Did Barack Obama Lie About His Knowledge Of The Pan Am Bomber’s Release ?

Several commenters here, as well as more than a few bloggers have jumped on the story about U.S. diplomatic contacts with the Government of Scotland regarding the release last year of Pan Am Flight 103 bomber Abdel Baset al-Megrahi, which I wrote about earlier today.

Essentially, the argument goes, the evidence of diplomatic comments puts the lie to the President’s statement that he was “surprised” at Scotland’s decision to release al-Megrahi as Ed Morrissey argues here:

It shows that the Obama administration lied about being surprised by Megrahi’s release. They knew it was coming, and while they may have been surprised that he went to Libya, the White House knew Scotland was going to spring Megrahi one way or the other.

Is this really the case though ?

Well, here’s what the President had to say about this last week during his press conference with British Prime Minister David Cameron:

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The President admitted right there that there had been contact between the US and Scotland over this issue prior to al Megrahi’s release, and that’s what today’s report confirms. So, where’s the story ?

I don’t see it.

Update: The State Department has released the complete text of the August 12, 2009 letter.

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Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    What do you suppose that contact was Doug? Do you think a diplomat for the US is not in contact with the Administration concerning a matter such as this one? If your cat has yellow feathers in its mouth and your Canary is missing. Do you really have to have video of the incident or are you capable, mentally, to put two and two together? Doug were you a member of the JournoList?

  2. Obama said their was pre-release contact with Scotland, today’s report confirms it.

    Like I said, no story here

  3. Boyd says:

    Putcher muzzle back on, ZR3. You’re arguing a point that Doug didn’t make.

    This mistake in this “gotcha” is that the Administration said they were surprised about Megrahi’s release. The President stated that there were pre-release discussions about it. Did the President (or someone else in his administration) express surprise about the release that you know of? If so, please point us to it so we can see if he (or they) changed their story.

  4. Juneau says:

    As per usual, this blog tries to disguise the trees by getting people to look through a microscope at the leaves. The main point, among several points, is that this administration should have insisted on having first-hand input into the conditions of his release. The ONLY input that they offered at all, was to say that, if released from Scottish prison, the US would prefer that the terrorist not be put in jail any longer.

    Face it, Obama didn’t act authoritatively, nor did he act as though he would insist that the true condition of the terrorist’s health be thoroughly vetted before the release.

    The terrorist has now made a “miraculous” recovery and has made a joke of the process, the system, and our country. Sorry you can’t face up to the fact that Obama once again proved to be an embarrassment.

  5. Boyd says:

    Yeah, Juneau, Obama should have threatened to call air strikes on the Scottish Parliament to ensure they bent to his will. Yeah, that’s the ticket.

  6. Juneau says:

    Yeah, Juneau, Obama should have threatened to call air strikes on the Scottish Parliament to ensure they bent to his will. Yeah, that’s the ticket.

    Yeah……. that’s what I was suggesting. After all, that’s how past administrations have influenced these types of decisions, right? Oh, wait a minute. They actually had the testicles and pull to influence world afffairs without resorting to that type of action.

    Guess as far as the rest of the world is concerned, Obama’s got no game.