Glenn Greenwald writes:
On January 27, Raymond Davis, a former U.S. Special Forces soldier, shot and killed two Pakistani citizens in that nation’s second-largest city, Lahore, using a semi-automatic Glock pistol. Davis claims he acted in self-defense when they attacked his car to rob him — both of the dead were armed and had lengthy records of petty crimes — but each was shot five times, and one was killed after Davis was safely back in his car and the victim was fleeing. After shooting the two dead, Davis calmly photographed their bodies and then called other Americans stationed in Pakistan (likely CIA officers) for assistance; one of the Americans’ Land Rovers dispatched to help Davis struck and killed a Pakistani motorcyclist while speeding to the scene. The Pakistani wife of one of Davis’ victims then committed suicide by swallowing rat poison, saying on her deathbed that she had serious doubts that Davis would be held accountable.
For reasons easy to understand — four dead Pakistanis at the hands of Americans, two of whom (at least) were completely innocent — this episode has become a major scandal in that nation. From the start, the U.S. Government has demanded Davis’ release on the grounds of “diplomatic immunity.” But the very murky status of Davis and his work in Pakistan has clouded that claim. The State Department first said he worked for the consulate, not the embassy, which would make him subject to weaker immunity rights than diplomats enjoy (State now says that its original claim was a “mistake” and that Davis worked for the embassy). President Obama then publicly demanded the release of what he absurdly called “our diplomat in Pakistan”; when he was arrested, Davis “was carrying a 9mm gun and 75 bullets, bolt cutters, a GPS unit, an infrared light, telescope, a digital camera, an air ticket, two mobile phones and a blank cheque.” Late last week, a Pakistani court ordered a three-week investigation to determine if Davis merits diplomatic immunity, during which time he will remain in custody. And now it turns out, according The Guardian last night, that “our diplomat” was actually working for the CIA.
The Guardian reports:
Pakistani prosecutors accuse the spy of excessive force, saying he fired 10 shots and got out of his car to shoot one man twice in the back as he fled. The man’s body was found 30 feet from his motorbike.
“It went way beyond what we define as self-defence. It was not commensurate with the threat,” a senior police official involved in the case told the Guardian.
The Pakistani government is aware of Davis’s CIA status yet has kept quiet in the face of immense American pressure to free him under the Vienna convention. Last week President Barack Obama described Davis as “our diplomat” and dispatched his chief diplomatic troubleshooter, Senator John Kerry, to Islamabad. Kerry returned home empty-handed.
Many Pakistanis are outraged at the idea of an armed American rampaging through their second-largest city. Analysts have warned of Egyptian-style protests if Davis is released. The government, fearful of a backlash, says it needs until 14 March to decide whether Davis enjoys immunity.
A third man was crushed by an American vehicle as it rushed to Davis’s aid. Pakistani officials believe its occupants were CIA because they came from the house where Davis lived and were armed.
The US refused Pakistani demands to interrogate the two men and on Sunday a senior Pakistani intelligence official said they had left the country. “They have flown the coop, they are already in America,” he said.
ABC News reported that the men had the same diplomatic visas as Davis. It is not unusual for US intelligence officers, like their counterparts round the world, to carry diplomatic passports.
The US has accused Pakistan of illegally detaining him and riding roughshod over international treaties. Angry politicians have proposed slashing Islamabad’s $1.5bn (£900m) annual aid.
But Washington’s case is hobbled by its resounding silence on Davis’s role. He served in the US special forces for 10 years before leaving in 2003 to become a security contractor. A senior Pakistani official said he believed Davis had worked with Xe, the firm formerly known as Blackwater.
Pakistani suspicions about Davis’s role were stoked by the equipment police confiscated from his car: an unlicensed pistol, a long-range radio, a GPS device, an infrared torch and a camera with pictures of buildings around Lahore.
“This is not the work of a diplomat. He was doing espionage and surveillance activities,” said the Punjab law minister, Rana Sanaullah, adding he had “confirmation” that Davis was a CIA employee.
A number of US media outlets learned about Davis’s CIA role but have kept it under wraps at the request of the Obama administration. A Colorado television station, 9NEWS, made a connection after speaking to Davis’s wife. She referred its inquiries to a number in Washington which turned out to be the CIA. The station removed the CIA reference from its website at the request of the US government.