Tuesday, August 18, 2009


The Libyan convicted of the Lockerbie bombing yesterday formally dropped the second appeal against his conviction for the attack which killed 270 people. Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi (pictured above) who is allegedly terminally ill, is serving a life sentence after being convicted in 2001 of the 1988 terrorist atrocity. Judges at the High Court in Edinburgh yesterday accepted his bid to formally drop his appeal amid growing speculation that he could be freed within days, or at least the subject of a prisoner transfer to Libya. Scottish Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill has to decide whether to release Megrahi, who is reportedly dying from prostate cancer, on compassionate grounds. And a difficult choice it seems to be for Kenny - either infuriate the Americans and most of the relatives or alienate the appeasers of Islam. He seems to be taking his time thinking it over – I wonder if he’s worried in case the bloke makes a miraculous recovery once in Libya – or is he hoping nature will take its course quickly and get him off the hook before he has to make a final decision ?


But let’s not get carried away with the idea that it’s only Brits who can consider releasing terror suspects. It was reported yesterday in Iraq that the US military is to release all detainees linked to a Shia extremist group (member above) that kidnapped 5 British men 2 years ago. And 4 of these UK hostages are now thought to be dead. General Ray Odierno, the top US commander in Iraq, plans to release all members of Asaib al-Haq (League of the Righteous) as part of what he called a “wider reconciliation process” in the divided country. The number of detained group members is believed to be between 300 and 400. So maybe before pointing a finger at the Lockerbie situation and accusing Brits of being soft on terror, some Americans might care to address THAT issue.


More news on Bungling Bob. It was reported yesterday that British Army generals want incompetent Defence Secretary Bob Ainsworth (pictured above) ”removed from the public frontline” of the Afghanistan war because his inept performances are damaging public support for the conflict. Serving officers have complained to Members of Parliament on the Defence Select Committee that Mr Ainsworth is undermining the efforts of troops fighting the Taliban. If Prime Minister Gordon Brown is not prepared to sack him, commanders would like see him replaced as the public face of the war because his “Bungling Bob” image has contributed to confusion about the aims of Britain’s mission in Helmand Province. Now I’ve some sympathy with their view – and Mr Ainsworth is a disaster. But just a word of caution. I’m not sure it’s advisable to ever remove any government minister at the behest of the military – especially in the alleged interests of waging a war for democracy. If Bob is to be fired, it must be because he is crap at his job, NOT because the Army says so. Ultimately Britain is ruled by a democratically elected parliament, not a military junta. Senior officers should be backing their men, not playing politics.


A scene from Baghdad or Kabul ? No - it’s one of a dozen people carrying guns – including at least 2 toting military-style assault rifles – milling among protesters outside the convention centre where President Barack Obama was giving a speech in Pheonix, Arizona, USA. Gun-rights advocates say they are exercising their constitutional right to bear arms and protest, while those who argue for more weapons control say it could be a disaster waiting to happen. Phoenix police said the gun-toters at Monday’s event, including two men carrying AR-15 semi-automatic rifles, did not need permits. Fair enough, they might not need permits – but they need their sanity checked out, because what guns have to do with the current American healthcare debate is beyond comprehension.


British forces must remain in Afghanistan and the UK must ”honour its commitment” to make that country stable, Prime Minister Gordon Brown said after the deaths of 2 more soldiers took the death toll for our forces in the conflict way beyond the 200 mark. The PM said the recent deaths were tragic, but insisted the soldiers’ “vital mission” was worthwhile in order to “make the world and our streets safer places”. “Every man and woman fighting for their country is someone’s son or daughter, someone’s brother or sister, or someone’s father or mother,” he said. “Every death leaves a hole in a family’s life that will never be filled. We are hugely indebted to those who have made the ultimate sacrifice, and today my thoughts are with the families and friends of all those soldiers who have died in Afghanistan serving our country.”

Now this blog has the highest respect for the bravery of our soldiers. But the mock solemnity of Gordon Brown is nauseating. HE is the man who while Chancellor of the Exchequer massively underfunded the military. HE is the man who still doesn’t resource the soldiers properly. HE is the man whose government sends human right lawyers to war zones to criminalise our soldiers as soon as they draw weapons. HE is the man who has appointed a cretin like Bob Ainsworth as Defence Secretary. HE is the man whose government only 2 weeks ago launched a court action to reduce compensation for injured soldiers. And HE is the man who heads up a government so intent on appeasing Muslim extremists at home that to even criticise Islamic fundamentalist nutcases in our own country is deemed to be racist and a criminal offence and as a result we’ll soon have to be sending troops to inner-cities rather than Helmand. Above all, the notion that our soldiers should be dying for a shallow man like Brown who seems to regard support for US policy as an ongoing chance to seize photo opportunities with President Obama is a scandal.