Senators Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) outlined the investigative portion of their new plan to get full information about the circumstances surrounding the release of Pan Am Flight 103 bomber Abdelbaset al-Megrahi from a Scottish prison nearly one year ago, at a press conference on Monday. They also released the first in a series of letters to the Scottish government requesting new information.
Menendez will chair a Senate hearing on the matter in the coming months, which was originally scheduled for July 29 but postponed when key witnesses from BP and the Scottish and British governments declined to testify on that date. He has announced a new plan to gather information, which includes an investigation that his office will spearhead and that will help inform the Foreign Relations Committee’s hearing. Today, Menendez and Lautenberg announced that the investigative phase will include:
– A thorough review of all documents already made public by the British and Scottish governments and all documents newly released to Senator Menendez by the British government
– Requests for specific additional documents from sources potentially including the British, Scottish, Libyan and US governments, as well as BP
– Requests to interview key individuals, with the possibility of conducting such interviews outside of the U.S.
In addition to outlining the scope of the investigation, Menendez and Lautenberg today also released a letter requesting answers about the Scottish Parliament and Parliament Justice Committee’s inquiry into the release of al-Megrahi. Scottish officials commonly cite the inquiry as having produced comprehensive information on the matter, however the inquiry focused on the process of releasing al-Megrahi instead of the decision, and the list of witnesses interviewed was limited.
“One of your stated reasons for not participating in our hearing process is that you judge that the inquiry by the Scottish Parliament and the Scottish Parliament Justice Committee was sufficient,” wrote the senators to Salmond. “In reviewing the documents available from your inquiry in the absence of direct testimony, it seems that the inquiry was quite limited, which leads me to the first series of questions we would appreciate your help in answering.”
In declining requests for Scottish officials to testify at the July 29 Senate hearing, Scottish First Secretary Alex Salmond wrote that the “Scottish Government would also be happy to answer, formally and in writing, any additional questions that may arise around the hearing.” To that end, the senators plan to follow up with a series of letters asking specific questions.