Alex Massie

Lockerbie Fallout: A (Fake) American Backlash

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So, via Iain Dale, the News of the World has a story claiming that:

Britain was facing the likelihood of an increased terror threat last night — after America’s CIA chiefs threatened to stop sharing vital intelligence with us following the Lockerbie bomber’s release.


The Americans have already warned British intelligence services that sending cancer-stricken Abdelbaset al-Megrahi home to Libya has destroyed our “special relationship”.


But the fallout following the bomber’s release has now worsened with the CIA threat to stop sharing information on terrorists gathered by their agents.


They have also warned they may not pass on vital information picked up by their sophisticated eavesdropping satellites.

"It seems that releasing al Megrahi threatens to put more Britons in danger than getting out of Afghanistan would do"

"It looks like the SNP may have a lot to answer for

I suggest that this story is nonsense and that Mr Dale's reasoning is cheap and equally spurious.

I don't believe the story anyway. The sourcing - if it can be called that - is anorexic. Secondly, it makes no sense. Thirdly, in the (hugely) unlikely event it is true, it reflects terribly upon the Americans, not Britain or the SNP. That is, we are supposed to believe that the American intelligence community will willingly, indeed deliberately, endanger the security of its closest ally simply because it is piqued by a decision made - following due process, remember - by the Scottish Justice Secretary? 

As I say, I don't believe this is likely but even if it is the case then, again, this says far more about the American intelligence community than it does about the SNP. That is, in no sensible world can the SNP be responsible for a crazy, stupid reaction on the part of the CIA.

Why do I think this a bogus report? Well, according to the Screws a British intelligence "source" revealed that:

the FBI had joined forces with the CIA to show the US anger. The recent public letter from FBI director Robert Mueller lambasting the bomber’s release was written “because the CIA are so p****d off with us but dare not speak it, so the FBI are doing it instead. That is unprecedented.”

I've a lot of time for both the News of the World and Iain Dale but the latter's reaction to this report does him little credit. To repeat: in the unlikely event this report is true, the scandal lies in the conduct of the US, not the SNP and, I confess, I find it somewhat mystifying that Mr Dale can't see that too.

There are perfectly respectable reasons for disagreeing with the decision Kenny MacAskill took. This sort of crazy-world hackery - from both the NotW and Mr Dale -  isn't one of them.

Written byAlex Massie

Alex Massie is Scotland Editor of The Spectator. He also writes a column for The Times and is a regular contributor to the Scottish Daily Mail, The Scotsman and other publications.

Topics in this articleSocietyscotlandterrorism