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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 3/18/11

Getting Away With Murder -- Hillary Helps US Mercenary Escape Justice

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There was never any doubt that CIA contractor and killer, Raymond Davis, would be freed by Pakistani authorities. The only question was how much political capital the Obama administration would have to spend to secure his release. As it happens, the price turned out to be quite high. Not only were the family members of the men who Davis gunned down awarded a $2.3 million settlement, but, more important, a constellation of US power brokers were forced to step out of the shadows and reveal their tacit support for a covert war that is inciting widespread social unrest, fueling terrorism, and destabilizing US-ally Pakistan.

Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Admiral Mike Mullen, Robert Gates, Leon Panetta and Sen John Kerry all came to the defense of a career mercenary who shot two men (allegedly Pakistan Intel-agents) in broad daylight on a crowded street in Lahore and then calmly photographed their bullet-riddled bodies for his records. Naturally, the public wanted Davis to stand trial for his crimes and explain what he was doing in Pakistan. But that's not going to happen, because Washington invoked its prodigious powers of coercion to derail the course of justice and whisk its venerable agent to safety.

So, now the public is in an uproar and protests have broken out across the country. On Friday, students, lawyers, religious groups and political organizations will join in mass demonstrations in Pakistan's largest cities to rail against Davis, the "Great Satan" (guess who?) and Pakistan's corrupt political/judicial system. The Davis affair is still front-page news in most of the nation's newspapers and hundreds of articles have been written venting the public's spleen over the outcome. Here's an excerpt from an article by Dr. Mahjabeen Islam which sums up the frustration felt by many Pakistanis.
"As a democratic nation, the people are entitled to transparency in every governmental and judicial proceeding. Despite all past disappointments, there was still hope in the judicial system. And now that hope lies in tatters ... our self-respect as a nation has been destroyed.
Even Raymond Davis probably can't believe that he actually got away with cold-blooded murder....

"Pakistan receives a large amount of American aid and has not always accounted for it honestly. But its sacrifices in the war on terror have been greater than anything it has been given. Its leaders had a chance to improve Pakistan's diplomatic and strategic stature had they handled the Davis affair correctly, but because they were corrupt and greedy, they took the money and smashed the nation's self-respect to smithereens." ("A National Sellout", Dr Mahjabeen Islam,

The so-called "blood money" that was awarded to the families of the two men who were killed by Davis, has drawn much more attention than it deserves. What's more important are the concessions the Obama administration had to make to get its hired gun out of Pakistan. According to Reuters, the ISI is "claiming major gains from a deal which resulted in the freeing of a CIA contractor and dismissal of murder charges against him ... the CIA agreed to cut back on U.S. spying in Pakistan and to keep Pakistani authorities better informed of CIA activities."

This could be significant. In the last few weeks, the CIA has pulled many of its assets out of Pakistan and back to the United States. That means that the ISI has regained its dominant role in the country while Washington's eyes and ears have been shut. It's a major setback for US warplanners and could end up reducing the number of drone attacks in the North. (which will save the lives of many civilians.) The public furor has made it impossible for the US to operate as it did in the pre-Davis era. The CIA no longer has carte blanche to carry out its missions with impunity. And, that's good news.

Still, that doesn't explain what Davis was up to or why his camera was loaded with "photos of Pakistani military installations, mosques, and madrassas," or why, according to his cell phone records, he made nearly 30 calls to terrorists in a banned organization called Laskhar-e-Taiba. This information has fueled speculation that the CIA is directly involved in the rash of bombings around the country. Here's an excerpt from an article in the Wall Street Journal which sums it up pretty well:
"Most Pakistanis already viewed the CIA with skepticism. The agency is extremely unpopular for its use of drone strikes against militants in Pakistan's Waziristan tribal lands bordering Afghanistan. Many Pakistanis also believe that both the CIA and its private contractors are trying to coerce Pakistan by sponsoring attacks on targets such as Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) installations or police stations.

"This may seem far-fetched, but the fear has some basis in reality. In his book "Obama's Wars," Bob Woodward revealed the existence of a secret 3,000-strong army of paramilitary Afghan fighters created by the CIA to target Taliban and al Qaeda commanders inside Pakistan through 'false flag attacks.'

"For the majority of Pakistanis, particularly the religious-political right as well as hardliners within the security apparatus, the Davis case proved what they had long suspected: Americans are a rogue force within Pakistan." ("Perfidious America", Imtiaz Gul,Wall Street Journal)
Now, it appears the "rogue force" may have had its wings clipped, perhaps, more than most people realize. In fact, Pakistan may just experience a period of unanticipated calm now that foreign agents and their "for-hire" hit-men have rolled up their operations and moved on. Surely, that would be welcome. But what about the charges leveled at Davis? Is there any proof that he had a hand in the sporadic bombing incidents?

No proof at all, but that doesn't mean that US-instigated terror is without precedent. Far from it. The US has trained death squads in Iraq, Nicaragua and El Salvador. In Iraq, the US trained the Interior Ministry's Security Forces which then carried out mass executions in predominantly Sunni neighborhoods where hundreds of men were taken from their homes at night, shot dead, and left in ditches to rot. The "death squads" plan was first uncovered in an article by Seymour Hersh in January 2005. Hersh reported that the Pentagon was intending to trigger "The Salvador Option", a strategy to execute a bloody secret war against alleged insurgents.

Then there's the case of Luis Posada Carriles, the ex-CIA agent who "planned the bombings in Cuba between April and September 1997 that tore through the lobbies and discos of hotels and a famous tourist restaurant in Havana, as well as a resort in the beach town of Varadero." Carriles "was later arrested for planning the 1976 bombing of a Cuban airliner that killed 73 people, but escaped from prison while facing trial." ("Reporter: Ex-CIA Agent Viewed Bombings as'Heroic'", Will Weissert, Associated Press)

And this is just the tip of the iceberg. The CIA is a lawless, free-wheeling fraternity that operates beyond any ethical or moral code. If Davis was colluding with terrorists or stirring up sectarian antagonism, it would be par for the course. Unfortunately, we'll never know, because Davis has flown the coop and justice has been subverted again.
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Mike is a freelance writer living in Washington state.

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