Thursday, September 21, 2006

A Matter of Life and Death

According to any number of right-wing chatterers, the Bush Doctrine can be credited with “civilizing” Libya (even though Muammur Qaddafi had offered to disarm long before we invaded Iraq).

Christopher Hitchens, for instance, held a pair of shotglasses to his rheumy, porcine eyes as though they were binoculars, and peered earnestly into Qaddafi’s heart:

Col. Qaddafi…has lived to rue the mistake he made with Pan Am. He started the grinding of an inexorable machine, beginning with the deceptively modest processes of Scottish law, and he now stands before the world as a gibbering and whimpering psycho, forced to pay blood money and to beg for leniency.
While this vision was dancing in Hitchens’ sodden brain, the Libyan government was preparing to execute five nurses and a doctor who’d been accused of injecting 400 infants with AIDS (under direction from the USA and Israel, natch), and were being subjected to imprisonment, torture, and rape.

Pharyngula explains the medics' current situation:
They appealed (wouldn't you?) and are now being retried. Prospects look bleak. Libyans celebrated joyfully when the initial verdict was cast down, and Mouammar Gaddafi…well, let's just say that having a megalomaniacal dictator running the country in which the trial takes place does not encourage much hope for a merciful intervention. The Libyans are now demanding $5.5 billion in compensation if they are to release the prisoners. This is nothing but a showy and high-priced extortion plot.
Note that Libya’s offer of compensation for the bombing of Pan Am 103 was a comparatively modest $2.7 billion.

Now that Bush and Qaddafi are bestest buddies, you’d think that a single phone call would set matters right. But then, Bush could very easily have made freeing these innocent medics a condition of having UN sanctions dropped and diplomatic ties restored. Therefore, it’s probably wise to assume that help will have to come from other quarters.

Declan Butler requests the involvement of bloggers, while Nature reiterates its call for scientists to speak up for these endangered colleagues, and for science itself. If you're so inclined, you can also contact your congresspeople, the State Department, and the US embassy in Libya (

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