Leading British politicians have recently been running to defend BP from
unwarranted American attack and “bashing Britain.” First we stole their
Now we disparage their oil. The nerve.
Leading the charge was
London Mayor Boris Johnson who said there is “something worrying about
anti-British rhetoric that seems to be permeating from America.”
was Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg who, in a thinly veiled attack
President Barack Obama, said, “I don’t frankly think we will reach a
stopping release of oil into the ocean any quicker by allowing this to
into a tit for tat political diplomatic spat.”
The biggest critic was
Lord Tebbit, a former Thatcher cabinet minister, who called Obama’s
toward BP “despicable.”
Curiously, none of those seeking to paint BP as a
victim made reference to its atrocious safety record prior to the
Horizon explosion on April 20. An internal BP report of 2004 found “a
the company intimidating workers who raised safety or environmental
and “managers shaved maintenance costs by using aging equipment for as
In 2005 an explosion at BP’s Texas City refinery killed 15
people. A ProPublica report found “significant process safety issues
all five US refineries, not just Texas City.” It added that “the
Safety and Health Administration fined the firm $87 million for not
safety at the same Texas plant.”
Tyson Slocum of Public Citizen summed it
up. “BP is a London-based oil company with one of the worst safety
any oil company operating in America. In just the last few years, BP has
$485 million in fines and settlements to the US government for
crimes, willful neglect of worker safety rules, and penalties for
So why would the British defend this horrible safety
record by insinuating that American rage at BP is “British bashing?” And
not forget that BP itself changed its name in 2001 from British
almost as if it were ashamed of the word “British.”
Britain does itself
no favors by complaining about a falling share price and lost dividends
Americans lie dead, thousands of Gulf Coast residents have lost their
and innumerable wildlife wash up ashore drenched in BP
UNFORTUNATELY BRITAIN’s penchant for putting oil profits ahead of
human life has a shameful and recent precedent.
In an act of
unforgettable infamy, the Scottish government last August released
Lockerbie bomber Abdel Basset al-Megrahi, who murdered 270 people, on
“humanitarian grounds,” saying that he had only three months to live.
mass-murderer was immediately accorded a hero’s welcome by Muammar
Tripoli. FBI Director Robert Mueller published an angry letter to the
government that said, “Your action makes a mockery of the rule of law.
action gives comfort to terrorists around the world.”
From the beginning
there was speculation that Megrahi’s release was brokered by the British
government in exchange for lucrative British oil contracts with Libya.
himself publicly thanked prime minister Gordon Brown and Queen Elizabeth
facilitating the terrorist’s release. “This step,” he said, “is in the
of relations between the two countries...
and of the personal friendship
between me and them and will be positively reflected for sure in all
cooperation between the two countries.”
Gaddafi’s son Saif al-Islam went
further, saying that in all his meetings with British officials to
contracts the subject of the Lockerbie bomber’s release was an absolute
condition of any deal. “In all British interests regarding Libya, I
you on the table,” he told the killer.
And which British companies were
pushing hardest to strike a deal with Gaddafi? Reuters named BP and
Shell at the
top of the list.
A few weeks after this murky deal was concluded, I
hosted a protest on my front lawn against Gaddafi who was planning to
tent immediately next door to me in Englewood, New Jersey, in a mansion
the Libyan mission to the United Nations.
Those attending included New
Jersey governor Jon Corzine and Senator Frank Lautenberg. But the
speakers were families of the victims of Pan Am 103 who described how
lives had been shattered by Gaddafi’s atrocity and their outrage at the
and Scots for releasing the bomber after only eight years in prison.
comes word via The Times of London
that Gaddafi plans to pay £2 billion
victims of IRA bombs for his role in supplying shiploads of explosives.
supplied by Gaddafi’s regime,” The Times
said, “was used by the IRA in
10 atrocities, including the bombing of Harrods in 1983 and Enniskillen
The Real IRA used it at Omagh in 1998, killing 29 people and injuring
was used in the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 at Lockerbie, when 270 were
The Times revealed that Gordon Brown had initially balked from
pressuring Gaddafi to pay the victims “for fear of harming trade.” But
has now decided that a grand humanitarian gesture, without any admission
responsibility, “will end the legal actions and build diplomatic and
relations with the UK.”
It is now 10 months since the Lockerbie bomber’s
release. It appears that miracles still happen, because the previously
terminally ill patient is somehow alive and well and, according to
son, “greatly improved” now that he is home in Libya. As for the reward
Britain, the Daily Mail
reported that just five months after the
release “Libya announced plans to invest £5 billion in the UK.”
aftermath of these shameful British actions, I continue to fight what
a lonesome battle against Gaddafi’s ambassador living next door to me in
where 30 people died aboard Pan Am 103. My pleas to Englewood Mayor
and City Council President Scott Reddin to take action against the
mission of a
terror-sponsoring government living tax-free in a city strapped for
cash, and in
post 9/11 America, have been met with little response. Most shocking of
Congressman Steve Rothman of New Jersey’s ninth district, now up for
was quoted as saying that he expected us residents to act as
neighbors” with the Libyan ambassador.
Justice be damned.
writer is founder of This World: The Values Network.
He has just
published Renewal: A Guide to the Values-Filled Life (Basic Books).