC looked at)
also forthcoming.

Visualizing the Bedford Story

last edits 3 November 2010

This post will help establish a visual grasp of the evidence of Pan Am luggage loader John Bedford, and its possibly huge relevance to the Lockerbie bombing. [general post: the Bedford suitcase(s)] This is best understood if one has read the statements Bedford and a coworker made to London police shortly after the attack. The timeline of 21 December at the interline shed is also pivotal, but will be worked into this post as we go. In short, on that afternoon, a pair of brown, hard-shell Samsonite suitcases appeared in the same luggage container the blast would later occur in. And that has been ruled to be a brown hard-shell Samsonite case. No other such bags were found in that container. Neither of the two baggage handlers who worked at interline would say just where these bags came from, as their stories conflicted and shifted over time.  

So just to be able to better "see" what this might mean...

The Container
The aircraft in question, known as Clipper Maid of the Seas, was a Boeing 747-121 model. According to Wikipedia, a 747-121 holds 30 cargo containers of the LD1 or LD3 style, fifteen along each side of the hold. A cross-section photo there helps explain the containers' non-rectangular shape - the lower outer corners are "cut off," creating a slanted portion of floor on the outboard (closer to the hull) end of the container.

Container AVE 4041 was blown out at just that end, the unluckiest of spots as far as the plane and those in it are concerned. To visualize this, AVE 4041 was a Pan Am-owned model LD3 container (or load device unit), of aluminum contruction, with the following dimensions, per a Wikipedia page:
base width / overall width - 61.5 / 79 inches
depth - 60.4 inches
height - 64 inches
The dimensions given in the AAIB report of 1990 are slightly different, and included in the figure below. The opened loading side is secured for flight with a blue sheet attached to cables that pulls down and latches. This open side is called the front by Loaders.

Below is one of these containers, used by Dr. John Wyatt in his recent fragment survivability tests. He's filled it with luggage and one case with a bomb, for the finale of a 20-test series. Note here the cases are not stacked spines down but flat-down. It's possible anyone could have rearraged the bags after Bedford's and Kamboj's placements - and a flat-stacked approach seems the best fit for the evidence - in the position here of the second lowest left-hand case, if slid to the left a bit. This image also helps establish a rough average suitcase thickness of around 8 inches, which I use below.

Using the dimensions of the pallet's base, as seen from above, it's possible to get some grasp of hw this would actually look. Below I've done some muck-ups, using the floor damage sketches from the AAIB's appendix F. The post linked there is another important part of being able to visualize this scenario. The blast damage to the container is crucial to understanding where inside of it the blast happened.

First, just the base we'll be working with. On the main floor, the blue area is the outer edge of floor deformation from the blast itself; other deformations were likely from the fall and the landing. The yellow is an "area of intense distortion, influenced by aircraft structure under panel." This was apparently shielded from direct blast effects by the lower suitcase beneath the primary one. Red is the area where the base edge member is "severely blast damaged." Areas slant-shaded are those never found (I re-did the overhang to ignore Claiden's silly PI/100 inclusion). Most of this panel was obliterated and never found, the rest  was blown outward.

At left is the container as Bedford left it around 4pm, to have tea with his boss Peter Walker, leaving his coworker Kamboj alone at the Pan Am station. The exact number of bags he placed has never been pinned down, "four or five" total (per Kamboj), or a high "8-10" after Kamboj's two additions (per Bedford). Five to start plus the two is the estimation I chose. "Spines down handles up" was Bedford's style, he said, and placing them "along the back of the container" is best read as shown here. A left-to-right order isn't specified or necessary, but it does fit the other clues a bit better than right-to-left scheme.

The sample size I'm using for these filler cases is 16x24x8 inches. It's reasonable but quite imprecise, and in reality different bags will be different sizes and shapes. Please note the rough correlation of the area covered by these and the area not as blast-warped. The yellow and blue tend to a circular pattern radiating from the center, except where these upright bags were. These would transfer force much differently from flat laid cases beneath the bomb.

Upon Bedford's return around 4:40 pm the arrangement was something like this. Two new "hard cases, the type Samsonite make" had been added on the floor as shown here. I'm using the primary case dimensions - silhouette 4000 series, 26x22x9 inches (see link at top, above the video). We cannot say that's not what he saw. With the same style and color (brown or maroony brown) and their appearance together they might well be a matching set, which is worthy of note (and yet little noted thus far). Laid side by side, at the front of the container, to the left, handles pointing towards the back, "they took up the remaining base area of the tin," Bedford told police. These do just that.

We know they weren't left here, so close to the later explosion, or they'd turn up bomb damaged, which they didn't. Or perhaps they did, as this whole exercises is premised on wondering...

To conserve space, a later worker may have rearranged the cases like the mock-up at left: stacked together and slid left and back against the other cases and the overhang floor. Geometrically, it puts the upper case's (approximate) middle in the IED location (the flare here). Given the nearly-square shape of the primary case, there is little difference between them ending up long end sticking outboard (as shown here) or the other way around (as shown below). In both arrangements, a 180 degree rotation is also just as good a fit, giving us four possible variations.

The arrangement at left with an added 90-degree rotation (this or its base-out inversion) has the blast area more high-centered than left, and makes a little more sense in a way. But good clues I stumbled across suggest the above image or its reverse might have to be it. It seems that parts from both the handle and hinge (bottom) ends of the case left pieces blasted into surrounding luggage. Pieces of the lock wound up in a suitcase from within this container, and a piece of the bottom wound up in the container over (down as shown here), and apparently piercing a "purple holdall." Both are consistent with handles-in placement like Bedford saw.

Finally, the obvious point that we're visualizing two cases, while only the remains of one were recovered. So it seems. Consider this hypothesis - approximately one-and-a-half of these two cases was basically vaporized by a blast maybe 50% more powerful than believed. Highly energized suitcase material wouldn't disappear, but may alight in a variety of states you'd never recover: drifting flakes of melted plastic, and small non-descript "pebbles" that vanish into sandy mud. Drifting might continue to the North sea, or into a loch.

Larger pieces can and would be recovered, and here we see a couple dozen bits less than an inch in size, but most of these were found blasted into other suitcases, not laying in the grass, or caught in a tree's canopy. The nearly 1/2 of an entire suitcase assembled (mock-up at left) is primarily just five fragments, one nearly a foot square. And there is a 20-inch span of gossamer fabric lining. Which half of the primary case could that be from?   Top or bottom? Any takers? Why the asymmetry?

And that large chunk at upper left, PI/911, has an extremely interesting history of its own - RARDE first said it was from a case beneath the primary one and was touching the floor. Wait 'til you see why that changed.

Investigators had no way of knowing such rearrangements didn't happen, but by accepting Bedford's story, had to presume these cases had been near that corner and were then moved somewhere. They were never able to find where these cases went  to if not where these above images show. Yet they ruled out the possibility by concluding a bomb case that wasn't touching the (main) floor, and had to have come from Frankfurt, in a third brown hard-shell Samsonite to have occupied that corner.

It's utter hogwash thinking of a suspiciously wishful sort.  How early did the police bosses know London must be cleared, and for what reason?

Another Shameful Propaganda Piece

3 September 2010

Here I'd like to comment on a recent editorial (unattributed) in the Post and Courier (Charleston, SC) called "Post-Lockerbie Shame." Below are some quotes from it and my comments/corrections.

The "compassionate release" of a convicted PanAm bomber in 2009 was an affront to justice...
No quotation marks are needed here - compassion is the actual basis of the law justifying Megrahi's release. That process and decision in implementing that law are complex and murky and open to criticism. But as usual for America's slavish media units, this block of anonymous text makes no mention whatsoever of the mountain of evidence all but proving Megrahi was framed and wrongly convicted in the first place.

This is irresponsible journalism, treating this as a one-sided issue when it just is not. There have been doubts (at the least) expressed so widely by informed parties that one wearies of repeating them. Put in short form, there are two relevant rulings by Scottish judicial bodies - the 2001 conviction, and the 2007 ruling by the Scottish Criminal Case Review Commission. The conviction has been ruled, by the SCCRC review, to be a "possible miscarriage of justice." The SCCRC decision, which has not been so challenged, had authorized a second appeal which was never heard, lost in the shuffle of cancer and release.

The Post's "Post-Lockerbie Shame" cites the challenged conviction and ignores the unchallenged SCCRC ruling and the avoided appeal it unleashed. That's slanted reporting and gives a false impression of the legal standing of Megrahi's guilt. Officially in place, but crumbling.

Libya has paid billions in reparations to victims' families in acknowledgement of its role in the bombing, but Col. Gadhafi has never expressed the slightest remorse.
Is this sloppy journalism or the willfully deceptive kind? There is no "acknowledgment" in the 2003 letter to the UN, the settlement money, or anywhere, of Libya's involvement in the bombing. They are, and insist they are, uninvolved. Hence no remorse. Get it? The money and acknowledged word play were to end the unfair sanctions crippling their nation. "Acknowledged ... but no remorse." That's just cheap, folks.

According to a Scottish doctor paid by Libya, he had only months to live. [... MacAskill later] released al-Megrahi, citing the doctor's opinion.
Dr. Kay was paid by Libya? Or is the unnamed writer still confused by chatterbox Sikora's attempts at insinuating himself into the situation? Please double-check yourselves there. It is pretty confusing.

The freed terrorist is now living the good life in Tripoli, and BP is drilling in waters off the Libyan coast.
And the real bombers of Pan Am 103 are aging gracefully in their own corners of this sick world, never serving a day in jail for this murder of 270 people after the CIA decided to blame Libya.

Also, suffering from cancer but not dead yet, in a nice house, with family and supporters, equals the good life? Relative to jail, obviously so. But what evidence can anyone show that his conviction for this heinous crime was reasonable or sustainable? Why should we actually be mad that a man is dying slower and in more comfort than he might otherwise be?

The Senate rightly wants to know ...
No they don't.

The comment thread for this article has been closed.
Before any comments were even posted? Were they afraid I was coming?