Fallout over Lockerbie release

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JEB SHARP: A prisoner release is continuing to make waves. Today, the Scottish parliament held an emergency session to deal with the fallout from Scotland's decision to release the Lockerbie bomber last week. The only man convicted in the 1998 bombing of Pan Am flight 103, was met by jubilant crowds when he arrived home in Tripoli. Abdelbaset Ali Mohmet al-Megrahi was also given a very warm public welcome by Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi .The scenes have infuriated many in the U-S and Britain, and Scotland is feeling that fury. The World's Laura Lynch reports.

LAURA LYNCH: People in Scotland may be divided about their own government, but it's taken just a few words from the head of the FBI, Robert Mueller, to help them find a point of unity. over the weekend, Mueller wrote to the Scottish justice secretary, Kenny MacAskill. He accused MacAskill of making a mockery of the rule of law, as well as giving comfort to terrorists. That had them buzzing on the call-in shows today.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think in conclusion, we have batted well against these arrogant Americans, and I think we stood up to America well. And I think we really should appreciate the man who made the decision.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE 2: He should have been allowed to die in this country, put him into the hospital, but he should not have been return home on compassionate grounds. That is a dirty word here, that's the key word.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I can't believe the audacity of the Americans to come on Scottish radio and call into question our understanding of the word compassion, especially when we see day in and day out the goings on of Guantanamo Bay.

LAURA LYNCH: But later in the day it became obvious, Scotland is not speaking with one voice.


LAURA LYNCH: Scottish politicians gathered in an emergency session in Edinburgh, one topic and one man at the center of the turmoil. Kenny MacAskill repeated his reasons for granting freedom to al-Megrahi, who is terminally ill. MacAskill said he stands by his decision. In fact, he admitted only one problem, Libya, he said, failed to deliver on promises to keep al-Megrahi's homecoming low-key.

KENNY MACASKILL: It is a matter of great regret that Mr. al-Megrahi was received in such an inappropriate manner. It showed no compassion or sensitivity to the families of the 270 victims of Lockerbie.

LAURA LYNCH: Then, for more than an hour, opposition politicians fired questions at him.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE 3: But does he understand how much that decision has angered the silent majority in Scotland? Does he understand how ashamed we were to see our flag flying to welcome a convicted bomber home?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE 4: What the first minister and his government have done is to split Scotland, split our country within itself, and split our nation from many international friends. Next week Colonel Gadaffi can parade al-Megrahi as part of his 40th anniversary celebrations.

LAURA LYNCH: MacAskill never strayed far from his by now familiar line, this was about compassion, about mercy. And whatever some may suspect, he insists it wasn't about smoothing the way for British business interests inside Libya. But amidst the cascade of criticism raining down on the Scottish government, there were one or two jabs at another parliament and another leader.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE 2: Presiding officer, equally disturbing is the extraordinary and incomprehensible silence of the Prime Minister, Gordon Brown.

LAURA LYNCH: The British prime minister hasn't said a word about al-Megrahi since the release. A spokesman did say today that Brown disagrees with the FBI chief's comments. But Brown is staying away from either endorsing or condemning Scotland's decision. It's not that he doesn't have time. This afternoon, Brown released a written statement congratulating England's cricket team for winning a top prize. Granted, that's a lot easier than navigating a tricky international issue that's already exposed both Brown and Scotland to a torrent of anger. For The World, I'm Laura Lynch, in London.

JEB SHARP: Some in the US are so angry at Scotland, they've launched a "Boycott Scotland" campaign. A New Jersey town is trying to block Libya's leader as well. Officials in Englewood are upset about reports that Moammar Ghadafi may put up a Bedouin tent in their town when he visits the US next month. Libya owns some property in the northern New Jersey suburb.