The Freeing of the Despicable Lockerbie Mass Murderer; Inexplicable, Contemptible Scottish “Compassion” and Feckless Disapproval from President Obama
–Richard E. Vatz
It is the second most horrible nightmare – just after the obscenity of mass murder itself — of everyone who distrusts weak and flabby criminal justice systems: the unqualified releasing of a mass murderer. That murderer was Abdel Baset al-Megrahi, the only man convicted of the 1988 bombing and murder of 259 airplane passengers, whose provocation was to be flying on Pan Am Flight 103, and 11 innocents on the ground, whose provocation was equally absent.
Scottish authorities have released this loathsome monster, a former secret service agent of Libya, on grounds of “compassion.” Scottish Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill, the man who decided to free Megrahi, said, according to The Washington Post, that the principle of “humanity” dictated his action and that “our belief dictates that justice be served but mercy be shown.”
Is this a “gallows humor” play on Gilbert and Sullivan’s pirates (in “Pirates of Penzance”) who release their prey if they are orphans? At least in that fictive operetta it is good people who are spared through a self-defeating and irrelevant criterion.
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Let’s look at the principle of “mercy” invoked here. Say the mass murderer had been sentenced to death but had contracted a terminal illness. Should the criminal be released because the “death sentence” of the Lord has superseded the “death sentence” by the court, or as MacAskill said referring to the murderer’s allegedly terminal cancer, that al-Megrahi “now faces a sentence imposed by a higher power?” Is MacAskill saying that this vicious killer deserves mercy from a natural death?
Which brings us to the public reaction of the “I feel your pain” Clintonian and Obaman Democrats. President Barack Obama is widely quoted as calling the Scottish clemency a “mistake.” He also said to the Pan Am victims’ families in a radio interview regarding Megrahi’s clemency that “we don’t think this was appropriate.”
Would President Obama argue so softly that releases of ill 9/11 plotters and conspirators were “errors in judgment and not constitutive of condign punishment?” Stephanie Bernstein, whose husband was killed in the bombing, claims the Obama Administration simply didn’t do what it could to keep Megrahi incarcerated.
For the victims and families and loved ones of this outrage, to characterize Obama’s weak rhetoric as “insufficient” is insufficient. Rosemary Mild, horrified mother of Lockerbie murder victim Miriam Wolfe, said she was “incredibly angry” and that it is being ignored that whole families and babies were killed.
USA Today lists some other reactions of the victims’ families: Frank Duggan, a Washington lawyer who heads the family group Victims of Pan Am Flight 103 said “This is an outrage…I don’t care if he’s within three minutes of dying; send him to a hospital in Scotland, but don’t send him home [ where] he will be considered a hero. That will just tear the guts out of us.”
Victoria Cummock lost her husband in the bombing and said that Megrahi had served “11½ days for each one of his victims…How that can be interpreted as justice I don’t know.”
When the president is advised of the world-wide anger and resentment, he will probably ratchet up (as he is wont to do) his “mistake” take, perhaps to “serious error” and eventually to “appalling decision.”
Mr. President and those whose first reflex is to “help” and “rehabilitate” vicious mass murderers, take some time to think about compassion for victims, such as the whole family and babies massacred in this premeditated atrocity, referenced by Mrs. Mild.
Compassion in mass murder is a zero-sum game – when you grant it to the killer, you take it away from the victims’ families.
Professor Vatz teaches political rhetoric at Towson University