Those who read Brad DeLong’s blog will recognized his oft-asked question. Here I’m asking it regarding the alleged Lockerbie bomber. Like many Americans, I was incensed when I first heard that he would be released–for compassionate reasons, of all things. But that’s because I was reading the U.S. news coverage. A friend who follows the coverage in Europe told me that “over there” reporters are pointing out that it doesn’t appear that the guy did it. See this BBC report, for example.

One highlight:

There were question marks too over Tony Gauci, a Maltese shopkeeper who was the only man to identify Megrahi.

His evidence was that the Libyan, who he picked out at an identity parade, had bought the clothes at his shop.

But his police statements are inconsistent, and prosecutors failed to tell the defence that shortly before he attended an identity parade [what we in America call a police line-up], Mr Gauci had seen a magazine article showing a picture of Megrahi, and speculating he might have been involved.

Mr Gauci now lives in Australia, and according to defence claims is believed to have been paid several million dollars by the Americans for his evidence.

What does this have to do with economics? It’s about incentives. The incentives of the press to get to the truth seem very weak. I’ll say more about that in a future post on another misleading part of Harvey Rosen’s and Ted Gayer’s Public Finance.

Even more disturbing is Megan McArdle’s blog post on the issue, in which she doesn’t even mention the controversy over his guilt.