Most conservatives are pro-Big Business. But if you thought Big Business is pro- conservative, then guess again.
Just as BP stopped oil from flowing into the Gulf of Mexico, the company faces unwelcome attention from the U.S. Congress on another issue: whether it sought the release of convicted Lockerbie bomber Abdel Baset al-Megrahi to help get a $900 million exploration agreement with Libya off the ground.
Soon after his release last year, BP acknowledged that it urged the British government to sign a prisoner transfer agreement with Libya, but stressed it did not specify al-Megrahi’s case. It reiterated that stance this week when four U.S. Democratic senators asked the State Department to investigate whether there was a quid pro quo for the Lockerbie bomber’s release.
“The evidence here may be circumstantial but if I were a prosecutor, I’d love to take this case to a jury,” said Sen. Charles Schumer, one of the four lawmakers. While the State Department was noncommittal, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee announced this week it would a hearing on the case this month.
Al-Megrahi served eight years of a life sentence for the Dec. 21, 1988, bombing of the Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, killing 270 people, most of them American. Last August, Scotland’s government released him on compassionate grounds and he returned to Libya.
As outrage swirled on both sides of the Atlantic, then-British Prime Minister Gordon Brown denied giving any assurances to Libya’s leaders that the bomber would be freed in exchange for oil contracts. BP acknowledged in a statement at the time that it “did bring to the attention of the U.K. government in late 2007 our concerns about the slow progress in concluding a prisoner transfer agreement with Libya. Like many others, we were aware that delay might have negative consequences for U.K. commercial interests, including ratification of BP’s exploration agreement.”