The following papers can be accessed on the on the website of the Presidential Library.
Statement by Assistant to the President for Press Relations Fitzwater on the Crash of an American Jetliner in Lockerbie, Scotland
December 22, 1988
President Reagan telephoned British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher at 1:07 this afternoon to discuss the tragedy of Pan American Flight 103. Prime Minister Thatcher had just concluded a visit to the crash site in Scotland. “On behalf of the American people,” the President said, “I want to thank the rescue workers who responded so quickly and graciously. Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims of this accident, both the passengers on the plane and the villagers in Scotland and with their loved ones.”
Prime Minister Thatcher informed the President that the “black box” had been discovered, but as yet she had no report on its contents.
Remarks on the Crash of an American Jetliner in Lockerbie, Scotland, and an Informal Exchange With Reporters
December 23, 1988
I have a little statement here as Nancy and I depart for California to spend the holiday season with family and friends. I want to express our sorrow and our concern for the families and friends of those who died in the crash of the Pan American Flight 103.
There are many difficult aspects to this tragedy, but none so compelling as the anguish of those families who will not have their loved ones with them this Christmas season. Christmas is a special time for the young, for those who carry the twin promises of hopes and dreams. And on this flight were the hopes and dreams of many young people, including the tragic loss of so many students from Syracuse University. A tragedy that steals the hopes and dreams from our society magnifies the loss to our society. I know that America and the world mourn the loss of these wonderful people. And I ask that all of our citizens say a special prayer this Christmas for those who have felt the pain of those losses. May God be with them.
Q. Mr. President, do you think this was an act of retaliation and that there was a bomb aboard that plane in retaliation for the downing of the Iranian airliner?
The President. Well, none of this, Helen [Helen Thomas, United Press International], is established. The search still goes on. We have no knowledge of how this accident happened. We’re trying to find out.
Q. Mr. President, do you feel that the American citizens should have been warned about a possible incident, as American diplomats were?
The President. I think all the precautions that could be taken were taken, with regard to warning the airline and all. But if you stop to think about it, such a public statement with nothing more to go on than an anonymous telephone call — you’d literally have closed down the air traffic in the world.
Q. Mr. Reagan, the suggestion, though, is that you care more about the diplomats, whom you did warn, than the American public.
The President. No, that, as I say, I think that would have been a virtually impossible thing to do on the basis of that telephone call. And then when, if ever, would there be a revival on all airlines?
Q. Do you know what’s in the black box? Do you get briefed today?
The President. No, we do not know that just yet. I’ve got to go.
Q. Do you accept the apology of the Iranian — not the apology but the statement from the Iranians, that they regret what happened, that they had nothing to do with it?
The President. What?
Mr. Fitzwater. He wants to know if you accept the Iranian statement that they had nothing to do with it.
The President. I think we’re going to try to find out by substantial evidence who had anything to do with it.
Q. Merry Christmas.
The President. Merry Christmas to all of you.
Note: The President spoke at 9:47 a.m. at the South Portico of the White House, prior to his departure for Los Angeles, CA. Marlin Fitzwater was Assistant to the President for Press Relations.
Statement by Deputy Press Secretary Arsht on the Crash of an American Jetliner in Lockerbie, Scotland
December 28, 1988
This morning the President was informed by national security adviser Colin Powell that the British Department of Transport has determined that the crash of Pan Am Flight 103 was caused by a high explosive device. We have closely cooperated with the British investigation. We agree with the results of their investigation.
The investigation will continue to determine how the explosives were introduced into the plane. The FBI and the FAA are working closely with the British and Scottish authorities on the investigation. We are determined to find out who did it, using all available resources.
Notice of the Continuation of the National Emergency With Respect to Libya
December 28, 1988
On January 7, 1986, by Executive Order No. 12543, I declared a national emergency to deal with the unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States constituted by the actions and policies of the Government of Libya. On January 8, 1986, by Executive Order No. 12544, I took additional measures to block Libyan assets in the United States. I transmitted a notice continuing this emergency to the Congress and the Federal Register on December 23, 1986. Because the Government of Libya has continued its actions and policies in support of international terrorism, the national emergency declared on January 7, 1986, and the measures adopted on January 7 and January 8, 1986, to deal with that emergency, must continue in effect beyond January 7, 1989. Therefore, in accordance with Section 202(d) of the National Emergencies Act (50 U.S.C. 1622(d)), I am continuing the national emergency with respect to Libya. This notice shall be published in the Federal Register and transmitted to the Congress.
The White House,
December 28, 1988.
[Filed with the Office of the Federal Register, 2:54 p.m., December 28, 1988]
Note: The notice was printed in the “Federal Register” of December 30.
Letter to the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President of the Senate on the Continuation of the National Emergency With Respect to Libya
December 28, 1988
Dear Mr. Speaker: (Dear Mr. President:)
Section 202(d) of the National Emergencies Act (50 U.S.C. 1622(d)) provides for the automatic termination of a national emergency unless, prior to the anniversary date of its declaration, the President publishes in the Federal Register and transmits to the Congress a notice stating that the emergency is to continue in effect beyond the anniversary date. In accordance with this provision, I have sent the enclosed notice, stating that the Libyan emergency is to continue in effect beyond January 7, 1989, to the Federal Register for publication. A similar notice was sent to the Congress and the Federal Register on December 15, 1987.
The crisis between the United States and Libya that led to my declaration on January 7, 1986, of a national emergency has not been resolved. The Government of Libya continues to use and support international terrorism, in violation of international law and minimum standards of human behavior. Such Libyan actions and policies pose a continuing unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and vital foreign policy interests of the United States. For these reasons, I have determined that it is necessary to maintain in force the broad authorities necessary to apply economic pressure to the Government of Libya to reduce its ability to support international terrorism.
Note: Identical letters were sent to Jim Wright, Speaker of the House of Representatives, and George Bush, President of the Senate.
Remarks and an Informal Exchange With Reporters on the Crash of an American Jetliner in Lockerbie, Scotland
December 29, 1988
The President. I think you all know that I have been following quite closely the details of the Pan Am 103 tragedy. And now that we know definitely that it was a bomb, we’re going to make every effort we can to find out who is guilty of this savage and tragic thing and bring them to justice.
I have to say, also, that we have — or the FAA is studying and making recommendations as to additional things we can do at airports to provide security for those who travel. And finally, the one and most important thing left to say is the sympathy that I know we all feel for those who lost loved ones in that tragedy. And I think we’re all determined to do everything we can to see that we can put an end to that happening again.
Thank you all very much.
Q. What are you going to do — —
The President. What?
Q. — — to find out who did it?
The President. What we want to do is find out who did it and bring them to justice. You bet.
Q. How will you do that?
The President. What?
Q. How will you bring them to justice? What will you do?
The President. Well, that’s going to depend on who and where the individual is and the justice in which someone would be charged with 278 murders.
Q. Do you believe that this is terrorism?
The President. I can’t comment on that. It seems to savor of that, but we’re going to have to have more details. And we’re doing everything we can to find them and working in connection with other countries on that.
Happy New Year!
Note: The President spoke at 3:30 p.m. at the Continental Airlines ramp at Los Angeles International Airport, prior to his departure for Palm Springs, CA. A tape was not available for verification of the contents of the remarks.
Statement by Assistant to the President for Press Relations Fitzwater on Oil Companies Operating in Libya
January 19, 1989
The President has authorized the Department of the Treasury to modify the special licenses of American oil companies operating in Libya.
In 1986, when the United States imposed broad trade sanctions against Libya, the Department of the Treasury authorized American oil companies operating in Libya to negotiate standstill agreements with the Libyan Government. Those agreements provided for a suspension of company operations in Libya to protect the companies from charges of default on their contractual obligations to work their concessions in Libya. The 1986 standstill agreements expire June 30, 1989.
The President’s decision has been taken to protect U.S. interests. It will eliminate the significant financial windfall which Libya has been receiving under the 1986 standstill agreements by marketing the U.S. oil companies’ equity shares of oil liftings. It also protects the U.S. oil companies from a potential breach-of-contract claim, under which the Libyan Government might otherwise attempt to seize the oil companies’ assets in Libya and withdraw the companies’ concession rights there. The effect of the decision will be to permit the U.S. oil companies, subject to the restrictions on trade and travel which remain in effect, to resume their operations in Libya, transfer operations to foreign subsidiaries, or sell their assets.
The United States trade embargo against Libya and the freeze of Libyan assets in the United States, which were renewed January 7, 1989, for 1 year, remain in effect, as do the bans on travel-related transactions and the use of U.S. passports for travel to Libya.
This decision does not represent a change in the attitude of the U.S. Government toward Libya. We remain deeply concerned about Qadhafi’s continued support for terrorism and subversion as well as Libyan efforts to develop a chemical weapons capability.