Friday, July 23, 2010

"The various claims from the Scottish government raise more questions..."

Or so the US Senator Kirsten Gillibrand has said. I don't think she realises quite what a revealing utterance that is, as she's effectively admitting that she and her colleagues (just like John Bolton on Newsnight) have been shooting their mouths off without bothering to inform themselves on the Scottish government's position, and the legal and constitutional basis on which the decision to free Megrahi was made. As far as I can see, there is literally nothing that Alex Salmond has said in his letter to John Kerry that hasn't been pointed out many times before, and therefore nothing that should have come as a surprise to anyone who had been following the story with anything more than a passing interest.

Although I was tending towards the view that it might be a good thing for Alex Salmond or Kenny MacAskill to testify in person before the Senate committee, that was simply on the basis that they had such a watertight case to put forward and were bound to emerge well. There was certainly no moral imperative for them to do so, and any criticism of their decision not to go will ring distinctly hollow, given the open contempt with which the US government has routinely treated external probing into its own affairs, whether by international bodies or the institutions of other sovereign nations. Salmond's refusal to testify in person makes an important statement about equality of esteem between nations, although of course far more importantly it demands an acknowledgment of the clear demarcation lines between two separate issues that the senators are cynically (or perhaps ignorantly) trying to blur - the shady lobbying of the UK government by BP on the one hand, and the actual process that led to Megrahi's release by the Scottish government on the other. If Kerry's committee ever shows the slightest interest in probing a matter the Scottish government actually has responsibility for, perhaps Salmond's response will be different.

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