Two months after their embarrassing hearing before the state Supreme Court, the New Jersey Tea Partiers trying to recall Sen. Bob Menendez are flailing for attention. Their new ploy: criticizing Menendez for leading the way in pursuing Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi, the Lockerbie bomber.
Meghrahi, the only person ever convicted for the 1988 Pan Am airliner bombing that killed 270 people (189 of whom were Americans), is in the news this week, with BP now admitting that it lobbied the British government for his release last year in exchange for contracts to drill off of Libya’s coast. Megrahi was released in August of 2009 on humanitarian grounds, since he supposedly had a terminal case of prostate cancer and would be dead within three months (although 11 months later, he’s still alive).
On Tuesday, before BP made its admission, Menendez and other senators sent the State Department a letter asking, “[W]as this corporation willing to trade justice in the murder of 270 innocent people for oil profits?”
That prompted this reaction on Thursday from RoseAnn Salanitri, the New Jersey recall effort’s leader: “For Menendez now to be calling for a man like al-Megrahi to be put back in [prison], after voting against sensible national-security measures all the time he’s been in the Senate, is the height of hypocrisy.”
The self-proclaimed constitutional purists are upset that Menendez and other senators refused to give the federal government greater surveillance powers. Of course, a Republican was in the White House then.
The New Jersey Supreme Court is yet to rule on whether to grant the Tea Partiers recall wishes. Their chances don’t look good, though, as Menendez’s lawyer argued on the basis of the federal constitution, and the Tea Party’s lawyer argued on the basis of an ambiguous 1787 letter from George Washington to his nephew.