Most Americans were momentarily outraged a year ago when al-Megrahi, the bomber behind the Lockerbie killings, was released from prison with the ostensibly accurate news that he had but three months to live.
Prostate cancer, a notoriously slow-moving disease, was the culprit for the killer who blew up Pan Am 103 over Lockerbie in the south Scotland in 1988, killing 11 Scots on land, 243 passengers, and 16 crew members for a total of 270 dead. Abdebasit Ali al- Megrahi has now lived almost nine months beyond the prescribed three, and his doctor, Dr. Karol Sikora, told the Times of London, that the killer could live another ten or even twenty years.
Dr. Sikora quickly backtracked from his latest calculations, but that was only after it became known he was picked by Libyan officials who had not only paid him for his prognosis but also plied him with the three-months-before death requirement. The Scottish Minister of Justice said there was little his government could do in the face of such an imminent demise, and that he was all but required to let el-Megrahi fly away home.
Of course, a Scottish doctor might have a different diagnosis than one from Libya, particularly if that doctor is on the Libyan payroll. Dr. Sikora might also have had a different diagnosis than an American doctor, who might be inclined to let the Lockerbie killer rot in jail for several millennia.
As of this moment we know there's even more to the story: the small matter of BP's multi-billion dollar oil deal with Libya, announced shortly after el-Megrahi's release. BP Chief Executive Tony Hayward, no longer awash in the Gulf Oil spill, refused to return to the United States for a Senate hearing on the matter in the week just past, and Scottish and English officials both said they had no intention of flying across the pond to tell their story in front of an accusatory American firing squad.
Despite it all, we the people are soaked in assurances that Libya is both off the nuclear list and no longer a state sponsor of terrorism. Colonel Muammar al-Gaddafi is allowed to ramble on at the United Nations and consider pitching a tent near The Ramble in Central Park.
We kid ourselves that justice has been done. But what would the families of the Lockerbie dead say about what happened? What could I say to my late high school classmate and teammate, C.T. Fisher, who died on that flight before he could watch his daughter grow up?
I would say this really sucks and I'm going to do something about it.