Monday, August 31, 2009

Virtual Satellite View of Tripoli Grave Sites



In the photo above, the yellow mark to the left indicates the locations of the original burial site in Martyr's Square just outside the walls of the old castle fort, while the yellow mark on the right is just to the right of the location of the square walled Old Protestant Cemetery.

http://maps.google.com/?ie=UTF8&t=h&om=1&ll=32.900281,13.206682&spn=0.003405,0.003669&z=17

You can go to the above link, cut and paste it on google and it will come up.

If you go to Google maps, Tripoli, Libya, zoom into to the harbor, where you can see the coastal road that starts from the left at the old Red Castle fort and old city, and follow it east to the right as it wraps around the harbor.

At the point where the first barrier extends out and appears to form a triangle, like half an arrow head or the shape of the Space Shuttle wing. This is about a mile from the Red Castle fort.

If you zoom into the point of that arrow, below the highway, there appears a little, perfect square, which is the Old Protestant Cemetery and where five of the men of the USS Intrepid are located in marked graves.

One of the things the Italians did when they occupied the country in the 1930s was to build a road near the Red Castle. During construction of this road they unearthed the remains of five men from the Intrepid, and reburied them at the Old Protestant Cemetery.

The other eight men remain buried in the little park near Green Square, 720 yards from the old Red Castle fort.

One South Jersey historian made contact with an Italian soldier who had participated in the construction of the road and the discovery and reburial of the remains of the five men from the Intrepid, but this information has been lost. However the Old Protestant Cemetery is now being restored and the location of the original grave site is known to the Libyans, who excavated it in 2005, and can be seen from satelite views of the area.

Seeing the square on the map and seeing the photos of the cemetery walls gives you an idea of what it there.

Back to the satelite view, you follow that coastal road back west, to the left, along the harbor until you get to the large reflecting pool that is separate from the harbor, and the old Red Castle fort.

In front of the east side of the Red Castle there is a large square, that's Green Square, and a large, rectangular parking lot that you can clearly see from the satelite view.

At the near, south end of that rectangular parking lot is a small, round park, which might be the location of the original Intrepid graves.

The area to the right, east of the rectangular parking lot is a larger, square park, that has two large pillar, one with a ship that bears some resemballance to the Intrepid. This park could also be the original burial site.

Then there is a larger park that runs along the harbor waterfront, a third site that should be considered, though it is also possible that the graves were paved over by the parking lot or the paved over area that is Green Square.

I don't think they have paved over the graves however, because everyone who has been there on the ground has said that the original grave site is easily recognizable, even though there is no sign, and because neither the Libyans nor the Italians would desecrate a known grave site because of their respect for the dead. And since it is obviously a grave site, they would not pave over it on purpose.

In any case, the chief archivist at the museum in the Red Castle has already excavated the site and found "bones and buttons" so he most certainly knows where it is located.

A story in the Cleveland Plain Dealer, reporter Brian Albrecht interviews Captain Greg Miller, who was involved in cleaning up the cemetery site and he discusses the mutual cooperation in the preservation of the cemetery. He also mentions the excavation of the USS Philadelphia and USS Intrepid wrecks, which have been covered with concrete, but still contain cannon and other artifacts.

See the story:
http://blog.cleveland.com/metro/2009/08/us_navy_reserve_capt_greg_mill.html

U.S. Navy Reserve Capt. Greg Miller of Berea restoring U.S. tombs in Libyan cemetery

....The captured crew of the Philadelphia, held hostage in Tripoli, may have gathered the remains of the Intrepid seamen and buried them, including five interred on a knoll overlooking the harbor, Miller said. (Exact location of the other burials have been lost to history.)

Well, if you follow the directions in this post, you will find what has been previously "lost to history."

The original grave site - 720 feet from the gate of the old Red Castle fort.

Gaddafi Celebrates 40 Years in Power

http://blog.taragana.com/n/libya-to-honour-released-lockerbie-bomber-on-gaddafi-anniversary-155993/

Libya to honour released Lockerbie bomber on Gaddafi anniversary

Ani September 1st, 2009

TRIPOLI - Libya has decided to celebrate the Lockerbie bomber’s release openly at today’s festivities marking Colonel Muammar Gaddafi’s 40 years in power, it has emerged.

A video clip showing Abdul Baset Ali al-Megrahi stepping off the plane which brought him home from his Scottish prison two weeks ago will be projected onto a giant screen in Tripoli’s Green Square during the two-hour spectacular, the Times reports.

In the clip,his arms are raised aloft by Colonel Gaddafi’s son, Saif, as he acknowledges the joyful reception from the crowd below. he inclusion of the footage seems almost calculated to provoke the West.

Britain and America had urged Libya to keep al-Megrahi’s homecoming low key, and President Obama and Gordon Brown both expressed disgust when he was given what appeared to be a rapturous welcome at Tripoli airport.

Libya is staging six days of celebrations in honour of Gaddafi’s contribution to the country, including military parades and a floodlit extravaganza with scantily clad dancers, from Tuesday.

Gaddafi was a 27-year old signals officer when he led an army putsch against the ailing King Idris in 1969.

In the lead-up to the events, Gaddafi sought to burnish his reputation on the international stage but with mixed results. Dozens of Western leaders were invited to the no expense spared celebrations in Tripoli but only President George Abela of Malta and his wife Margaret are attending. (ANI)

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/7594790.stm

By Aidan Lewis
BBC News

Muammar Gaddafi is marking the 40th anniversary of the revolution which brought him to power.

Col Gaddafi seems to have a fresh outfit for every occasion

Col Gaddafi is the longest-serving leader in both Africa and the Arab world, having ruled Libya since he toppled King Idris I in a bloodless coup at the age of 27.
Known for his flamboyant dress-sense and gun-toting female body guards, the Libyan leader is also considered a skilled political operator who moved swiftly to bring his country out of diplomatic isolation.

It was in 2003 - after some two decades of pariah status - that Tripoli took responsibility for the bombing of a Pan Am plane over the Scottish town of Lockerbie, paving the way for the UN to lift sanctions.

Months later, Col Gadaffi's regime abandoned efforts to develop weapons of mass destruction, triggering a fuller rapprochement with the West.

That saw him complete a transition from international outcast to an accepted, if unpredictable, leader.

"He's unique in his discourse, in his behaviour, in his practice and in his strategy," says Libya analyst Saad Djebbar.

"But he's a shrewd politician, make no mistake about that. He's a political survivor of the first order."

Bedouin roots

Muammar Gaddafi was born in the desert near Sirte in 1942.

In his youth he was an admirer of Egyptian leader and Arab nationalist Gamal Abdel Nasser, taking part in anti-Israel protests during the Suez crisis in 1956.

As a man he is surprisingly philosophical and reflective in his temperament - for an autocrat Benjamin Barber Political analyst

Shrewd Gaddafi plays host

He first hatched plans to topple the monarchy at military college, and received further army training in Britain before returning to the Libyan city of Benghazi and launching his coup there on 1 September 1969.

He laid out his political philosophy in the 1970s in his Green Book, which charted a home-grown alternative to both socialism and capitalism, combined with aspects of Islam.

In 1977 he invented a system called the "Jamahiriya" or "state of the masses", in which power is meant to be held by thousands of "peoples' committees".

The Libyan leader's singular approach is not limited to political philosophy.

On foreign trips he sets up camp in a luxury Bedouin tent and is accompanied by armed female bodyguards - said to be considered less easily distracted than their male counterparts.

A tent is also used to receive visitors in Libya, where Col Gaddafi sits through meetings or interviews swishing the air with a horsehair or palm leaf fly-swatter.
Idiosyncratic

Benjamin Barber, an independent political analyst from the US who has met Col Gaddafi several times recently to discuss Libya's future, says the Libyan leader "sees himself very much as an intellectual".

"As a man he is surprisingly philosophical and reflective in his temperament - for an autocrat," he told the BBC News website.

Gaddafi hosts fellow heads of state in a Bedouin tent

"I see him very much as a Berber tribesman, somebody who came out of a culture informed by the desert, by the sand, and in some ways very atypical of modern leadership, and that's given him a certain endurance and persistence."

Col Gaddafi has long tried to exert his influence over the region and beyond.
Early on, he sent his army into Chad, where it occupied the Aozou Strip in the north of the country in 1973.

In the 1980s, he hosted training camps for rebel groups from across West Africa, including Tuaregs, who are part of the Berber community.

More recently, he has led efforts to mediate with Tuareg rebels in Niger and Mali.
'Mad dog'

The diplomatic community's rejection of Libya centred on Col Gaddafi's backing for a number of militant groups, including the Irish Republican Army and the Palestine Liberation Organisation.

GADDAFI TIMELINE

1942: Muammar Gaddafi born near Sirte, Libya
1969: Seizes power from King Idris in bloodless coup
1973: Declares "cultural revolution", with formation of "people's committees"
1977: Declares "people's revolution", creating the Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriyah
1986: US soldiers targeted in Berlin disco attack, three killed; US bombs Tripoli and Benghazi, killing dozens
1988: 270 people killed in bombing of Pan Am jet over Lockerbie
1992: UN imposes sanctions to pressure Libya into handing over Lockerbie bombing suspects
1999: Lockerbie suspects handed over; UN sanctions suspended
2003: Libya takes responsibility for Lockerbie, renounces weapons of mass destruction
2008: Libya and US sign compensation deal for bombings by both sides
2009: Lockerbie bomber freed

US president Ronald Reagan labelled Libya's leader a "mad dog", and the US responded to Libya's alleged involvement in attacks in Europe with airstrikes on Tripoli and Benghazi in 1986.

Col Gaddafi was said to be badly shaken by the bombings, in which his adopted daughter was killed.

Spurned in his efforts to unite the Arab world, from the 1990s Col Gaddafi turned his gaze towards Africa, proposing a "United States" for the continent.

He adopted his dress accordingly, sporting clothes that carried emblems of the African continent or portraits of African leaders.

At the turn of the millennium, with Libya struggling under sanctions, he began to bring his country in from the cold.

In 2003 the turnaround was secured, and five years later Libya reached a final compensation agreement over Lockerbie and other bombings, allowing normal ties with Washington to be restored.

"There will be no more wars, raids, or acts of terrorism," Col Gaddafi said as he celebrated 39 years in power.

Domestic challenges

At home, the Libyan leader presents himself as the spiritual guide of the nation, overseeing what he says is a version of direct democracy.

In practice, critics say, Col Gadaffi has retained absolute, authoritarian control.
Dissent has been ruthlessly crushed and the media remains under strict government control.

Gaddafi's regime is accused of serious human rights abuses

Libya has a law forbidding group activity based on a political ideology opposed to Col Gaddafi's revolution.

The regime has imprisoned hundreds of people for violating the law and sentenced some to death, Human Rights Watch says.

Torture and disappearances have also been reported.

But aware of his age, Col Gadaffi is now thought to be preparing the ground for a transition.

It is far from clear who might succeed him.

Speculation has focused on one of his sons, Sayf al-Islam Gaddafi, a leading proponent of reform.

Sayf has announced that he is retiring from politics, but opinion is divided about whether this is a tactical move aimed at expanding his popular support.

Meanwhile, Gaddafi senior has promised that most of the country's ministries will be abolished, and their budgets - Libya's considerable oil windfall - will be handed straight to the population.

But though Libya's economy has been opened up to foreign investment, reform is slow.
Many Libyans are confused as to how things are changing and feel they are not benefiting from Libya's wealth, observers say, with public services poor and corruption rife.

"They are very cautious in terms of effecting change in case that would undermine their power," said Saad Djebbar.

"But at the same time they are aware that they should do something. That's why they are very, very slow."


NZ Pipe Band to perform for controversial Libyan leader The Party –

http://www.3news.co.nz/defaultStrip.aspx?tabid=213&articleID=119273

A small Christchurch pipe band is heading to Libya to help celebrate Muammar Gaddafi’s 40 years in power, surprising friends, family and even the Prime Minister.

The majority of European heads of state have boycotted Libya's huge celebrations of Gaddafi's reign after the fall-out from convicted Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset Al-Meghari's release.

But the Christchurch pipe band will be playing to the controversial leader later tonight.

Ian Bensemann was a bit surprised when he found out his daughter was going to one of the world's current political hotspots.

“Becca came home one night from band practice and said ‘oh we're going to Libya’ and I sort of said ‘yeah right, what for?’” he says.

The pipe band is travelling to Libya to play in a military tattoo for one of this year's most controversial celebrations.

Thirty African leaders and other dignitaries are gathering in Libya for a week of lavish events to celebrate Mr Gaddafi.

Mr Bensemann says Mr Gadaffi invited the band from Christchurch and is bankrolling the entire trip.

“Basically Mr Gadaffi wanted a tattoo and Mr Gadaffi gets a tattoo,” he says.

Even Prime Minister John Key was surprised by the band’s travel plans.

“Really? Interesting choice of gig,” he says.

Western leaders have boycotted the celebrations after fall-out over Scotland giving Lockerbie bomber Al-Megrahi early release because he is dying of cancer.

Mr Bensemann said he had to explain the history of the Lockerbie bomber to his daughter before she left.

“She's only 20 so she actually didn't fully understand freeing the Lockerbie bomber and what sort of repercussions that would have,” he says.

Despite the dangers, the band has marched on to Tripoli, playing tonight to Mr Gadaffi with other players from around the world in traditional Scottish woollen kilts.

The band returns to Christchurch on Saturday.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Gaddafi Pitches Tent in New Jersey

Just when we thought Bob Dylan was looking for a house at the Jersey Shore, we find out that Col. Gadaffi already owns a mansion in North Jersey and planned on pitching his tent there while visiting New York to address the United Nations.

This comes on the heels of the homecoming Abdel Baset al-Merahi received after being released on humanitarian grounds by a Scottish judge, and the anticipation for al-Meraghi to be the guest of honor at the 40th anniversary of the Gadaffi revolution on Tuesday, September 1.

Now the families of Lockerbie victims are planning on holding demonstrations in New York when Gadaffi addresses the United Nations in late September, and New Jersey politicians were quite vocal in their denunciation of the idea that Gadaffi would pitch his tent in their backyard, yet none of them have ever spoken out for the return of the remains of Richard Somers and the men of the Intrepid.

http://www.nydailynews.com/ny_local/2009/08/29/2009-08-29_no_tents_for_libyan_leader_moammar_khadafy_dumps_nj_for_luxury_ny_hotel_digs.html


Oddball Libyan dictator Moammar Khadafy has decided against pitching a tent in Englewood, N.J., on his much-protested first visit to the U.S. next month, a New Jersey congressman says.

"I am very pleased that Moammar Khadafy will apparently not be coming to Englewood," said Rep. Steve Rothman (D-N.J.).

Rothman said Khadafy's presence in an air-conditioned luxury tent on the grounds of the Libyan compound in Englewood "would have presented unnecessary safety and security issues for the residents of Englewood and the Libyan diplomats."

Khadafy's plan to come to the U.S. next month to address the United Nations General Assembly has triggered fierce outrage after the hero's welcome home he gave released Lockerbie bomber Abdel Baset al-Megrahi.

Khadafy is expected to seek rooms for himself and his large entourage at one of New York's luxury hotels.

A spokesman for the State Department, which has approved visas for the Khadafy delegation, voiced confidence that the Libyans "will have suitable accommodations and that they will respect the earnest wishes of the people of the region" to keep a low profile.

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RECENT COMMENTS FROM DAILY NEWS READERS
18 comments | See All Comments » To comment, Register or Log In
[Discussion guidelines]
ajay27
7:47:22 AM
Aug 29, 2009

Barry O will meet him at the hotel over a few beers and talk about the old days.

Report Offensive Post
dee189
8:20:24 AM
Aug 29, 2009

Well it will be good for the economy at least. People if we start denying entry to the leaders of these type of countries we will never catch the ears of there people. change must start with the man(country in this case) in the mirror.

Report Offensive Post
TRUTHATHURTS
8:29:51 AM
Aug 29, 2009

Other countries let Bush stay in hotels and he is a war criminal, so what's the big deal? This is typical American hypocrisy coming from a bunch of New Jersey semi-urban red necks who are jealous of New York and just like seeing their toxic waste dump of a state in the news.

Report Offensive Post
Azazel
8:30:04 AM
Aug 29, 2009

Sometimes leaders from other nations use their ability to speak at the U.N. to prove their ability to manipulate the U.S. into doing whatever they wish, showing their countrymen and the world how "powerful" they are. I am glad that our old enemy Kadafy Duck didn't get his way.

Report Offensive Post
Justive
8:47:30 AM
Aug 29, 2009

Leaving New Jersey for New York at least shows some good taste.

Report Offensive Post
melloca
10:22:41 AM
Aug 29, 2009

I would have thought that Mayor Mike Madoff Gloomberg would have taken in Khadafi and his goons. Maybe the chefs will put some pork with his diiner.

Report Offensive Post
Valhalla
11:00:40 AM
Aug 29, 2009

maybe someone can plant a bomb in his room, get caught, sent to a country club prison for awhile, then get released and be given a heroes welcome when he returns to his neighbourhood.

Report Offensive Post
Christi10028
11:22:13 AM
Aug 29, 2009

I bet it's The New York Palace on 50th and Madison

Report Offensive Post
BensonHurtzBob
11:49:02 AM
Aug 29, 2009

Hell Ya! You can't orchestrate and benefit from killing Americans and expect to stay in NJ! Get yr *** to a luxury NYC hotel! United we will never- Hey! What's that shiny thing over there????

Report Offensive Post
walkingsnake
11:49:04 AM
Aug 29, 2009

Let them build and furnish their tent. Then TORCH IT...........OH, AND MAKE THEM PAY FOR CUTTING DOWN THE TREES ON THE NEIGHBORING PROPERTY......Mouse

Monday, August 24, 2009

Al Megrahi & Seif al-Islam in Tripoli

 
Posted by Picasa


Abdel Baset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi and Saif al-Islam arrive in Tripoli to hero's welcome.

http://cosmos.bcst.yahoo.com/up/ynews?ch=4226714&cl=15157237&lang=en

Article by Mr. Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi on Abdul Basset al-Megrahi's Return Home

New York Times published on Monday, 30 August, an article by Mr. Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi, President of Gaddafi International Charity and Development Foundation on the return of Abdul Basset al-Megrahi.

The article which was entitled "No ‘Hero’s Welcome’ in Libya" tackled various aspects of Abdul Basset al-Megrahi's return to Libya after the Scottish authorities decided to release him on humanitarian grounds; and it reads as follows:

No ‘Hero’s Welcome’ in Libya"

CONTRARY to reports in the Western press, there was no “hero’s welcome” for Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi when he returned to Libya earlier this month.

There was not in fact any official reception for the return of Mr.Megrahi, who had been convicted and imprisoned in Scotland for the 1988 Lockerbie bombing. The strong reactions to these misperceptions must not be allowed to impair the improvements in a mutually beneficial relationship between Libya and the West.

When I arrived at the airport with Mr.Megrahi, there was not a single government official present. State and foreign news media were also barred from the event. If you were watching Al Jazeera, the Arabic news network, at the time the plane landed, you would have heard its correspondent complain that he was not allowed by Libyan authorities to go to the airport to cover Mr.Megrahi’s arrival.

It is true that there were a few hundred people present. But most of them were members of Mr.Megrahi’s large tribe, extended families being an important element in Libyan society. They had no official invitation, but it was hardly possible to prevent them from coming.

Coincidentally, the day Mr.Megrahi landed was also the very day of the annual Libyan Youth Day, and many participants came to the airport after seeing coverage of Mr. Megrahi’s release on British television. But this was not planned. Indeed, we sat in the plane on the tarmac until the police brought the crowd to order.



Libya links co-operation on WPC Fletcher’s murder to Gaddafi case.
From The Times

September 1, 2009

Martin Fletcher in Tripoli

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/article6816460.ece

Libya has linked its co-operation over the unsolved murder of WPC Yvonne Fletcher in London to Britain helping its investigation of an attempt to kill Colonel Muammar Gaddafi that was allegedly financed by MI6.

“There’s this case and another case when somebody tried to assassinate the leader. These two cases are linked together,” Mohammed Siala, a member of Libya’s Cabinet, replied whenThe Times asked yesterday if Libya would show WPC Fletcher’s family the compassion that was shown to the Lockerbie bomber by surrendering her killer. “We are giving access to information and [the two cases] are going in parallel so we are waiting for some information from the UK from the other case,” said Mr Siala, Libya’s Secretary for International Co-operation.

WPC Fletcher was shot in 1984, during a demonstration outside the Libyan Embassy, the bullet almost certainly havng been fired from the first floor of the building. Her killer was thought to have been smuggled out of the country after the shooting. As Libya shed its pariah status, Metropolitan Police officers investigating the case visited Tripoli in 2004, 2006 and 2007, but without obvious success.

The assassination attempt to which Mr Siala appeared to be referring occurred in 1996 when Colonel Gaddafi’s motorcade was attacked in the town of Sirte. He survived but six bystanders were killed. David Shayler, a renegade MI5 officer, later claimed that MI6 had paid the so-called Islamic Fighting Group £100,000 to carry out the attack.
Last night Whitehall sources denied the two investigations were linked and insisted that the traffic was all one way, with the Metropolitan Police seeking Libya’s assistance in bringing WPC Fletcher’s killer to justice.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office said it had assured Colonel Gaddafi that there was no British plot to assassinate him, and that Mr Shayler’s allegations had been thoroughly investigated and discounted.

Mr Siala’s comments nonetheless could stir further controversy over Britain’s relations with Libya after the release of Abdul Baset Ali al-Megrahi.

To avoid further criticism, the British Government is expected to send only a junior representative to Libya’s sumptuous celebrations of Colonel Gaddafi’s 40 years in power.

No dignitaries are being sent from London. The British Embassy in Tripoli said that Sir Vincent Fean, the Ambassador, was in Malta. “The invitation was sent to the head of mission, but we are still considering the level of representation,” a spokesman said.

Other European states are sending ministers, ambassadors or delegations; the President of Malta is thought to be the only European head of state. Mr Siala denied his Government was upset that so few Western leaders were attending today’s celebrations, which are supposed to mark Libya’s return to international respectablility. “It’s up to them to come or not,” he said.

But he did complain that the West had not responded adequately to Libya’s renunciation of terrorism and weapons of mass destruction. “We are disappointed,” he said. “We expected that there would be a reward for what we’ve done, especially for WMD ... There must be a reward to encourage others to follow.”

The rewards should have involved technological transfers, including the civil use of nuclear power, scholarships, training and the relaxation of visa restrictions with EU countries, Mr Siala said. “We are willing to issue visas within 48 or 24 hours and are willing to abolish visas for some countries, if they can do the same in reciprocity.”

Asked whether his country would consider demands that the British victims of IRA bombs made with Libyan Semtex be compensated, he responded cryptically: “I have no answer for that. Things are not mature yet.”

Colonel Gaddafi will host today President Chávez of Venezuela, President Arroyo of the Philippines and a group of African leaders who were summoned to an African Union summit in Tripoli yesterday. They include President Mugabe of Zimbabwe and President al-Bashir of Sudan, who has been indicted for war crimes.

The highlight will be a three-hour enactment of Libya’s history on a giant stage. Libyans have been given a two-day holiday.




Chronology

August 19 2003: Britain introduces a United Nations resolution to lift sanctions against Libya after Tripoli accepts the blame for the Lockerbie bombing and agrees to compensate the victims' families.
:: March 2004: Prime Minister Tony Blair offers Colonel Gaddafi ''the hand of friendship'' following talks with the Libyan leader in a tent outside the capital Tripoli.
:: May 29 2007: Mr Blair hails the strength of the relationship between the UK and Libya after talks with Col Gaddafi result in a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU).
:: June 7 2007: Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond writes to Mr Blair about the agreement, telling him of his regret that ''almost no thought'' had been given to the role of the Scottish Government despite prison transfer being a matter for the devolved administration.
:: October 21 2008: It is confirmed that Megrahi has been diagnosed with prostate cancer which has spread to other parts of his body and is at an advanced stage.
:: February 2009: Foreign Office minister Bill Rammell tells Libya's minister for Europe Abdulati Alobidi at a meeting in Tripoli that Prime Minister Gordon Brown did not want to see Megrahi die in jail.
:: 12 March 2009: Mr Alobidi attends talks with a Scottish Government delegation in Glasgow.
:: April 29 2009: A prisoner transfer agreement (PTA) between the UK and Libya comes into force allowing Megrahi to apply to serve the rest of his sentence in a Libyan jail. He must drop his appeal against his conviction for any PTA to take place.
:: May 6 2009: The Scottish Government says the Libyan authorities have applied for the transfer of Megrahi.
:: August 14 2009: In a telephone call US secretary of state Hillary Clinton urges Scotland's Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill not to release Megrahi.
:: August 18 2009: Megrahi's bid to drop his appeal against his conviction is accepted by judges in Edinburgh.
:: August 20 2009: Kenny MacAskill announces his decision that Megrahi is to be returned to Libya on compassionate grounds. US president Barack Obama says the decision is a ''mistake''. Prime Minister Gordon Brown sends a letter to Col Gaddafi asking that Libya ''act with sensitivity'' when Megrahi is returned home but declines to express his own views.
:: August 21 2009: The UK and the US condemn the ''hero's welcome'' given to Megrahi as he arrives back in Libya. Claims by Col Gaddafi's son Saif that the decision to release Megrahi was tied to a trade deal are strongly denied by the Foreign Office.
:: August 22 2009: Libyan television shows pictures of Col Gaddafi meeting Megrahi and praising Gordon Brown and the British government for their part in securing his freedom.
FBI director Robert Mueller accuses Mr MacAskill of making a mockery of the law and giving comfort to terrorists.
:: August 24 2009: Mr MacAskill tells an emergency session of the Scottish Parliament it had been his own decision to free Megrahi.
It emerges that the Duke of York will not travel to Libya for an official visit in September.
:: August 25 2009: Prime Minister Gordon Brown says he was ''repulsed'' by Megrahi's welcome in Libya and insists the British government had no role in the decision to free him.
:: August 27 2009: It emerges that three ministers visited the country in the 15 months leading up to the release of the Lockerbie bomber.
:: August 28 2009: Col Gaddafi's son Saif tells a newspaper that Libya's original prisoner transfer deal with the UK had targeted Megrahi and was directly linked to talks on trade and oil, but denies it had anything to do with his eventual release.
:: August 29 2009: Leaked letters from the Justice Secretary Jack Straw showed that he backed away from efforts to stipulate that Megrahi be exempt from the PTA ''in view of the overwhelming interests of the United Kingdom''.
:: September 1 2009: Notes taken by the Scottish Government at a meeting with a Libyan minister in March are published. In them, Abdulati Alobidi insists he had been told Gordon Brown did not believe Megrahi should die in prison.
Foreign Office minister Bill Rammell confirmed that he had relayed the message during meetings in February.

dddd

Al Megrahi Arrives in Tripoli

 
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xxxhttp://news.yahoo.com/s/time/20090824/wl_time/08599191825900

In Brouhaha Over Bomber Release, Libya Holds Powerful Bargaining Chip

By Vivienne Walt - Monday Aug 24

Fury over the decision to release Lockerbie bomber Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi from a Scottish jail last Thursday is growing, with the scandal now threatening to engulf British officials, and follow Colonel Muammar Gaddafi on his visit to New York next month for an address to the U.N. General Assembly.

At the heart of the brouhaha are questions over whether Britain decided to release Megrahi in order to gain favorable treatment from Gaddafi on multibillion-dollar energy and defense contracts. London says there was no deal - and that the decision to release the convicted terrorist was made by Scottish authorities on compassionate grounds because Megrahi, the only person jailed for the 1988 bombing of a Pan Am jet in which 270 people died, has terminal cancer. But a British businessman with close ties to Libya says that while there may not have been a clearly defined backroom deal between British and Libyan officials, London knew that Libya was likely to retaliate if Megrahi died in jail. "Had he died in prison contracts might have been suspended," said the businessman, who did not want his name used because he does not want to jeopardize his ties with the North African nation. (See pictures of Lockerbie 20 years on.)

Scottish parliamentarians hurried home from their vacations on Monday, in order to question Scottish Justice Minister Kenny MacAskill about whether British officials were involved in the decision to free Megrahi. MacAskill insists he alone made the decision. Megrahi has just a few months left to live, according to medical reports cited by MacAskill. That hasn't stopped Libyan officials from making plans to have the Libyan man as the "main guest" at Gaddafi's splashy celebrations on Sept. 1 to mark the 40th anniversary of the leader's bloodless coup. (Read "Lockerbie Bomber Returns to Cheers in Libya.")

A letter earlier this month to MacAskill from British minister Ivan Lewis, whose brief includes Libya, suggests that London was encouraging Megrahi's release. "I hope on this basis you will now feel able to consider the Libyan application in accordance with the provisions of the prisoner transfer agreement," said the letter, according to Britain's Daily Telegraph newspaper on Monday. Britain's Foreign Office told the London-based Sunday Times newspaper that Lewis had simply responded to MacAskill's request for information about legal agreements between the British and Libyan governments, rather than "making representations on whether Megrahi ought to be transferred to Libya."

Gaddafi's son Seif al-Islam - who has no government position now but is a possible successor to his father - told Megrahi on the plane home from Scotland that "you were on the table in all commercial, oil and gas agreements that we supervised in that period," according to the transcript of their conversation aboard the flight shown to Britain's Sunday Telegraph. Britain's Business Secretary, Peter Mandelson, has confirmed that Megrahi's status was mentioned when he met twice with Seif during the past few months, once during Seif's blowout 37th birthday party in a resort in Montenegro in June, and again in early August on the Greek island of Corfu, where the men were both vacationing. But Mandelson says he told Seif that Megrahi's release was for Scotland to decide. (Watch a TIME video on oil.)

In an attempt to shield the British government from the scandal the office of Prime Minister Gordon Brown released a letter the British leader had written on Thursday to Gaddafi urging to "act with sensitivity" on Megrahi's arrival. By contrast, Megrahi was given a hero's welcome at Tripoli airport by hundreds of ecstatic Libyans - normally barred from holding mass demonstrations - and on Friday embraced Gaddafi in the leader's tent. Those scenes ignited fury in Washington, with White House spokesman Robert Gibbs calling Megrahi's reception "disgusting." FBI Director Robert Mueller wrote to MacAskill on Saturday that his decision to free Megrahi had been "a mockery of the rule of law."

Still, the incident is unlikely to cause any deep rift between London and Washington. That's because British and American politicians have spent five years intensely wooing Gaddafi, in an attempt to win hugely lucrative oil and gas deals, as well as contracts to sell arms and build infrastructure. Oil companies are keen to improve the terms of their contracts with the Libyan government, which has imposed some of the toughest conditions in the region in their production-sharing agreements. Just a week before Megrahi's release, Senator John McCain led a group of senators on a trade visit to Gaddafi, and tweeted afterwards: "Late evening with Col. Qadhafi at his 'ranch' in Libya - interesting meeting with an interesting man."

European leaders and the U.S. need that "interesting man" as their political ally, too. Officials in Switzerland on Friday apologized to Gaddafi for "the unjust arrest" of one of his seven sons, Hannibal, and his wife, in June last year, for allegedly beating their servants in a Geneva hotel. Gaddafi had retaliated by blocking its oil exports to Switzerland and withdrawing about $6 billion from Swiss banks. (Read "Re-Opening the Lockerbie Tragedy.")

Both U.S. and European officials are keen to limit Gaddafi's ties to Russia, which is negotiating with Libya to establish a military base there. And E.U. countries also badly need Gaddafi's cooperation in tightening the flow of illegal migrants, many of whom cross the Mediterranean from launching points on the Libyan coast. Compared with all that, the freedom of Megrahi might have been a concession some could live with.

September Agenda

September 2009 Agenda -

Tuesday
1 September - 40th Anniversary of the Revolution in Libya. Gaddafi will give his traditional speech from "Mussolini's" perch in the Red Castle overlooking Green Square, the unmarked burial site off Richard Somers and seven officers and men of the USS Intrepid.

Friday
4 September - 205 Years since the 1804 explosion of the USS Intrepid in Tripoli Harbor; Official Richard Somers Day as proclaimed by NJ State Assembly.

Saturday
5 September - 205 years since the bodies of the men of the Intrepid washed ashore and were recovered and burried adjacent to the old castle fort by the prisoners of the USS Philadelphia; and one year since Secretary of State Condi Rice visited Tripoli.

Friday
11 September - Patriots Day, Anniversary of September 11th terrorists attacks.

Sunday
13 September - Officially proclaimed John Barry Day by State of Pennsylvania, US Congress and Presidents Reagan and Clinton on the anniversary of the death of Commodore John Barry; Unofficial honoring of Richard Somers Day in Somers Point, NJ.

Tuesday
15 September - Richard Somers birthday, 1776.

Thursday
24 September - Col. Gaddafi visits New York, addresses United Nations; sits on UN Security Council with President Obama/US Delegate; Families of Victims of Lockerbie bombing plan to protest.

Ceremony at Cemetery 1949

 
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This official US Navy photograph from April 2 1949 shows the Captain W. J. Marshall of the USS Spokane, Rear Admiral Richard Cruzen, U.S. Counsel Orray Taft, Jr. and Libyan ruler at the time, Prince Taher Bay Karamandi, who is from the same family of the Bashaw Karamandi the US was fighting in 1804.

In her biography of the Naval career of Master Commandant Richard Somers, Glory at Last, Barbara Koedel wrote:

"In 1949, as a result of research by Mustafa Burchis, harbor master of Tripoli, and the United States Counsul Orray Taft, Jr., the graves of five men killed from the explosion of the Intrepid on 4 September 1804 were found in the Protestant Cemetery there."

"On April 2, 1949, the U.S.S. Spokane put in at Tripoli. In a short address, Rear Admiral Cruzen spoke of the exploits in the Barbary War; Captain W. J. Marshall narrated the Intrepid mission; and Consul Taft told of the research to identify the graves and unveiled a plaque: 'In honored memory of five unknown American seamen buried here who died in the explosion of the USS Intrepid, Tripoli Harbor, 1804.' Captain Lt. E. J. Sheridan read a short paper; an honor guard of Marines fired several volleys over the graves and played taps."

[http://www.history.navy.mil/photos/sh-usn/usnsh-s/cl120-m.htm ] and available from the Navy Archives.

Intrepid & Philadelpia at Tripoli

 
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An artistic rendering of the Intrepid escaping Tripoli harbor after setting the captured frigate USS Philadelphia ablaze.

Intrepid Escaping from Tripoli

 
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I believe this is another artistic rendering of the Intrepid escaping Triopli Harbor after setting the USS Philadelphia on fire.

Philadelphia Burning at Tripoli

 
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This appears to be a "Courier & Ives" type of black ink magazine sketch that is labeled the burning of the Philadelphia. Does this show the Intrepid being rowed away, and if so, is that accurate?

Town of Tripoli & Philadelphia

 
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This map purports to show the Town of Tripoli, the Bashaws Castle, the position of the USS Philadelphia in Tripoli Harbor in February, 1804 when Lt. Stephen Decatur sailed the Intrepid into the harbor and sank the Philadelphia.

Tripoli Harbor Map

 
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This appears to be a map of Tripoli Harbor from the time period - 1804, and shows the town of Tripoli, the castle fort, the harbor obstructions and a fort at the point you must pass to enter the harbor. Another illustration shows the burning Intrepid washing ashore at this point, which is very near where the old walled cemetery is located and where five of the men of the Intrepid are buried.

Intrepid Burning in Tripoli Harbor

 
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This drawing shows the town of Tripoli, the old castle fort, and the Intrepid burning, washed ashore near a brick fortress, which is very near where the old walled cemetery is located today and where five of the men of the USS Intrepid are buried.

Old Red Castle Fort from sea

 
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A contemporary photo of the old Red Castle fort as seen from the sea.

I believe this photo was taken by and should be credited to the Wandering Camel.

Old Red Castle Fort

 
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Here's a contemporary photo of what they call the Red Castle, which overlooks Green Square, and is now a museum that houses many ancient artifacts, the Volkswagon Bug that Gadaffi rode into town on September 1, 1969 while leading the Revolution.

This museum may also contain one of the masts salvaged from the Intrepid, cannons from the USS Philadelphia, and "bones and buttons" of the officers and men of the Intrepid that were excavated by the Libyans in 2005.

Gaddafi's VW Bug

 
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This is the Volkswagon Bug that Gaddafi drove into Tripoli in leading the revolution on September 1, 1969. It is now in the museum at the Red Castle, where they also may have cannons from the USS Philadelphia, a mast from the Intrepid and the "bones and buttons" of the officers and men of the Intrepid that were excavated in 2005.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Libyans Dance on Graves of Americans

Libyans Dance on the Graves of American Patriots

When Will Our Heroes Come Home?

Op Ed By William Kelly
billkelly3@gmail.com

If you thought it was wrong to release the convicted Pan Am 103 Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset al Megrahi, and were upset at the popular welcome he received in Tripoli, then consider the fact that when Libyans gather to celebrate their revolution, as they will next week, they do so at Green Square, where they dance on the graves of American heroes.

As the place where they gather every September 1 to celebrate the anniversary of the revolution and Gadaffi coup of 1969, Green Square is just outside the walls of the old castle fort. It is also the place where the bodies of the men of the USS Intrepid washed ashore and were buried on September 5, 1804, two hundred and four years to the day that Condi Rice visited Tripoli last year.

Richard Somers, of Somers Point, New Jersey, led the twelve volunteers who sailed the Intrepid into Tripoli Harbor at night, on a covert mission to blow up the anchored pirate fleet, but blew up prematurely killing all 13 men.

Buried a few feet below Green Square are the bodies of eight of the men of the Intrepid, including the remains of three officers – Lt. Richard Somers, Lt. Henry Wadsworth, uncle to Longfellow the poet, Midshipman Israel, a teenager, and five seamen. Five other bodies from the Intrepid grave site were reburied in the 1930s at the old Christian cemetery about a mile away.

While the five graves in the cemetery are secure, and maintained by Amerians from the US embassy, the remains of eight of the Intrepid officers and men are in an unmarked grave at Green Square which was recently excavated by the Libyans. They reportedly found “bones and buttons” that may now be relics in the museum at the old castle fort. That’s where the Volkswagon Bug Colonel Gadaffi rode into Tripoli during the coup is kept, along with other Roman and pre-Roman artifacts are kept.

Now that the United States has re-established diplomatic relations with Libya there are no more excuses as to why the bodies of these American heroes continue to be burried beneath a parking lot in Tripoli.

They should be repatriated home and given a proper burial with full military honors, just as those soldiers who die today fighting for the same principles, values and ideals that they fought for 205 years ago.

Buried behind enemy lines for over two centuries is too long, and since all of the other, more important issues have apparently been addressed in the reestablishing of relations, now is the time to repatriate the remains of the men of the USS Intrepid.

Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi received a heroes welcome when he was freed from a Scottish prision and allowed to go home, and he undoubtedly will be honored again on the September 1st 40th anniversary of the revolution at Green Square, the very place where American heroes are buried in an unmarked grave below a parking lot.

Al Megrahi was released because of the pressures applied by people with money, power and influence, and the men of the Intrepid will not be returned home until similar pressures are applied to our government, the US Navy and the government of Libya.

The fact that the Libyans are dancing on the graves of forgotten American heroes should instigate those Americans to ask questions, complain, petition their Senators and congressman and request the government and the Navy to do whatever it takes to repatriate the remains of our military heroes.

If our official policy is that no one is left behind, then why are they still there?

Help repatriate the remains of the men of the USS INTREPID, sign this petition:

http://www.petitiononline.com/Intrepid/petition.html


William E. Kelly, Jr. Billkelly3@gmail.com


BEST ANALYSIS SO FAR:

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/politics/article6806482.ece
From The Sunday Times
August 23, 2009

The Libyan Ultimatum

Despite denials, talk persists of pressure and plots behind the freeing of the Lockerbie bomber

Matthew Campbell

They are expecting a magnificent party in Tripoli a week on Tuesday when Libya marks the 40th year in power of Muammar Gadaffi and pays tribute to the deft diplomatic footwork of Saif al-Islam, his son.

The only man convicted for the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie in 1988 is finally home; and the suave, shaven-headed Saif, whose name means “sword of Islam”, is credited with a key role in making it happen.

An agreement struck long ago between Tony Blair and Gadaffi had threatened to fall apart with potentially catastrophic consequences for Britain: it has emerged that Libya threatened to freeze diplomatic relations if Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi, said to be suffering from cancer, was not released under a prisoner transfer agreement with Libya.

In the end, he was freed by Scotland on “compassionate” grounds and escorted home to Tripoli by Saif, who thrust Megrahi’s hand into the air as they came down the steps of Gadaffi’s airliner to a hero’s welcome that has outraged the families of Lockerbie’s victims.

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Yesterday the protests were undimmed, but the official responses were evasive — unsurprisingly, because behind Megrahi’s release lie weeks of intrigue between Westminster, Tripoli, Edinburgh and Washington.

Apart from the unfortunate Lockerbie families, everyone seems to have got what they wanted. Gadaffi and his son have their man. Kenny MacAskill, the Scottish justice secretary, who signed the release order, has burnished his humanitarian credentials.

Gordon Brown has preserved Britain’s politically and economically valuable new relationship with Libya while avoiding any blame for the release. And American politicians have been able to bluster in protest while exercising none of their considerable clout to stop it happening.

The whole exercise reeks of realpolitik and moral evasion.

The reality is that Megrahi’s freedom is a product of the effort to bring Libya out of dangerous isolation. This is as much to America’s advantage as Britain’s, but Washington has too much baggage to be openly involved; it bombed Libya in 1986 in punishment for supporting terrorism, and Gadaffi remains a bogeyman to many Americans. So Britain takes the lead — except when it can devolve the dirty work onto a Scottish politician.

A so-called “deal in the desert” reached between Gadaffi and Blair in a tent outside Tripoli in 2004 led to a broad rapprochement with Libya and a prisoner transfer agreement that Gadaffi saw, from the outset, as a means of bringing home Megrahi. The Libyans became increasingly angry, however, at what they regarded as British foot-dragging over the transfer.

“They were furious with the Foreign Office because things were not panning out as they were told they would,” said a source close to the Scottish administration. “The Foreign Office had been telling the Libyans that they were confident the Scottish government would agree to their prisoner transfer request.”

Megrahi was finally released without resort to the prisoner transfer agreement, but British businessmen made no secret of the pressure they had applied to the government to agree to the prisoner treaty so Megrahi could be repatriated. This removed what Saif regarded as a significant impediment to more lucrative British oil deals with his country.

British officials strongly denied that they had put pressure on Scotland to release Megrahi — or signed the prisoner transfer agreement with Libya — in order to smooth the way for oil deals. But on the way home to Tripoli on Thursday, Saif seemed to contradict them. “In all commercial contracts for oil and gas with Britain, Megrahi was always on the negotiating table,” he said.

There were anxieties in Edinburgh and Westminster when the Libyans raised the prospect of breaking off diplomatic relations, which in effect would have frozen all British dealings in Libya.

“Look at what he’s done to Switzerland,” said Oliver Miles, a former British ambassador to Libya. “He [Gadaffi] can make life very unpleasant for us all.”
This was a reference to the undeclared war that Gadaffi has waged against the Swiss over the past year since Hannibal, a younger brother of Saif who is renowned as an exuberant playboy, was arrested in a Geneva hotel after complaints that he had been beating his servants.

Gadaffi cut off oil supplies to the Swiss and withdrew billions of pounds from their banks. Switzerland’s grovelling — a formal apology was issued last week for Hannibal’s “wrongful” arrest — might secure Gadaffi’s forgiveness but that is by no means certain and the Swiss stand to lose billions in business.

Some of the secret background to Megrahi’s release has now emerged with the leak of a letter from Ivan Lewis, a junior minister at the Foreign Office, encouraging MacAskill to “consider” Libya’s application for Megrahi to be sent home. It is part of the political game of pass the parcel between Brown and Alex Salmond, the nationalist Scottish first minister.

This began with a fiction that suited both sides. The prime minister claimed that the decision on whether to release the man convicted in a Scottish court of killing 270 people lay exclusively with ministers in the devolved Scottish administration.
Brown, who has a Macavity reputation of knowing when to hide from no-win situations, realised his reputation could be damaged by any association with the decision on Megrahi’s fate. However, no political insider seriously believed that the Westminster government would leave a matter as sensitive to this to Salmond’s unpredictable justice minister.

The idea that the Scottish executive alone was making the decision appealed to Salmond’s vanity. The fact that President Barack Obama publicly criticised the “Scottish government” for its decision to send the Libyan bomber home served only to boost the egos of those involved.

However, the images of Megrahi receiving a hero’s welcome on his return home to Libya on Thursday altered the political dynamics. The Scottish administration faced a public backlash.

UK ministers continued to deny any involvement. Lord Mandelson, the business secretary — who had discussed Megrahi with Saif while on holiday in Corfu this summer — said when leaving hospital yesterday after a prostate operation: “The issue of the prisoner’s release is quite separate from the general matter of our relations and indeed the prisoner’s release has not been influenced in any way by the British government.”

Lewis’s leaked letter to MacAskill suggested otherwise. Writing on August 3, Lewis told MacAskill there was no legal reason not to accede to Libya’s request to transfer Megrahi into its custody under the terms of the treaty agreed between Tony Blair and Gadaffi in 2007.

A source who saw the letter said Lewis added: “I hope on this basis you will now feel able to consider the Libyan application in accordance with the provisions of the prisoner transfer agreement.” The source said the Scottish government interpreted this as an attempt to influence MacAskill’s decision.

Brown’s involvement was highlighted yesterday when Downing Street released a letter he sent to Gadaffi on Thursday, tipping him off that Megrahi’s release was imminent before the decision was announced in Edinburgh.

The jubilant scenes greeting Megrahi’s return to Tripoli also forced some fast footwork in Washington. Obama initially appeared content to express muted disapproval of Megrahi’s release, but once US evening news broadcasts began running extensive reports from Libya, he described the scenes from Tripoli as “highly objectionable”. Yet there was no indication that the administration was planning to take the matter further, and many of the complex commercial considerations that have overshadowed Britain’s handling of the affair also apply in Washington.

Indeed, while politicians and senior administration officials were expressing dismay early last week at the release of a convicted terrorist, a congressional delegation led by Senator John McCain, the former Republican presidential candidate, was in Libya.

McCain reported on Tuesday via Twitter, the instant internet messaging site, that he had met Gadaffi, whom he described as “an interesting man”. McCain was reported by the Libyan news agency to have praised Gadaffi’s peace-making efforts in Africa and to have called for expanded US ties with Libya. Exxon and Chevron, the American oil giants, are among companies vying for lucrative new exploration contracts.

Yesterday, Robert Mueller, the head of the FBI, said Megrahi’s release “rewards a terrorist”. Nevertheless, diplomatic sources said Washington expected Gadaffi to pay his first visit to America later this year for the next UN general assembly.

From the western point of view, a key part of the process of Libya’s rehabilitation is the courting of a new leadership generation friendly to America and Europe. This is not an exercise in democracy-building, however, and the emergence of Saif as a key player is seen as an advantage — if he can retain his prominence.

For Libya watchers, the recent antics of the young Gadaffi, whose back-channel diplomacy has included befriending Prince Andrew as well as Mandelson, has bolstered the view that he is being groomed to succeed his 67-year-old father.

“I don’t think Gadaffi particularly wants people to know who his successor is but is probably thinking ‘let’s see what the young man can do’,” said Sir Richard Dalton, a former British ambassador to Libya, who calls Saif “very personable”.

In his well-cut suits and Bond Street shoes, Saif, a 37-year-old engineer with artistic leanings and a degree in governance from the London School of Economics, is just as much at ease on the business cocktail circuit as he is in his father’s Bedouin tents.

“He has no executive role, but likes to behave like a young prince,” says Dalton. “His father sees virtue in that, provided that he doesn’t cause too much trouble with other constituents.”

This was a reference to the diehard revolutionaries of Gadaffi’s regime who are uncomfortable with the process of modernisation espoused by Saif and other western-friendly technocrats.

Saif’s prominent role in Megrahi’s return should reap him dividends in popular support.He seems to get “more latitude” than Gadaffi’s seven other children, says an acquaintance, adding: “I think all bets are that Saif is the guy who’s going to emerge, but who knows? His father has stayed in power ... by being crafty.”

Gadaffi presents himself as the spiritual guide of the nation but maintains absolute control through the ruthless suppression of all opposition. Human rights groups have denounced torture and other abuses. Foreign workers have been held hostage.

From Facebook to Windsor Castle, where he has been a guest, Saif is the human face of the regime, a behind-the-scenes negotiator attracting sympathy for his quest to bring Libya into the modern world. His hand was detected in the process that led to his father’s abandonment of a programme to manufacture weapons of mass destruction.

Last year when Condoleezza Rice, the former American secretary of state, visited Tripoli,Saif exhorted fellow Arabs to support American efforts to promote democracy.
“Instead of shouting and criticising the American initiative, you have to bring democracy to your countries,” he told Al-Jazeera television. “Then there will be no need to fear America or your people. The Arabs should either change or change will be imposed on them from the outside.”

The clues that led to Megrahi

It is almost 20 years since The Sunday Times revealed how the trail to the key suspect in the Lockerbie bombing led to Malta, writes David Leppard.

Painstaking work by British forensic scientists showed how clothing wrapped around the Semtex bomb when it exploded had been made in a factory on the island.

When detectives travelled there in August 1989, nine months after the bombing, they interviewed a shopkeeper called Tony Gauci. As this newspaper reported, he recalled how just two weeks before the bombing a man he described as “a Libyan” had walked into his shop and bought a random selection of clothing. These included a blue Babygro, checked trousers, an imitation Harris tweed jacket and a black umbrella.
Gauci’s unprompted description matched almost exactly the contents of the Lockerbie bomb suitcase.

He later claimed to have identified the Libyan as the purchaser. The breakthrough eventually led to the conviction of Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi, a Libyan intelligence agent, for the murder of the 270 victims.

There were question marks over the reliability of Gauci’s eye-witness testimony; Megrahi always insisted Gauci had the wrong man. His planned appeal might well have vindicated him but Megrahi’s return to Libya now means there will always be uncertainty about his involvement.
x

Al-Megrahi Gets Hero's Welcome

The New York Times

August 21, 2009

Lockerbie Convict Returns to Jubilant Welcome

By ALAN COWELL and A. G. SULZBERGER

Over ferocious American objections, Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi, the only person convicted in the 1988 Lockerbie jet bombing, flew home to a jubilant welcome in Libya on Thursday night after the Scottish government ordered his release on compassionate grounds.

Mr. Megrahi, 57, a former Libyan intelligence agent, had served 8 years of a 27-year minimum sentence on charges of murdering 270 people in Britain’s worst terrorist episode.

Widely forecast in British news reports over the past week, his release angered many Americans whose relatives died in the bombing, leaving them to confront anew the agony and anguish of loss and to question the notion of justice that allowed a man convicted of murderous acts, which he always denied, to walk free.

“Compassionate release on the face of it is insane for a convicted mass murderer,” said Susan Cohen, of Cape May Court House, N.J., whose 20-year-old daughter, Theodora, died when a bomb smuggled onto Pan Am Flight 103 exploded over Lockerbie, Scotland, on Dec. 21, 1988. “For the families we have this thing that is so horrible to live with anyway, and now we have to live with this.”

A “tiny slice of justice,” she said, had been lost.

Ignoring American demands that Mr. Megrahi not be celebrated as a hero returning to his homeland, hundreds of young Libyans were bused to the military airport in Tripoli to welcome him home, cheering and waving Libyan and Scottish flags as he sped off in a convoy of white vehicles.

On the flight from Scotland, Mr. Megrahi was accompanied by Saif al-Islam el-Qaddafi, son of the Libyan leader, Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, stamping an official imprimatur on his release and reinforcing the official Libyan view that Mr. Megrahi was a scapegoat used by the West to reinforce its depiction of Libya as a pariah state.

The welcome was another slight for Washington, which had sought strenuously to persuade Libya not to permit a hero’s welcome for Mr. Megrahi and had opposed his release.

Still protesting his innocence and offering “sincere sympathy” to the families of those who died in the bombing, Mr. Megrahi was granted his freedom under the terms of Scottish laws permitting the early release of prisoners with less than three months to live. The Scottish authorities and his lawyers say he has terminal prostate cancer.

President Obama, echoing widespread anger and disappointment in the United States over the decision, called Mr. Megrahi’s release “a mistake” and said the government was holding further discussions on the matter.

“We’re now in contact with the Libyan government and want to make sure that if, in fact, this transfer has taken place, that he’s not welcomed back in some way, but instead should be under house arrest,” Mr. Obama said in a radio interview.

After his release from Greenock prison in Scotland, Mr. Megrahi traveled in a white van flanked by police cars to Glasgow Airport, where a special V.I.P.-configured Airbus plane from Libya’s Afriqiyah airline awaited him. Hunched but unassisted, he climbed the airplane steps wearing a white tracksuit and carrying a cane. By the time he arrived in Tripoli, Mr. Megrahi had changed into a dark business suit.

His expression as he left Scotland was obscured by a white baseball cap pulled low over his forehead and a white scarf, which he held across the lower part of his bespectacled face. It was the first the world had seen of him in years, and some Americans took the vision of him walking free as a confirmation of their nightmares.

“He’s getting away with it; that’s exactly what I thought,” said Rosemary Wolfe, whose stepdaughter Miriam was killed in the bombing and who watched Mr. Megrahi’s departure on television Thursday.

“It was a helpless, hopeless feeling. He’s going back to his family, but Miriam will never be able to come back to us,” she said.

In a statement issued by his lawyers after he left prison, Mr. Megrahi insisted one more time on his innocence. “And I say in the clearest possible terms, which I hope every person in every land will hear: all of this I have had to endure for something that I did not do,” he said.

“To those victims’ relatives who can bear to hear me say this: they continue to have my sincere sympathy for the unimaginable loss that they have suffered,” the statement said.

At a news conference earlier, Scotland’s justice minister, Kenny MacAskill announced that Mr. Megrahi, “convicted in 2001 for the Lockerbie bombing, now terminally ill with prostate cancer, be released on compassionate grounds and allowed to return to Libya to die.”

With his release, Mr. MacAskill said, Mr. Megrahi “now faces a sentence imposed by a higher power.”

“It is one that no court, in any jurisdiction, in any land, could revoke or overrule,” he said. “It is terminal, final and irrevocable. He is going to die.”

But even that conclusion, to many Americans, remains a matter for debate. While Mr. MacAskill said medical evidence supported it, Denice Rein, whose husband, Mark, the treasurer of Salomon Brothers, died in the bombing, said that she wanted the medical records released and independently verified.

In any event, the notion of compassion sat uneasily with many American families. Donald Malicote, whose son, an Army specialist, and daughter-in-law were killed in the bombing, learned about the release while watching television at his home in Lebanon, Ohio. “He didn’t show our kids any mercy, so I have a hard time feeling compassion for him,” Mr. Malicote said. “He killed a lot of young kids. I just can’t forgive a man for that.”

The bombing killed 259 people on the Pan Am jet and 11 on the ground. Of the dead, 189 were Americans.

Jeannine Boulanger, of Shrewsbury, Mass., whose 21-year-old daughter, Nicole, died, said Mr. Megrahi’s eight years in prison amounted to about a dozen days for each victim. “Is that justice?” she asked.

“It’s not about compassion,” she said. “It’s about what’s in the best interest of the countries.”

Senator John Kerry, the Massachusetts Democrat who is the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee and one of seven senators to protest Mr. Megrahi’s early release, said in a statement that “the news today from Glasgow turned the word ‘compassion’ on its head.”

Many British families have said they accept Mr. Megrahi’s protestations of innocence and support his release.

But Mr. Megrahi’s return to Libya stirred political controversy in Britain, some of it directed at the Labour government in London, which critics accused of encouraging Libya to press for Mr. Megrahi’s release as part of a broader reconciliation in recent years that has included lucrative oil contracts from the Qaddafi government for BP, one of Britain’s largest companies.

David Cameron, leader of the opposition Conservatives, condemned the decision to set Mr. Megrahi free. “I think it’s wrong, and it’s the product of some completely nonsensical thinking,” he said. “This man was convicted of murdering 270 people and he showed no compassion to them, and they weren’t allowed to go home to die with their relatives in their own beds.”

John F. Burns contributed reporting from London.

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/21/world/europe/21lockerbie.html?_r=1&em=&pagewanted=print

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/article6804745.ece

The Lockerbie bomber flew out of Britain yesterday as a dying man deserving of compassion — and landed in Libya a national hero.

A crowd of thousands, many waving Scottish flags, gathered at Tripoli airport to welcome Abdul Baset Ali al-Megrahi as he stepped down from Colonel Muammar Gaddafi’s private jet to the strains of patriotic music.

He had changed from a white tracksuit and baseball cap into a dark suit and tie during the flight and was leaning on a gold-rimmed walking stick as he emerged from the aircraft to be hugged by Colonel Gaddafi’s son. He was then taken in a motorcade to the city centre, where the main square was lit up in green and blue in preparation for a celebration that included a feast and laser show. The pan-Arab television channel Al-Jazeera reported that al-Megrahi’s car was held up along the way by the throng.

In the city centre groups of young men, many in white baseball caps like the one al-Megrahi was wearing as he left Glasgow or T-shirts bearing his face, dashed excitedly from one side of the square to the other trying to catch a glimpse of him.

The terrorist had served less than eight years of a life sentence for the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103, which killed 270 people. He was released from Greenock prison near Glasgow on the orders of Kenny MacAskill, the Scottish Justice Minister, on the basis of medical reports that he had terminal cancer and had less than three months to live. Within the hour, al-Megrahi had left the country. The flight was diverted away from the town of Lockerbie as a mark of respect for the families of the victims.

Mr MacAskill said that he had consulted widely before making the decision, but the White House said that it was a mistake, the US Attorney-General said that it did not serve the interests of justice and families of the American victims were outraged. President Obama said: “We are now in contact with the Libyan Government to make sure that he is not welcomed back in some way, but instead should be under house arrest.”

Minutes later al-Megrahi was being fêted in Tripoli as music blared from loudspeakers and Green Revolution flags fluttered in the air. Saif al-Islam Gaddafi said: “At this historic moment, I would like to thank the Scottish government for its courageous decision and understanding of a special human situation”. The Arab League welcomed the release “taking into consideration his serious health condition”.

Al-Megrahi himself issued a statement saying that he was “obviously very relieved to be leaving my prison cell at last”. He called his conviction “nothing short of a disgrace”, adding: “This horrible ordeal is not ended by my return to Libya, it may never end for me until I die. Perhaps the only liberation for me will be death.”

His wife said that she was very, very happy at his release, which comes just in time for the Islamic holy fasting month of Ramadan. “I am overjoyed; it is indescribable. It is a great moment which we have been waiting for for nine years.”

Mr MacAskill said that the justice system demanded that judgment be imposed but that compassion be available. He accepted medical advice that al-Megrahi had terminal prostate cancer: “Mr al-Megrahi faces a sentence imposed by a higher power. It is one that no court in any jurisdiction in any land could revoke or overrule.”

Downing Street maintained its stance that the decision was one for the SNP-led Scottish government, but David Cameron described the grounds for release as completely nonsensical. “If there’s a view that the conviction is in some way unsafe, then the proper process is an appeal and the presentation of new evidence. But if this is about genuine release on compassionate grounds, I think it is wrong.”

Iain Gray, the Scottish Labour leader, said: “If I was First Minister Megrahi would not be going back to Libya. The decision to release him is wrong.” The Scottish Parliament is to be recalled on Monday to discuss the case.

Al-Megrahi abandoned his appeal against conviction last week amid allegations that a top-level cover-up had been agreed to prevent the exposure of a grave miscarriage of justice.

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/article6804745.ece


http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090825/ap_on_re_eu/lockerbie/print


Scottish govt defends Lockerbie bomber's release

By BEN McCONVILLE, Associated Press Writer
1 hr 8 mins ago

EDINBURGH, Scotland – Scotland's justice minister on Monday defended his much-criticized decision to free the Lockerbie bomber, as the U.S. State Department said that though it disagreed "passionately" the move would not affect relations between America and Britain.

The Scottish administration has faced unrelenting criticism from the both the U.S. government and the families of American victims of the 1988 airline bombing since it announced last week it was freeing Abdel Baset al-Megrahi on compassionate grounds. The terminally ill al-Megrahi, who has prostate cancer, returned to his native Libya on Thursday, where he was greeted by crowds waving Libyan and Scottish flags.
The United States will stand by Britain, even though it believes the decision was a mistake, State Department spokesman Ian Kelly told reporters.

"We made it quite clear that we disagreed passionately with this decision, because we thought it sent the wrong signal to, not only the families, but also to terrorists, But I really discourage you from thinking that we necessarily have to have some kind of tit-for-tat retaliation because of it. I just don't see it — not with Britain. Not with Scotland either," Kelly said.

Kelly's words follow days of criticism from top U.S. officials.
Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill doggedly defended the decision Monday, but said Libya had broken a promise by giving the convicted terrorist a hero's welcome. Scottish lawmakers came back from summer vacation a week early for an emotional debate on the issue.

Britain, meanwhile, scrapped a trade visit to Libya by Prince Andrew amid controversy over the release.

MacAskill said the warm homecoming for al-Megrahi breached assurances from Libyan authorities that "any return would be dealt with in a low-key and sensitive fashion."
"It is a matter of great regret that Mr. (al-) Megrahi was received in such an inappropriate manner," MacAskill told the Scottish parliament. "It showed no compassion or sensitivity to the families of the 270 victims of Lockerbie."
A member of the Libyan government's negotiating team who took part in the talks about al-Megrahi's release told The Associated Press that the Libyan government had not organized al-Megrahi's reception and had not broken any agreement with Scotland. The official did not want to be identified due to the sensitivity of the issue.

He said no government official met al-Megrahi at the airport and pointed out that Gadhafi's son, Seif al-Islam Gadhafi, who traveled with al-Megrahi on the plane, is not a government official.

The official said the crowd that threw rose petals and cheered al-Megrahi at the airport heard of his return through the media and spontaneously chose to greet him, he said.

By Libyan standards, al-Megrahi's welcome was relatively muted. Hundreds of people waiting in the crowd for his plane were rushed away by authorities at the last minute, and the arrival was not aired live on state TV.

Back in Scotland, MacAskill said his decision to free al Megrahi "was not based on political, economic or diplomatic considerations."

"This was my decision and my decision alone," he said. "I stand by it and I live with the consequences."

The decision has prompted calls for a trade boycott of Scotland and widespread criticism of the nationalist government in Edinburgh.

Scottish people were ashamed "to see our flag flying to welcome a convicted bomber home," Labour legislator Iain Gray told the parliament.

In a strongly worded letter to the Scottish government, FBI director Robert Mueller said al-Megrahi's release gave comfort to terrorists, while Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, said releasing the bomber was "obviously a political decision."

The explosion of a bomb hidden in the cargo hold of Pan Am Flight 103 over the Scottish town of Lockerbie killed all 259 people on the plane — most of them American — and 11 people on the ground. Al-Megrahi, a former Libyan intelligence agent, is the only person convicted of the bombing.

Compassionate release is a regular feature of the Scottish system when a prisoner is near death. Of the 31 applications over the last decade, 24 prisoners have been freed on compassionate grounds in Scotland, including al-Megrahi. Another seven applications were turned down because the medical evidence did not support the claim.
Top British cancer specialists say al-Megrahi has less than three months to live.
Scotland is part of Britain but has its own parliament — established in 1999 — with power over large areas of policy, including justice, health and education. The British Parliament in London retains primacy on all matters relating to Britain as a whole, such as defense, energy and foreign relations.

Scotland's nationalist administration has vowed to hold a referendum on full independence from Britain. Some lawmakers have called for MacAskill to resign over his decision. No vote was taken during Monday's 75-minute session, but some Scottish politicians say they will seek a confidence vote when the parliament begins its fall session next week — one that could potentially bring down the minority government.
The British government has fiercely refuted claims that al-Megrahi's release was intended to boost business ties between Britain and Libya, which has vast oil reserves. Such suspicions were heightened after Libyan President Moammar Gadhafi thanked Brown and Queen Elizabeth II by name for "encouraging" the Scottish government to free al-Megrahi.

Business Secretary Peter Mandelson said the suggestion there had been a deal was "completely implausible and actually quite offensive."

Kelly said the U.S. was not aware that any commercial interests between Britain and Libya played a role in the decision to release al-Megrahi.

"You have multiple senior British officials who have denied this. And I will take what they said on face value," Kelly said.

He warned that the U.S. relationship with Libya now depended in part on how Libya handles the situation.

"We had made it quite clear to the Libyan government, both publicly and privately, that we're going to be watching very closely how they receive this man," he said. "And if they continue to lionize him in a public fashion, that these kinds of public demonstrations can only have a profoundly negative effect on our relationship."
Prince Andrew has visited Libya several times in his role as a British trade ambassador and his office said last week that a trip for next month was in the planning stages. But Buckingham Palace said Monday there were no plans now for the prince to visit Libya.

A spokesman for Brown said al-Megrahi's release was "a uniquely sensitive and difficult decision" — and one for Scottish officials.

Associated Press Writers Jill Lawless in London and Khaled El-Deeb in Tripoli contributed to this report.

FURY GROWS OVER RELEASE OF LOCKERBIE CONVICT

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/25/world/europe/25lockerbie.html

New York Times

By JOHN F. BURNS

Published: August 24, 2009

LONDON — The uproar in Britain over the release of the only person convicted in the Lockerbie bombing gathered momentum on Monday, with critics saying at an emergency session of the Scottish Parliament that the Scottish justice secretary, Kenny MacAskill, had brought shame on Scotland and jeopardized its relations with the United States.

Oya Newspaper, via Agence France-Presse

In a handout photo, Libyans greeted Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi in Tripoli late on Thursday.

The Lede: Scotland Defends Bomber’s Release (August 24, 2009)

With Libya Ties Strained, U.S. Has Limited Options (August 25, 2009)

Times Topics: Pan Am Flight 103

The fury in Edinburgh, the Scottish capital, echoed indignation in the United States from President Obama; the F.B.I. director, Robert S. Mueller III; prominent senators; and relatives of those who died on Pan Am Flight 103 when it exploded over Lockerbie, Scotland, on Dec. 21, 1988, killing 270 people, including 189 Americans. The release has developed into the most abrasive issue between Britain and the United States in years, and, opposition critics said in Edinburgh, one that could damage Scotland’s tourism and investment from the United States.

Annabel Goldie, of the opposition Conservatives, said the minority government of Alex Salmond, Scotland’s first minister, could have spared the country the opprobrium by transferring the prisoner, Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi, to a safe house or a hospice in Scotland, where he could have received care for the terminal cancer that Mr. MacAskill cited in freeing him. Mr. Megrahi, 57, a former Libyan intelligence agent, was flown to Libya from a Scottish prison on Thursday. The compassion cited by Mr. MacAskill in justifying his decision could have been better served by keeping him in Scotland, Ms. Goldie said, than by having “a convicted terrorist being feted as a hero in Libya to a backdrop of waving Saltires,” Scotland’s blue-and-white flag.

Mr. MacAskill sought to fend off the attacks, saying Mr. Megrahi’s release was approved solely because of his illness and not because of “economic considerations” relating to Libyan oil deals, as opposition politicians and newspaper editorials in Britain have suggested. The government of Prime Minister Gordon Brown ducked for cover, declining to say whether it supported the decision to return Mr. Megrahi home.

With Mr. Brown on vacation and the British Parliament in summer recess, the government seemed intent on trying to keep at a distance from the turmoil in the hope that the issue would lose its potency by the time Parliament returns in the fall. A prominent Conservative lawmaker, Liam Fox, described Mr. Brown’s role since the bomber’s release as that of “the invisible man.”

With his silence, Mr. Brown has appeared eager to draw a veil over negotiations with Libya in the past five years in which, it was previously acknowledged, oil deals and Mr. Megrahi’s release were central to the agenda. Seif al-Islam el-Qaddafi, a son of the Libyan leader, Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, said in a television interview on the plane carrying Mr. Megrahi home that his release was “always on the negotiating table” when oil and gas deals were discussed with Britain. Colonel Qaddafi promised when he met Mr. Megrahi that Britain would be rewarded for his release.

Peter Mandelson, Britain’s business minister and a close aide to Mr. Brown, said over the weekend that he had discussed Mr. Megrahi twice this year in meetings with the younger Mr. Qaddafi. But Mr. Mandelson said there was no quid pro quo linking oil deals to the release.

But his assertions came into doubt after The Sunday Times of London reported details of a letter that it said Ivan Lewis, a junior Foreign Office minister, had written to Mr. MacAskill two weeks before the release saying there was no legal impediment to sending Mr. Megrahi to Libya under a prisoner transfer agreement that Britain and Libya ratified in April.

“I hope on this basis you will now feel able to consider the Libyan application in accordance with the provisions of the prisoner transfer agreement,” Mr. Lewis wrote, according to the newspaper.

In his remarks to the Scottish Parliament, Mr. MacAskill hinted at something that many critics of the Brown government had suggested — that it hid behind a veil of ambiguity and evasion in its dealings with the Scottish authorities, so as to encourage Edinburgh to approve the bomber’s return home under the prisoner transfer agreement without Mr. Brown and his ministers having to take responsibility for the decision themselves.

Mr. MacAskill said he had received a perfunctory answer this summer when he wrote to Jack Straw, justice minister in the Brown government, asking the government to “make representations or provide information” regarding the proposed release. “They declined to do so,” he said. “They simply informed me that they saw no legal barrier to transfer and that they gave no assurances to the U.S. government at the time. They declined to offer a full explanation. I found that highly regrettable.”

He contrasted the British reply with what he had been told weeks before his decision when he met with American officials, including Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., who as deputy attorney general oversaw issues relating to the Megrahi trial before it began in 2001. He said Mr. Holder had been “adamant” that Britain had given Washington assurances that any sentence imposed at the trial would be served in Scotland, and that he had been told the same by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Mr. MacAskill said that the conflicting responses in London and Washington left him uncertain as to what had been agreed to by the two governments, but that he was convinced that “the American families and government had an expectation, or were led to believe, that there would be no prisoner transfer and the sentence would be served in Scotland.” He said “many of the American families” had spoken of “the comfort they placed on these assurances” when he talked with them in a video conference before his decision.

Accordingly, he said, he had decided to deny Mr. Megrahi’s application for a prisoner transfer and to approve his return to Libya under compassionate grounds, which he described as an act of “mercy” for a dying man.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Sept. 13 Richard Somers & John Barry Day

John Barry and Richard Somers

Father and Son of the Navy

– By William Kelly

This year the Somers Point Historical Society is celebrating Richard Somers Day on Sunday, September 13, with a gathering at 3pm at the Somers Mansion.

The New Jersey Assembly passed a resolution officially naming September 4, the day he died in Tripoli as Richard Somers Day, but since that day usually falls on Labor Day weekend, few people recognized it. So this year, it will be celebrated on Sunday, September 13, which also happens to be known as John Barry Day, as officially proclaimed by Presidents Reagan and Clinton.

Richard Somers and John Barry were close friends and neighbors in center city Philadelphia. When his father died, Richard moved in with his sister Sarah and her husband William Keen, who was related to Barry’s wife Sarah Kean Austin, and John Barry became a surrogate father to young Somers.

Although both presidential proclamations expound on Barry’s revolutionary war exploits, they fail to mention the one fact that firmly establishes him as the “Father of the US Navy” - the recruitment and training of the first class of Midshipmen and young officers.

When the new Navy was being constituted and John Barry was named the first flag officer, President Washington instructed Barry to recruit young officers to serve with him. On June 17, 1794, he sent for the popular naval hero and told Barry “to form and train a class of midshipmen, who would then be given command as Ensigns, and form the nucleus of a new American navy.”

Barry didn’t have to look far, for the Rev. White who married him had started a school for young men, some of whom were already known to him. Barry knew Richard Somers’s and Stephen Decatur’s fathers as privateers during the revolution and he sailed a commercial ship for Stewart’s family, so he knew all three while they were still school mates.

Richard Somers’ biographer Barbara E. Koedel wrote “… Somers, Charles Stewart and Stephen Decatur attended the Episcopal Academy ‘where the discipline is strict,…they lived much out of doors, boating, swimming, fishing. Somers was the strongest...All were high spirited as eagles, and they were involved in not a few fisticuff ‘duels’ settled in the old Quaker burying-ground.”

So it was no coincidence that when Richard Somers, Stephen Decatur and Charles Stewart enlisted in the Navy, they were selected by Barry to be the first Midshipmen and officers on his flagship the USS United States. On April 20, 1798 Richard Somers received his appointment as Midshipman of the United States Navy, Charles Stewart received his the day before, and Stephen Decatur the following day. Somers accepted the commission on May 1 and a week later he swore on the bible that:

“I Richard Somers, appointed a Midshipman on board the Frigate United States do solemnly swear to bear true allegiance to the United States of America, and to serve them honestly and faithfully against all their enemies or opposers whomsoever; and to observe and obey the orders of the President of the United States of America, and the orders of the officers appointed over me, and in all things to conform myself, to the rules and regulations which now are and hereafter may be directed, and to the articles of war which may be enacted by Congress, for the better government of the navy of the United States – and I will support the constitution of the United States…So help me God Richard Somers. Sworn by me by May 8 1798 Richard Peters Judge of the Pennsylvania District of the United States.”

In writing Stewart’s biography, Claude Berbe and John Rodgaard wrote, “In the midshipman’s berth on the United States were two future standouts of the young navy: Charles’ friends Mid. Stephen Decatur and Mid. Richard Somers. With the three childhood friends together again, one could imagine that all three thought that the USS United States was an extension of their childhood days at…Episcopal Academy...Under Barry’s watchful eye, the four junior officers worked the United States through the rest of her fitting out work. When the frigate was ready for sea, Captain Barry set sail for the West Indies.”

Before long Stewart, Decatur and Somers were made officers and given command of their own ships. While Captain Barry was nominated to be the Commodore of the Mediterranean Fleet to fight the Barbary Pirates, he was too sick and unable to assume that command. Somers frequently visited Barry at Strawberry Hill, Barry’s home on the Delaware, four miles north of center city Philadelphia and along with his sister’s husband, William Keen, was a witness to Barry’s last will and testament.

Then Somers, now a Lieutenant, sailed the USS Nautilus to the Mediterranean to join in the fight against the Barbary Pirates, and has yet to return home.

John Barry died on September 13, 1803, the date of his death is now officially known as John Barry Day, two days before Somers’ birthday, September 15 (1776), and less than a year before Somers would die at Tripoli.

John Barry is recognized as the “Father of the US Navy” and Richard Somers is the Native Son of Somers Point, and it is fitting that we should celebrate them together on this day. The two men are tied together in death as in life, the father and son of the US Navy.

Admiral Gary Roughead, chief of naval operations, recently said that, "Our Navy will never give up looking for a shipmate, regardless of how long or how difficult that search may be." Well 205 years is a long time, but it is now the duty of the US Navy to return the remains of their son, and our Native son, so they can, as James F. Cooper said long ago, “be finally incorporated with the dust of their native land and the friends of the deceased might find a melancholy consolation in being permitted to drop a tear over the spot in which they would be finally entombed.”

William Kelly
Billykelly3@yahoo.com

Remember the Intrepid Blog:
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