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March 09, 2011

The Ray Davis mystery

Reports are now emerging that Ray Davis, the American arrested in Pakistan for gunning down two people in the crowded streets of Lahore, was not just a CIA agent but acting head of the CIA in Pakistan, thus making lies of the claim by the US government that Davis was just an ordinary US consular official going about his business who had shot the two people in self-defense as they tried to rob him.

This revelation was hardly a surprise since the official US story right from the beginning simply did not make sense. Look at the items found in Davis's car: 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. Hardly the things that a mere consular official would carry around on a shopping trip. Furthermore his behavior during and after the incident was not that of an ordinary person.

On 27 January, Raymond Davis, a bulky 36-year-old CIA agent with a shock of grey hair, was winding through the chaotic Lahore traffic when he stopped at a red light. A motorbike carrying two men, coming from the opposite direction, swerved in front of his Honda Civic. The pillion passenger was carrying a gun. Davis, a former special forces soldier, whipped out his 9mm semi-automatic Glock pistol and, still behind the wheel, opened fire. Five shots sliced through the windscreen. Muhammad Faheem, a 19-year-old street criminal, fell dead.

Davis got out of the car and took aim at the motorbike driver, Faizan Haider, who had started running. Another five shots rang out and Haider fell to the ground, having run 30ft; a postmortem indicated he was hit three times in the front and twice in the back.

Davis walked back to his car, called for help on a military-style radio, then started to photograph the dead men. Anwar Khan watched from his restaurant across the street, amazed at the American's sang-froid. "He was very peaceful and confident. I was wondering how he could be like that after killing two people," he said.

The US government sent John Kerry to Pakistan in an attempt to get Davis released. Kerry pledged that "the U.S. Department of Justice would open a criminal investigation against Davis." The attempt failed. Did Kerry really think that people there would believe his statement, since the US is now notorious for not investigating and punishing anyone in the government who torture their own citizens and murder foreigners? As Scott Horton writes

In order to secure Davis’s freedom, Senator Kerry and Secretary Clinton need to be able to argue to their Pakistani counterparts that the United States is capable of investigating the Lahore incident fairly and taking criminal or disciplinary action as appropriate. Davis claims he acted in self defense, attempting to stop a daytime robbery. The use of lethal force in such circumstances may well be justified. That’s the sort of call that a prosecutor would normally make after a thorough investigation.

The problem is that America’s track record shows clearly that it doesn’t investigate or act on claims involving either intelligence agents or contractors. As I noted in earlier Congressional testimony, the United States has a de facto policy of impunity for its security contractors and agents who kill or injure foreign civilians.

But apparently Kerry did manage to spirit out of the country the other shadowy Americans who, in rushing to Davis's aid in a failed attempt to get him away from the scene, sped along a crowded one-way street in the wrong direction and in the process killed an innocent motorcyclist.

A Pakistani judge has now denied the US government's claim that Davis has diplomatic immunity and thus should be freed and allowed to leave the country. The Pakistani government, a US client, would prefer the higher courts to overturn this decision but there is so much popular anger against Davis and the US that doing so might cause riots and de-stabilize the government. The opposition to his release has intensified ever since the 19-year old widow of one of the victims committed suicide because in addition to her grief she felt that Davis would escape punishment. It is not helping that there are reports that the victims' family members are now being threatened to not give evidence against Davis, and suspicions abound that these thugs are acting on behalf of the US.

So what exactly was Davis doing in Pakistan? The Pakistani newspaper Dawn reports:

Sources have revealed that a GPS chip recovered from Davis was being used in identifying targets for drone attacks in the tribal region.

It was also learnt during the probe that Davis made upto 12 visits to the tribal areas without informing Pakistani officials.

The 36- year-old US official was reluctant in giving out information about his visits to the tribal region, sources added.

The US Embassy officials were exerting pressure on the authorities, asking them not to expose the information received from Davis.

Why was he going to remote tribal areas? David Lindorff, who has been following the case closely and first brought to my attention his murky background, says:

As I reported earlier, both Pakistani and Indian news organizations are claiming, based upon intelligence sources, that Davis was involved in not just intelligence work, but in orchestrating terrorist activity by both the Pakistani Taliban and the terrorist organization Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, which has been linked to both the assassination of Benezir Bhutto and the capture and beheading of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl. Multiple calls to members of both groups were found by police on some of the cell phones found on Davis and in his car when he was arrested in Lahore.

There are so many unanswered questions swirling around this story. Why would the CIA be working with terrorist groups in Pakistan that are ostensibly opposed to the US? What about the long-standing links between the Pakistani intelligence service ISI and groups like the Taliban? Was Davis going behind the backs of the ISI to create direct links with those groups? What about the allegations in the Pakistani media that the two people shot dead by Davis were members of the ISI who were tailing him? I have no idea what the answers to these questions are. Davis clearly has information that may not be palatable to a lot of people and his life is in danger.

In the meantime, Davis is being held under rather extraordinary security because of rumors that the Americans will try to spring him, or even poison him. Davis is being shielded from any direct contact with U.S. officials, and a box of chocolates sent to Davis by the Embassy was confiscated.

I frankly cannot see how this is going to end. The US and Pakistani governments would undoubtedly like to bring this to a quick close and send Davis back to the US, where he will very likely not even be investigated let alone tried. He may even be promoted if past actions are any guide. But people in Pakistan are furious about the matter and releasing him could cause an explosion of anger.

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Comments

If the "War on Terror" wasn't a joke in every definition of the word than presumably we could make great strides in this "conflict" by disbanding the CIA, which is apparently one of the most successful perpetrators of terrorism in the modern world.

Posted by Jared A on March 9, 2011 12:36 PM

It's my personal hope that Davis' arrest will also blow the lid off the CIA "freedom fighters" in the Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA), who are responsible for much of the violence on the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan. Owing to their heavy dependence on the US for political and economic aid, the Pakistan government has always tiptoed around the CIA training camps in Balochistan where young Baloch separatists are being trained. This seems to be changing, with an order by the Pakistan government demanding all Xe (Blackwater) agents be expelled and a new investigation of 414 Americans with diplomatic passports who serve no diplomatic function. (see http://realisticbird.wordpress.com/2011/03/03/blowback-from-the-arrest-of-the-cias-raymond-davis/ )

The Pentagon/CIA make no secret of their desire to see energy and mineral rich Balochistan secede from Pakistan to become a US client state - just like energy and mineral rich Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and the other former Soviet republics.

Moreover there’s no way to ascertain whether random acts of terror in the border regions are caused by the Taliban, Al Qaeda or the CIA-funded BLA. However there's no question that CIA-sponsored BLA terrorism is responsible for much of the violence - especially around the Chinese-built port in Gwadar, Pakistan (employed to offload Iranian oil destined for China).

I blog about this at www.stuartbramhall.com

Posted by Dr Stuart Jeanne Bramhall on March 10, 2011 05:37 PM

FREE RAY DAVIS HE DID NOTHING WRONG HE IS AN AMERICAN HERO

Posted by on March 11, 2011 08:51 PM

It sounds like to me that Mr. Davis was acting in self defense and just defending himself. What would have happened to him if he did not have a gun to protect himself?

Posted by Ron on March 31, 2011 10:50 AM

Thanks for this, Mano. I didn't know a lot about it until I read this in your blog. I appreciate it!

Posted by PaperCutterReviews on May 14, 2011 03:29 AM

The intricacies and entanglements of all the political ins and outs are so deep, do you think we will ever know what truly happened?
No wonder there are so many believers in conspiracy theories, there is no way to find out what the "real" truth is.

Posted by Teresa on July 21, 2011 12:13 PM

Strange circumstances, but nothing will change.
The recent killing of Osama has put Pakistan on the defensive.

Posted by Jim Miller on July 22, 2011 02:07 PM