American Arrested For Murder In Pakistan "Beyond A Shadow Of A Doubt" A CIA Agent
The declaration, made "based on interviews in the US and Pakistan," comes in the wake of fervent speculation over Raymond Davis' true identity. A former special forces soldier, Davis is accused of having shot and killed two brothers while on assignment for the CIA in Lahore, Pakistan. U.S. accounts of the incident insist that he was acting in self-defense.
His identity as an employee of the CIA is "beyond a shadow of a doubt," according to a senior Pakistani intelligence official interviewed by The Guardian.
The United States has asked for Pakistan to release Davis and allow how to return to the United States because he is a diplomat and, under the Vienna conventions, diplomats have legal immunity in their host countries. Pakistan has so far refused, vowing to keep Davis in detention until March 14 at least.
President Obama dispatched Sen. John Kerry to Pakistan to help smooth over the diplomatic hiccup, but to no avail.
Indeed, "the Raymond Davis issue is iconic of the challenges of U.S.-Pakistani relations," writes C. Christine Fair at Foreign Policy's AfPak Channel. This is not the first incident in which an American with diplomatic immunity has been accused of killing innocent Pakistanis, which riles up anti-American sentiment. Cooperation between the Pakistani intelligence service -- the ISI -- and the American-run drone program is also a touchy subject.
"Pakistanis prefer to characterize the program as trampling Pakistani sovereignty and are loathe to acknowledge that the program operates with precision, with the Pakistani government's permission, from Pakistani soil and with Pakistani intelligence input," writes Fair.
The incident has brought to the fore the often-murky operations of American intelligence officials in Pakistan, a strategic but uneasy partner in counterterrorism efforts abroad.
Moreover, The Guardian reports that the United States media have largely kept Davis' identity under wraps at the behest of the Obama administration, writing that:
A number of US media outlets learned about Davis's CIA role but have kept it under wraps at the request of the Obama administration. A Colorado television station, 9NEWS, made a connection after speaking to Davis's wife. She referred its inquiries to a number in Washington which turned out to be the CIA. The station removed the CIA reference from its website at the request of the US government.
Observers have also speculated as to whether Davis ran the CIA's controversial covert drone strikes in the northwestern part of the country, which borders Afghanistan. Indeed, "there has not been a drone strike since 23 January – the longest lull since June 2009. Experts are unsure whether both events are linked," reports the Guardian.
However, a drone strike late Sunday broke the lull, killing at least five people in the South Waziristan province.
The covert drone strike program, which the United States does not officially acknowledge, has ramped up under the Obama administration, with more than 100 drone strikes killing over 670 people in 2010 alone, according to the AFP. The civilian casualty rate of the drone strikes is as much as 70 percent, according to some counts, and has drawn criticism from both within and outside Pakistan.