ONE OF THE GREAT ASSHOLES OF OUR TIME: Scottish Justice Minister Kenny MacAskill [above] helped his big brother out by releasing terrorist Abdel Baset al--Megrahi.
I was stunned when a friend of the late Rachel Asrelsky posted a comment on a blog posting I wrote about the travesty of justice that occurred when Abdel Baset al-Megrahi - the mastermind behind the 1988 Lockerbie bombing - was released from prison. Mrs. E had posted the blog entry on her site, and it was there that Ms. Arelsky's friend saw it. The comment was just a thanks for remembering Ms. Arelsky. It's the first time that I've ever been 'touched' by a response to anything I've written - my meeting Mrs. E notwithstanding. The Internet does, indeed, make for a small world.
So, it is with that as a backdrop that we take another look at Scottish Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill, who recently released al-Megrahi. Mac Ass, as I like to call him, has been rightly lambasted for his asinine move. It further came to light that some U.K. energy companies were in discussions about lucrative oil contracts at the time. They swore up and down that one had nothing to do with the other.
Well, we didn't believe it then and now here's another reason why that might not be the whole truth: it turns out that Mac Ass has a brother who is an energy-industry executive and who has worked at firms that have pitched for oil business in Libya. Mac Ass' brother and his company, then, both stand to make a nice penny with those Libyan deals. Wonder if that played any role in al-Megrahi's release?
This puts the lie even further to the unbelievable claims by the Scottish government that it made full disclosure of all the facts relevant to the decision to release al-Megrahi. Funny, it didn't disclose the relationship between Mac Ass' brother and the oil firms. Must've slipped their minds. Money does that to you.
It turns out that, over the years, Allan MacAskill has worked for several companies that sought oil business in Libya. Allan MacAskill, naturally, says he didn't work on any of his employers' Libyan oil proposals. That might've worked had he not then added the ridiculous closing remarks that he has never discussed the Lockerbie case with his younger brother Kenny. Sure. Little bro' Kenny is responsible for the case involving the only man ever convicted of the worst terrorist attack in his country's history and Big Bro' Allan and he never talked about it? That's a little like saying that Bobby and Jack never talked about the Cuban Missile Crisis.
As for the facts, Allan MacAskill is business development director at a firm that develops offshore wind farms, SeaEnergy Renewables. He appears to be as big an asshole as his little brother. Allan MacAskill unconvincingly told the media this week that, "[Kenny MacAskill's] my brother and he is a minister of the Scottish government, anything to do with Megrahi is nothing to do with me. We [SeaEnergy] have nothing to do with it."
If Allan MacAskill's denials seemed ridiculous, it was nothing compared to an understandably anonymous Scottish government spokesman who described as "ridiculous" any attempt to link Kenny MacAskill's brother to the Lockerbie decision. "As the Justice Secretary has made clear, he made his decision based on due process according to the law, having considered the recommendations from the Scottish Prison Service, the Prison Governor and the Parole Board as is required by the legislation on compassionate release." He said all of that without giggling once. Good for him.
The disclosure has proven painful for Kenny MacAskill, an intensely private man who had - up to the discovery of his brother - avoided any links to rampant speculation over the true reasons behind al-Megrahi's release. Good. I hope he's had the shits all week. It's nothing compared to the pain he's inflicted on the families of the Lockerbie victims.
Any way you slice it, the release of al-Megrahi is nothing less than a case of the U.K. government bending to Libya in their attempts to win commercial contracts with the oil-rich north African state. Nothing more. Nothing less. Stop it, already. This whole Lockerbie affair also underscores how deeply embedded the oil industry is in the U.K, where many people have a family, political or business connection in a sector that is a major employer and tax earner.
Hopefully, politically there may be some repercussions to Mac Ass. Opposition politicians, who have criticized Kenny MacAskill for the decision-making process as much as the decision, said the minister should have made a full disclosure on his brother's possible connections. "If any part of the [Scottish] Government has any connections to Libyan businesses then they need to come clean," said Annabel Goldie, leader of the Scottish Conservative Party [SCP]. "The Scottish National Party [SNP] Government need to be open and transparent once and for all and stop this constant drip drip of information which only serves to undermine Scotland and the U.K.," she said.
Kenny MacAskill's SNP has also been a major flag-waver for wind power, and earlier this year the party's leader Alex Salmond opened new offices for SeaEnergy in Aberdeen. Gee, that's interesting, no? Among Allan MacAskill's biggest projects at SeaEnergy was the Beatrice Wind Farm off the Scottish coast for his former company, oil firm Talisman Energy. Canada-based Talisman Energy has been looking the past few years to get a foothold in Libya, but has yet to establish a position. The company took part in a recent Libyan oil-licensing round but didn't walk away with a contract to explore for hydrocarbons.
Allan MacAskill joined oil giant BP PLC in 1977. BP has admitted that it lobbied the U.K. over a controversial prisoner-transfer agreement between the U.K. and Libya. In 1998, after 20 years at BP, Allan MacAskill joined Talisman Energy and last year moved on to SeaEnergy Renewables. Gee, how happy do you think they are having brought him on and all of this negative attention with him?
The idea that the brothers didn't talk about Lockerbie is ludicrous. Indeed, Kenny MacAskill tapped into his brother's energy expertise in 2005 for a book of essays the Scottish politician edited called Agenda for a New Scotland. Allan MacAskill co-wrote one piece which called for government and commercial intervention to ensure the estimated 30 billion barrels of unproduced hydrocarbon is extracted from the North Sea and so secure thousands of jobs in the industry.
That, they talked about? But not Lockerbie? Methinks Mac Ass' kilt is on too tight. It would be funny if it wasn't so tragic. Despite Kenny MacAskill's desire for all of this to go away, it won't. And, should I find anything else out about these slimy asshole brothers, you can bet that you'll see it here. For Ms. Arelsky and all of the others' whose voices were silenced 21 years ago.
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