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August 20, 2010

Statement of Ronald Motley on National Day of Shame: Libyan terrorism and its victims

Let us proclaim August 20, 2010, a "National Day of Shame." Why? August 20th is the one year anniversary of the return to Libya of convicted terrorist and mass murderer Abdel Baset al-Megrahi who was released by Scotland for supposed "compassionate" reasons - he supposedly has prostate cancer. Al-Megrahi was convicted of the 1988 Lockerbie bombing of Pan Am flight 103 killing all 259 on board, 11 people on the ground and destroying the lives of countless family members. Scotland released him last August saying he had less than 3 months to live, but he is alive and healthy one year later, living comfortably with his family in Libya as a "folk hero."

This would be reason enough for a "National Day of Shame," but, sadly, there are more infuriating reasons. Two years ago, on August 18, 2008, the United States and Libya signed a Claims Settlement Agreement in which Libya paid into a $1.5 billion compensation fund to compensate the victims of Libyan-sponsored terrorism and their families. The fund covered not just the Lockerbie families, but all families from the bombing of a Berlin disco to those killed or maimed in the Libyan-supplied bombings carried out by the Provisional Irish Republic Army. Despite two years of the fund's existence and one year of freedom for a terrorist and mass murderer, the U.S. State Department continues to drag its leaden feet while some American victims of terrorism add another year to the twenty or more they have already waited for justice.

That is a true Shame. Our own government cannot rouse itself to see the egregious unfairness and indignity in this situation.

Even now, as we learn that BP, yes the company that brought you the worst oil spill in U.S. history, lobbied for al-Megrahi's release. Now BP has a lucrative new oil drilling contract with Libya.  Coincidental?

Therefore, let us declare August 20, 2010, a "National Day of Shame" for the U.S. State Department. May our government heed the call of the victims and rouse itself to action so that they, the victims, do not have to make this an annual event.