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September 1st, 2009
08:23 AM ET

Dear President Obama #225: Beware of the Brits

Reporter's Note: President Obama is making foreign affairs an important item on his agenda. I suppose every president does to some degree. However, not every president has someone to offer advice on how to handle it, with a letter a day to the White House.

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/WORLD/europe/08/31/uk.libya.lockerbie.bomber.deal/art.megrahi.gi.jpg caption="Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al Megrahi (second from left) arrives in Tripoli, Libya on August 21."]

Tom Foreman | Bio
AC360° Correspondent

Dear Mr. President,

To paraphrase that old Revolutionary War cry: The British are coming…run! I have no idea when our pals in the Brit government will next come for coffee and cookies, but if it is anytime soon you might do well to tell them it’s your Kiwanis Club night, or you promised to take Biden to a ball game, or you think you are getting swine flu…anything to keep them at arm’s length. Have you seen the storm brewing along the Thames?

I spent all day looking into the details around the release of the Lockerbie plane bomber; you know, the one convicted of killing 270 people, most of them Americans? Of course you know. Who could forget? It was a cowardly act of treachery against defenseless and innocent civilians. And when the Scottish government locked Abdel Basset Al Megrahi up, the victim’s families must have assumed it was forever. But then, a couple of weeks ago, they set him free. Sent him home to die of cancer. The Scots have called it a compassionate release, and the British government denies any involvement.

But question marks are now swirling around this whole affair. Reporting has suggested that the Brits may have (at least in a backhand way) encouraged the release of this terrorist, to grease the tracks for lucrative oil and gas deals with his home country of Libya. Although the Libyans now deny it too, up until a couple of days ago they were pretty much openly crowing that they’d negotiated his release by playing off the value of their natural resources.

Again, the Brits say that’s not the case, but the timing of it all looks bad. The release came right before the start of Ramadan, right before a big celebration of Moammar Gadhafi’s 40 years in power (and btw, if you spell his name differently, feel free to cross out my version and write in your own…seems to be about a dozen alternatives,) right before he comes to New York to the United Nations, and oh yeah…less than two months after he met with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

Like I said, maybe everything is on the level, but word to wise: I wouldn’t be trotting down to the pub with Brown until this gets cleared up. Or maybe you should, and see if he can answer a few questions.

Call if you want to chew it over. I’m around.

Regards,

Tom

Follow Tom on Twitter @tomforemancnn.

Find more of the Foreman Letters here.

soundoff (13 Responses)
  1. DawnL,CA

    @ Maggie 12:44
    Very good point. I forgot about the airport attack in Scotland.

    September 1, 2009 at 5:32 pm |
  2. Annie Kate

    Perhaps this compassionate release is exactly as the Scottish minister said it was and that its Libya and Gadhaffi making it seem like they pulled one over on Scotland and the west. After all, it would make them appear better with their own people and give their rule more legitimacy. I would expect this from al Queda so why not Libya? Terrorists like to brag ..... this would be one event over which they could really brag. Unless the released terrorist turns out to not have cancer and doesn't die then absent any other proof to the contrary I think its just more hot air blowing over the desert.

    September 1, 2009 at 4:50 pm |
  3. Chris Taylor

    Don't confuse the Scots with the English – I am English of Anglo-Saxon descent. Whereas we have attempted to make our island nation one, the Scots, mainly of Celtic descent chose 'Home Rule – with their own Parliament, and decision making'. I have no problem with that.

    When you say, 'Beware of the Brits', you are claiming that the English, Welsh, Northern Irelanders, Manx, Channel Islanders, Cayman Islanders, Bermudans,Turks & Caicos Islanders, amongst many other countries are all part and parcel to this Agreement. That is very unfair.

    When the Scottish Parliament makes a decision, don't drag the rest of us 'Brits' as you call us into the fray. I am an Englishman and very proud of it.

    The comment shows a complete lack of understanding of Britain, it's relationship with it's constituent countries, and the European Community. You would have fared better reffering to the 'EC', rather than the 'Brits'.

    Plus it also attempts to distort our history

    September 1, 2009 at 1:26 pm |
  4. Michael C. McHugh

    There is a scramble going on all over the Middle East and Central Asia for control of oil and gas resouces. I saw it myself when I was living out there for six years. Everybody is doing it, not just Britain and the US, and mostly it is done through massive bribery and corruption. For some reason, dictators and monarchs are sitting on most of the oil, and they always have their hands out for a payoff. It's another very good reason to get North America off foreign oil.

    September 1, 2009 at 12:53 pm |
  5. Maggie

    I think its more likely that when those doctors drove the burning jeep into the front doors of a busy glasgow airport and made scotland a terrorist target it wasdecided then ,he would never have been allowed to die in a scottish jail.

    September 1, 2009 at 12:44 pm |
  6. Janice Stockbauer

    I think President Obama's ratings would go up if He
    would create his own Health Care Reform package
    and then get out there and explain it to the people.He is
    well liked -people don't like all this bickering back and
    forth-it seems they have lost sight of what we're asking them to do.
    Ted Kennedy knew and the President does too.
    It needs to be President Obama's Health Reform Bill,
    I think.

    September 1, 2009 at 12:11 pm |
  7. Anne of the World

    Right on target.

    September 1, 2009 at 11:54 am |
  8. Helen

    CNN should find a better job for you. That is the first letter you wrote that makes sense.

    September 1, 2009 at 10:41 am |
  9. david itumbi

    just discovered a serious article.

    September 1, 2009 at 10:25 am |
  10. oke chukwu

    My humble opinion is that American government need to review their foreign policy. West Africa is turning into next terrorist hub, the region is turning into something like Middle East except that there is no Israel there. Yet those oppressive leaders in West Africa are friends of America.

    September 1, 2009 at 9:46 am |
  11. Kathleen

    You forgot one more interesting question. Did the Obama administration sign off on this as well?

    September 1, 2009 at 9:35 am |
  12. kenneth svee

    I am amazed at the inability of a US Citizen to get in touch with the senators and or any politician on the phone or by e mail!! I have tried now for approximately 7 months to voice my opinion about the Obama Admin surrounding themselves by the Czar's!!! I have emailed, phoned and left messages to both Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken----no comments, no response. My question is how do these people think they work for us and just ignore us???? Time for another CHANGE!!!!!

    September 1, 2009 at 9:34 am |
  13. Mike, Syracuse, NY

    I prefer Ga-daffy. There certainly was a deal. I suspect it's because Obama hasn't apologized to the British yet for the Revolutionary War.

    September 1, 2009 at 8:30 am |