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The Raymond Davis incident shows that we’re often ignorant because we rely on the US news media. There is a solution.

18 February 2011

Summary:   Here we have another case study in disinformation.  The story of Raymond Davis (US covert operative in Pakistan) illustrates how our mainstream media and experts collude to help the government shape our view of the world.  It’s important that the sheep of America receive distorted news, as the truth might upset us.  Fortunately few Americans read the alternative news websites or foreign news sources. 

What results from a people fed on paranoia, hubris, and lies?  Thousands of people singing variations on this about the affair Davis:

Raymond Davis is covered by immunity and shot two men who were pointing guns at him , as verified by the police.  Davis should have been released long time back, but due to wild anti-Americanism in Pakistan, Davis is being held and will be illegally tried …

Here we sort through the reports to get the outlines of what happened.  We might never learn the truth.  However we can try to see through the legends the US government passes to us through their lackeys in the US news media.  And we can at least hear the Pakistani side of the story.

For more information see How to lose an ally: updates on the Raymond Davis affair.

Contents

  1. Accounts of the story in the mainstream media
  2. Real journalism — in the alternative media
  3. Better information — from the foreign news media
  4. Does Davis have diplomatic immunity?
  5. Conclusions, and a guess why we do these things.
  6. For more information

(1)  Accounts of the story in the mainstream media

Clay Shirkey has esoteric theories (see here) explaining the decline of the mainstream media.  But perhaps their subscribers just tired of reading regurgitated government lies along with a confusing fog of the facts.

  • American Charged in Pakistan Killing“, New York Times, 28 January 2011
  • A Dilemma in U.S.-Pakistani Relations“, Stratfor, 16 February 2011 — A touching account of the US government’s story, with no hint that much of it has looks false.  Best line:  “Davis shot and killed two armed Pakistani nationals on Jan. 27 because he thought they were going to rob him.”

(update) For example, the news media now commonly describe Raymond Davis as a “diplomat”, which is clearly incorrect.  He has a military background, and may have some degree of diplomatic immunity as a member of the technical or service staff in the US embassy or one of the consolates — the degree depending on his exactly status and place of work (see below for more).  But such facts will confuse the narrative, so you shouldn’t know them.

But there are nuggets of good coverage, if one digs to find them.  These contain details that contradict the US government’s story about the Davis incident, and so seldom mentioned in the US press (and by mainstream geopolitical sources like Stratfor):

(a)  “In Pakistan, rumbles of a revolution over Raymond Davis“, Los Angeles Times, 16 February 2011 — Excerpt:

Witnesses say Davis then got out of his car and snapped photos of the men before driving away. He was pulled over by police minutes later and arrested.

Police continue to seek the driver of an SUV from the U.S. Consulate in Lahore, who rushed to the scene of the shooting after Davis called him. Police say that driver drove the wrong way down a Lahore street and struck and killed another person on a motorcycle. Pakistani police say the Lahore consulate has refused to turn over the driver to authorities.

The men on the motorcycle, Faizan Haider and Faheem Shamshad, were carrying stolen cellphones and handguns, police said. But Lahore Police Chief Aslam Tareen says Davis’ claim of self-defense doesn’t hold up because Haider was shot in the back as he tried to flee. Tareen also said that though police found ammunition in the magazine of one man’s gun, they found no cartridge in its chamber.

(b)  “Pakistani police report deems American official ‘guilty’ in shootings“, Washington Post, 13 February 2011 — Excerpt (red emphasis added):

A Pakistani police report says a U.S. Embassy official jailed in the killing of two Pakistani men is “guilty” of murder, citing investigators’ findings that the official shot each victim five times, including in their backs, and lied to police about how he arrived at the scene.

… In Pakistan on Saturday, Shah Mahmood Qureshi, who was foreign minister until a cabinet reshuffle last week, broke his silence on the incident, asserting at a banquet and to a newspaper that he had lost his job because he did not think Davis was qualified for diplomatic immunity.

… U.S. officials in Pakistan have maintained that the two men, who were on a motorcycle, had criminal backgrounds and held up Davis while he was in his car at an intersection in Lahore. After the shootings, the men were found in possession of cash and a cellphone they had stolen that day, the U.S. officials say. U.S. and Pakistani officials told The Post last week that a police report corroborated that account.

But the police’s five-page investigative report, which was written in Urdu and submitted to a municipal court in Lahore, does not reflect that. … The report, citing witness statements, says Davis first shot at the men from inside his sedan, then got out and shot twice more at one of the men, Faizan Haider, as he ran. Davis then took photos and called the U.S. Consulate before fleeing in his car and being apprehended by two traffic wardens, it says. A consular vehicle that came to Davis’s rescue fatally struck an uninvolved motorcyclist on the way to the scene, police say.

According to the report, Davis told police that he arrived at the scene from the consulate, but a Global Positioning System tracker in his car indicated that he had driven from his residence. Police had previously said that Davis told them he was returning from a bank.

The two men on the motorcycle were found to be carrying five cellphones, two pistols and currency from Pakistan, Japan, Oman and the Philippines, according to the report.  Quoting autopsy results, the report says that each man was shot twice in the back and that one was struck in the head. The report later contradicts itself, saying each man was shot thrice in the back.

The shots to the back are cited in a list of reasons investigators rejected Davis’s self-defense assertion. The list notes a lack of witness testimony attesting to a robbery and two empty bullet casings found outside Davis’s car, indicating that he shot offensively. It also notes that there were no bullets in the chambers of the victims’ pistols.

(2)  Real journalism — in the alternative media

The Deepening Mystery of Raymond Davis and Two Slain Pakistani Motorcyclists“, Dave Lindorff, CounterPunch, 8 February 2011 — Journalism lives, just not at our major news media.  Excerpt:

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 the following information:

First, there is not and never has been any such company located at the 5100 North Lane address. It is only an empty storefront, with empty shelves along one wall and an empty counter on the opposite wall, with just a lone used Coke cup sitting on it. A leasing agency sign is on the window. A receptionist at the IB Green & Associates rental agency located in Leesburg, Florida, said that her agency, which handles the property, part of a desolate-looking strip mall of mostly empty storefronts, has never leased to a Hyperion Protective Consultants. She added, “In fact, until recently, we had for several years occupied that address ourselves.”

The Florida Secretary of State’s office, meanwhile, which requires all Florida companies, including LLSs (limited liability partnerships), to register, has no record, current or lapsed, of a Hyperion Protective Consultants, LLC, and there is only one company with the name Hyperion registered at all in the state. It is Hyperion Communications, a company based in W. Palm Beach, that has no connection with Davis or with security-related activities.

The non-existent Hyperion Protective Consultants does have a website (www.hyperion-protective.com), but one of the phone numbers listed doesn’t work, an 800 number produces a recorded answer offering information about how to deal with or fend off bank foreclosures, and a third number with an Orlando exchange goes to a recording giving Hyperion’s corporate name and asking the caller to leave a message. Efforts to contact anyone on that line were unsuccessful. The local phone company says there is no public listing for Hyperion Protective Consultants — a rather unusual situation for a legitimate business operation.

(3)  Better information — from the foreign news media

(a)  Raymond Davis case: Men killed in Lahore were intelligence operatives, says official“, The Express Tribune (Pakistan) and International Herald Tribune, 5 February 2011

(b)  Video reveals US diplomat’s Pakistan police encounter“, Guardian, 10 February 2011 — Excerpt:

Mobile phone clip of Raymond Davis, who shot dead two men in Lahore, deepens mystery about his US embassy role. … Davis says at one point in the video that he’s with the US Embassy, which is in Islamabad, and says later that he’s doing consulting work for the consular general, who is based at the US consulate in Lahore. He also says he’s with the RAO, an apparent reference to the US Regional Affairs Office.

… According to records from the Pentagon, the 36-year-old Davis is a former special forces soldier who left the army in August 2003 after 10 years of service. A Virginia native, he served with infantry divisions prior to joining the 3rd Special Forces Group in Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

(c)  From Dawn (Pakistani newspaper), 6 February 2011 — This material is the key to the extent of Davis’ diplomatic immunity, if any (see below).  Excerpt (red emphasis added):

Davis, who was first claimed by the US embassy as a Lahore consulate staffer and was later declared as assigned to Islamabad embassy, at the time of his arrest, according to his interrogators, carried an ID showing that he worked for the US consulate general in Peshawar, a copy of which has been obtained by Dawn.  It looks to be an interesting case of an embassy staffer concurrently working at three different stations.

Some of the other information shared with by the investigators confirmed the previously known information that he had a military background and was posted with US Regional Affairs Office {RAO}, which is linked by many analysts to CIA.

A US Department of Veteran Affairs card and Department of Defence contractor card were also in possession of Davis, which only adds to the confusion over his identity. The contract documents in Davis` possession revealed that he was on an annual contract with a fee of $200,000.

The US embassy, in a list of cases of its employees pending for registration, given to the FO {Foreign Office} on Jan 25 (two days before the incident), intriguingly did not mention Davis. However, a revised list submitted a day after the incident on Jan 28 carried his name.

(4)  Does Davis have diplomatic immunity?

US sources misrepresent the situation. 

In brief, staff of foreign governments have varying degrees of diplomatic immunity, ranging from total to none. For accurate explanation we must turn to the Pakistan news media, such as these two articles in The Express Tribune (Pakistan) and International Herald Tribune by Najmuddin A Shaikh.  He served as Pakistan’s ambassador to Iran (1992-94) and the US (1990-91), then as Pakistan’s foreign secretary from 1994-97.

The two governing treaties are:

  • Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations of 1961 (see Wikipedia)
  • Vienna Convention on Consular Relations of 1963 (see Wikipedia) — Weaker protections for consular staff than in the 1961 treaty.

Davis may have one of three roles, if he is in fact an employee of the US embassy or consulate staffs, as the US State Department explains in their publication Diplomatic and Consular Immunity: Guidance for Law Enforcement and Judicial Authorities (update:  I expanded this after publication}.  It distinguishes between members of embassys (diplomatic missions) and consulates; the initial reports about Davis (and his IDs) indicate he worked at one or more consulates.

Members of Diplomatic Missions

Members of the administrative and technical staff of a diplomatic mission perform tasks critical to the inner workings of the embassy. Accordingly, they enjoy privileges and immunities identical to those of diplomatic agents in respect of personal inviolability, immunity from criminal jurisdiction, and immunity from the obligation to provide evidence as witnesses. 

Members of the service staff of diplomatic missions perform less critical support tasks for the missions and are accorded much less in the way of privileges and immunities than are those in the other categories. Service staff members have official acts immunity only (see further explanation below) and they enjoy no personal inviolability, no inviolability of property, and no immunity from the obligation to provide evidence as witnesses. … {page 4}

Members of Consular Posts

Countries have long recognized the importance of consular functions to their overall relations, but consular personnel generally do not have the principal role of providing communication between the two countries-that function is performed by diplomatic agents at embassies in capitals. The 1963 Vienna Convention on Consular Relations grants a very limited level of privileges and immunities to consular personnel assigned to consulates that are located outside capitals.

There is a common misunderstanding that consular personnel have diplomatic status and are entitled to diplomatic immunity.

Consular officers are those members of consular posts who are recognized by both the sending and the host country as fully authorized to perform the broad array of formal consular functions. They have only official acts or functional immunity in respect of both criminal and civil matters and their personal inviolability is quite limited. Consular officers may be arrested or detained pending trial only if the offense is a felony and that the arrest is made pursuant to a decision by a competent judicial authority (e.g., a warrant issued by an appropriate court).5

 … As indicated, official acts immunity pertains in numerous different circumstances. No law enforcement officer, State Department officer, diplomatic mission, or consulate is authorized to determine whether a given set of circumstances constitutes an official act. This is an issue that may only be resolved by the court with subject matter jurisdiction over the alleged crime. Thus, a person enjoying official acts immunity from criminal jurisdiction may be charged with a crime and may, in this connection, always be required to appear in court (in person or through counsel). At this point, however, such person may assert as an affirmative defense that the actions complained of arose in connection with the performance of official acts. If, upon examination of the circumstances complained of, the court agrees, then the court is without jurisdiction to proceed and the case must be dismissed.

Consular employees perform the administrative and technical support services for the consular post. They have no personal inviolability, only official acts immunity, and enjoy immunity from the obligation to provide evidence as witnesses only in respect of official acts. …

Consular Service Staff:  Consular service staff do not enjoy personal inviolability or jurisdictional immunity of any kind, but they do have immunity from the obligation to provide evidence as witnesses in respect of official acts. Their family members enjoy no personal inviolability or jurisdictional immunity of any kind.  {page 5}

(5)  Conclusion, and a guess why we do these things

Now we see the reason for the apparently frantic attempts by the US government to after the fact upgrade Davis’ employment status, attempting to give him full diplomatic protection.

None of this matters, since the US government will apply pressure until Pakistan’s government releases Davis.  This insult to their sovereignty will enrage many in Pakistan.  More accurately, further enrage them — following the attacks by US drones and over-the-border crossings by US forces.  But we know that no minor nation deserves national pride, but must bow before us.

Our government does not worry about the likely consequences of these policies.  Perhaps because our leaders have target fixation:

… the brain is focused so intently on an observed object that awareness of other obstacles or hazards can diminish. … This is a common issue for motorcyclists and mountain bikers. … The term “target fixation” may have been borrowed from World War II fighter pilots, who spoke of a tendency to want to fly into targets during a strafing run.  {from Wikipedia}

Despite a decade of killing — by the CIA’s mercs, special ops foreces, drones — we are not winning.  The reason is obvious to the people running the war.

At an early intergovernmental meeting on the importance of psychological warfare, one of {General} Harkins’ key staffmen, Brigadier General Gerald Kelleher, quickly dismissed that theory. His job, he said, was to kill Vietcong.  But the French, responded a political officer named Donald Pike, had killed a lot of Vietcong and they had not won. “Didn’t kill enough Vietcong,” answered Kelleher.
— From The Best and the Brightest, David Halberstam (1972)

(6) For more information

For more information about the feeding of sheep see the FM reference page Information & disinformation, the new media & the old.

  1. News from the Front: America’s military has mastered 4GW!, 2 September 2009
  2. 4GW at work in a community near you , 19 October 2007 — Propaganda warming us up for war with Iran.
  3. Successful info ops, but who are the targets?, 1 May 2008
  4. Psywar, a core skill of the US Military (used most often on us), 26 November 2008
  5. How the Soviet Menace was over-hyped – and what we can learn from this, 13 October 2009
  6. Another example of war advocates working their rice bowls, 24 December 2009
  7. Think-tanks bribe journalists to promote our wars, 24 December 2009
  8. Successful propaganda as a characteristic of 21st century America, 1 February 2010
  9. Another sad little bit of agitprop, this time from John Nagl, 28 February 2010
  10. A note about practical propaganda, 22 March 2010
  11. Programs to reshape the American mind, run by the left and right, 2 August 2010
  12. The US government successfully smears Wikileaks, while America sleeps, 22 October 2010
  13. Every day brings new advocacy for war. That’s our America., 1 November 2010
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