It’s soapbox time

Don’t worry, not like that, I mean in the far more mundane sense of political prol– proselit– prolysest– going on and on about something.  I wanted to get a picture of Stan Smith from American Dad! standing on a soapbox in the episode “Camp Refoogee”, with the caption “Shame on you!”, but Google has let me down.  Gits.

Anyway… today our Home Secretary decided that Gary McKinnon, an autistic man who had basically strolled into some badly-secured US computer systems looking for evidence on UFOs and has been painted by them as the hacker equivalent of Osama bin Laden, shouldn’t have to go off and face (ahem) “justice” in America.  Unfortunately, it wasn’t her attempt to stand up against the lopsided extradition treaty we share with our cousins across the pond; no, it was because he’s a suicide risk, and they felt they couldn’t let him go on that basis.

And that’s it?  Rather than sort out this serious issue — whereby we have to give the Yanks evidence if we want someone extradited, but if they want one of ours, they can just bark at us for it — the Conservatives have used a loophole, the Human Rights Act, which they themselves never wanted anyway.  Gaz has a reprieve (and hopefully will be tried here), but this could all happen again.  There are people (sorry, Republicans, different thing) in the US still baying for his blood, and look at how Bradley Manning, a US citizen and a member of their own armed forces, was treated simply because he was a suspect in the WikiLeaks affair until people protested on his behalf.

This isn’t the only time I’ve disagreed with America’s view of our justice system.  Even Obama seemed to think that al-Megrahi was guilty of the Lockerbie bombing, and that he’d been “let off” by the Scottish assembly and allowed to return home due to his illness, but having read about the matter in Private Eye (the least biased news publication in this country, though that’s no great feat), I’m convinced he had nothing to do with it and was a scapegoat.  The evidence against him — and let’s remember this was the same Scotland that convicted him on this flimsy basis:

  • A bit of a detonator found weeks after the rest of the forensic evidence at Lockerbie was picked up, and provided by a man with a history of faking evidence.
  • A highly suspect identification by a Maltese clothes shop owner who described a different man at first, and was allowed to see a picture of al-Megrahi before the identity parade.  He also stated he’d sold the clothing found in the bomb suitcase on a weekend when his brother was watching their favourite football team play, narrowing it down to two weekends, and that it was raining, narrowing it down to one — but the court decided it must have been the other weekend anyway, because al-Megrahi was in Malta at the time.
  • A ridiculous chain of circumstance (when they’d specifically stated they couldn’t convict him on circumstantial evidence) involving the suitcase containing the bomb coming from Malta via Frankfurt (where it went through a scanner that somehow failed to pick it up) to Heathrow.  This utterly ignored the evidence of a Heathrow baggage handler who said he’d found the storage area for Pan Am 103 had been broken into, the padlock “professionally cut”, who wasn’t even invited to give evidence.  Ironically, the Mirror (an otherwise worthless tabloid) raised this matter on the morning of 9/11…

There was actually evidence at the trial that the attack was carried out by one of two Palestinian terror groups in the employ of Iran, who wanted revenge for an Iranian airliner having been shot down by the US, and yet, somehow, they convicted al-Megrahi.  Pressure from the US?  After all, originally some Syrians were being tried, but when the first Gulf War started and Syria’s support was needed, mysteriously accusation switched to the US’s previous enemy, Libya.  I can’t help but wonder whether someone in the Bush Sr. government was watching Back to the Future and was inspired by Christopher Lloyd’s line: “THE LIBYANS!!!”

Don’t get me wrong, I love Americans and (much of… okay, some of) their culture, but I truly fear their government and their military, as they seem to regard the rest of the world as, at best, their servants, and at worst, an enemy to be conquered.  This is why I think it’s certainly our concern who they elect as President, because it affects us as well… but I won’t try to discourage my American readers (the ones who keep coming here looking for phrases including the word “pumpkin”, if this site’s stats are to be believed) from voting for Mitt Romney, or fake a quote from him calling Gary McKinnon “one of Nature’s mistakes” like the antagonist in Mercury Rising said about an autistic child.  Indeed, I won’t even say “if Mitt Romney is voted President at the coming election, would the last person to leave America please turn out the lights”, because that would make me sound like the Sun in 1992!  (That’s a newspaper, my seppo friends, you’ve probably heard of it in less than complimentary terms…)

Anyway, that’s all the soapboxing I can do for now.  Check back another time, when doubtless I’ll have something else to get political about, like the new sexism against men, or successive British governments trying to spy on us to make sure we’re not criminals.  I’ll be reading the latest Private Eye on the train this weekend, and that angries up the blood nicely…

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