Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Abdel Baset al-Megrahi

As the parent of a terror victim it has been difficult to read, listen to, and watch the reports of the release of Abdel Baset al-Megrahi from a Scottish prison. (Al-Megrahi was convicted of involvement in the terror bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 that killed 270 people in 1988.)

Not astonishingly, al-Megrahi was given sort of a hero’s welcome upon his return to his home country of Libya. This is nothing new in the world as we have witnessed this before when Israel has released terrorists. I do find U.S. complaints about al-Megrahi’s reception a bit shallow because nothing official has ever been said previously about streets being named after murderers of al-Megrahi’s ilk.

The Scots say it was compassion that led to the release of al-Megrahi, reportedly dying of cancer, to Libya. So I ask the Scot government, “Where was the compassion for the parents, siblings, relatives and friends of the murdered when you made the decision to release a mass murderer?”

9 comments:

shana maydel said...

It wasn't sort of, it was a warm hero's welcome. It's sad, but it's always about the money and in this case it's all about the oil.

The Expatriate said...

Is it about money, or is it about different countries having different understandings of justice? Although opponents of the decision are trying to frame the release as part of trade negotiations, it is worth noting that Scotland and Britain in general do not engage in the kind of penal abuses that characterize the United States, such as life imprisonment without parole.

It is also worth considering whether attempted US intervention may have actually encouraged the release. The Scots, like many other people, do not like being told by foreign governments what to do. Furthermore, Americans are perceived in Great Britain, not entirely inaccurately, as pushy, self-centered, and arrogant. Being pushed by the State Department, they may have seen the release as their own minor Declaration of Independence.

As for the victims' families, they should remember that the perpetrator is going home to die. He will shuffle off his mortal coil soon enough. (Indeed, given what I have read of Libyan medical care, it may happen sooner than it would in Scotland.) They need to get over it.

shana maydel said...

Oh Ex-man..."get over it"? you must be kidding. Clearly you've never lost someone in a terrorist attack, that's just murder. Have you seen that over-sized tomb stone with the names of all who perished on Flight 103 and those lost on the ground? Compassion for a murderer, I guess that's what's meant by criminal justice.

The Expatriate said...

Compassion is not something that is earned, or based on merit. It is given because one has the moral facilities to be superior to a terrorist.

Frankly, I find the idea of privileging death by terrorist attack over the other numerous horrible ways of dying rather disturbing. Is dying instantaneously in an explosion worse than dying after hours of suffering in a car accident caused by a drunken driver? Or worse than being sexually assaulted, then murdered? People who perpetrate those offenses often end up paroled.

It is also worth noting that the purpose of prisons is not to punish, or to assuage victims' feelings. The purpose is to protect society. The terrorist in question is debilitated and dying of cancer. He is highly unlikely to pose much of a threat, and it is a waste of society's resources to continue the imprisonment.

The Expatriate said...

Compassion is not something that is earned, or based on merit. It is given because one has the moral facilities to be superior to a terrorist.

Frankly, I find the idea of privileging death by terrorist attack over the other numerous horrible ways of dying rather disturbing. Is dying instantaneously in an explosion worse than dying after hours of suffering in a car accident caused by a drunken driver? Or worse than being sexually assaulted, then murdered? People who perpetrate those offenses often end up paroled.

It is also worth noting that the purpose of prisons is not to punish, or to assuage victims' feelings. The purpose is to protect society. The terrorist in question is debilitated and dying of cancer. He is highly unlikely to pose much of a threat, and it is a waste of society's resources to continue the imprisonment.

shana maydel said...

I see, it must be the criminologist in you...the purpose of imprisonment hmmm... how about the old standby-general deterrence (naughty naughty, you blow up a plane and kill hundreds, get sick and you receive a 'get of jail free' card).. or how about the old individual deterrence...maybe becoming a terrorist is really not the way to get to heaven. What about just focusing on punishment or obtaining retribution from those who have committed serious crimes. But then again, maybe turning the other cheek is the way to go...you decide. And BTW compassion is kindness and consideration, that you earn.

The Expatriate said...

I deny the charge of being a criminologist. I am merely a man who thinks for himself and looks past society's diatribes.

As for the deterrance issue, I very much doubt that punishment serves as a deterrance for most criminals. The United States has one of the most punitive criminal systems of the Western world, yet has a murder rate far larger than most industrialized nations. If punishment does not deter ordinary criminals, I very much doubt it will work for fundamentalist terrorists.

Andre said...

shana maydel said...

"how about the old standby-general deterrence (naughty naughty, you blow up a plane and kill hundreds, get sick and you receive a 'get of jail free' card)"

How about we apply this same standard to to the Captain of the USS Vincennes, which shot down an Iranian airliner in Iranian air space, killing 290 on board. The Captain was decorated with a medal for his trouble.

Or how about Jose Posada Carilles, who blew up a Cuban air liner, and was given sanctuary in the US?

Wash your face. It's hard to see clearly when you have so much mud in your eyes.

shana maydel said...

Andre
Ah yes I read what you wrote. Can we make comparisons between acts committed in a war zone and terrorists acts directed at innocent people? It is true from what I've read the tragedy involving the USS Vincennes was indeed a result of poor decision making, human error; mishaps due to human/system interface, certainly not a deliberate "terrorist" act. In regard to Jose Luis Posada Carriles, I have no response.