CounterPunch, February 24, 2011
When CIA-agent Raymond Davis gunned down two Pakistani civilians in broad daylight on a crowded street in Lahore, he probably never imagined that the entire Washington establishment would spring to his defense. But that's precisely what happened. Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Mike Mullen, John Kerry, Leon Panetta and a number of other US bigwigs have all made appeals on Davis's behalf. None of these stalwart defenders of "the rule of law" have shown a speck of interest in justice for the victims or of even allowing the investigation to go forward so they could know what really happened. Oh, no. What Clinton and the rest want, is to see their man Davis packed onto the next plane to Langley so he can play shoot-'em-up someplace else in the world.
Does Clinton know that after Davis shot his victims 5 times in the back, he calmly strode back to his car, grabbed his camera, and photographed the dead bodies? Does she know that the two so-called "diplomats" who came to his rescue in a Land Rover (which killed a passerby) have been secretly spirited out of the country so they won't have to appear in court? Does she know that the families of the victims are now being threatened and attacked to keep them from testifying against Davis? Here's a clip from Thursday's edition of The Nation":
"Three armed men forcibly gave poisonous pills to Muhammad Sarwar, the uncle of Shumaila Kanwal, the widow of Fahim shot dead by Raymond Davis, after barging into his house in Rasool Nagar, Chak Jhumra.
Sarwar was rushed to Allied Hospital in critical condition where doctors were trying to save his life till early Thursday morning. The brother of Muhammad Sarwar told The Nation that three armed men forced their entry into the house after breaking the windowpane of one of the rooms. When they broke the glass, Muhammad Sarwar came out. The outlaws started beating him up.
The other family members, including women and children, coming out for his rescue, were taken hostage and beaten up. The three outlaws then took everyone hostage at gunpoint and forced poisonous pills down Sarwar's throat." ("Shumaila's uncle forced to take poisonous pills", The Nation)
Good show, Hillary. We're all about the rule of law in the good old USA.
But why all the intrigue and arm-twisting? Why has the State Department invoked the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations to make its case that Davis is entitled to diplomatic immunity? If Davis is innocent, then he has nothing to worry about, right? Why not let the trial go forward and stop reinforcing the widely-held belief that Davis is a vital cog in the US's clandestine operations in Pakistan?
The truth is that Davis had been photographing sensitive installations and madrassas for some time, the kind of intelligence gathering that spies do when scouting-out prospective targets. Also, he'd been in close contact with members of terrorist organizations, which suggests a link between the CIA and terrorist incidents in Pakistan. Here's an excerpt from Wednesday's The Express Tribune:
"His cell phone has revealed contacts with two ancillaries of al Qaeda in Pakistan, Tehreek-e-Taliban of Pakistan (TTP) and sectarian Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ), which has led to the public conclusion that he was behind terrorism committed against Pakistan's security personnel and its people ....This will strike people as America in cahoots with the Taliban and al Qaeda against the state of Pakistan targeting, as one official opined, Pakistan's nuclear installations." ("Raymond Davis: The plot thickens, The Express Tribune)
"Al Qaeda"? The CIA is working with "ancillaries of al Qaeda in Pakistan"? No wonder the US media has been keeping a wrap on this story for so long.
Naturally, most Pakistanis now believe that the US is colluding with terrorists to spread instability, weaken the state, and increase its power in the region. But isn't that America's M.O. everywhere?
Also, many people noticed that US drone attacks suddenly stopped as soon as Davis was arrested. Was that a coincidence? Not likely. Davis was probably getting coordinates from his new buddies in the tribal hinterland and then passing them along to the Pentagon. The drone bombings are extremely unpopular in Pakistan. More then 1400 people have been killed since August 2008, and most of them have been civilians.
And, there's more. This is from (Pakistan's) The Nation:
"A local lawyer has moved a petition in the court of Additional District and Sessions ... contending that the accused (Davis)... was preparing a map of sensitive places in Pakistan through the GPS system installed in his car. He added that mobile phone sims, lethal weapons, and videos camera were recovered from the murder accused on January 27, 2011." ("Davis mapped Pakistan targets court told", The Nation)
So, Davis's GPS chip was being used to identify targets for drone attacks in the tribal region. Most likely, he was being assisted on the other end by recruits or members of the Tehreek-e-Taliban.
A lot of extravagant claims have been made about what Davis was up to, much of which is probably just speculation. One report which appeared on ANI news service is particularly dire, but produces little evidence to support its claims. Here's an excerpt:
"Double murder-accused US official Raymond Davis has been found in possession of top-secret CIA documents, which point to him or the feared American Task Force 373 (TF373) operating in the region, providing Al-Qaeda terrorists with "nuclear fissile material" and "biological agents," according to a report.
Russia's Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) is warning that the situation on the sub-continent has turned "grave" as it appears that open warfare is about to break out between Pakistan and the United States, The European Union Times reports.....The most ominous point in this SVR report is "Pakistan's ISI stating that top-secret CIA documents found in Davis's possession point to his, and/or TF373, providing to al Qaeda terrorists "nuclear fissile material" and "biological agents", which they claim are to be used against the United States itself in order to ignite an all-out war in order to re-establish the West's hegemony over a Global economy that is warned is just months away from collapse," the paper added. ("CIA Spy Davis was giving nuclear bomb material to Al Qaeda, says report", ANI)
Although there's no way to prove that this is false, it seems like a bit of a stretch. But that doesn't mean that what Davis was up to shouldn't be taken seriously. Quite the contrary. If Davis was working with Tehreek-e-Taliban, (as alleged in many reports) then we can assume that the war on terror is basically a ruse to advance a broader imperial agenda. According to Sify News, the president of Pakistan, Asif Ali Zardari, believes this to be the case. Here's an excerpt:
"Zalmay Khalilzad, the former US envoy to Afghanistan, once brushed off Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari's claim, that the US was "arranging" the (suicide) attacks by Pakistani Taliban inside his country, as 'madness', and was of the view that both Zardari and Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who believed in this US conspiracy theory, were "dysfunctional" leaders.
The account of Zardari's claim about the US' hand in the attacks has been elaborately reproduced by US journalist Bob Woodward, on Page 116 of his famous book 'Obama's Wars,' The News reported.
Woodward's account goes like this: "One evening during the trilateral summit (in Washington, between Obama, Karzai and Zardari) Zardari had dinner with Zalmay Khalilzad, the 58-year-old former US ambassador to Afghanistan, Iraq and the UN, during the Bush presidency.
"Zardari dropped his diplomatic guard. He suggested that one of the two countries was arranging the attacks by the Pakistani Taliban inside his country: India or the US. Zardari didn't think India could be that clever, but the US could. Karzai had told him the US was behind the attacks, confirming the claims made by the Pakistani ISI."
"Mr President," Khalilzad said, "what would we gain from doing this? You explain the logic to me."
"This was a plot to destabilize Pakistan, Zardari hypothesized, so that the US could invade and seize its nuclear weapons. He could not explain the rapid expansion in violence otherwise. And the CIA had not pursued the leaders of the Pakistani Taliban, a group known as Tehreek-e-Taliban or TTP that had attacked the government. TTP was also blamed for the assassination of Zardari's wife, Benazir Bhutto." ("Pakistan President says CIA Involved in Plot to Destabilize Country and Seize Nukes", Sify News)
Zardari's claim will sound familiar to those who followed events in Iraq. Many people are convinced that the only rational explanation for the wave of bombings directed at civilians, was that the violence was caused by those groups who stood to gain from a civil war.
And who might that be?
Despite the Obama administration's efforts to derail the investigation, the case against Davis is going forward. Whether he is punished or not is irrelevant. This isn't about Davis anyway. It's a question of whether the US is working hand-in-hand with the very organizations that it publicly condemns in order to advance its global agenda. If that's the case, then the war on terror is a fraud.
Mike Whitney lives in Washington state and can be reached at email@example.com