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July 16, 2007

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Thank you for writing this. I was following the story - I thought fairly closely - but I missed the Reuters story about the senators' actions. That is puzzling and disturbing to me. The negotiations for the prisoners' release is at a sensitive stage, and the senators'action reads on the face of it to be a political stunt.

Anything that inhibits freeing the prisoners - or worse - effects their deaths - will cast a global pall on the ability of humanitarian aid workers to willingly go into hot spots.

When will we grow up and stop using tactics from an elementary school playground ("I'm not going to talk to him cuz he's got cooties")?

I will post my vitriolic first response to this: ahem. Holy fuck! What the fuck is wrong with these people?! (democratic senators)

This old school old way of doing business has to got to out with the trash at least every week.

WTF should I vote for Hillary? If this is her idea of international diplomacy, then she has no business being in the WH, and I'd question her qualifications for the Senate, if I were a resident of NY.

this is not the crisis that it appears to be... commutation and remuneration was expected long ago, and so there is no need for US diplomacy...

hillary's position must be: so why lay your ambassador card down?

makes sense...

"hoped for" and "expected" are miles apart.

Tony Blair went to Tripoli and discussed it with Ghadafy. It is very much a matter where active diplomacy is needed.

I hope you're right that the crisis has passed and commutation is in the cards, but the idea that it was expected long ago is not my understanding of this story, and is dismissive of the tremendous work done by international groups to bring pressure on Libya to stop the executions.

If that were my family, having been imprisoned for 8 years, and beaten and raped, and now facing execution over these trumped-up charges, I certainly would have a different attitude to the necessity of US involvement in the case than the one shown by the four Democratic Senators.

The best I can think is that the senators in question are in deep debt to people who are still too mad about Pan Am 103 (if that's the right number) to think straight about anything, including the fact that the medical personnel had nothing to do with it and that AFAIK Ghadafi has apologized and made some kind of reparations. Revenge over sanity, looks like.

I read today that Joe Wilson endorsed Hillary; I'm disappointed he didn't at least keep his cards closer to his vest a while longer, because I am asking now whether this is the best this presidential candidate can do in navigating even a fairly small impasse (as compared to an impasse the size of Iraq and Afghanistan ), and I'm worried that Wilson's support will cloud this example in which lives hang in the balance. A candidate who is gifted at triangulation seems to have suddenly lost their ability to navigate a third way to approach this debacle.

(Hillary, it didn't work; you have to use your own smarts to win me, not rely on the cred of people like Joe Wilson to persuade me.)

look in the dictionary under "Tin Ear"

you'll see a picture of Hillary

except for george bush, has any politician been so tone deaf ???

what's the corporate media gonna say when hillary gets destroyed in the primaries ???

This is insane on the part of these four Democratic Senators. How many people are killed every year from HIV/AIDS and the ignorance surrounding the disease? This is a chance to highlight the ignorance that is killing a LOT more than just the wrongfully accused in Libya is an opportunity - especially for somebody like Sen. Clinton who has been so good on health issues.

Instead these Dem Sens have produced a ridiculous fumble based on pandering to a generation old problem. Pathetic. HIV/AIDS will kill 10000x more people than terrorism could ever dream of killing and these Democratic Senators choose to pander on the terrorism issue. Pathetic.

I just fail to see the correlation with the Senators as described (and I am NOT a Shilary supporter) and the issues at hand.

How do these senators actions impact the care workers DIRECTLY??

I don't see the link . . .

I DO see, a need to act on the behalf of the 6 accused, but, I don't see the Senators as blocking anything.

Now, to start a GREAT HURRAH about the LACK of international support, or USA support, to save the care workers, THAT'S a mission.

I fail to see any point in your posit, Emptypockets, that will SAVE the careworkers.

And I don't get your blame game . . . not at all . . .

larue, I'm not sure which part of "diplomatic mission" you don't get.

I was hoping that a commutation would be announced last night, but the negotiations are still ongoing:

Libya makes no decision on medics' death sentence [...] The council on Monday delayed its decision until at least today as it waited for documents from the children's families that would affirm they are dropping their demand that the medics face the firing squad.

"Some of the families still insist on the execution of the accused," Ramadan Fitouri, chairman of the relatives association, told Bulgarian radio station Darik Radio on Monday. He said European countries were trying to force them to give up their demand by denying them visas to have their sick children treated in Europe.

The Libyan government has sent many of the children to Italian and French hospitals for care.

Also under discussion is the possibility of a deal to provide compensation of $1 million for each of the families of 438 Libyan children infected with HIV-tainted blood. European diplomats have been pressing Libyan officials to commute the death sentence, said a European official in Tripoli. The Palestinian doctor recently received Bulgarian citizenship so he could be included in the deal.

"The families have agreed to accept compensation of about $1 million for each victim," said Salah Abdelssalem, the director of Kadafi Foundation, which has been helping the victims' families. "After that, I don't know what will happen."

Bulgaria, Palestine, and several western European countries, particularly Britain, Italy, and France, are involved in trying to negotiate a diplomatic deal to ensure the medics' release. The biggest levers being worked are health care access for the children and parents (at the family level) and erasing Libyan debt in lieu of direct "blood money" payments (at the national level).

At this point the US is sitting it out. The US has not been heavily involved to date, and Bush finally wanted to intervene by sending a diplomat to enter the negotiations. These senators have said they would block that appointment, because they refuse to engage Libya diplomatically.

I guess you're saying that you don't see how blocking diplomatic outreach would affect the medics' sentence? At this point, the ONLY thing determining the medics' fates is diplomatic outreach. Is it that you don't get what the US could offer diplomatically? I don't have a specific answer for that, but finding a way to move chips around the table until everyone is happy is what diplomats are paid for -- and the US has a lot of chips. We still have some of the best health care available (for those who can afford it) that might interest the families, and we've got some other things that the Libyan government would be interested in, especially business opportunities as my post on the business conference illustrates.

I don't know the situation well enough to tell you exactly what offer our ambassador should be making (the denying visas angle is a creative one), but it's clear that to stop these executions requires a diplomatic negotiation, and the Senators say no.

This just in:
Libya commutes medics' sentences
TRIPOLI, Libya (Reuters) -- Libya's highest judicial body said on Tuesday it had commuted the death sentences against six foreign medics to life imprisonment.

Five Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian doctor are accused of intentionally infecting patients with HIV.

"The High Judicial Council decided to commute the death sentences against the five Bulgarian nurses and the Palestinian doctor to life-imprisonment terms," the council said in a brief statement.

Earlier in the day, a financial settlement was announced that appeared to clear the way for the change in sentence.
[snip]

well, that's a bittersweet victory if I've ever seen one.

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