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Afghanistan War Weekly: February 28, 2011
President Obama is in danger of running the war in Afghanistan with only Republican congressional support. The Democratic National Committee just passed a resolution calling for “a swift withdrawal of U.S. armed forces and military contractors in Afghanistan which must include a significant and sizable reduction no later than July 2011." This reflects a further swing of US public opinion against the war, with the latest poll (see below) recording 86 percent of Democrats (and 61 percent of Republicans!) opposed to the war. With the congressional Democrats evenly divided on war funding, social services cuts now in the headlines, and the spirit of Egypt/Wisconsin entering the stage, our antiwar movement may become part of a broader, very angry movement against the existing order of things.
Deeper thinkers have maintained for years that the war in Afghanistan is really a war about Pakistan. The case of Raymond Davis, a CIA agent now on trial for murder, threatens to destabilize the rickety political balance in Pakistan, cause further rifts between the powerful Pakistan intelligence services (ISI) and the US CIA, and jeopardize the US ability to conduct drone and other operations in the Afghanistan-Pakistan borderlands. Rightly or wrongly, US strategists think the drone attacks and Pakistani army movements against “insurgents” in the border region are essential to victory. Will they risk further destabilization in Pakistan in order to spring their CIA agent from a Pakistan prison?
Military operations in Afghanistan are in their winter doldrums, but as noted in articles linked below: the US is still doing about 20 “special operations” and night raids each day; the withdrawal of US forces from a strongly contest region of Afghanistan, a major defeat, was reviewed at length this week in the Washington Post and the New York Times; and about one-third of the Afghan army and police trainees continue to dessert each year. Also, Russia has protested against the US plans, recently announced by President Karzai, to maintain military bases in Afghanistan beyond 2014, and an Afghanistan government official has stated that the United States will need to remain beyond 2014. Finally, General Petraeus has outdone himself this week, stating that claims about the latest civilian massacre (60+ killed) should be tempered by the possibility that Afghanistan parents might have burned their own children to exaggerate civilian casualties.
Once again, if you find this newsletter useful, I would appreciate your help in expanding circulation. I would also appreciate suggestions about good articles to link here, and also comments (pro & con) that would help to make this newsweekly better. My email is email@example.com. This “issue” and some previous editions of the Afghanistan War Weekly are posted on the websites of United for Peace and Justice (http://www.unitedforpeace.org/article.php?id=4111) and War is a Crime (www.afterdowningstreet.org/aww).
----Frank Brodhead, Concerned Families of Westchester (NY)
Of the Radical and the Quaint
By David Swanson, Remarks in Boca Raton, Fla., February 26, 2011
----We never anymore speak about good slavery or just rape. A mere 10 years ago, Americans universally denounced torture. Yet the horrors of war far outstrip, while encompassing, these other outrages, and we go on referring to good wars and just wars, or at least the theoretical possibility of them. The very worst thing humanity has ever created is culturally legal, regardless of what the actual laws say. And yet we cannot survive its continued presence, and we do not need to try. The justifications offered for each particular war -- before, during, and after -- and the justifications for the machinery of empire are a tissue of lies all the way through. http://davidswanson.org/content/radical-and-quaint
Wars, Vampires, Burned Children, and Indelicate Imbalances
by Tom Engelhardt, TomDispatch [February 24, 2011]
----Washington still seems remarkably determined to play out the string on an era that is all too swiftly passing into the history books. While many have noticed the Obama administration's hapless struggle to catch up to events in the Middle East, even as it clings to a familiar coterie of grim autocrats and oil sheiks, let me illustrate this point in another area entirely -- the largely forgotten war in Afghanistan. After all, hardly noticed, buried beneath 24/7 news from Egypt, Bahrain, Libya, and elsewhere in the Middle East, that war continues on its destructive, costly course with nary a blink. http://www.commondreams.org/view/2011/02/24-5
How Obama Lost Karzai
By Ahmed Rashid, Foreign Policy [March/April 2011]
---- When I met with Karzai not long ago at the presidential palace in Kabul for a lengthy conversation, one of many in the decade since our pre-9/11 meeting in Lahore, it was remarkable how much his relationship with the United States seemed to have come full circle. Once again, Karzai now appears mistrusting of the West's long-term commitment to his country. He considers the Americans to be hopelessly fickle, represented by multiple military and civilian envoys who carry contradictory messages, work at cross-purposes, and wage their Washington turf battles in his drawing room, at his expense, while operating on short fuses and even shorter timetables. http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2011/02/22/how_obama_lost_karzai
THE WAR IN WASHINGTON
The solution in Afghanistan: Get out
By James P. McGovern and Walter B. Jones
[James P. McGovern, a Democrat, represents Massachusetts's 3rd Congressional District in the U.S. House. Walter B. Jones, a Republican, represents North Carolina's 3rd Congressional District.]
---- Simply put, we believe the human and financial costs of the war are unacceptable and unsustainable. It is bankrupting us. The United States should devise an exit plan to extricate ourselves from Afghanistan, not a plan to stay there four more years and "then we'll see." This doesn't mean that we abandon the Afghan people - rather, we should abandon this war strategy. It is a failure that has not brought stability to Afghanistan and has not enhanced our own security. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2011/02/17/AR201102...
How to Cut $100 Billion: Waist Deep in the Washington Quagmire
By Tom Engelhardt, TomDispatch [February 17, 2011]
---- The Republican leadership of the House of Representatives originally picked $40 billion as its target figure for cuts to the as-yet-not-enacted 2011 budget. That was the gauntlet it threw down to the Obama administration, only to find its own proposal slashed to bits by the freshman class of that body's conservative majority. They insisted on adhering to a Republican Pledge to America vow to cut $100 billion from the budget. With that figure back on the table, Democrats are gasping, while pundits are predicting widespread pain in the land, including the possible loss of at least 70,000 jobs "as government aid to cops, teachers, and research is slashed." http://counterpunch.org/engelhardt02172011.html
DNC Pressures Obama, Passes Resolution Endorsing Swift End To Afghanistan War
By Amanda Terkel, Huffington Post [February 26, 2011]
----Members of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) gave President Obama a rare push on Saturday, adopting a resolution attempting to encourage the administration to move toward a speedier withdrawal from Afghanistan. The resolution adopted Saturday states that "the Democratic Party supports prioritizing job creation and a swift withdrawal of U.S. armed forces and military contractors in Afghanistan which must include a significant and sizable reduction no later than July 2011." http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/02/26/afghanistan_n_828710.html
Military denies use of intelligence tactics on senators
By Rajiv Chandrasekaran, Washington Post [February 26, 2011]
---- At its core, the dispute centers on the question of whether ordering Holmes and his information operations team to perform what Caldwell's command has called "information engagement" - including compiling publicly available data about visiting members of Congress - broke the law. Holmes contends that it did; his superiors in Kabul insisted to Holmes that the order was lawful. In a telephone interview with The Washington Post, Holmes said he was not ordered to do anything that would be illegal if he was not an information operations officer. In his view, simply asking him and his team to participate in background research for congressional visits was improper, if not illegal, because U.S. military regulations prohibit the use of certain information operations tactics, including psychological and deception operations, on U.S. citizens. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2011/02/26/AR201102...
See also: Thom Shanker, “Officer Denies Efforts to Sway Lawmakers,” New York Times [February 26, 2011] http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/27/world/asia/27military.html?ref=world; and Noah Shactman and Spencer Ackerman, “’Illegal Psyop’ Neither Illegal Nor Psyop, General’s Lawyer Ruled,” Wired [February 27, 2011] http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2011/02/lawyer-told-general-his-spin-was...
USEFUL FACTS ABOUT THE WAR
---- 711 Coalition soldiers were killed in 2010, including 499 US soldiers. 25 US soldiers were killed in January, and 12 have been killed so far in February. In total, 2,348 Coalition soldiers have been killed since the beginning of the war, including 1,484 soldiers from the United States. 274 US soldiers were wounded in January, and 124 have been wounded so far in February. The total US wounded during 2010 was 5,178, and the number wounded since the war began is 10,351. To learn more go to www.icasualties.org and to http://tomhayden.com/downloads/Wounded.pdf. On US wounded soldiers, see the important article by C.J.Chivers, “In Wider War in Afghanistan, Survival Rate of Wounded Rises,” New York Times http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/08/world/asia/08wounded.html?_r=1&hp
---- “Afghan civilian toll up 20 percent-U.N. report,” by Jonathon Burch, Reuters [December 21, 2010] states that “Civilian casualties in Afghanistan rose by 20 percent in the first 10 months of this year compared with 2009, the United Nations said, with more than three-quarters killed or wounded as a result of insurgent attacks. In a quarterly report on Afghanistan this month, the United Nations said there were 6,215 civilian casualties from conflict-related incidents, including 2,412 deaths and 3,803 injuries, between January and the end of October this year.” http://in.reuters.com/article/idINIndia-53709120101221?rpc=401&feedType=... For an extensive listing of casualty estimates since the war began, go to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Civilian_casualties_of_the_War_in_Afghanist...
The Cost of the War
---- According to the website www.costofwar.com, expenditures on the Afghanistan war have reached $382 billion and the total for both the Afghanistan and the Iraq wars is $1.159 trillion. For a useful resource on the costs of war, go to “Bring Our War $$ Home” at www.bringourwardollarshome.org/index.html
Public opinion about the war in Afghanistan
---- The overwhelming 72% majority of Americans want the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan to be accelerated, while only a minority 25% disagree. The clear plurality of Americans, 41%, "strongly" favor speeding up the withdrawal from Afghanistan, while only a very small 6% minority "strongly" oppose doing so. Clear majorities across the political spectrum want their government to speed up the withdrawal including 86% of Democrats, 72% of independents, and 61% of Republicans. The USA Today / Gallup poll was conducted January 14-16, 2011. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/02/08/afghanistan-withdrawal-poll-72-...
---- According to the Afghanistan Study Group, two-thirds of self-identified conservative voters and Tea Party supporters call for either a reduction of U.S. troop levels in Afghanistan (the 39% plurality) or a complete withdrawal "as soon as possible" (27%). 24% think that the current levels of troops should be maintained. The majority 71% of conservative voters, including over two-thirds of Tea Party supporters, are worried that the war's cost to American taxpayers - $120 billion spent on the war in 2010 - will make it more difficult to reduce the U.S. deficit next year and balance the U.S. federal budget in the next decade. http://www.afghanistanstudygroup.org/2011/01/12/afghanistan-study-group-...
---- US public perceptions of Pakistan and Afghanistan have sunk to new lows as the war campaign against Islamic extremism approaches its 10th year, a poll said Friday. Some 14 percent of Americans have a favorable view of Afghanistan and 82 percent hold a negative review, the Gallup poll said. For Pakistan, 18 percent saw the country favorably and 76 percent viewed it unfavorably. The views were the most negative since Gallup began asking the question. Opinion about the two nations peaked in 2005, when upwards of 40 percent of Americans saw both Afghanistan and Pakistan in a positive light. http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20110211/pl_afp/uspoliticsafghanistanpakista...
For earlier polls: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_public_opinion_on_the_war_in_...
THE WAR IN KABUL
Karzai succeeds in getting weak parliament speaker elected
By Saeed Shah, McClatchy Newspapers [February 28, 2011]
---- President Hamid Karzai managed Sunday to avoid the election of a strong opposition politician to the post of speaker of Afghanistan's parliament, after his supporters and critics had wrangled over the position for a month. Karzai had feared that the West would push parliament to impeach him. The speaker position would be key to any such move.http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2011/02/27/109495/karzai-succeeds-in-getting-weak.html
Afghanistan seeks US help post-2014
From Agence France Press [February 23, 2011]
---- Afghanistan on Wednesday appealed for the United States to provide security assistance beyond 2014, the date by which President Barack Obama wants to withdraw US combat troops.
Afghan security worst for 10 years, says UN
From The Associated Press [February 24, 2011]
Sanctions Placed on Afghan Exchange
By Ginger Thompson and Alissa J. Rubin, The New York Times [February 18, 2011]
---- The Treasury Department imposed sanctions on Friday against one of the largest money exchange houses in Afghanistan, along with 15 of its executives, on charges that it used billions of dollars transferred in and out of the country to help hide proceeds from illegal drug sales. The sanctions by the Treasury Department against the money exchange represent one of a handful of instances in which the United States has taken strong steps to stop corruption in Afghanistan. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/19/world/asia/19ansari.html
See also: Deb Riechmann, ”US sanctions target Afghan money laundering,” Associated Press [February 18, 2011] http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110218/ap_on_re_as/as_afghan_corruption
Afghan girls' education backsliding as donors shift focus to withdrawal
By Annie Kelly, The Guardian [February 24, 2011]
---- A new report is warning that hard-won progress in girls' education in Afghanistan, heralded as one of few success stories of the last nine years, is increasingly under threat as international interest in reconstruction efforts ebbs away. The High Stakes report, released on Thursday by 16 aid agencies including Oxfam and Care International, says that the hard-won and expensive gains in girls' education are at risk of being destroyed as the international community turns away from development to focus on national security agendas and the timetable for troop withdrawal. http://www.guardian.co.uk/global-development/2011/feb/24/afghanistan-gir...
NEGOTIATIONS WITH THE ARMED OPPOSITION
By Steve Coll, The New Yorker [February 28, 2011]
---- The Obama Administration has entered into direct, secret talks with senior Afghan Taliban leaders. The discussions are continuing; they are of an exploratory nature and do not yet amount to a peace negotiation. Last year, American-led forces killed or captured scores of mid-level Taliban commanders. General David Petraeus said recently that counterinsurgency efforts in the Taliban strongholds of Helmand and Kandahar provinces had pushed the guerrillas back. It was these perceived military gains that influenced the Administration’s decision to enter into direct talks. http://www.newyorker.com/talk/comment/2011/02/28/110228taco_talk_coll#ix...
Afghan delegation heads to Guantanamo Bay
By Deb Riechmann and Amir Shah, Associated Press [February 22, 2011]
---- A delegation from Afghanistan's peace council will visit the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay as early as next month to seek the release of Afghan detainees as a goodwill gesture to boost reconciliation talks with the Taliban. It is unclear whether the delegation has U.S. permission to visit the prison, but in a speech last week in New York, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said the United States would step up efforts to build international support for Afghan reconciliation. http://ap.stripes.com/dynamic/stories/A/AS_AFGHAN_PEACE_COUNCIL?SITE=DCS...
TRAINING THE AFGHAN ARMY AND POLICE
Afghans see warlord footprints in new police force
By Heidi Vogt, Associated Press [February 21, 2011]
---- The Associated Press talked to elders, police officials and community leaders from 12 of the first 25 districts in the Afghan Local Police program and found reactions ranging from glowing praise to condemnation and fear, suggesting that promised safeguards aren't always applied. The U.S. hopes the nascent project will spark uprisings against the Taliban akin to the Sunni Awakening in Iraq, in which private militias rose up against al-Qaida. But the ALP initiative has stirred worries it will legitimize existing private militias, or create new ones. Warlord-led militias ravaged Afghanistan in the 1990s, opening the way for the Taliban takeover. http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110221/ap_on_re_as/as_afghan_new_force/print
NATO: Afghan attrition remains stubbornly high
By Slobodan Lekic, The Associated Press [February 23, 2011]
---- Attrition rates in Afghan security forces remain stubbornly high, but there is no shortage of recruits so NATO still expects to meet its goal of having 305,000 Afghan soldiers and policemen by October. The Afghan army loses about 32 percent of its personnel each year. In the police, that number is nearly 23 percent. Just 14 percent of the recruits were literate, he said. During 2010, NATO officers said, the Afghan security forces recruited a total of 111,000 men. But at the end of the year overall numerical strength had increased by only 70,000. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2011/02/23/AR201102...
THE WAR ON THE GROUND
Obama's War: How Afghan Conflict Has Ramped Up In Last Two Years
By Marcus Baram, Huffington Post [February 17, 2011]
---- Today marks the second anniversary of President Barack Obama's first surge of troops into Afghanistan just weeks after taking office, when he authorized the deployment of 17,000 additional forces to the country -- at that point, close to a 50-percent U.S. troop increase. Since then, he has approved several more escalations, and the current total of 97,000 U.S. troops in-country is more than double the number stationed there in 2008. The Huffington Post completed a status update of the war in Afghanistan, including conditions in the impoverished country, comparing January 2009 to January 2011. As indicated, some of the statistics reflect available data from the previous year. [FB - This article includes a very useful chart of events.] http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/02/17/obamas-war-afghanistan-last-two...
U.S. Pulling Back in Afghan Valley It Called Vital to War
By C. J. Chivers, et al., New York Times [February 25, 2011]
---- After years of fighting for control of a prominent valley in the rugged mountains of eastern Afghanistan, the United States military has begun to pull back most of its forces from ground it once insisted was central to the campaign against the Taliban and Al Qaeda. The withdrawal from the Pech Valley, a remote region in Kunar Province, formally began on Feb. 15. While American officials say the withdrawal matches the latest counterinsurgency doctrine’s emphasis on protecting Afghan civilians, Afghan officials worry that the shift of troops amounts to an abandonment of territory where multiple insurgent groups are well established, an area that Afghans fear they may not be ready to defend on their own. And it is an emotional issue for American troops, who fear that their service and sacrifices could be squandered. At least 103 American soldiers have died in or near the valley’s maze of steep gullies and soaring peaks. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/25/world/asia/25afghanistan.html?hp
See also: Greg Jaffe, “With eye on strike missions, U.S. plans to realign troops in remote Afghan valley,” Washington Post [February 24, 2011] http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2011/02/24/AR201102...
Big gains reported in Afghan town that Taliban once owned
By Saeed Shah, McClatchy Newspapers [February 18, 2011]
---- Schools that the Taliban closed have reopened in this southern Afghan town, and some girls are even back in the classrooms. The wheat and cotton crops are flourishing, and poppy cultivation is way down.
With some 2,000 Marines stationed in and around Marjah, the militants have been pushed to the fringe of the area, and the hustle and bustle of everyday life has returned, helped by a huge injection of aid and development projects by the Marines. http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2011/02/17/v-print/108960/big-gains-reported-...
Residents of Razed Afghan Village Dispute US Case for Destruction
Shah Noori and Gareth Porter, February 19, 2011
---- The commander of U.S.-NATO forces in southern Afghanistan, Maj. Gen. James Terry, asserted last month that the homes systematically destroyed by U.S. forces across three districts of Kandahar province as part of Operation Dragon Strike in October and November "were abandoned, empty and wired with ingenious arrays of bombs". But in interviews with IPS at the site of the destroyed village of Tarok Kalache, now nothing more than a dusty plain surrounded by orchards, former residents disputed that account of the circumstances surrounding the destruction of their village. The residents said that they don’t believe most of their homes had been booby-trapped by the Taliban and that, even after they had evacuated their homes, farmers from the village had continued to tend their properties in and around the village right up to the time the destruction began. http://original.antiwar.com/porter/2011/02/18/residents-of-razed-afghan-...
(Video) Taliban claims control of district
From Aljazeera [February 22, 2011]
---- NATO forces say they have secured control of the south of Afghanistan. But just 30 minutes by car from Kandahar city, the Taliban has set up camps. http://english.aljazeera.net/video/asia/2011/02/2011222155231206.html
NATO's Afghan night raids come with high civilian cost
By Emma Graham-Harrison, Reuters [February 24, 2011]
---- They were casualties of a night raid, a controversial tactic that has been stepped up dramatically since General David Petraeus took over running the Afghan war last year, despite strong opposition led by President Hamid Karzai. There were nearly 20 each night over the past three months, according to a senior NATO official who requested anonymity. Petraeus says the pressure on suspected insurgents and their networks has brought a new dynamic to a near-decade-old war. Critics argue it is fuelling violence because poor intelligence means dozens of innocent people are killed or detained.
Afghan Team Says NATO Killed Civilians in Strikes
By Alissa J. Rubin, The New York Times [February 27, 2011]
---- Afghan investigators said Sunday that they were convinced that NATO forces killed 65 civilians in airstrikes in eastern Afghanistan this month, a charge that, if true, would be one of the worst civilian casualty episodes of the war. NATO officials, who are still investigating the claims, have insisted that the people killed were insurgents. Since the attack on the night of Feb. 17 in the mountain valleys of Ghaziabad district in eastern Kunar Province, an insurgent-held area, there have been conflicting reports of what happened. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/28/world/asia/28afghan.html?ref=world
See also: Rafiq Sherzad, “Afghan attack toll rises, making it worst in 8 months,” Reuters [February 20, 2011] http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/38533837/ns/world_news-south_and_central_asia/; and “Afghan officials say NATO killed 62 civilians,” [February 2011] http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5j0kGmnp28jYehlOz9Xdo3...
Petraeus's comments on coalition attack reportedly offend Karzai government
By Joshua Partlow, Washington Post [February 21, 2011]
---- To the shock of President Hamid Karzai's aides, Gen. David H. Petraeus suggested Sunday at the presidential palace that Afghans caught up in a coalition attack in northeastern Afghanistan might have burned their own children to exaggerate claims of civilian casualties, according to two participants at the meeting. The exact language Petraeus used in the closed-door session is not known, and neither is the precise message he meant to convey. But his remarks about the deadly U.S. military operation in Konar province were deemed deeply offensive by some in the room. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2011/02/21/AR201102...
See also: Patrick Quinn and Rahim Faiez, “Tensions rise over Afghan civilian deaths,”
Associated Press [February 22, 2011] http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110222/ap_on_re_as/as_afghanistan
PAKISTAN/INDIA AND THE AFGHANISTAN WAR
U.S., Pakistan military chiefs hold secret talks in Oman
By Kevin Baron, Stars and Stripes [February 23, 2011]
---- Several of the most senior leaders of the U.S. military, the Afghanistan War, and the Pakistani armed forces held a daylong secret meeting Wednesday at a secluded luxury beach resort. The meeting, planned several months ago, is the third such gathering of high-level American and Pakistani officials since August 2008 to discuss the war. Relations between U.S. and Pakistani intelligence services are at their lowest in years, to the point of missing chances to target senior terrorists, The Wall Street Journal reported on Friday. http://www.stripes.com/news/u-s-pakistan-military-chiefs-hold-secret-tal...
Pakistan’s Nuclear Bayonet
By Pervez Hoodbhoy, Dawn [Pakistan] [February 18, 2011]
---- Following the 1998 nuclear tests, [Pakistan’s political and military establishment] saw “The Bomb” as a panacea for solving Pakistan’s multiple problems. Pakistan’s nuclear success changed attitudes instantly. A super-confident military suddenly saw nuclear weapons as a talisman; having nukes-for-nukes became secondary. “The Bomb” became the means for neutralising India’s far larger conventional land, air and sea forces. A third purpose, which is still emerging, is subtler but critically important: our nukes generate income. Like nuclear North Korea, Pakistan feels protected. It knows that international financial donors are compelled to keep pumping in funds. Else a collapsing Pakistan would be unable to prevent its 80+ Hiroshima-sized nukes from disappearing into the darkness. http://www.zcommunications.org/pakistan-s-nuclear-bayonet-by-pervez-hood...
The Raymond Davis Case
Just about every “fact” in the Raymond Davis case is being debated in the Pakistani press and between Pakistan and Washington. At issue are: who is Davis and what was he doing in Pakistan; why/how did he kill two young Pakistani men on a road near Lahore; and does he or does he not have “diplomatic immunity”? At the moment, it seems that he was a CIA agent (perhaps interim “head of station”), and that he probably doesn’t have diplomatic immunity. Details of the shoot-out and the identity of the victims (and thus why they were shot) are completely murky. The “facts,” though, are less important than what the case is doing to the precarious political balance inside Pakistan, and to the relations between Pakistan and the US. There are credible threats of mass violence and a political uprising in Punjab if the government were to release him before a trial for murder, and the stand-off between Pakistan’s intelligence services (the ISI) and the CIA seems about as bad as it can get. Below I’ve linked just a few of the many interesting reports in the case and its impact on Pakistan-Washington. Truly, a Gordian Knot!
American Held in Pakistan Worked With C.I.A.
By Mark Mazzetti, The New York Times [February 21, 2011]
---- The officials gave various accounts of the makeup of the covert team and of Mr. Davis, who at the time of his arrest was carrying a Glock pistol, a long-range wireless set, a small telescope and a headlamp. An American and a Pakistani official said in interviews that operatives from the Pentagon’s Joint Special Operations Command had been assigned to the group to help with the surveillance missions. Other American officials, however, said that no military personnel were involved with the team. … Even before the arrest of Mr. Davis, his C.I.A. affiliation was known to Pakistani authorities, who keep close tabs on the movements of Americans. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/22/world/asia/22pakistan.html?_r=1
CIA agent faces murder charges at hearing in Lahore jail as US-Pakistani relations deteriorate
By Declan Walsh, The Guardian [February 25, 2011]
---- The trial of Raymond Davis, the CIA agent facing charges of double murder in Pakistan, has started amid tight security and some secrecy in a Lahore jail. The press and public have excluded from the trial in Kot Lakhpat jail, where Davis has been held since he shot dead two men on a busy Lahore street on 27 January. Pakistan's intelligence agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), has made judicious media leaks to help stir public anger towards Davis. They have included the release of documents this week that made unprecedented criticism of the CIA, suggesting the relationship is near breaking point. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/feb/25/raymond-davis-trial-starts-p...
See also: Nahal Toosi, “CIA employee case strains Pakistani government,” Associated Press [February 22, 2011] http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110222/ap_on_re_as/as_pakistan_government_i... Karin Brulliard, “In aftermath of shooting, rising skepticism about American presence in Pakistan,”
Washington Post [February 22, 2011] http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2011/02/22/AR201102... Rob Crilly, “ Pakistani intelligence service warns relationship with CIA is at breaking point,” The Telegraph [UK] [February 24, 2011] http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/pakistan/8345121/Pakistan...
CIA man in Pakistan may not have immunity
By Justin Elliott, Salon [February 23, 2011]
---- An expert who previously worked in a key State Department diplomatic affairs position is questioning the Obama administration's claim that Raymond Davis, the American currently imprisoned in Pakistan after killing two men, has diplomatic immunity. A specialist in diplomatic law, Ron Mlotek served for 25 years as legal counsel at the State Department Office of Foreign Missions, which regulates foreign missions in the United States. In an interview with Salon, Mlotek said there remain crucial unanswered questions in the case, and that the question of Davis' immunity is not nearly as clear-cut as the administration has argued. http://www.salon.com/news/politics/war_room/2011/02/23/raymond_davis_dip...
See also: Charlie Savage, “Pakistan Case Tests Laws on Diplomatic Immunity,” New York Times [February 22, 2011] http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/23/world/asia/23immunity.html?ref=world
(Video) Arrest of CIA Agent Sheds Light on American Covert War in Pakistan
From Democracy Now! [February 23, 2011] – 7 minutes
The NYT's journalistic obedience
By Glenn Greenwald, Salon [February 21, 2011]
ASSASSINATION BY DRONES
Increased U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan killing few high-value militants
By Greg Miller, Washington Post [February 21, 2011]
---- CIA drone attacks in Pakistan killed at least 581 militants last year, according to independent estimates. The number of those militants noteworthy enough to appear on a U.S. list of most-wanted terrorists: two. After a year in which the CIA carried out a record 118 drone strikes, costing more than $1 million apiece, the results have raised questions about the purpose and parameters of the campaign. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2011/02/20/AR201102...
CIA drones may be avoiding Pakistani civilians
By Ken Dilanian, Los Angeles Times [February 22, 2011]
---- A chance to kill a powerful militant was reportedly passed up last year because women and children were nearby, reflecting a possible increase in concern over such casualties.http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-drone-strikes-20110222,0,5146529,print.story
CENTRAL ASIA AND THE AFGHANISTAN WAR
Russia opposes long-term US bases in Afghanistan
From The Daily Times [Pakistan] [February 19, 2011]
---- Russia urged the United States on Friday not to establish “long-term” military bases in Afghanistan, suggesting even discussing such deployments could undermine peacemaking efforts and anger neighbours. The Russian foreign ministry used a commentary on what it said were media reports about US-Afghan talks on the potential deployment of long-term bases to register its opposition. “