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The Case of Raymond Davis in Pakistan
February 8, 2011 4:03 PM   Subscribe

The mystery of American Raymond A. Davis, currently imprisoned in the custody of local police in Lahore, Pakistan and charged with the Jan. 27 murder of two young men, whom he allegedly shot eight times with pinpoint accuracy through his car windshield, is growing increasingly murky. Also growing is the anger among Pakistanis that the US is trying to spring him from a Punjab jail by claiming diplomatic immunity. from The Deepening Mystery of Raymond Davis and Two Slain Pakistani Motorcyclists

Davis (whose identity was first denied and later confirmed by the US Embassy in Islamabad), and the embassy have claimed that he was hired as an employee of a US security company called Hyperion Protective Consultants, LLC, which was said to be located at 5100 North Lane in Orlando, Florida. Business cards for Hyperion were found on Davis by arresting officers.

However CounterPunch has investigated and discovered...
[that Hyperion is a non-existent front company or shell company of some kind]...

Some relevant background:

News agencies are reporting that the dispute over the arrest of Davis has become a crisis in U.S.-Pakistan relations, and officials said they feared it could threaten future cooperation...unless it is resolved quickly. Two top Republicans on the House Armed Services Committee said U.S. aid to Pakistan is in jeopardy if the American is not released, and the Obama administration has suspended all high-level dialogue with Pakistan.

However, there remains a distinct possibility that Davis is a clandestine agent, freelance spy or mercenary posing as a private contractor, and furthermore that his diplomatic credentials are fraudulent.

Here is part of what we know for sure:

On January 27th, Davis was driving a Honda Civic alone through Lahore [in a part of the city not normally visited by foreign diplomats] when two men pulled alongside him on a motorbike at traffic lights. According to the US embassy in Islamabad, he saw that one of them had a gun. Apparently fearing that he was about to be robbed, he opened fire, killing both. When US officials arrived to rescue him from a growing mob, they ran over a bystander, resulting in a third death.

However, subsequent revelations suggest that while Davis was indeed a security agent with special operations' skills, the deadly shoot-out on a busy Lahore street was the culmination of a spy v spy episode that involved a fouled-up contact and ISI tails. Pakistani intelligence officials are now saying ISI foot soldiers were assigned to tail Davis after he crossed an unspecified "red line." Davis, who speaks Urdu and Pashto, was not only armed but also carrying other technical equipment, according to Pakistani officials.

Adding a fourth body to this case, and in another strange twist, the wife of one of the Pakistanis killed by Davis apparently committed suicide (by poison).
posted by The Emperor of Ice Cream (107 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite

 
Langley will be upset that their man's pooch-screwing left such a mess to be cleaned up.
posted by Joe Beese at 4:13 PM on February 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Diplomatic immunity is a critical element of conduct of international diplomacy. While it is usually discussed only when, say, the son of a diplomat from a tinpot dictatorship ends up in a Hit & Run case or tries to smuggle blood diamonds in/out of country, fact remains that conduct of international diplomacy would be absolutely impossible without such immunity.

In a world without such immunity, intelligence agencies would be free to plant incriminating material in diplomats' houses and then prosecute them under the laws of the host country. It would, in essence, leave all diplomats susceptible to blackmail by the host countries.

Over the last few decades, diplomatic immunity has generally been withdrawn (across the world) from minor traffic offenses that result in monetary fines. However, I don't see how the Pakistani government is going to defend an indefensible position in this case and still continue to expect their own diplomats to remain free to operate in other countries.
posted by vidur at 4:17 PM on February 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


There are a number of inaccurate assumptions in the article that are common to journalists writing about violence:
1. Being shot in the back indicates lack of self defense.
Not really, it's possible he shot at them while they were covering each other etc. Not dispositive.
2. Having a Beretta pistol AND a Glock consists of "heavy armament" for a consular security officer.
Not at all. Those are sidearms and are used when a rifle/shotgun/submachinegun/carbine is unavailable. If he were a consular protection officer, two sidearms would actually be light armament, especially in a place as violent as Pakistan.

Whatever the other merits of Lindorff's reporting, he's wrong about the two points listed above.
posted by wuwei at 4:20 PM on February 8, 2011 [7 favorites]


I considered posting such a story myself. One thing I will say regards all the "ZOMG WHY DID HE HAVE A GUN IF HE WAS A DIPLOMAT?!?!?!?!" responses in the Pakistani media is that make no mistake, if you're moving around in a country with rampant anti-American sentiment, bountiful CIA conspiracy theories, and a massive popular demand for mob justice as opposed to the rule of the judiciary, you're damn right you carry a sidearm. I'm personally surprised he didn't also carry a long barrelled weapon.
posted by dougrayrankin at 4:23 PM on February 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


their own diplomats to remain free to operate

There are serious questions here about whether Davis is an actual diplomat, or a contract spook with diplomatic credentials, and then there is that little issue of the four dead Pakistanis Davis has left in his wake. I am merely the messenger here, and personally am not arguing in my FPP one way or another whether or not Davis should be taken back to the US without facing trial in Pakistan.

Having said that, it is tempting to imagine this case in reverse: a Pakistani contractor shooting and killing two Americans on a crowded Washington D.C. street, then causing indirectly the death of two more Americans. In such a case, rightly or wrongly certainly a lot of Americans would not want the Pakistani taken back to his native country.
posted by The Emperor of Ice Cream at 4:26 PM on February 8, 2011 [12 favorites]


Local populations get pretty cheesed off when diplomats run somebody down whe drunk so it's understandable that a full and thorough investigation of these deaths be undertaken at least.
posted by bonobothegreat at 4:31 PM on February 8, 2011


a Pakistani contractor shooting and killing two Americans on a crowded Washington D.C. street, then causing indirectly the death of two more Americans.

Followed by a Pakistani diplomat showing up at the jail saying "Wait, I've got his diplomatic passport here, you can ignore that earlier-dated business-visa'd one".
posted by fatbird at 4:35 PM on February 8, 2011 [7 favorites]


Someone's not going to get an Intelligence Star for this one.
posted by infinitewindow at 4:41 PM on February 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


This reads like an Olen Steinhauer novel.
posted by mecran01 at 4:50 PM on February 8, 2011


"There are serious questions here about whether Davis is an actual diplomat, or a contract spook with diplomatic credentials"

Absolutely muddled reporting by the media aside, there are usually no questions about whether someone is a diplomat or not. As long as the person holds a diplomatic passport and is present in the country legally (even on a non-diplomatic visa like a tourist visa or a business visa), the person is a diplomat. Period.

In fact, it is impossible for this to be a fuzzy question. If the person was a diplomat, the Pakistani Foreign Office knows it. If the person was not a diplomat, the Pakistani Foreign Office knows that too. They just need to look it up in a file on US Embassy personnel. Takes 5 minutes.

It is possible that the person entered on an ordinary passport, and acquired diplomatic status later. However, the Pakistani Foreign Office would know that too. Once again, there is no real possibility of any fuzziness here.

Also, the public sentiment is rather irrelevant in cases of diplomatic immunity. It is a legal matter, and one on which all governments that conduct diplomatic relations with each other have agreed upon to follow certain norms.
posted by vidur at 4:51 PM on February 8, 2011 [5 favorites]


It's Unsolved Mysteries Day on MetaFilter!
posted by hippybear at 4:52 PM on February 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's Unsolved Mysteries Day on MetaFilter!
And he woulda gotten away with it if it weren't for you pesky kids!!!
posted by dougrayrankin at 4:56 PM on February 8, 2011


Also, please insert the word "fucking" between the words "you're" and "damn" in my earlier post.
posted by dougrayrankin at 4:57 PM on February 8, 2011


it is impossible for this to be a fuzzy question.

It may seem cut and dry from where you sit, but there are all sorts of varying reports about this guy:

According to the Dawn newspaper, Mr. Davis has visited the country nine times and his last visa was issued in June for two years.

There has been much speculation over the nature of Davis's position, with some reports in the Pakistani media declaring him to be an employee of a private Florida-based security firm, Hyperion Protective Consultants, possibly involved in intelligence gathering.

Davis’s use of what appears to have been an illegal semiautomatic firearm and his accurate aim while firing bullets through his windshield raises further questions as to the nature of his employment – questions that have yet to be answered by American authorities

posted by The Emperor of Ice Cream at 4:59 PM on February 8, 2011


all governments that conduct diplomatic relations with each other have agreed upon to follow certain norms

If those norms include diplomatic passports as a get-out-of-jail free card for spooks who fuck up their wetwork, the Pakistanis seem to have been unaware of it.
posted by Joe Beese at 4:59 PM on February 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Joe has a real good point. Back story on this is murky at best.
Joe, think this Davis was burned?
posted by clavdivs at 5:03 PM on February 8, 2011


The Emperor of Ice Cream, you are right that there have been all sorts of reports about this guy. I am, of course, not denying that. I am just saying that the legal question about his diplomatic status is a pretty straightforward one. The Pakistani Foreign Office knows exactly what his status was when the incident took place.

Joe Besse, I am quite certain that the Pakistani government is familiar with the text of Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, 1961, considering that it forms the bedrock of the conduct of international diplomacy.
posted by vidur at 5:07 PM on February 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


An editorial in the Daily Times, a liberal Pakistani newspaper, argued: “Instead of going around in circles, the US should come clean on Davis’s real identity and his position at the US consulate..."

Maintenance?
posted by clavdivs at 5:08 PM on February 8, 2011


I think he's the cook
posted by psp200 at 5:16 PM on February 8, 2011 [4 favorites]


Let me quote some excerpts from the Vienna Convention:

Article 31 (1): "A diplomatic agent shall enjoy immunity from the criminal jurisdiction of the receiving State."

Article 37 (2): "Members of the administrative and technical staff of the mission, together with members of their families forming part of their respective households, shall, if they are not nationals of or permanently resident in the receiving State, enjoy the privileges and immunities specified in articles 29 to 35, except that the immunity from civil and administrative jurisdiction of the receiving State specified in paragraph 1 of article 31 shall not extend to acts performed outside the course of their duties."

Call it a get-out-of-jail car or whatever, but countries have agreed to these norms for well-considered reasons of self-interest.
posted by vidur at 5:16 PM on February 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


As Freud said sometimes a penis is just a penis. But that doesn't mean Raymond Davis is really Raymond Davis.
posted by Xurando at 5:16 PM on February 8, 2011


The accurately-shooting-through-the-windshield-of-your-car class at CIA school must go through a lot of windshields.
posted by snofoam at 5:17 PM on February 8, 2011 [6 favorites]


vidur, one point you seem to be missing is that we cannot say for sure whether or not Mr. Davis had legitimate diplomatic clearance or not. For all we know he had no such clearance. Furthermore, it seems to me in this situation the Pakistani authorities have every right to establish on their own behalf the nature of Mr. Davis' "work" before deciding whether or not to release him.
posted by The Emperor of Ice Cream at 5:24 PM on February 8, 2011


Cowboy Action Shooting

there are rules.
posted by clavdivs at 5:25 PM on February 8, 2011


Followed by a Pakistani diplomat showing up at the jail saying "Wait, I've got his diplomatic passport here, you can ignore that earlier-dated business-visa'd one".

while Pakistani drone aircraft patrol the US side of the mexican border occasionally blowing up an isolated ranch house killing women and children.
posted by ennui.bz at 5:32 PM on February 8, 2011 [8 favorites]


The Emperor of Ice Cream, I am in agreement with you about the uncertainty that we have about his legal status. But we are not the Pakistani government. I just see no reason why the Pakistani government is uncertain. And I find it highly suspicious that the Pakistani government is unable to clarify the situation to the wildly-speculating media.
posted by vidur at 5:33 PM on February 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


we cannot say for sure whether or not Mr. Davis had legitimate diplomatic clearance or not.

"Washington insists the detained American has diplomatic immunity and shot the Pakistanis in self-defense as they tried to rob him at gunpoint. The U.S. says the man's detention is illegal under international agreements covering diplomatic ties."

This was from your own link. What do you not understand about this or is there a piece of the puzzle back at the pizza joint with Velmas name on it. The legitamacy is moot if Wahington has covered this guys back.
posted by clavdivs at 5:36 PM on February 8, 2011


I find it highly suspicious that the Pakistani government is unable to clarify the situation

That's rich. The Pakistani authorities are currently coming under tremendous pressure from Washington to release this guy, and to do so in a way the legitimizes the official side of this story (i.e. that Davis was an unlucky contractor with a diplomatic passport and a gun who wandered into the wrong side of Lahore and became trigger happy when he thought he was being robbed). If you want to be suspicious, I would say be suspicious of the current story being put forward by U.S. authorities about the nature of what Davis was up to in Pakistan.
posted by The Emperor of Ice Cream at 5:39 PM on February 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Every nation has spies, your question is if he is one and do you think you get some answer, here?
oh, breaking news
posted by clavdivs at 5:49 PM on February 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


while Pakistani drone aircraft patrol the US side of the mexican border occasionally blowing up an isolated ranch house killing women and children

Oh, they're taking care of that now.
The Central Intelligence Agency, while increasing the frequency of drone strikes in Pakistan, has reduced civilian casualties, a U.S. official and independent analysts said.

The 75 strikes launched in the ungoverned tribal region since the drone program accelerated in mid-August have killed several hundred militants without causing any deaths among civilian non-combatants, said the U.S. official, who, lacking authorization to discuss the program, requested anonymity.
So, you people, let me assure you: your voices have been heard.
posted by Joe Beese at 5:54 PM on February 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


The Emperor of Ice Cream, please allow me the freedom to have an opinion and be suspicious of entities of my choice.

I am not American, and have no emotional attachment to either side of the story. The little-known facts of the case leave me suspicious of the Pakistani government because they are the ones who have access to all the relevant documents in this case. The US Embassy only has the documents it sent to the Pakistani Foreign Office, and it has the documents it received in return. It is, for example, is not privy to internal Pakistani files of its determination of Davis' legal status.

Many Pakistani media outlets (and a large number of Pakistanis) have a well-known (and entirely justifiable, IMO) anti-US bias. Almost all of them exist and publish at the pleasure of the Pakistani government and its agencies. It is not realistic to assume that their coverage is objective.

I'd be happy to change my opinion when, and if, new facts come to light.

As a general point, I want to mention that a person's "real" identity or background etc. are entirely irrelevant in determination of whether he/she has diplomatic immunity or not. Countries are absolutely free to designate whoever the heck they want as diplomats. If the receiving country has a problem with someone's background, it is free to decline permission for that designated diplomat to enter the country. If the receiving country has a problem with such a diplomat after he is already in the country, the receiving country can ask that person to leave within a reasonable time-frame (usually 24 or 48 hours, but sometimes "next available flight"; families and personal effects usually leave later). Countries, including Pakistan, routinely post spies under diplomatic cover to other countries. Such people have the same diplomatic immunity as "real" diplomats.
posted by vidur at 6:11 PM on February 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


Many Pakistani media outlets (and a large number of Pakistanis) have a well-known (and entirely justifiable, IMO) anti-US bias.

Something tells me you're not reading the links:

Jeff Stein, writing in the Washington Post on January 27, suggested after interviewing Fred Burton, a veteran of the State Department’s counter-terrorism Security Service, that Davis may have been involved in intelligence activity, either as a CIA employee under embassy cover or as a contract worker at the time of the shootings. Burton, who currently works with Stratfor, an Austin, TX-based “global intelligence” firm, even speculates that the shootings may have been a “spy meeting gone awry,” and not, as US Embassy and State Department officials are claiming, a case of an attempted robbery or car-jacking.
posted by The Emperor of Ice Cream at 6:14 PM on February 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


here is the relevant part of the vienna convention, from the article:
Section II, Article 41 of the treaty, in its first paragraph regarding the “Personal inviolability of consular officers,” states:

“Consular officers shall not be liable to arrest or detention pending trial, except in the case of a grave crime and pursuant to a decision by the competent judicial authority.”

In other words, the prosecutorial, police and judicial authorities in Lahore and the state of Punjab are doing exactly what they are supposed to do in holding Davis on murder charges, pending a judicial determination concerning whether or not he can properly claim diplomatic immunity.

The US claim that Pakistan is violating the convention is simply nonsense.
and then there is the question of whether a apparent "contract employee" travelling under a civilian passport is a consular officer or whether this armed excursion into Lahore was part of his contracted duties.

the point is that spies only get to spy around with diplomatic immunity if the host country is friendly, and pakistan is not friendly.
posted by ennui.bz at 6:23 PM on February 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


and then there is the likelihood that since Davis isn't actually on the CIA payroll but rather some outsources 'contractor' the agency might have actually never done due diligence on his paperwork i.e. his diplomatic immunity was really ex post facto.
posted by ennui.bz at 6:24 PM on February 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


> except that the immunity from civil and administrative jurisdiction of the receiving State specified in paragraph 1 of article 31 shall not extend to acts performed outside the course of their duties.

This is news to me! What exactly does this mean?

As to the original article, well, I'm sure he'll get away with it, and diplomatic immunity should be respected BUT this is the typical shit we expect of the US government.

Note that the USG absolutely could withdraw his diplomatic immunity if they want it to - sovereign governments have done this in the past if their diplomat has done something really nasty. And theoretically, if someone with diplomatic immunity commits a crime, he's supposed to be tried for that crime in his own country.

This murderer won't go to jail, of course - but that doesn't mean justice was served, and it doesn't mean that this is good for the US, for Pakistan or the world.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 6:28 PM on February 8, 2011


The Emperor of Ice Cream, I have been following this story quite closely because it fascinates me. I have read plenty of reports from plenty of sources. Let me take the excerpt you just cited:

"Jeff Stein, writing in the Washington Post on January 27, suggested after interviewing Fred Burton, a veteran of the State Department’s counter-terrorism Security Service, that Davis may have been involved in intelligence activity, either as a CIA employee under embassy cover or as a contract worker at the time of the shootings. Burton, who currently works with Stratfor, an Austin, TX-based “global intelligence” firm, even speculates that the shootings may have been a “spy meeting gone awry,” and not, as US Embassy and State Department officials are claiming, a case of an attempted robbery or car-jacking."

So, a reporter suggested something after talking to a retired person who speculated that stuff may have happened. How is that credible? And does it say anything whatsoever about the determination of Davis' legal status?

Incidentally, your FPP linked to two Pakistani news sources (The News and The Tribune) in addition to your comment that links a CSM story that cites Pakistani media sources extensively. So, let us just agree to not play these quoting games.

I'd be happy to change my opinion after new and credible information comes to light (e.g. if he was given diplomatic passport by the US Embassy after the incident). Until then, I don't see how Pakistan can refuse to let Davis be repatriated to the US once the legal formalities are sorted out. The US could agree to prosecute him in the US but that's not a necessary condition for his repatriation to the US.
posted by vidur at 6:35 PM on February 8, 2011


Countries, including Pakistan, routinely post spies under diplomatic cover to other countries.

But those spies do not routinely gun down motorbikers in a city intersection - to be rescued by a vehicle of their government which drives over a bystander. (If you're wondering that would have looked like to witnesses, watch this at 0:45.)

Even from a perspective of unapologetic imperialism, why should we inflame anti-American sentiment in volatile, nuclear-armed country to rescue one fuck-up? Could he possibly be that valuable an intelligence asset?

He wanted to serve his country? Let him serve it from a Pakistani prison.
posted by Joe Beese at 6:40 PM on February 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


ennui.bz, that's the 1963 convention. It applies to Consular relations, not Diplomatic relations (that would be the 1961 convention). There are minor differences. In any case, the diplomatic immunity is immunity from prosecution and sentencing, not from temporary detention pending legal formalities. For example, a diplomat driving while drunk can be detained (by application of reasonable force) by the police till he sobers up without any violation of immunity.

Joe Beese, how is a one-off incident "routine"?

Incidentally, since I seem to be giving off a vibe that I am "supporting" Davis, let me clarify that I am doing no such thing. I have very little interest in whether he is "guilty" or not. My interests lie in the international relations aspect of the issue. I think I have said enough for the moment. Time to get some work done.
posted by vidur at 6:48 PM on February 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


after new and credible information comes to light

The NYT is reporting Davis trained as a Special Forces soldier, and also this:

At the heart of the public outcry seems to be uncertainty over the nature of Mr. Davis’s work, and questions about why his camera, according to police investigators, had pictures of buildings in Pakistani cities.

One of the identification cards confiscated by the police after his arrest and given to a Pakistani newspaper, Dawn, said he was a Defense Department contractor. Another identification card said he was attached to the consulate in Peshawar, which contradicts an initial American Embassy statement on the day of the shooting that described Mr. Davis as a staff member of the consulate in Lahore.
[...]

Dr. Fahhar-u-Zamana, who conducted the post-mortem examination, said one victim, Faizan Haider, had five bullets in his body, including two in his back. The other victim, Muhammad Fahim, had four bullets in his body, including one in his brain and one in his back.

Also, the notion that the Pakistani media is hysterical and can't be trusted strikes me as patronizing at best.

Given all the murkiness of intelligence work in Af-Pak, given the history of contractor killings in Iraq and Afghanistan, it seems reasonable to wonder what Davis was up to in Pakistan. We may never know, of course, but the whole reason I posted the FPP was b/c of the number of alarming details involved.
posted by The Emperor of Ice Cream at 6:50 PM on February 8, 2011 [4 favorites]


The Emperor of Ice Cream:

You have seemed to imply that he may have been spying and/or doing other intelligence work... so? That doesn't invalidate diplomatic immunity. Clearly, there is some confusion as to whether he was properly credentialed with diplomatic status, but if he was the Vienna convention is quite clear and it doesn't (from what I know) make any difference what he was doing. Spies are routinely sent under diplomatic cover and, as far as I've ever heard, completely covered by diplomatic immunity. Intelligence officers not based in embassies are said to be NOC - 'non-official cover'. They get caught, things get messy. The Russian spies recently caught here were of that type.

As to what Davis was actually up to, obviously I have no idea and like you say, we may never know. But if he was actually accepted as a diplomat by the Pakistani Foreign Office it doesn't matter and they will be very much in violation of the Vienna convention if they prosecute him.
posted by alaijmw at 7:04 PM on February 8, 2011


Vidur:
From your quoting of the Vienna convention "except that the immunity from civil and administrative jurisdiction of the receiving State specified in paragraph 1 of article 31 shall not extend to acts performed outside the course of their duties."

Surely spook-work would be "outside the course of their duties."?! (Even if "spook" was the title on your business card)
posted by -harlequin- at 7:05 PM on February 8, 2011


I know, he was a unwitting knock for the Neo-Icarus affair.
posted by clavdivs at 7:06 PM on February 8, 2011


(If not, then the James Bond-esque "License to Kill" really exists)
posted by -harlequin- at 7:07 PM on February 8, 2011


You have seemed to imply that he may have been spying and/or doing other intelligence work... so? That doesn't invalidate diplomatic immunity...if he was actually accepted as a diplomat by the Pakistani Foreign Office it doesn't matter and they will be very much in violation of the Vienna convention if they prosecute him.

I appreciate your concern with the letter of the law here, but let's recap shall we?

Four people are dead b/c of Mr. Davis, two of them shot by him at close range, under suspicious circumstances, in broad daylight. Framing this story (which appears to include, among other things, front companies with bogus addresses and immediate narrative contradictions by US authorities on the status of Mr. Davis' papers) as entirely about the particular international legal obligations of diplomacy (international law being something America seems to have a very selective memory about, re: Guantanamo) seems at best a little obtuse and at worst downright misleading.
posted by The Emperor of Ice Cream at 7:12 PM on February 8, 2011 [8 favorites]


Fantastic post. This is truly the best of the web. Sometimes when I read a headline, I know that there must be more to the story than I see at first glance. Thanks for digging these links up and starting the conversation.

I can't help but think that the US has to just say, "Alright, you caught us" and write the guy off. He's a son/hero/diplomat/father/whatever. But he got nicked.
posted by karst at 7:14 PM on February 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


I appreciate your concern with the letter of the law here, but let's recap shall we?

Four people are dead b/c of Mr. Davis, two of them shot by him at close range, under suspicious circumstances, in broad daylight. Framing this story (which appears to include, among other things, front companies with bogus addresses and immediate narrative contradictions by US authorities on the status of Mr. Davis' papers) as entirely about the particular international legal obligations of diplomacy (international law being something America seems to have a very selective memory about, re: Guantanamo) seems at best a little obtuse and at worst downright misleading


Alas, that doesn't change the letter of the law (as I know it, I'm not a lawyer). I totally agree that the US has, as you put it, a selective memory about international law in general - and I think it is bullshit. As far as I know, however, we've not mucked around with the Vienna convention. And for the very good reasons vidur articulated earlier - it really is the bedrock of diplomatic relations.

All that said, I understand and even agree with your concerns about the whole situation - but if the guy has valid diplomatic immunity he should not be prosecuted by the Pakistanis unless the US waives his immunity (which won't happen). The alternative that generally occurs if that the sending nation brings him home and tries him - which could happen, but I'm not holding my breath as I do get the impression that this guy was a spook of some sort.
posted by alaijmw at 7:19 PM on February 8, 2011


So whats the process to get diplomatic papers? Could you murder someone and then after the murder call in a massive favour and get diplomatic papers so you dont go to jail?
posted by Iax at 7:23 PM on February 8, 2011


Pieces don't add up do they. The business card. Follow the card and wham- a comic book, one empty mop bucket. Is there art on this incident. Have the witness statements been made public. Is there any corroboration of the alleged robbery? Now, the real question is, do we burn the next diplomat who does something Illegal in the United States. Does anyone have a list of diplomatic incidents with-in the United States. The Russian spies of late don't count because, well, Russia acts in a professional manner and they allow then to become celebs and I love that.
posted by clavdivs at 7:25 PM on February 8, 2011


I have the image of a petulant Uncle Sam, stamping his feet and waving a handful of papers, stammering, "But, but, but, but, the Convention dammit!" as Pakistan turns its back, chuckling to itself, as they march Davis off to a Punjab version of Guantanamo.
posted by karst at 7:26 PM on February 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


So whats the process to get diplomatic papers? Could you murder someone and then after the murder call in a massive favour and get diplomatic papers so you dont go to jail?
posted by clavdivs at 7:26 PM on February 8, 2011


The CIA head of mission was recently outed and had to leave the country. It would appear that the ISI affiliates of the Taliban are ratcheting up the pressure to disrupt our ability to gather info by going after our agents. This is because the drone strikes have been pretty hitting the Taliban leadership hard and this is their way of getting us to back down. They want us to admit he's a spy so they troll concern with difficult questions.
posted by humanfont at 7:33 PM on February 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Now the Pakistan protests, well, hard to argue with those folks.
What is important is the war. I'm leaning with Joe Beese really, kinda. 1. stop bombing and maybe others will stop. It is Praxis, Peace Praxis.
dam its been near a decade and we never really rolled out the B-52s. Time to let others handle the bad guys.

yeah HF, but was he burned and by who...-suppositon.
.
posted by clavdivs at 7:37 PM on February 8, 2011


One last comment and I'll shut up: I think some of the larger "war without end, war without borders" context of this incident is being missed in this thread discussion, and in particular I am thinking about America's continued use of the G.W.O.T. paradigm (i.e. fighting the "terrorists" in the shadows, just like the Cold War Complex fought the commies) to justify clandestine actions such as assassinations, drone attacks, covert kidnappings, etc.--whether they occur in Pakistan, Iran, Yemen, or the "hot" zones of Iraq and Afghanistan.

The question is whether this strategy has any accountability built into it at all, given how easily every cloak and dagger act can be retroactively justified as necessary. Think for a moment of one potential narrative here that one might hear if the current one fails: i.e. that Davis killed potentially dangerous al Qaeda cell members and not ordinary civilians or ISI operatives. As in all such reports we would have no real way of verifying or denying such a narrative, and that kind of public ignorance cannot be good.
posted by The Emperor of Ice Cream at 7:41 PM on February 8, 2011


Okay.. one last time, I promise.

The Emperor of Ice Cream, As far as diplomatic immunity is concerned, it doesn't matter what Davis' background or real name etc. amount to. The only thing that matters for that is whether he had diplomatic status before the incident or not. I am yet to see any denial of that from any official authority.

You and I are, of course, free to not care about the "letter of the law" and have all sorts of opinions on the issue. But I sincerely doubt that the Pakistani government can take the same attitude towards diplomatic immunity, if only out of concern for its own diplomats abroad.

I never said that Pakistani media was "hysterical", merely that given certain factors (which I mentioned), their reporting can't be taken as objective. I also have no comments on the larger war, Guantanamo etc. as they are legally not relevant to the case. I have no objection to anyone's examination of the case in those contexts, of course.

-harlequin-, that part of the quote applies to "the immunity from civil and administrative jurisdiction". It is in place because diplomats are not exempt from all taxes, fines, fees etc. Nor are they exempt from local planning regulations in areas of their residences. That's the "civil and administrative" jurisdiction bit. But the immunity from criminal prosecution, unless waived by the diplomat's own government, is airtight. You are absolutely right - the "license to kill" does indeed exist. But it exists for one hit only, as the diplomat concerned would then be unwelcome in other parts of the world on diplomatic terms. This is not the first time a diplomat (assuming he is one, pending confirmation to the contrary) has killed someone.

Iax, No. There is no such thing as a retrospective diplomatic status. Either Davis was already a diplomat when the incident took place (and thus, has immunity), or he wasn't (and thus, can be tried under Pakistani law).
posted by vidur at 7:54 PM on February 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


The real question of accountability does not rest in strategem but in a geo-political paradigm of reduction. Reduction of United States covert/overt political involvement in Pakistan is a part of this.
posted by clavdivs at 7:57 PM on February 8, 2011


The law is irrelevant here. Pakistan has him. Domestic politics will block Davis' release for a while. Pakistan will demand some kind of contrition or meanng act to spring him our ability to push his release is limited
posted by humanfont at 8:01 PM on February 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


TEOIC
That's actually the bit that bugs me the most. I feel like a crucial part of our contract with our society is that I won't kill people and I will assist with actions that prevent or discourage the killing of citizens, and in exchange for those commitments, other people don't get to kill me, and the kill-prevention systems I help support work for me as well, to ensure this.

If we build systems which grants certain people the right to kill us without trial or consequence, and grants us no recourse from this, while also actively blocking and punishing any attempt of our own to effect recourse, then it feel like my contract with society is torn to pieces and scattered to the winds - in spirit even if not in letter.

If some agent kills someone dear to me, is caught red-handed, and then some "gentleman's agreement" between nations means that he will never face justice, then that gentleman's agreement is an affront to the very foundation of society.
posted by -harlequin- at 8:02 PM on February 8, 2011 [5 favorites]


I should add one more thing, and that's that even though I do believe very strongly in diplomatic immunity, I'd be completely pleased if the Pakistani government ignored it utterly.

The United States has no respect whatsoever for international law - except when it is to their advantage as in this case. Americans have done the most horrible things and been completely protected by the US government.

I'd be pleased as punch and have no misgivings whatsoever if Pakistan simply told the US to fuck off and die. Rogue nations should not have the protections of law that are given to civilized states.

IF - if this guy actually committed the crimes he's accused I'd frankly laugh my head off if he rotted forever in some Pakistani jail without ever being charged with anything, or had a "heart attack while exercising" or somehow managed to tie his hands behind his back and kill himself, in the typical style that the rest of the world associates with America. I'm sure he's being treated far better in Pakistan than people are treated in Guantánamo.

The US has flaunted international law for decades. I'd love to see at least one chicken come home to roost.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 8:07 PM on February 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


I thought this guy was supposed to be Blackwater or something, with the US trying to claim him retroactively, like so much health insurance after missing a premium.
posted by rhizome at 8:48 PM on February 8, 2011


your voices have been heard
LOL
posted by Meatbomb at 8:59 PM on February 8, 2011


The US has very little leg to stand on from a legal perspective, but these things are often about how much weight can be thrown behind it.

“Consular officers shall not be liable to arrest or detention pending trial, except in the case of a grave crime and pursuant to a decision by the competent judicial authority.”

I'd consider a double homicide, leading to a hit and run of a pedestrian and a suicide to be a "grave crime". It only exacerbates things when the Americans refuse to release the identity of the consular driver who caused the hit and run.

See also: "According to Lahore police investigators, he was arrested carrying a regular US passport, which had a business visa, not a diplomatic visa."
If true, he's basically screwed. If he came in on the diplomatic passport then the Americans would have a lot more leeway. It appears that they have tried to issue a diplomatic passport retroactively. It is possible that they had one issued beforehand and are only showing it now, but it is still a requirement that he would declare his diplomatic status.
I suspect that the issuing of the diplomatic passport isn't so much as to get him out of jail free (because he is conducting activities inconsistent with diplomatic business) but provide the Pakistani government for a domestic justification for submitting to American Pressure to let him go.

"The US claim that Davis has diplomatic immunity hinges first and foremost on whether he is actually a “functionary” of the consulate. "

Diplomatic Immunity is important, as stated above, but it's far from the bulletproof protection that some (including, today at least, the US government) claim it is.
See this article, which although it includes a request to waiver immunity also states ""The Foreign Offices does not tolerate diplomats working in the UK breaking the law," the spokesperson said. " etc. Diplomats if ever found conclusively to be "spying" are expelled, eg here and here, except in some special cases, generally spying in allied or friendly countries, by a sort of gentlemans agreement that you can do it as long as you don't get caught or draw unwanted attention to yourself (that doesn't sit well domestically.)

Diplomatic immunity does not let you spy on people, or assasinate people, or whatever, unless it's with a covert agreement with a "friendly" country. Pakistan is not a "friendly" country, and thus American spies there have to operate illegally - that is, with false credentials. If they get caught they risk expulsion or imprisonment. Execution is not likely because of the bargaining chip role such a prisoner can play.
He may have stated he was there as a security contracter but recent events make it plain he was something more, and thus operating illegally. It's pretty much universally illegal to operate as a spy in a country without the permission of the government. Embassy workers, actual embassy staff, are, as noted above, often spies working under diplomatic cover, which is sort of acknowledged and ignored as long as they don't get their hands dirty or show up in the press.
Illegals on the other hand, if they get caught they often get hung out to dry, or stuck in a prison for years while countries negotiate various tit for tat exchanges.

My money is on a couple of years prison and then a quiet exchange but it depends on what he was actually doing, his connections, how important he is, and what the Americans are willing to give in return. Given the unrest in Pakistan over it and the number of casualties getting away without any time at all is very unlikely. Even a bona fide diplomat in his situation would be on thin ice. The Americans are just trying to bluff their way out of it, but I guarantee behind closed doors they are much more apologetic. The press releases will be for the regional prosecutors, family and friends of the man. Those in the ISI will already know all about what he was doing and if he has in fact killed two of their agents as suggested the price to get him out of the country is going to be pretty high indeed.
posted by Dillonlikescookies at 9:31 PM on February 8, 2011 [4 favorites]


Dillonlikescookies: excellent summing up with one slight asterisk.

What we don't know is if Raymond "Shooting Civilians Through The Windshield" Davis was registered with Pakistan as having diplomatic immunity before this happened, or whether they suddenly anointed him with immunity after he committed his murders.

I see two totally different outcomes depending on which of these is true; if he was registered I think he'll likely skip off, if not I think he'll likely rot in jail for a few years.

I think there's also the third possibility of a wild card - whether either someone takes initiative out of personal animus (being related to or knowing one of the deceased) or anti-Americanism and he dies in jail, or conversely if the Yanks get to the jailers with cash or threats and he comes lose despite Pakistan's best attempts.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 9:43 PM on February 8, 2011


A decent Q&A type analysis is here. The author is a retired intelligence official from India, so expect some anti-Pakistan bias in his comments (not that I felt any, but YMMV).
posted by vidur at 10:26 PM on February 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


When a spy gets fired, they don't get a pink slip. They cut him off. They burn him. When you're burned, you've got nothing: no cash, no credit, no job history. You're stuck in whatever city they decide to dump you in. You do whatever work comes your way. You rely on anyone who's still talking to you: a trigger-happy ex-girlfriend, an old friend who used to inform on you to the FBI, family too... if you're desperate. Bottom line: As long as you're burned, you're not going anywhere.
posted by mecran01 at 11:43 PM on February 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


If he came in on the diplomatic passport then the Americans would have a lot more leeway. It appears that they have tried to issue a diplomatic passport retroactively. It is possible that they had one issued beforehand and are only showing it now, but it is still a requirement that he would declare his diplomatic status.

Just issuing a diplomatic passport doesn't do anything. Diplomats are accredited to particular countries which maintain lists of registered diplomats. The American ambassador to France does not have diplomatic immunity in Paraguay, because he's not the list of diplomats that Paraguay maintains. If he was registered as a diplomat with the Pakistani government, then they'll have to let him go. If he isn't then they don't. What I suspect is that he wasn't on that list, and that the American embassy issued the passport afterwords to get him out of the country asap. Legally though, that passport means nothing unless he was on the official list.

They could just decide to ignore the law or bend it, and keep him in custody anyway, but I wouldn't bet on it. He who pays the piper calls the tune, and all that.
posted by atrazine at 11:47 PM on February 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


See also US govt officials getting in trouble for private contractors working as spies in PK. It's likely official policy to use whenever necessary but for political purposes they would have to act apologetic.

atrazine - yeah, I realize without local accreditation it's meaningless, but that's why I suggested it was only to give the prosecutors a domestic justification to let him go. They may have had a contingency that involved sneaking him out on it as well.

lupus, generally if someone has diplomatic immunity they'll enter on a diplomatic/official passport with a diplomatic visa. It would be very unusual to gain one only after entering the country. More likely a person would stay outside of the country until their diplomatic visa is confirmed.

There was a case a while ago in China which illustrates this point - a dual citizen of New Zealand and China went to China and got arrested for subversive activities. The NZ consulate couldn't help him much, however, because he had entered China on his Chinese passport. If he had left that passport at home, that would be another story.

Also note that the US guidelines explicitly state they must obtain their diplomatic visa before they arrive. Israeli guidlines (the only others I could find online) also emphasise the limits of immunity - ie, no serious crimes. In particular they emphasises that the general immunity given to consular staff (the US claims RAD is one of these) only extends to the things they do in the course of their natural duties.
posted by Dillonlikescookies at 11:55 PM on February 8, 2011


Davis isn't the guy that ran someone over with a car. Davis is the guy that shot 2 guys. We're told he believed he was being robbed, or was about to be robbed. Perhaps instead he believed he was about to be assassinated. Maybe he was. Or maybe those 2 guys he shot seriously needed killin', as persons of interest.

What is going on here, that no one supposes the possibility that the world is better off with those two guys dead? Perhaps even the current government of Pakistan itself is better off, with those two dead. Like if those guys on the motorcycle had been Rush Limbaugh and Glen Beck. If we don't act like the shooter is a murderer, the wing nuts will burn down the country. Doesn't matter how happy we are with the fruit of his labor.

As for why the US is out to save this guy's chestnuts: Again, duh? What does he know? Does his head contain information we don't want Pakistan to have? You don't suppose the civilized Pakistanis would stoop to torture a prisoner, do you? OMG! This is the 21st century, and torture is in fashion, all the big players are doing it. Why, even the POTUS said it was kewl!
posted by Goofyy at 12:55 AM on February 9, 2011


Very interesting story - finally made me create an account after years of lurking. There are two different Vienna Conventions being conflated here. The first is the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations of 1961 (pdf), and the second is the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations of 1963 (pdf).

Consular staff has lesser immunity not applying to grave crimes according to article 41 of the 1963 convention, as quoted by the CounterPunch author. Diplomatic immunity under the 1961 convention does however give a "licence to kill", assuming the diplomat is properly accredited beforehand. The receiving state must be notified of the appointment to the mission; mere waving of diplomatic passports does not confer any immunity. Like vidur says, the Pakistani Foreign Office must be aware of whether Davis is a diplomat or not.

The US Embassy in Islamabad claims immunity for Davis under the 1961 convention. There seems to be some doubt of whether he was posted to the US Consulate in Lahore or the Consulate in Peshawar, neither of which precludes him being accredited to the US mission in Islamabad. If he's merely a member of the consular staff it seems that he can be prosecuted for murder.

Disclaimer: I am neither an American nor Pakistani lawyer, and I'm not very well versed in international law.
posted by delegeferenda at 1:57 AM on February 9, 2011


Goofyy - I assumed from the start that the guys he shot were Bad Men, But I don't really see it as relevant to much here.

Bad men should not be tortured, and should not be assassinated, because allowing this ensures that innocent men are tortured and assassinated.

Bad Men should be arrested by a functional non-corrupt police force subject to civilian accountability. Bad men can be imprisoned or executed by a judiciary or panel of peers, or other system of integrity.

There isn't such a police force? Then create that, instead of creating an assassin force.

The police aren't interested in harassing citizens at the behest of a foreign power? Sounds like the foreign power has a weak case, or doesn't respect international law, or both.

Addressing the problem of Bad Men with systems that undermine our principles and our societies and our security, is a series of small Pyrrhic victories, in that the hidden long term costs outweigh the short term benefits.

So I don't really care whether or not the victims were plotting to do bad things to me. There are more important things in play.
posted by -harlequin- at 3:40 AM on February 9, 2011


(The above assumes the American was a spook. If it really was a case of random muggers picking the wrong guy, then they made their own fate, and Davis can demonstrate that in court. It sucks that you can be forced into a self defence that screws up your life with court bullshit, but every instance of lethal self defence ought to be checked, it's not something you want to treat lightly).
posted by -harlequin- at 3:44 AM on February 9, 2011


> What is going on here, that no one supposes the possibility that the world is better off with those two guys dead?

Actually, no, because that's an antisocial sort of thing to think. I assume you're an American, right? Is there something about "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" that isn't clear? Yes, I understand these people are literally Constitutionally protected, but civilized people don't go around killing others because they have opinion that the world would be better off with them gone.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 4:46 AM on February 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


er, are NOT Constitutionally...
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 4:46 AM on February 9, 2011


it is tempting to imagine this case in reverse: a Pakistani contractor shooting and killing two Americans on a crowded Washington D.C. street, then causing indirectly the death of two more Americans. In such a case, rightly or wrongly certainly a lot of Americans would not want the Pakistani taken back to his native country.

Speaking as a diplomat (non-functionary of my consolate, even) living in a high-risk third-world country (not effing Pakistan, granted), let me just go ahead and point out to you that in your reverse postulation above, said Pakistani wouldn't really need 2 guns and an immediate fear that a few spooks on motorcycles or even just outright criminals from the general public aren't going to pull up alongside of him to gun him down.

Davis, and people like myself (to a much much lesser extent) live in places where we have to be constantly monitoring for this exact and very many other potential security threats to our lives - from anyone and at any time.

Imagine constantly having to vary your work schedule and the routes you take too and from your house. Imagine getting a bit jittery every time you're passing through a police checkpoint, hoping they don't have a picture of you (after seeing them on the news carrying out contract killings in broad daylight the week before). Imagine not going home from a party at a friends house because news reports or your security detail are reporting heavy fighting, or a mob on a rampage. Imagine profiling everyone you see at the one western mall in town because any one of them could be wearing an explosive vest. Imagine constantly swerving around the endless people on the side of the street when you're driving for fear of hitting one and becoming a victim of mob justice yourself. Frankly I'm amazed Davis made it off that street alive.

This is the reality that diplomats live under in many of the harder places in the world, not just occasionally but every effing second. A few of us stayed off Facebook on Monday so we could get together to watch the Super Bowl on the Armed Forces Network when it was rebroadcast at 6pm our time, and sure enough - another part of town where a few at our party lived blew up into chaos again. That's how you watch the Super Bowl in not-America - behind big walls and double sets of huge steel gates, all with electric fences on top of them.

There's a whole shitload of information nobody knows or has about this situation, and from where I'm sitting, I'm not sure I don't feel a little for Davis, knowing what little I know so far. Nobody here knows whether he wanted / intended / was ordered / etc. to kill those guys, and from all the details I've read, he probably (in my mind, the chances are in the extreme) did it as a last resort to save his own life from those intending to kill him. Regardless of who he worked for or what kind of visa he had.
posted by allkindsoftime at 4:59 AM on February 9, 2011 [7 favorites]


The Emperor of Ice Cream, please let you post stand or fall on its own merits rather than moderating the discussion.
posted by yerfatma at 5:22 AM on February 9, 2011


The problem for the Pakistanis is that this is all over the news. This is the same problem that the U.S. would face, if the situation were reversed.

One thing struck me in the article, the item about the Georgian diplomat being prosecuted by the U.S. for killing a girl. As I recall, the diplomat was returned to Georgia under the rules of diplomatic immunity. Under pressure from the U.S. the Georgians stripped him of immunity and returned him to the U.S. to face trial. The article makes it sound like the U.S. ignored the law in this case.
posted by Xoebe at 5:35 AM on February 9, 2011


allkindsoftime, that is an evocative description of life in the majority worlds cities. As you are no doubt aware, local human rights campaigners share all of those daily inconveniences , but they don't have double sets of steel gates, big walls, electric fences or diplomatic immunity. They also do not usually have a wage and they cannot flee the country easily.

Also, Davis does not appear to be a diplomat, he appears to be a spy who was working undercover. Whether we will ever know the truth about this situation is questionable. That it got into the press at all is very interesting and indicative of current US-Pakistan relations.
posted by asok at 6:03 AM on February 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


from where I'm sitting, I'm not sure I don't feel a little for Davis

Presumably, that's not with the family of the bystander who got crushed beneath the wheels of his extraction vehicle.

I don't imagine they're particularly interested in whether the killing of the men on the motorbike was a planned or improvised serving of the interests of the Central Intelligence Agency.
posted by Joe Beese at 6:41 AM on February 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Also, Davis does not appear to be a diplomat, he appears to be a spy who was working undercover. Whether we will ever know the truth about this situation is questionable. That it got into the press at all is very interesting and indicative of current US-Pakistan relations.

If he was a spy or not has zero bearing on whether or not he has diplomatic immunity. He if we accredited to the US embassy as a diplomat and the Pakistani Foreign Office accepted that, he has diplomatic immunity.
posted by alaijmw at 6:47 AM on February 9, 2011


Please check your cynicism meters when reading my previous words. It would appear my expression mixer had the cynicism channel on a feedback loop through a rogue Heinlein filter.
posted by Goofyy at 7:36 AM on February 9, 2011


but civilized people don't go around killing others because they have opinion that the world would be better off with them gone.

Are you calling Arabs non-civilized?
posted by clavdivs at 9:33 AM on February 9, 2011


I guess you calling more the arabs on the carpet of this one.

Ray gets Pakistans stocks down.
posted by clavdivs at 10:23 AM on February 9, 2011


I assume you're an American, right? Is there something about "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" that isn't clear? Yes, I understand these people are literally Constitutionally protected

I assume you're not American, because that's not in the Constitution.
posted by electroboy at 3:14 PM on February 9, 2011


> I assume you're not American, because that's not in the Constitution.

I wanted to make sure that no literal hair-splitter would read my quote as construing that I was believing that America's rights applies to foreigners not residing in America, but I see that there's always some hair to be split if you really don't want to address the matter at hand.


> > but civilized people don't go around killing others because they have opinion that the world would be better off with them gone.

> Are you calling Arabs non-civilized?

Absolutely not, I was saying quite the reverse - that suggesting that the two Arabs killed might be better off dead is uncivilized.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 7:03 PM on February 9, 2011


An opinion piece by Najam Sethi throws some light on how some of these things work:
The US has stationed dozens of armed intelligence agents in Pakistan. These belong to the CIA – which is a part of the US state – or Blackwater-type private security or intelligence companies specifically contracted to the State Department or to the Pentagon. These men and women have been granted visas by the Government of Pakistan (GoP) on the basis of a protocol signed during General Pervez Musharraf's time after 9/11. Many, though not all, carry diplomatic passports with "official" or "official business" visas granted by the GoP following formal requests by one or the another US agency or department. Some are attached to the US Embassy in Islamabad, others to the Consulates. Some have formal diplomatic (status) cards issued by the Foreign Office, others don't, which makes their diplomatic status vague despite their possession of diplomatic passports. Some carry firearms and fake IDs – which is known to the relevant GoP ministries and military intelligence agencies, firearm licenses or not – and others don't. In other words, ambiguity about their status, work, and facilities afforded are duly maintained jointly by the US and Pakistani governments and intelligence agencies like the CIA and ISI.

That, at least, is the theory. In practice, however, the GoP retains a conscious element of "plausible deniability" about the status and work of such Americans. This is akin to the theory and practice of publicly protesting and privately condoning drone attacks, as one recent incriminating Wikileak revealed.
And he has some words about the role of media in the current incident:
The role of the media and intelligentsia, in general, is a case of deliberate distortion and outright lies. The fiction persists that Davis "murdered" two Pakistanis by shooting them in the back, despite an autopsy report that says four out of seven bullets hit the armed motorcyclists in the front. The fiction persists that they were "innocent citizens" despite the fact that they had robbed two passersby earlier in the day, whose cash and cell-phones were found on their persons. The fiction persists that he was in no imminent danger of grievous injury, let alone kidnapping or death, despite the fact that foreigners, especially Americans, have been routinely targeted and killed or kidnapped by terrorists in Pakistan in the last decade. No one, of course, has bothered to offer a motive for Davis to "murder" the two young men, and even talk of "proportionate" defense is misplaced.
posted by vidur at 8:09 PM on February 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Is there such a thing as a diplomat who isn't a spy?
posted by Bovine Love at 9:21 PM on February 9, 2011


Since when are Pakistanis Arabs?
posted by electroboy at 9:33 PM on February 9, 2011


> Since when are Pakistanis Arabs?

Yes, I know they aren't. I was responding to the rather peculiar claim that I was somehow biased against Arabs by saying that it was uncivilized to suggest that the two murdered men were better off dead, and given that the original claim had two non-factual statements in it, I mangled the sentence attempting to refute it.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 10:41 PM on February 9, 2011


A satirical piece, from a Pakistani paper, that touches on some of the serious points of discussion from the Pakistani perspective.
posted by bardophile at 5:23 AM on February 10, 2011


Is there such a thing as a diplomat who isn't a spy?"
Depends upon your definition of spying. The Articles of the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations specifically mentions the gathering of information concerning the receiving country as one of the normal functions of diplomatic staff.
posted by dougrayrankin at 10:22 AM on February 10, 2011


Sen. John Kerry Heads to Pakistan to Calm Diplomatic Tensions In 2009 Sen. Kerry co-authored the Enhanced Partnership with Pakistan Act of 2009, also known as the Kerry-Lugar-Berman Act, which triples non-military foreign assistance to Pakistan to $1.5 billion per year over the next five years.
posted by adamvasco at 6:18 AM on February 16, 2011


Article by Raza Rumi in The Express Tribune:
It is time to ask how an operative can be in Pakistan for almost three years without clarity about his status. If there were doubts about Davis, why didn't our brave security agencies express these concerns before he killed someone? Why was he not declared persona non grata for the 'nefarious' activities he is now being accused of? If he did not enjoy diplomatic status, why didn't the Foreign Office say so on day one? Why the deliberate ambiguity, fuelled by an orchestrated media frenzy?
...
It is also well-known that our Foreign Office maintains a list of people who have been extended diplomatic immunity. Article 31 of the 1961 Vienna Convention clearly covers technical and administrative staff, as pointed out by lawyer Asad Jamal in his recent analysis (see The Friday Times, February 11-17). When someone covered by immunity invokes it after committing a crime, the proper procedure is for the police to check that list. It is a matter of a couple of hours at best. There shouldn't have been confusion about immunity, but motivated officials simply passed the buck. No one wanted to appear to be 'supporting' an American 'murderer'.
posted by vidur at 10:28 PM on February 16, 2011


Uh.. those paragraphs are not continuous in the article. Sorry for the formatting mishap.
posted by vidur at 10:29 PM on February 16, 2011


Scott Horton : ...the United States has a de facto policy of impunity for its security contractors and agents who kill or injure foreign civilians.
posted by adamvasco at 1:30 AM on February 18, 2011


Excerpts from the challan (initial police report)

Also, on the subject of immunity, the key question is whether he is part of the diplomatic staff (employed directly by the embassy in Islamabad) or whether he is consular staff (employed by one of the consulates). He had an ID card identifying him as an employee of the Peshawar Consulate. Under article 41 of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, he can quite rightly be detained and charged if he is consular and not diplomatic staff.
posted by dougrayrankin at 3:32 AM on February 19, 2011


American who sparked diplomatic crisis over Lahore shooting was CIA spy in the Guardian.
posted by pharm at 2:52 AM on February 21, 2011


Consider that it is a single source (all other reports are copies of the Guardian report) and the source is not known, nor are their motivations.
posted by dougrayrankin at 9:42 AM on February 21, 2011


My point being that when it quotes a "Pakistani Intelligence Official", you can substitute those words for "Some Guy".
posted by dougrayrankin at 9:43 AM on February 21, 2011


dougraykin: Seems the cat is somewhat out of the bag.
posted by rhizome at 11:34 AM on February 21, 2011


Well now that we know for sure what Mr. Davis was doing in Pakistan (i.e. working as a contract assassin for the CIA), it might be useful to know who exactly he murdered on January 27th.
posted by The Emperor of Ice Cream at 12:06 PM on February 21, 2011


My question is, if he was working for the CIA, what does that do to the diplomatic immunity argument? Does it have any bearing on it, or does the fact that he is listed as an employee of the Lahore Consulate allow him to retain diplomatic immunity despite this latest revelation?
posted by bardophile at 1:10 PM on February 21, 2011


My question is, if he was working for the CIA, what does that do to the diplomatic immunity argument? Does it have any bearing on it, or does the fact that he is listed as an employee of the Lahore Consulate allow him to retain diplomatic immunity despite this latest revelation?

It's pretty clear the Americans have given up this argument altogether, and are focusing instead on assuring the Pakistanis that Davis will face justice if returned to America. That, at any rate, was the argument John Kerry put forward when he was just there. Furthermore, it's quite clear this is no longer a technical issue about diplomatic immunity but a full-blown political issue. Whatever backroom deal is struck will reflect this reality, but any Pakistani official who considers supporting the return of Davis to America is taking a dangerously unpopular view there. The fact is America has been caught with its pants down in a country it is still actively engaged in (drone attacks appear to have begun again in tribal areas).
posted by The Emperor of Ice Cream at 1:36 PM on February 21, 2011


it's quite clear this is no longer a technical issue about diplomatic immunity but a full-blown political issue.

The nature of the relationship among the Pakistani people, the Pakistani government, and the US government is such that an incident like this was always going to become a political issue.

are focusing instead on assuring the Pakistanis that Davis will face justice if returned to America.

They're not going to convince the majority of the Pakistani public on that score, until such time as sentence is actually passed on him. Which is why you're right about the difficult position that any Pakistani official who agrees to Davis' return to the US would find her/himself in. This was actually why I was asking about the technicality of immunity, also. If Davis is not, in fact, subject to diplomatic immunity under either of the Vienna Conventions, even fewer of the Pakistani people are going to find returning him to the US at all acceptable.

Remember also, that emotionally, for many Pakistanis, this is tied up with the case of Afia Siddiqui (also previously). There are many logical reasons why the cases are not parallel, but the link remains intact in the popular imagination in Pakistan. Facebook was littered with "Return Afia, take Davis"-type status updates when this story first broke.
posted by bardophile at 11:00 PM on February 21, 2011


Being on the CIA payroll has no bearing on diplomatic immunity, if he was operating under diplomatic cover (which is what State is saying). A very large number of people with diplomatic status are not, in fact, career diplomats for their respective countries. This is not always a case of espionage. Subject-matter experts are routinely given specific diplomatic assignments by countries. Ditto for security professionals.

However, at this point, it is practically impossible to say whether Davis was under diplomatic cover at the time of the incident. Any documents can be generated by either side in the time that has passed. Political dust has really clouded legal light beyond hope.
posted by vidur at 3:00 PM on February 22, 2011


Pakistan arrests US security contractor as rift with CIA deepens
ISI tells American agency to unmask all its covert operatives after arrest of Aaron DeHaven in Peshawar, over visa expiry.
There is also a report that the CIA Considers Targeting Pakistani Diplomats.
posted by adamvasco at 4:20 AM on February 26, 2011


The Emperor of Ice Cream
Well now that we know for sure what Mr. Davis was doing in Pakistan (i.e. working as a contract assassin for the CIA), it might be useful to know who exactly he murdered on January 27th.
Whilst it is known that he killed two people, I think you're assessing more than the available evidence allows. If he was employed as force protection, it would have been expected of him to kill if needs be in defence of his charge. However, there is a whole world of difference between that and "Here is your target, your job is to kill them", which is how an assassin is tasked.
posted by dougrayrankin at 6:19 AM on February 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Former Ambassador Craig Murray: Raymond Davis Does Not Have Diplomatic Immunity.
posted by adamvasco at 6:53 AM on February 27, 2011


That article is poorly written. The entire argument boils down to this:

If Davis was employed by the embassy in any capacity he is a member of the diplomatic staff and is subject to the Vienna Conventions on Diplomatic Relations. If this is the case, he can and should walk.

If Davis was employed by a consulate in any capacity he is a member of the consular staff and under Article 41 of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, he can and should be tried for shooting the two chaps he did.

So many people are weighing in on what they think is the case, when all any educated individual need do is go look at the treaties for themselves. They're freely available on the UN's website. This whole debacle has been mismanaged from the start. Pakistan arresting him and announcing that he will face trial before they even considered the possibility of immunity applying and the US trying to ride roughshod over the Pakistanis (no surprises there).

We now face a situation where neither side wants to lose face but one of them has to and America has the bigger stick. A stick they'll probably wield, even though the release of one man will do much to destabilise Pakistan and the entire region.

It is a sorry thing that politician and statesman is a position for which no educational prerequisites exist.
posted by dougrayrankin at 3:27 PM on February 27, 2011


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