Washington Drawn into an old disaster, British Prime Minister David Cameron said Tuesday he would not order a fresh investigation into why a convicted bomber was set free or whether BP had a role in it. President Barack Obama stood by his new peer but said that “all the facts” must come out.
In declaring his position — to potentially make public more information from an earlier investigation of the man’s release, but not start a new one— Cameron politely but roundly rebuffed the U.S. government in his first White House visit.
Obama sought a diplomatic tone in response, saying the U.S. would “welcome any additional information,” and made clear he wanted it. Beyond the lingering anger, the case swirls anew with interest because of its possible links to BP, the company facing huge fallout in the United States for causing the Gulf oil spill.
“I think all of us here in the United States were surprised, disappointed and angry about the release of the Lockerbie bomber,” Obama said in a short news conference dominated by the topic. Yet he added: “The key thing to understand here is that we’ve got a British prime minister who shares our anger over the decision. And so I’m fully supportive of Prime Minister Cameron’s efforts to gain a better understanding of it.”
At issue is Libyan Abdel Baset al-Megrahi, who was convicted for the 1988 bombing of a jet over Lockerbie, Scotland, that killed 270 people, many American. The Scottish government released the cancer-stricken man on compassionate grounds last year.