Sunday, 25 July 2010

Who else is on the BP Merry-Go-Round?

"Oh, thank you, Senetor Menendez," said Uriah Hague, "for that remark! It is so true! Umble as I am, I know it is so true! Oh, thank you, Senator Menendez!"

US President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have both accepted large donations from a BP employees committee, reports Campbell Gunn in "The Sunday Post".

In the donation period ending in 2008, Obama took $71,051, and Clinton $6,700 from BP staff in donations.

Well, that's an inconvenient turn up for the books.

And three out of the four senators who demanded, and got, a meeting with David Cameron last week over Lockerbie and the BP involvement into the release of Abdelbaset al Megrahi, have taken political donations from a BP staff organisation, leading to accusations of hypocrisy.
Only accusations of hypocrisy?

Oh dear, I wonder if Cameron is regretting all that sickening toadying.

And now Wee Wullie Hague has chimed in by saying that the Scottish Governments decision was “wrong and misguided” in a letter to these same Senators.

Thanks for that Wullie, but if you want to be taken for a ride in America why not try Disneyland next time and hold on to some dignity.

Senator Robert Menendez, who is chairing this week’s Senate investigation into BP’s involvement in the release of the Lockerbie bomber, received $2,000 from the oil giant’s staff committee.

In the donation cycle ending this year, two of the other senators from New York and New Jersey, where many of the bombing victims came from, and who are pressing for an investigation into the bomber’s release, Kirsten Gillibrand and Charles Schumer, received $750 and $250 each in donations.

The donations don’t come from the company itself but from their Political Action Committee, groups of individuals within BP who wish to donate to a particular politician or party.

A number of major oil companies that now have drilling interests in Libya: Amerada Hess, Marathon Oil, Royal Dutch Shell, Occidental Petroleum and ConocoPhillips have made donations to the US Democrats.

In 2010 employees from ConocoPhillips are registered as having made donations to House Democrats of $36,500, Senate Democrats of $17,000. Marathon Oil staff gave House Democrats $28,500, Senate Democrats $22,500.Occidental Petroleum workers made donations to House Democrats of $43,000, and Senate Democrats $14,000. Royal Dutch Shell staff gave Barack Obama $117,946, and Hillary Clinton $20,348.

If anything proves that this whole farrago is nothing less than a smoke screen to divert attention from Obama’s plunging approval rating and Democratic Senators keen to hold on to their sinecures this is it.

The fact of the matter is that the US Democrats do not want to lose control of the Senate come election time in November. To that end they and their President will do ANYTHING.


  1. The release of Megrahi was the wrong decision, and I think our politicians have a duty to disclose their feelings about this highly emotive issue - if not for clarity sakes if nothing else.

    Unless anyone feels that our leaderss ought to sit silently, rather than have the temerity to question comrade Salmond and the crew.

  2. Can you explain Dean why it was wrng to follow the law?

    Can you explain why it was wrong to show mercy to a dying man?

  3. Releasing Megrahi was the correct decision following the law and also because the entire case stinks to high heaven.

    None of these politicians give a toss about the victims - the US and London politicians are playing politics with this - any decent person who cares for the victims would agree to an independent, of the UK and US governments, inquiry into the entire Lockerbie bombing.

    Only people with something to hide would be against this!

  4. What I find depressing about the whole business is frankly the ghoulish way people are counting the days of Mr Megrahi's life.....swop places with him anyone? Hello, anyone??? Thought not.


    Westmidden and Twite house will auction their nearest and dearest for money.

  6. Tris,

    Compassionate release is applicable when a convict is facing a terminal illness, ith under 3 months to live.

    Megrahi is now expected to live for as much as ten years.

    There is precious little justice in that decision. I view it as the wrong one, undertaken by a political party clearly inexperienced in power.

  7. Dean:

    That is simply not true. The terms are that there is the likelihood, as agreed by several (I'm not sure how many doctors), that the prognosis is less than 3 months life. There can never be certainty in the prognosis. Not even when it comes right to the end... today, tomorrow....

    Secondly the doctor you are quoting, and who has already been quoted by Tory MPs, has said loud and clear that he has been misquoted and his words used for political purposes. The likelihood, as far as he is concerned, is that the man will die within weeks now, and there is less than 1% chance that with the best drugs in the world he could live for 10 years.

    Inexperienced? And the Tories are not? Annabel is not? David is not.

    David was used by the much more experienced Americans..

    How experienced do you have to be to gather a list of criteria together and tick off the boxes?

    Is he still a danger to the public. Opinion by Governor and senior Prison officers required.
    Is he expected to live for less than 13 weeks? Opinion of the Scottish Prison Service Chief Medical Officer backed by four oncologists paid for by the Prison Service required.

    That’s all you need. The law then tells you that he will have to be released unless there is some particular and very good reason why he should not.

    Yes; it will upset people who lost friends and family in the outrage that was Lockerbie. These people will be Scottish and the will be American. It’s true that America is a very important country but that does no make its citizens any more important than anyone else’s.

    Yes it was an atrocity, but then every killing is an atrocity. Try telling the friends and family of any person that just because they didn’t die along with 200 others their loss is not a tragedy.

    The big deal here is that we appear to have upset the American government, which is now facing absolutely crucial elections.

    Kenny MacAskill has no business interfering in the American political proceeds; and neither has David Cameron or Willie Hague. He should have known better even if his idiot boss didn’t. So don’t give me inexperienced. The Scottish government hasn’t been dragged into another country’s political goings on over this. It’s the UK government that can have that accolade. 10 weeks in and the honeymoon has well and truly fallen under the bus.

  8. Billy:

    Totally right.

  9. Cynical:

    Nice to see you here....a rare pleasure for us!

    Thanks for the link. Excellent story. You're right. Westminster it seems is riddled with corruption and backroom deals.

    Dean you should read the story!

    Teh doctor you quote is also quoted in the story Cynical sent.


  10. Dramfineday...

    Nice to welcome you here too. <:¬)

    Again, I agree with you. Anyone want to swap places with him?

    If he committed the crime... and I hope that one day we will get to the bottom of that particular question, although I rather doubt we shall..... he is a monster, barely human.

    Frankly teh man that they talked about in prison, gentle and kind, helping the illiterate prisoners learn to read and write, sounds very little like a monster to me.

    But even if he is a monster, the Scottish Justice System is based on fairness and compassion.

    As I see it Kenny had no choice but to let him go home.

  11. I'm assuming, by the way Dean, that the UK government will now close down this Libyan company with all this money to spend?

  12. I’m very sorry not to have responded to peoples comment myself. But I was out last night so thank you Tris for answering on my behalf.

    The only thing I will say is Dean. A medical prognosis is inherently difficult. The suggestion that he may live for 10 years is coming from a medical opinion sponsored by these US Senators which I hoped to show in the story above have a hidden agenda to say the least.

    The comment on political inexperience is another of your inexplicable (to me) statements. Did you not read an earlier story concerning the release on compassionate grounds of one Ernest Saunders by Tory Home Secretary Kenneth Baker in 1991? The one that made the miraculous cure from Alzheimers and has since returned to business in the tax haven of the Cayman Islands. Are you telling us that the Tories having been in power from 1979-1991 were still at that point inexperienced?

  13. I certainly don’t mean to defend the actions of Cameron in this matter, which seems to me reprehensible in every respect....especially as regards what seems to me to be his fundamental lack of support for Scots law.

    That said, I think that the actions of the American senators are being tarred with a very broad brush. Motivations are always hard to sort out, but the concern of the Senators from New York and New Jersey probably has mostly to do with the current rage against BP about the oil spill in the Gulf, and the fact that of the 270 killed on the plane and on the ground at Lockerbie, 70% were Americans, and of those, the majority were residents of New York or New Jersey. In any event, the actions of those senators has little to do with the upcoming mid-term elections. Senators Menendez and Lautenberg of New Jersey are not up for reelection at all this year. (Only 1/3 of the Senate is elected in each two year cycle). Chuck Schumer and Kristen Gillibrand, the senators from New York, ARE up for reelection, but will have no problem winning in heavily Democratic New York State. Schumer won his last senate race 71%-24%, and Gillibrand won her last election (to the House) by 62%-38%.

    Of course the issue of Congressional hearings and the funding of American political campaigns is more problematical. But absent any significant public financing of campaigns, things like PAC money will continue to play a significant role in the process. The PACs are well regulated and transparent in their operation. They are not bribes for special favors. But whenever an issue is before the Congress, a cry goes up from the opposition about the influence of the corporate PACS. My view is that the sums are limited, and entirely open to public scrutiny. Many American politicians can be bought, but not by the relatively small amounts quoted here. As for Obama, he is on record as not having accepted any PAC money in his presidential race, but apparently did help finance his 2004 Illinois race for the US Senate this way. Finally, I have trouble understanding why receiving PAC money from BP would incline American politicians to call a congressional hearing about improper collusion between BP and the British government. If it’s a BP bribe for special favors, the American politicians seem not to have received the memo.

    As for the hearings. Politicians will posture and pontificate. It’s what politicians do. But public hearings before Congress are an essential way in which American political laundry gets aired. The hearings really do serve a purpose. Such hearings exposed the truth about Watergate and brought down a president, while the Watergate burglars simply stonewalled in a federal court. And congressional committee hearings occur all the time, not just when an election looms. The absurdity here was the apparent expectation that sitting British officials should and would testify. And of course Cameron’s toadying on the matter. I’m pleased that Alex has held his ground, and am confident that he will continue to do so.

  14. Danny thanks for clearing that up for us. I was not only thinking of the actual Senators involved and their personal desire to be re-elected (although as you point out, for some this is an aspect). But the fact that Obama’s shrinking popularity rating might see the Democrats lose control of the Senate overall. And hence the general desire of Democratic senators/politicians to divert attention from their own and their party’s shortcomings by fanning the fire of an already populist agenda to hysterical proportions. They are doing this by taking the hatred for BP and adding arms and legs to it via Megrahi, Libya, dirty deals in the dessert and so on. Is that not the case?

    The point of this story is not to imply that the Senators in question should support BP but to indicate that hitherto they had been happy enough to get money from it. I was using this to support my supposition that these people have a hidden agenda as explained in the paragraph above.

    I agree about the hearings. That they are fine for washing your own dirty laundry. But, as you say, it is a bit high handed to use them to wash international dirty laundry and expect elected representatives from other countries to drop running those countries and come give evidence on your political hot potato of the moment.

  15. Your points are well taken Munguin. There's no doubt that the prospect of the November elections is hanging heavy over the Congressional Democrats. The incumbent party always loses seats in the mid terms, but the continuing economic recession with 9.5% unemployment promises a much harder road than usual for the Democrats. Republicans may well take control of the House. It will be much harder to flip the Senate (with only 1/3 of the seats contested), but not impossible. With this as a background, there's no doubt that the politicos will make hay everywhere they can. And BP is a great target. The grilling of BP executives by posturing politicians has been a running show on Capitol Hill. I agree that it is high handed beyond belief to imagine that British officials would go to Washington to testify before the Senate Foreign Relations....or any other....Committee.

    The private financing of American political campaigns will continue to be a source of potential conflicts of interest. But a possible question regarding long term influence from a campaign contribution is a long way from political impropriety. And as long as campaigns are financed this way, the well regulated system of Political Action Committees is one of the ways to keep it relatively honest. Generally, the corporate PACs spread their contributions fairly evenly across the two political parties. But this doesn't keep politicians from characterizing every contribution to their opponents as a bribe. During the debate on the Health Care Bill, the story was the PAC contributions from the health care industry. Now the big story is BP and the oil industry PACs. But my concern is not the thousands of dollars in PAC money that is openly reported as required by law, it's the tens of thousands that can change hands in brown envelopes that we'll never know about.

  16. I sometimes wish I'd ahd the foresight to be a manufaturer of brown envelopes..

    (International Divison)

    The Discrete and Sophisticated way to make YOUR secret donation to whom or whatsoever you are trying to curry favour with.

    No one will ever know it came from YOU!

    Delivered directly to your home in a plain

    Brown Envelope

    what d'ya think?

  17. A lot to be said for those plain brown envelopes Tris....LOL. It was reported that was exactly the way that Spiro Agnew, Richard Nixon's first Vice President, received his bribes when he was Governor of Maryland. But then you have to have a secure place to keep it. The FBI found some $90,000 in cash wrapped in aluminum foil and stored in the home freezer of William J. Jefferson, the Congressman from Louisiana's second congressional district. "Cold cash", the joke went.

  18. Ha ha Danny. I'd just spend it!

    So there have been plenty of examples of brown envelopes here. The most interesting being teh "cash for questions" debacle of the mid 90s and the anti sleaze campaign which, as you can tell from recent events in Westminister did absolutely nothing to change a culture of many years where (some) MPs cheated and stole.

    From Wiki:

    On 20 October 1994, The Guardian published an article claiming that Hamilton, and another minister, Tim Smith, had received money, paid in the form of cash in brown envelopes, from Harrods' owner Mohamed Al-Fayed, for asking questions on his behalf in the House of Commons. The subsequent furore became known as the "Cash-for-questions affair". Smith admitted his guilt and resigned immediately. Hamilton claimed innocence but was eventually forced to resign his position as Corporate Affairs Minister on 25 October.

    Hamilton sued The Guardian, along with Ian Greer, and had a 300-year-old law changed so he could do so, which was the Defamation Bill - altering the Bill of Rights 1689 by permitting what had been said in Parliament to be questioned in the courts. The Defamation Act 1996 gained Royal Assent in July 1996. However, on 30 September 1996, a day before the libel trial was due to begin, Hamilton and Greer claimed that a conflict of interest arose and both men dropped the libel action, saying that they could not afford to continue. They each paid £7,500 to The Guardian's legal costs. All the cash for questions evidence was sent to Sir Gordon Downey, the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards. On the evening of 1 October 1996, on Newsnight, Hamilton took part in a televised live debate with Alan Rusbridger, the editor of The Guardian.

    During the 1997 General Election, Hamilton was determined to hold on to his parliamentary seat in what was then the fourth safest Conservative seat in the country. Hamilton's majority at the 1992 General Election was almost 16,000. Conservative Central Office said that selection of candidates was purely a matter for the local party and refused to intervene. On 8 April 1997, he won a candidacy selection vote by 182 to 35, although 100 members of the local party abstained. Hamilton said that if the Downey report found against him, he would resign as an MP.

  19. Tris....It's clear that between us we have the best politicians that money can buy. :-)

  20. Tris,

    The medical basis for the MacAskill decision is at the very least compromised.

    MacAskill took a decision on the basis of the medical opinion of ONE doctor. Not multiple ones, the SNP took one doctor at his word, and sought no further second opinions, given the sensitivity of the issue. Amateur hour.

    The investigating doctor was Dr Karol Sikora of the University of Buckingham examined Megrahi in prison early in July.

    The release showed no compassion to the victims families, and the medical basis for the 'compassionate release' has since been proven completely wrong.

    The SNP are guilty of releasing a criminal, a terrorist, a mass-murderer. Well done to them guys.

  21. Dean:

    Extract from Mr Salmond's letter to Senator Kerry:

    "......That advice was compiled by Dr Andrew Fraser, the Director of Health and Care in the Scottish Prison Service, drawing on medical expertise provided by two consultant oncologists, two consultant urologists and the primary care physician....."

    In accordance with due process under Scots law.

    Dean, your man may be a complete diddy who goes around shooting off his mouth about junior partners in wars in which teh senior partner didn't show up for yet another year.

    Mr Salmond on the other hand is a fairly seasoned leader. He wouldn't have done this knowing that they eyes of the world would be on him, and done it all wrong.

    Stop spreading this nonsense about Sikora. it's not true. He has already said that the Tories have misrepresented him and that Megrahi has less than 1% chance of surviving for the ten years that the Conservatives are babbling on about.

  22. Bit late Tris but"TRIS'S BROWN ENVLOPES,
    (International Divison)" would they be the self sticking ones! sorry blame the red vino.

  23. LOL @ cynical...

    Never too late mate....

    Self serving ones, did you say.... ?

    Any kind of envelope sir, as long as you can fill them while we fill our boots!!

    Rerd Vino... on a Monday.... Geez the must be some money in your house!!

  24. Sorry Tris, but the release of Megrahi was a violation of the spirit of justice.

    And the entire episode, to my mind, has demonstrated at best a deep seated nievity of the SNP to governance. At worst, incompetence.

    The medical basis of the decision has been proven wrong. The decision itself was arrived at in questionable circumstances [i.e visiting the mass-murderer in prison, something not obliged to do].

    SNP nievity, or just amateur incompetence. And a mass murderer goes off home scot-free, leaving the relatives of the victims to weep, so MacAskill can get a chance to channel a divine!!

  25. Well Dean.

    We don't seem to be able to get you to read the facts of the case.

    * 6 doctors not the one that you cling to.

    * prognosis as dubious as it always is in the case of cancer. No one can be sure with cancer, and certainly not with the superior treatment that he was afforded in Libya. That was admitted at the time

    * it all still comes within the law of Scotland.

    Incidentally, the American captain who shot down an Iranian airliner a few months before, killing around the same number of people... of course they weren't Americans.... was given a medal. (This is the incident which may well be the reason that the Iranians brought down the plane over Lockerbie.)

    So clearly the friends and family of these foreigners, muslims mainly, were kinda laughed at.... we shoot your people down and we give our guy a medal; you bring one of ours down and your guy must rot in a jail even as he is screaming with the pain of terminal cancer?

    Nice job Dean. No wonder they hate the west.

    Mr MacAskill can get a chance to what?

  26. Damm just lost my post, maybe better as Dean might have a very red face with his pure hypocrisy.

  27. Cynical. It's a pain when it disappears into cyber space.

    I'm finding it hard to understand Dean's line on this. He's a Christian I know. I can't imagine what he thinks Jesus would have done had he had had to make Kenny's decision.

    BTW I try to mainly do my posts in Word first, then copy them in.... although, I sometimes forget!!

    This problem wouldn't have anything to do with the silly computer having consumed a fair quantity of red wine, would it? :))


    Is Trefgarne a Tory Dean?

  29. I see Menendez has not grasped the Scottish/British thing. He needs to look this up. He may be misunderstanding who is responsible for what.

    (He also doesn't appear to know the meaning of the word "incredulous", but that's small matter).