WASHINGTON (AP)-- The four senators from New Jersey and New York are asking the State Department to investigate whether oil giant BP played a role in winning last year's release of the man convicted of the Lockerbie airliner bombing.
The four on Tuesday requested the probe a day after asking the department to press the British government to look into the circumstances of Abdel Baset al-Megrahi's release. He was released on compassionate grounds after doctors said the cancer-stricken Libyan man had only three months to live. A doctor now says al-Megrahi could live for another decade.
Democrats Kirsten Gillibrand and Charles Schumer of New York and Frank Lautenberg and Robert Menendez of New Jersey say they are concerned by reports that BP helped secure al-Megrahi's release in order to finalize a $900-million offshore oil drilling deal with Libya.
Read the letter:
July 13, 2010
The Honorable Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
U.S. Department of State
Washington, DC 20520
Dear Secretary Clinton:
We write to urge the State Department to fully investigate the disturbing news reports linking BP to the deal that allowed for the release of convicted Pan Am Flight 103 bomber Abdelbaset al-Megrahi on compassionate grounds. The information that such an investigation would yield is important to fully determine the legitimacy of the decision to release this mass murderer and to fully understand the source of revenue streams for this corporation, which owes American taxpayers and coastal families billions of dollars.
As you may know, in 2007, BP and the Libyan government agreed upon a $900 million oil exploration deal, following two visits to Libya over the course of three years by then-British Prime Minister Tony Blair. It was reported in September of last year that BP communicated to the British government concerns that possible delays in the release of al-Megrahi could throw the oil deal into jeopardy. Further raising suspicions about circumstances surrounding al-Megrahi's release, the son of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi has made statements alluding to the fact that oil interests were part of the discussions.
Information about the release has become even more outrageous in recent days. Not only has this terrorist lived long past the three-month death prognosis that cleared the way for his release, but it has been revealed that doctors who gave the prognosis were paid by the Libyan government.
Evidence in the Deepwater Horizon disaster seems to suggest that BP would put profit ahead of people -- its attention to safety was negligible, and it routinely underestimated the amount of oil gushing into the Gulf. The question we now have to answer is, was this corporation willing to trade justice in the murder of 270 innocent people for oil profits?
Answering this crucial question will help complete our understanding of the Scottish court's decision to release this murderer and will help us understand if BP might use blood money to pay claims for damage in the Gulf of Mexico.
Thank you for your prompt consideration of this important request. Please do not hesitate to contact our offices if we can be of any assistance.
United States Senate