July 20th, 2010
03:47 PM ET
4 years ago

Obama, Cameron blast release of Lockerbie bomber

ALT TEXT

 U.S. President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron Tuesday blasted Scottish authorities' decision to release the convicted Lockerbie bomber last year. (PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images)


Washington (CNN) - U.S. President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron Tuesday blasted Scottish authorities' decision to release the convicted Lockerbie bomber last year and agreed on the need to push for a more transparent disclosure of the circumstances surrounding Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al Megrahi's release.

The two leaders also said they addressed a range of issues in talks at the White House, including the war in Afghanistan, sanctions against Iran, the state of the global economy, and the responsibilities of BP - a British company - in the wake of the oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.

The meeting was part of Cameron's first U.S. visit as Britain's leader. The two men met with reporters at the White House shortly after huddling behind closed doors.

Cameron said the release of al Megrahi, who had been sentenced to life for his role in the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, was "completely wrong." Al Megrahi, he noted, was "the biggest mass murder in British history."

Cameron promised that the British government will cooperate with a congressional investigation into the controversy, though he stressed that the decision to release al Megrahi was made by the Scottish government without any involvement from BP.

"There is absolutely no harm to be done in giving the fullest possible explanation" regarding the decision to release al Megrahi, Cameron said. But "I don't think there's any mystery here," he said. It was simply a "misguided decision" by Scottish authorities.

The Scottish government freed al Megrahi last August on compassionate grounds after doctors said he had terminal prostate cancer and just three months to live. Al Megrahi is still alive nearly a year later, and news reports in recent days have questioned whether he was as sick as depicted. Questions also have been raised about whether a deal was cut to release him to protect British business interests in Libya, with oil giant BP exerting influence in the case.

The Scottish government has insisted that BP never lobbied to free al Megrahi.

Obama said most Americans were "surprised, disappointed and angry" with the decision to let the Lockerbie bomber go. "We should have all the facts," he added. "They should be laid out there." The decision "ran contrary to how we should be treating terrorists."

Turning to BP's responsibilities in the wake of the Gulf oil spill, Cameron said he "completely understands" the anger that now exists "across America."

"It is BP's role to cap the leak" and compensate people affected by it, he said it. The prime minister insisted he's in regular touch with BP's leadership.

The two men said they were united in their goals for the Afghan war and in terms of preventing Tehran's acquisition of nuclear weapons.

Obama also indicated they had both reaffirmed their commitment to fiscal responsibility in light of spiraling deficits in the major Western economies. At the same time, however, the president stressed that different countries are taking slightly different approaches depending on their specific circumstances.

Obama has pushed for the need for greater stimulus spending in the short term while addressing deficits as more of a long term issue; Cameron entered office pledging the enactment of immediate austerity measures. In keeping with those measures, his office said earlier, the prime minister flew on a commercial flight to Washington.

– CNN's Alan Silverleib contributed to this report.


Filed under: David Cameron • issues • President Obama
soundoff (18 Responses)
  1. ggg

    Obama...We all wish we believed a word you say...any word...You are a "cjange" we never asked for or want...so please go on another vacation...play gulf, have a private concert..blame whoever and whatever..it is all the same BLAH BLAH BLAH>> just please stop speaking!!! we are soooooooooooooo tired of hearing you out right lies!!

    July 20, 2010 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  2. jean2009

    All this is a little late...his victims did not get a reprieve, and he should have served his whole sentence. All this for oil...have they no shame!

    July 20, 2010 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  3. snow

    You know it must really irk nobummer that he cannot blame BP for the release of the bomber. After all, his whole career has been based on lies and passing the blame.

    July 20, 2010 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  4. get real

    And the Tea Partiers say, "The release of the Lockerbie Bomber is Obama's fault. He used his secret Kenyan Muslim society, that has multiple members planted in British Petroleum, to lobby for the release of Adelbaset Ali Mohammed (or whatever his name is...you know we patriotic Americans can understand Muslim names...they all sound alike) so he could ensure that all illegal Lybian immigrants to this great country join forces with the New Black Panther Party (did we mention they're black...all 5 of them) to intimidate meek and mild white voters in some state, heck it might be any state...they're coming for you....AND those voters were so intimidated that they voted for Barack Hussein Obama. I know none of them complained of voter intimidation to authorities and our hero George W Bush refused to press charges, but facts don't often get in the way of our creative stories."

    BOO! Scared ya, didn't we?!? Vote NO or the world as we know it will end.

    July 20, 2010 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  5. JonDie

    When Bush and Blair decided to pardon Libya's mass-murdering dictator Moammar Khaddafi in exchange for Libyan oil, the release of Khaddafi's bomber became a foregone conclusion. What is strange is that you in the media didn't cover Bush and Blair's "pardon for oil" deal with Khaddafi then...and you're not covering it now.

    July 20, 2010 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  6. Barack.Hussein.Obama-America's-Incompetent-DICTATOR

    Obama also indicated they had both reaffirmed their commitment to fiscal responsibility in light of spiraling deficits in the major Western economies.
    ===================================================

    The same old song and dance from the man of "change". Ignore the $1.3 TRILLION deficits (3 or 4 times any Bush deficit!) and kick the can down the road (to bankruptcy).

    Obozo is as clueless about finances as my 3 year old child. And the country will pay dearly for his ignorance.

    July 20, 2010 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  7. Big George in Big D

    And if Cameron believes Nobama can teach him "transparancy", he's better watch out! Mr. closed doors, secretive Nobama lied to us when he campaigned on transparancy! He's knows not the meaning.

    July 20, 2010 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  8. Sniffit

    "Obozo is as clueless about finances as my 3 year old child. And the country will pay dearly for his ignorance."

    Don't make us laugh. Even your 3 year old knows that if you pour half of his bottle all over the floor, you not only have a huge mess, but he has less milk to drink. Perhaps you could learn something from him about irresponsibly cutting taxes for the rich and then complaining about the government running up a deficit.

    July 20, 2010 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  9. Rick McDaniel

    Right.....now that is has been done, and cannot be undone, talk about how much of a mistake it was.

    July 20, 2010 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  10. Sniffit

    "What is strange is that you in the media didn't cover Bush and Blair's "pardon for oil" deal with Khaddafi then...and you're not covering it now."

    What...you hadn't noticed that the "wight" wing nutjobs' "liberal media" conspiracy nonsense is actually just more of their mirro image accusation BS? The "news" media's in it for 2 things ONLY: (1) getting on its knees under the advertising industry's proverbial desk and (2) protecting the establishment, no matter which party they're from.

    Case in point: read the article in the NY Post from yesterday talk all about what a horrible inequity there is in Pakistan, with the rich, land-owning power brokers, including those in positions of power in the government, basically holding all the wealth and the rest of the country staying dirt poor and getting worse. You'd think it would've mattered more that the exact same thing could be said about our country...the article reads like a haunting metaphor...but you see, Clinton was off announcing more aid to Pakiland and the GOPers needed more talking points to complain about it.

    July 20, 2010 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  11. thor

    Both of these individuals act like they were not around at the time this happened. Why didn't they speak up at time this occured until waiting to say something now.?Will the people be duped again by this false indignation.

    July 20, 2010 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  12. Hugo

    Harumph, harumph a political coup! Yes, I think that agreeing that a mass murderer should have remained in jail till death is something that everyone in America does agree on. Now had you asked them should he have been water boarded and had electrodes hooked up to his testicles, or executed by hanging they would have been diametrically opposed!

    July 20, 2010 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  13. norma

    "Obozo is as clueless about finances as my 3 year old child. And the country will pay dearly for his ignorance."

    You have a child?!?! Oh, I'll start praying for him or her right away. That poor baby's gonna need some prayer.

    July 20, 2010 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  14. Sniffit

    "Why didn't they speak up at time this occured until waiting to say something now.?"

    Because (a) everyone just found out about the connections the guy's release had to BP and (b) there was no evidence of anything untoward about his release at the time, particularly since he was supposedly expected to croak within a month.

    July 20, 2010 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  15. Naqib

    Nobody believes anything out of the Whitehouse anymore...
    All credibility is gone... if you ever had any

    Those of us from Chicago knew better... but enjoy that change you can believe in... Yes we can... Oops you did!

    July 20, 2010 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  16. vwrtb

    I don't really care about this bomber crap anymore... Statistically I have more of a chance to get killed by my own mother... And republicans crying about the deficit... PLEASE... If they are serious then roll back the bush tax cuts to that of the Clinton era. Its obvious tax breaks are not creating jobs... At least any good ones... As for immigration... Go after the businesses hiring them... If they can't get jobs then why come! Problems are not overcoming. Republicans just have to drop their Reaganomics and this country will be ok... Vote no to the party of no in November! More good paying union jobs! Its ok republicans... They are really not that evil... And they pay close to what are parents made! Its kinda sweet!

    July 20, 2010 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  17. Wisconsinite

    ggg, snow, the fool who like to call our President a "dictator", thor, nagib, etc, etc, etc

    Psssst . . . . here's a little secret for all of you insane Rabid Righties to think about. The deal was done when Bush & Blair were in office. In cahoots with BP. It's all just coming to light now. God you people are so stupid I'm surprised you know which end of your computer you're supposed to type on.

    July 20, 2010 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  18. La Piovra

    Freeze BP's assets now, because there'll be plenty to sue them for later.

    July 20, 2010 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |