I'm not quite sure how to react to the suggestions in The Scotsman that Kenny MacAskill could be summoned before the US Senate committee that is about to conduct a forensic (ahem) probe into the decision to release the man convicted of the Lockerbie bombing. On the one hand, it smacks of the depressingly familiar American imperial presumptions - that all must defer towards that country's institutions as the world's ultimate authority, and that even democratically-elected politicians from other countries must submit themselves for questioning or censure if their actions happen to conflict with American sensibilities. The worst example of this breathtaking arrogance was exhibited last year by FBI director Robert Mueller in his shameful, self-indulgent and (to put it mildly) deeply unprofessional rant in a letter to MacAskill, which the Scottish government managed to dismiss with considerably more grace and good manners than it deserved.
But the flipside of the equation is that it would be rather timely to see a member of the Scottish government have the chance in an open hearing to blow apart some of the fantasies the US senators have been peddling. Alex Massie, in the latest installment of his brilliant commentary on the Megrahi affair, has identified the newest batch of what George Galloway might call "schoolboy howlers" committed by US senators -
"Unfortunately their request is predicated upon nonsense and, for that matter, riddled with errors. Among them:
1. No "Scottish court" ordered that Megrahi be released. It was a matter for the Justice Secretary and him alone.
2. The prognosis given by Karel Sikora and the other doctors paid by the Libyan government played no part in MacAskill's decision. He never saw Sikora's report. The decision was made on the basis of reports compiled by Dr Andrew Fraser, the senior doctor in the Scottish Prison Service. These drew on the findings of at least two other independent consultants.
3. If BP really was lobbying the British government for Megrahi's "release" it was lobbying the wrong people since the British government did not have competence in this matter. Again, and evidently this still needs to be spelt out, London could no more approve Megrahi's release than could Timbuktu."
The only drawback is that, if MacAskill appears before the committee, he probably won't confront the senators with the most uncomfortable truth of all - that they should drop this pathetic self-righteous smokescreen, and instead conduct a more illuminating investigation into the strong suspicions that their own country's authorities tampered with evidence and helped to frame both Megrahi and the state of Libya. Sadly, the Justice Secretary has felt honourbound to profess his absolute belief on Megrahi's guilt, and so can't say any of that. Come to think of it, I'd quite like to see Christine Grahame summoned...