The Maltese double cross part 3.
Of course, whether the decision was purely MacAskill's, and how much Westminster knew about what was going on is now being questioned. Ivan Lewis seems to have sent a letter which openly encouraged sending al-Megrahi home, although through the prisoner exchange deal rather than on compassionate grounds, while the dealings between Brown and Mandelson with Gaddafi's both junior and senior now seem to have been far more significant than either first claimed. Further evidence that suggests that Westminster was just as complicit as the SNP is that David Miliband refused to be drawn on what he really thought about al-Megrahi's release, while Gordon Brown has said absolutely nothing on the subject so far. Partially this might well be because they know full well that the SNP would like nothing better to be able to put some of the blame on Labour, but it also seems to reflect the fact that despite all the cant, no one seems to have really wanted al-Megrahi to stay. Dave Osler sums this theory in general up:
In sum, we are faced with a straightforward case of New Labour setting aside any other consideration than what works for major UK companies, building its foreign policy in that light alone, and then passing the buck north of the border. That - this once - its actions were consonant with the correct course is simply felicitous coincidence.
This would be fully in line with New Labour's foreign policy both past and present, yet it still hasn't personally passed the buck north, just rather letting the SNP take the blame whether it is entirely theirs or not.
The continuing outrage from the US however continues to amuse, most hilarious being Robert Mueller and others comment that al-Megrahi's release gives comfort to "terrorists worldwide". Only someone so up themselves and so crimson with unjustified rage could believe that anyone would take comfort from the fact that if they happened to find themselves in Scottish custody and with just three months to live they might just be released. It's instructive to wonder however just how al-Megrahi might have been treated had he found himself in US custody - would he have been threatened with having his children killed, or having his mother sexually assaulted in front of him? Would he have been waterboarded, threatened with a gun, and told that a fellow prisoner had been summarily executed in order to get him to talk? Perhaps just the sheer inhumanity of so-called American justice can be encapsulated by the 7 years that a 12 year old Afghani spent in Guantanamo, having finally been released. It says something about the imperial arrogance of the United States, even under Obama, that it feels it can lecture anyone on how to treat terrorists, although when everyone except the very lowest of the low have been prosecuted for the rendition programme and all the according prison abuses, it perhaps still believes itself to be above the law.