Month: August 2009

No factual evidence

modernityblog, writing at the new blog CiF Watch, notes that

Israelis are accused of harvesting the organs of Palestinians, on the basis of no factual evidence and even the author of the piece, Donald Boström, says “But whether it’s true or not – I have no idea, I have no clue.” yet the Guardian and CiF can’t be bothered to question this conspicuous racism.

Text of Robert S. Mueller’s letter

Letter from FBI Director Robert S. Mueller, III, to Scottish Minister Kenny MacAskill

August 21, 2009

The Honorable Kenny MacAskill, MSP
Cabinet Secretary for Justice
Scottish Government
St. Andrew’s House
Regent Road
Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom
EH13DG

Dear Mr. Secretary:

Over the years I have been a prosecutor, and recently as the Director of the FBI, I have made it a practice not to comment on the actions of other prosecutors, since only the prosecutor handling the case has all the facts and the law before him in reaching the appropriate decision.

Your decision to release Megrahi causes me to abandon that practice in this case. I do so because I am familiar with the facts, and the law, having been the Assistant Attorney General in charge of the investigation and indictment of Megrahi in 1991. And I do so because I am outraged at your decision, blithely defended on the grounds of “compassion.”

Your action in releasing Megrahi is as inexplicable as it is detrimental to the cause of justice. Indeed your action makes a mockery of the rule of law. Your action gives comfort to terrorists around the world who now believe that regardless of the quality of the investigation, the conviction by jury after the defendant is given all due process, and sentence appropriate to the crime, the terrorist will be freed by one man’s exercise of “compassion.” Your action rewards a terrorist even though he never admitted to his role in this act of mass murder and even though neither he nor the government of Libya ever disclosed the names and roles of others who were responsible.

Your action makes a mockery of the emotions, passions and pathos of all those affected by the Lockerbie tragedy: the medical personnel who first faced the horror of 270 bodies strewn in the fields around Lockerbie, and in the town of Lockerbie itself; the hundreds of volunteers who walked the fields of Lockerbie to retrieve any piece of debris related to the breakup of the plane; the hundreds of FBI agents and Scottish police who undertook an unprecedented global investigation to identify those responsible; the prosecutors who worked for years–in some cases a full career–to see justice done.

But most importantly, your action makes a mockery of the grief of the families who lost their own on December 21, 1988. You could not have spent much time with the families, certainly not as much time as others involved in the investigation and prosecution. You could not have visited the small wooden warehouse where the personal items of those who perished were gathered for identification–the single sneaker belonging to a teenager; the Syracuse sweatshirt never again to be worn by a college student returning home for the holidays; the toys in a suitcase of a businessman looking forward to spending Christmas with his wife and children.

You apparently made this decision without regard to the views of your partners in the investigation and prosecution of those responsible for the Lockerbie tragedy. Although the FBI and Scottish police, and prosecutors in both countries, worked exceptionally closely to hold those responsible accountable, you never once sought our opinion, preferring to keep your own counsel and hiding behind opaque references to “the need for compassion.”

You have given the family members of those who died continued grief and frustration. You have given those who sought to assure that the persons responsible would be held accountable the back of your hand. You have given Megrahi a “jubilant welcome” in Tripoli, according to the reporting. Where, I ask, is the justice?

Sincerely yours,

Robert S. Mueller, III
Director

70 years ago

The BBC’s Andrei Ostalski analyzes media coverage of the Nazi-Soviet Pact and the outbreak of World War II:

Until quite recently, the Soviet press had described Nazi leaders as “outcasts”, “moral degenerates”, “misfits”.

Now the press needed to learn how to describe them respectfully, as the leaders of a friendly state.

Furthermore, Soviet journalists needed to correct their psychological approach to this extremely quickly – Stalin had set 23 August as the absolute deadline for von Ribbentrop’s arrival in Moscow for the signing of the pact.

And the Orwell diaries are now covering the events that led up to the start of hostilities on September 1, 1939:

1. Emergency Powers Act passed evidently without much trouble. Contains clauses allowing preventive arrest, search without warrant & trial in camera. But not industrial conscription as yet. [Wireless 6 pm]
2. Moscow airport was decorated with swastikas for Ribbentrop’s arrival. M. Guardian adds that they were screened so as to hide them from the rest of Moscow. Manchester Guardian [h]

Bildt "may be unwelcome" in Israel

The Jerusalem Post reports that because of the Swedish government’s refusal to condemn the Aftonbladet article which accused IDF soldiers of stealing the organs of Palestinian civilians, Swedish officials, including the country’s foreign minister, Carl Bildt, may be “unwelcome” in Israel:

While [Israeli Finance Minister Yuval] Steinitz did not specify his meaning, his comments were possibly a reference to Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt, who is set to visit Israel in early September but has rejected calls to condemn the story. “We have a crisis until the Swedish government responds differently,” Steinitz said.

In another development, the Israeli newspaper Maariv says that the Swedish foreign ministry helped to fund the book which contains the accusations of organ harvesting.