Menendez Postpones Lockerbie Bomber Hearing As Witnesses Refuse to Testify

Sen Bob Menendez, D-NJ, announced Tuesday that he is indefinitely postponing a hearing scheduled for Thursday that was to look into any possible connection between the release of the Lockerbie bomber, Abdel Baset al Megrahi, by the Scottish government, and BP being awarded a lucrative drilling contract off the coast of Libya, al Megrahi's home country.

The Scottish government, who released al Megrahi, has said it looked into the charges and found no connection. The British government said the same thing.

Menendez said the foreign witnesses from Britain's and Scotland's governments, as well as BP CEO Tony Hayward, refused to appear, therefore he will open a wider investigation and hold a hearing sometime in the future.

"It is utterly disappointing and I think outrageous that none of these witnesses will testify...It is a game of diplomatic tennis that is worthy of Wimbledon," Menendez told reporters. Tuesday

Menendez acknowledged that it is extraordinary for officials from a sovereign nation to be called before Congress. But the senator said, "We understand calling on foreign governments is not a common occurrence, but this is not a common matter."

The senator saved his most stinging comments for BP, saying, "It is apparently more important to BP and (former CEO Tony) Hayward to focus on his multi-million dollar parachute."

Hayward recently stepped down from the helm of the British petroleum giant, out of the spotlight that consumed him when an oil rig operated by BP exploded, spewing oil into the Gulf of Mexico.

And Menendez said his staff is looking into whether or not a foreign national who works for a company that does business on U.S. soil can be subpoenaed, and he said he believes that perhaps "enough pressure can be applied to get Tony Hayward."

And though BP has denied that it lobbied for the release of al Megrahi in exchange for an oil contract, Menendez said, "I would think a company on which thin ice would want to" cooperate.