Frank Duggan President of VPAF103, Inc
|Born||15 April 1938|
|Died||1 November 2017 (Age 79)|
Frank Duggan was a retired lawyer in the United States who led the official US Lockerbie families group "Victims of Pan Am Flight 103, Inc". Although he was not himself related to a Lockerbie bombing victim, his involvement with the bereaved ran deep - all the way back to 1989 when he was appointed "liaison for the Lockerbie families" on the President's Commission on Aviation Security and Terrorism (PCAST).
UK relatives "lying"
- "The claim by UK Lockerbie relative Martin Cadman that he was told by a PCAST member in 1989 'your government and mine know exactly what happened but they're never going to tell' is a lie.
- "This never happened and the story has been peddled for 25 years. I served on the Commission (President's Commission on Aviation Security and Terrorism 1989-90) and was at the meetings held in London and Scotland where the statement was allegedly made by one of us to the father of one of the flight attendants in 1989. We were charged with investigating how it was done, not who did it. Everyone had suspicions, but there was a criminal investigation, at that time the largest ever, that had this responsibility. No one really knew who did it in 1989, since the timer that turned the investigation toward Libyan terrorists was not found until a year later. A father of one of the American victims tried repeatedly to demonstrate that this statement was never made, and offered to show photographs of everyone on the trip to the person who claimed he heard this. The proponents of this fable are not interested in the truth and would rather repeat it to UK tabloids, self promoting bloggers, dubious experts in the case, and assorted nutcases. The story is a lie."
Snubbing Al Jazeera
On 10 March 2014, the day before transmission of Al Jazeera's documentary "Lockerbie: What Really Happened", producer Ms Anar Virji contacted Frank Duggan asking for an interview:
- From: Anar Virji
- Date: March 10, 2014 at 10:42:27 AM EDT
- To: "firstname.lastname@example.org" <email@example.com>
- Hi -
- I'm a producer with Al Jazeera English TV in Washington DC.
- My reporter Shihab Rattansi and I are working on a piece today about the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland and evidence that shows that Libyan Abdelbaset al-Megrahi was not behind the bombing. There's a documentary airing on Al Jazeera with evidence that Iran was behind the bombing and they planned it in retaliation for the downing of a commercial Iranian jet by the USS Vincennes in 1988.
- We're interested in speaking to someone from the Victims of Pan Am Flight 103 about this investigation and their reaction to it. This would be for an on-camera, taped interview we'd like to do before 4pm eastern today, if possible. We can do it via Skype or in a studio.
- I can be reached on this e-mail and the number below. Thanks in advance for your help.
- Ms Anar Virji
- Al Jazeera English
- +1.202.725.1259 (cell)
Frank Duggan declined to take part:
- From: Frank Duggan
- To: Ms Anar Virji <AnarVirji@aljazeera.com>
- Subject: Request from Al Jazeera English TV
- I am sorry to say that I must decline your offer to appear on your DC program. We are very familiar with Al Jazeera and your perspective on the bombing of Pan Am 103. Your documentary has "evidence that Iran was behind the bombing"? There is not a shred of evidence to support this view. You are just trying to point the finger away from Libya, once more, and it is disgraceful. Nearly everyone thought, 25 years ago, that Iran was behind it, and they certainly had motive, but there was never any evidence to prove it. There was enough evidence to point to Libya that a court found the defendant, Megrahi, guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, as a conspirator in an act of state sponsored terrorism. This was upheld on appeal, and is a settled matter for the families of the victims of Pan Am 103. If there was proof that others were involved, from Iran especially, we would want that explored. There is nothing on your "documentary" that we have not heard before, nor have the investigators and prosecutors who worked diligently for two decades to find the guilty parties. Your documentary will no doubt trot out the usual conspiracy mavens and Libya shills, who have been part of the Megrahi legal defense, and will not have any of the public servants, nearly two thousand police, investigators and prosecutors, who disagree with your position.
- Frank Duggan, President
- Victims of Pan Am 103, Inc.
Former diplomat Patrick Haseldine commented:
- "It's not surprising that Frank Duggan insists on Megrahi's guilt and Libya's responsibility for the Lockerbie bombing. Libya paid $2.7 billion in compensation to the families of the 270 Lockerbie victims ($10 million each) in a deal brokered by Frank Duggan and the US lawyers Kreindler & Kreindler, Speizer Crowse, Allan Gerson and Mark Zaid who together shared 30% of the $2.7 billion Lockerbie settlement figure in contingency fees ($810,000,000). If Megrahi is not guilty, and Libya is not responsible, those lawyers and the victims' families will have to refund the $2.7 billion to the new Libyan government."
Lawyer Mark Zaid rejoined:
- Patrick, you continue to promote demonstrably false facts concerning the settlement recovery and for reasons I have never understood.
- Frank Duggan is entitled to decline to participate in the Al Jazeera program. That's his right to do so. BTW, who else did Al Jazeera contact and invite to appear? I know they never contacted me. And I would have consented to be interviewed and provided my views. The fact that Iran might have played a role in the original planning of the Lockerbie bombing, and I do not know that they did or not, does still not necessarily excuse or demonstrate any innocence on the part of Libya. Mark.
In response to an article in The Spectator entitled 'How did Muammar Gaddafi get away with such evil for so long?', Frank Duggan ranted:
- This monster was aided and abetted for the last quarter century by the likes of Prof. Black and his always wrong legal experts; a sensationalist and disgraceful media, including news outlets (Scottish Herald, The Scotsman, and comical tabloids); media producers from BBC and others; shameless UK politicians like that dingbat Christine Grahame; book and movie promoters (the latest being John Ashton and Morag Kerr); the businessmen and diplomats who assisted Gaddafi's successful effort to have Megrahi released from the Scottish prison; and more. Added to this incomplete list should be the UK family member, a supporter of Gaddafi from the very beginning, who sat with the Libyans during legal proceedings, went to Libya to hug Gaddafi, the man who murdered his daughter, and who called the detestable little murderer Megrahi "my friend" and a "gentle Muslim".
- No one can take any pleasure reading these revelations about Gaddafi, but at least the thousands of investigators, police, prosecutors and law enforcement professionals who worked on the Lockerbie bombing can take some pride in not being persuaded by the many shills supporting Gaddafi.The Scottish justice system and the Crown Office is still being slandered, amazingly, in the UK press, even as they are seeking further proof in Libya. A handful of journalists, most recently Magnus Linklater, are derided when they report on the Libya supporters, who are more interested in publicity than justice.
- When Lord Advocate Frank Mulholland, in cooperation with the new Libyan investigators, finds more evidence, as they will, the enablers will do little to change their execrable promotion of Megrahi and his Libyan government sponsors.
- Thanks to The Spectator for this story.
This "blue ribbon panel" was originally to be independent, but wound up being under President Bush’s control. As its chair, Bush selected Ann McLaughlin Korologos (née Lauenstein), who was once Secretary of Labor under Ronald Reagan, as well as having been a director for at least "five major corporations." Frank Duggan had worked as an aide and Assistant Secretary of Labor under her before she picked him as PCAST’s families ambassador. Duggan grew up in Brooklyn, became a cop, and put himself through college, before turning into "a lawyer and a reliable Republican politician who had been a railroad industry lobbyist," wrote Allan Gerson and Jerry Adler in a 2001 book. "Needing someone who could win the trust of mostly middle-class families from the Northeast, many of them Irish or Italian Catholics, McLaughlin couldn’t have done better than Frank Duggan."
In a later interview, Frank Duggan described PCAST as "the Cadillac of Commissions" due to "the quality of its work and the number of recommendations, some 60 of them if I recall." The most memorable passage in the report was "national will and the moral courage to exercise it are the ultimate means for fighting terrorism." The section emphasised missile strikes and covert action, either "preemptive or retaliatory", and was penned by former FBI agent J. Brian Hyland, working from a desk next to Duggan’s. "As Hyland wrote, Duggan kept humming 'The Battle Hymn of the Republic' to keep his colleague in a martial frame of mind." [1 pp68-69]
As family liaison officer, Frank Duggan lobbied for their interests and listened to them – concerns, conspiracy theories, plots to hire assassins - with patience and understanding. The families also had a chance to support Duggan when his daughter was crushed into a coma by a drunk driver (she later awoke, but with brain damage). [1 p70] After the Commission he continued lobbying for the families as the trail turned to Libya, indictments, and a 1990’s deadlock. During this time, he went to work for one of the legal teams representing the families, headed by Allan Gerson, whose 2001 book noted that "for six years Duggan had worked for the families and had earned nothing for it except their trust and gratitude." [1 p255-56]
Warned off Pan Am 103?
In an email to the FBI's Richard Marquise, copied to Ludwig De Braeckeleer, Frank Duggan claimed that the "Helsinki Warning" that was posted on the staff notice board at the American embassy in Moscow was shown in the PCAST report to have had no effect on the level of bookings on Pan Am Flight 103:
- To: Richard Marquise
- cc: Ludwig De Braeckeleer
- Prof. Ludwig De Braeckeleer cannot have read the PCAST report or he wouldn’t be touting all those disproven notions.
- Whenever I see an allegation of warnings, or Buck Revell’s son being warned off the plane, I don’t want to read any more.
- There were NO WARNINGS!
- We looked at ten years worth of threats deemed credible enough by the FAA to warrant investigation and warning, some 600 a year, or nearly two-day for ten years.
- None of them were valid.
- None. If someone wants to blow up a plane and kill people, why would they warn the public?
- They actually caught the guy who called in the “Helsinki Warning” and he was a stateless Palestinian trying to impress his girl friend.
- Nevertheless, threat information is sent to law enforcement personnel, and if made public then the terrorists have accomplished their purpose.
- The phoney "Helsinki Warning" was posted in the Moscow embassy by the FAA official there, even though no one at that embassy would have used that route to go home to the US.
- At the end of the PCAST findings, you will see that we looked at the total history of passenger bookings for Pan Am 103 and they were the same for years.
- No one was warned off the plane. Tragically, some people cancelled other flights to get on Pan Am 103.
- Thanks for all you are doing responding to these stories.
- All the best,
- Frank [Duggan]
Since the warning was posted on 14 December 1988, one would expect that diplomatic personnel in Moscow would have rebooked their flight on 15 December 1988. Thus, one should see a significant decrease in the number of seats booked on both Pan Am 103/A (from Frankfurt) and Pan Am 103 (from Heathrow).
What does the PCAST report reveal about these key numbers? Unfortunately, nothing. The data for this day — and only this day — are simply missing!
Only a child will believe this!
VPAF103, Inc president
Frank Duggan maintained these ties with the families over the years, as "Victims of Pan Am Flight 103, Inc" proved itself a highly effective lobbying group, securing huge payments from Pan Am and then from Libya, netting billions for relatives, lawyers, board members, and so on. But it was not until 2008 that Frank Duggan was offered the presidency of VPAF103, Inc - a post that was usually held by a family member. He told The Scotsman:
- "I could not say no to them. I told them I didn't think there was much more to do. Legally and politically the battle was over. Libya was recognised and compensation had been paid. Then they released Abdelbaset al-Megrahi and a 20-year-old story was back on the front pages again."
The goals of VPAF103, Inc claim to be to seek justice for the Lockerbie victims and to seek the truth behind the loss of Pan Am Flight 103. But VPAF103, Inc is like no other group in demonstrating the divide between the US victims and those elsewhere - in particular the UK and Europe. On 28 June 2007, the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission announced that Abdelbaset al-Megrahi may have "suffered a miscarriage of justice" and should have a second appeal heard. Frank Duggan’s election/appointment was clearly after this omen, and perhaps after Megrahi's September 2008 diagnosis with advanced, terminal cancer. Compassionate release was a known factor at the time, as were prisoner transfer deals already being discussed.
The increased publicity following the convict’s eventual release and inevitable "hero’s welcome" would, predictably, stimulate both anger and also attention to the case. With all this plus more evidence than ever available, 2008 was a year rife with threats to the official stasis – just the time to circle the wagons and re-focus the voice of the American families, the force one dares not be seen as out-of-step with.
Galloway v. Duggan
On 5 September 2009, in a radio interview conducted by telephone, George Galloway MP asked Frank Duggan about the credibility of the Lockerbie trial witness Tony Gauci. Duggan stated he believed Gauci to be "an honourable man just trying to do the right thing" despite his evidence being called into question by the SCCRC report. In which case, Galloway asked:
- "Why was Gauci paid several million US dollars for his evidence?"
Duggan retorted: "No he wasn’t, who said that?"
George Galloway asserted it was a matter of public record that Gauci was paid, adding that Duggan seemed "not that familiar with what Gauci said" and "not very well versed on the evidence."
Frank Duggan emphasised that eight Judges had found Megrahi guilty in a court of law (three at the 2000-2001 trial, five at the 2002 appeal). "Now you can choose to believe Robert Black, Dr Jim Swire and all of these other 'cranks' or you can believe the Judges," demonstrating the firm belief Duggan has in Megrahi’s guilt, based on his "in-depth" knowledge of the testimony, and any deviation from that official version is the work of 'cranks'.
One clear difference that shows here is the Victims of Pan Am Flight 103, Inc consensus is that Megrahi is guilty but VPAF103, Inc - especially their president - are largely unaware of the facts of the evidence and testimony, compared to those who have bothered to look at the evidence, witness testimony, court proceedings and independent research who are convinced of a miscarriage of justice. These 'cranks' include the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission, Dr Jim Swire, Robert Black QC, Hans Köchler (UN Observer), Edwin Bollier (MEBO), John Ashton, Patrick Haseldine and many, many more.
George Galloway's short interview centered on Tony Gauci’s evidence, which Duggan called "reliable" and "natural," while admitting he didn't know what the man had actually said. The high point was Duggan loudly and repeatedly denying the $2 million reward for Gauci as a rumour with no substance. Frank Duggan then cut short the interview by hanging up on George Galloway.
"A breath of fresh air"
In December 2010, Adam Larson (aka 'Caustic Logic') wrote an article sarcastically accusing the Maltese government and Air Malta of complicity in Megrahi’s plot to destroy Pan Am Flight 103. Larson even suggested the UK sever the "axis of malice between Valletta and Tripoli" by re-conquering the island. Frank Duggan wasn’t the only commenter to miss the fine-tuned sarcasm, but he was the only one who sided with what he saw, and called it: "a welcome change from the bilge we have to read from the Libya shills." Said shills, he explained, "have no shame and cannot be embarrassed by the facts." And Frank Duggan thanked Adam Larson for his "efforts to publish the truth," and said "you are like a breath of fresh air."
Father Patrick Keegans
Nine days after Frank Duggan praised Adam Larson's article, the solemn anniversary arrived - 21 years exactly after the event that started all of this (Lockerbie Bombing of 21 December 1988). VPAF103, Inc always has had a controlling say in the annual ceremonies at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia. It wasn’t Frank Duggan, but the board of which he was president, that voted to disallow the remarks they had solicited from Father Patrick Keegans. As the parish priest of Lockerbie on 21 December 1988, Fr Keegans came within yards of being a Pan Am 103 victim himself. He had bonded with the American and all families who came to the area, and has often been asked for his thoughtful remarks.
But this time Fr Keegans opted to express his feeling that Megrahi was innocent, and that either way his release was justified by Christian compassion for a dying man. Well that’s just not the right message for Arlington. Frank Duggan said they try to "avoid a discussion of the bomber's trial and conviction or of his health," or "any political statements or any discussions of the convicted bomber." President Obama’s counter-terror point man John Brennan was on-hand with some more neutral, appropriate, apolitical messages: "The trial was fair. The guilt of Abdelbaset al-Megrahi - unjustified release - a deplorable scene on a tarmac in Tripoli - those who assisted him."
To their credit, the board did send the Fr Keegans' speech to members by e-mail, so they know his stance in that odd corner with Dr Swire and a few other Brits and, it seems, absolutely none of the hundreds closely related to the 190 Americans killed. Clearly what Frank Duggan meant is that December 21 is a time to remember that we’ve got everything figured out, and that - America’s ability to secure a politically expedient conviction by means will be thy solace as the bell tolls at that name that pulls the heartstrings.
Guilt of Megrahi
In his debate with George Galloway, Frank Duggan was unsure how many families he represented, but when asked "whether there unanimity amongst the families in the United States," as opposed the widely divergent opinion of UK victims, he responded "Yes there is. I can tell you that. There’s a difference of opinion as to how compassionate we should be. But there’s no difference of opinion as to the guilt of Mr Megrahi". I don’t know how to explain it: eight judges have already looked at this and decided the man was guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. There’s no question in anyone’s mind that I know of who’s looked at the evidence. The man - was - guilty."
In June 2010, the Daily Mail opined on Gaddafi's son Saif al-Islam calling Tony Blair an adviser of Tripoli’s, and reported that "last night, families of the 270 Lockerbie victims accused Mr Blair of breaking bread with people who 'have blood on their hands'." The actual quote was "It's important for world peace that Libya is brought back into the community of nations but that doesn't mean that you have to honour people with blood on their hands." They say the quote was spoken to them by Frank Duggan. He isn't even one of the 270 victims' relatives, let alone "families of the 270," but he will keep speaking as if that’s so. And there are structural reasons they’ll continue to obligingly let him, and to say the same things when they speak for themselves.
As mentioned above, Frank Duggan had in the mid-1990s joined one of the legal teams representing the Pan Am Flight 103 families, and apparently was again a family liaison. In June 1995, Allan Gerson asked him "whether he thought the family members would support a "suit against Libya," the lawyer’s book explained. "George Williams – at that time president of Victims of Pan Am 103 – polled the members of his board." They had earlier rejected a similar idea by fellow survivor Bruce Smith, "but now, Duggan reported back to Gerson, the board was unanimously in favour." [1 p229] Duggan added the following, articulating a central theme of Allan Gerson’s book – "The Price of Terror":
- "Since the majority will still consider monetary compensation ‘blood money,’ the award must be punitive as well as compensatory and be large enough to discourage any government from ever contemplating support for another terrorist act. The families have not made their political efforts for money, rather they have made it for justice and to leave some legacy in the names of their lost loved ones." [1 p230]
Of course this punishment, "justice" and "legacy" would take the form of huge piles of money. If it’s a problem, is a whole lot more of it the answer? One can also be excused for wondering what role the justice/legacy/punishment money from Libya – an average $10 million per each of the 270 victims – has had in keeping the family members who accepted it quiet about any tiny, itching doubts they might harbour. Contingency fees claimed by US lawyers, Kreindler & Kreindler, Speizer Crowse, Frank Duggan, Allan Gerson and Mark Zaid are estimated to have averaged 30% of the $2.7 billion Lockerbie settlement figure, or $810,000,000 in total.
Frank Duggan will always help maintain the confidence that they got it right, and assure those left behind that they do not need to re-open, with a critical eye, the trial transcripts they were all given. The families are best equipped to keep that fuzzy view of the end picture and just remind the world as needed - with or without Frank's help - that the heart-stricken families of the far-fallen are ironclad behind the government’s case.
"A search for justice"
On 19 April 2012, Frank Duggan wrote a letter to Libya’s Ambassador to the US, Ali Aujali, in response to an on-line article in The Independent which linked calls for continued investigations into the Lockerbie bombing ploys for "re-opening existing settlements.":
- Dear Ambassador Aujali:
- We are concerned with the attached news article, although we know that so many of these press reports are speculative and incorrect. We were very pleased and assured by your statements at Arlington Cemetery last December 21st that the new government of Libya would continue the investigation of the Lockerbie bombing. I want to assure you that the families of the US victims of this bombing have no intention of seeking monetary compensation. Our efforts were never about money but instead were a search for justice. The conviction of Mr Megrahi was important, as was the decision of the Scottish court that it was an act of state sponsored terrorism, and everyone knows that Mr Megrahi did not act alone. Whoever is speculating that there is a desire for more compensation is not helping our mutual search for the truth. Thank you for your help and your friendship.
- Best regards,
- Frank Duggan,
- VPAF103, Inc
- Obituary - "Frank Duggan, lawyer known for his work with Lockerbie victims"
- "Lockerbie trial: Frank Duggan comments"
- "Frank Duggan, for the families"
- "UK Lockerbie relatives lying and promoting fable, says Frank Duggan"
- "Another dubious conspiracy theory that won't die: Lockerbie bombing"
- "Jim Swire responds to Frank Duggan's falsehood and fable accusation"
- "Frank Duggan rants on The Spectator article 'How did Muammar Gaddafi get away with such evil for so long?'"
- "The Price of Terror: Lessons of Lockerbie for a World on the Brink" Allan Gerson and Jerry Adler. New York, Harper Collins, 2001. First edition. 302 pages. 1 pp64-69
- "Frank Duggan (April 15 1938 – November 1 2017) — The PCAST Missing Data [Lockerbie"]
- "After 21 years no end in sight to wrangles over Lockerbie" The Scotsman. December 21, 2009.
- "Frank Duggan and VPAF103"
- "George Galloway interviews Frank Duggan"
- "Another call on Malta: Admit it already!" Adam Larson. Dec 11 2009. 12/7-9/11 treadmill.
- "Keeping the Politics Out of Arlington" Adam Larson. 12/7-9/11 Treadmill. December 24, 2009.
- "Fr Keegan's remarks are NOT being delivered at Arlington memorial service"
- "Tony Blair our very special adviser by dictator Gaddafi's son" Daily Mail, 5 June 2010.
- "Libya fears 'new compensation bid' in Lockerbie investigation"
- "Letter from Frank Duggan, President of VPAF103 to Ambassador Ali Aujali – April 19, 2012"