Tag Archives: pakistan

How to lose an ally: updates on the Raymond Davis affair

Summary:  There is interesting news about the Davis affair.  Little of it appears in the US newspapers; our leaders prefer that we remain ignorant.  How sad that the people of Pakistan know more about this story than Americans relying on our news media (see comment #1 for evidence).  Updates will go in the comments; the first one is interesting!  Links to other posts appear at the end.


  1. A history of lies
  2. Government transparency we can only dream of: Pakistan releases key documents
  3. Pakistan officials comment on the affair Davis
  4. More interesting news (updated)

We continue to piece together as best we can what happened in the affair Davis.  The truth is out there.  Please forward this to people who might be interested.

For an excellent summary see “The Raymond Davis Affair“, FB Ali (Brigadier, Pakistan Army, retired), Sic Semper Tyrannis, 19 February 2011.

(1)  A history of lies

The years go by and the lies by our government continue.  They lie to us about things foreigners (including our enemies) already know, lies designed to deceive us.  Perhaps like an abused spouse, we have come to accept as natural our leader’s contempt for us. 

“There was absolutely no–N-O–no–deliberate attempt to violate Soviet air space. There never has been. … It is ridiculous to say that we are trying to kid the world about this.”
—- Lincoln White, Press Secretary of the State Department, 6 May 1960 (For more detailed lies see this memo from NASA, dated 5 May 1960)

“As previously announced, it was known that a U-2 plane was missing. As a result of the inquiry ordered by the President it has been established that insofar as the authorities in Washington are concerned there was no authorization for any such flight as described by Mr. Khrushchev.  Nevertheless it appears that in endeavoring to obtain information now concealed behind the Iron Curtain a flight over Soviet territory was probably undertaken by an unarmed civilian U-2 plane.”
Press Release from the State Department, 7 May 1960 — In fact Eisenhower made most of the key decisions about the U-2 flights

“With respect to Mr. Davis, our diplomat in Pakistan, we’ve got a very simple principle here that every country in the world that is party to the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations is — has upheld in the past and should uphold in the future, and that is if our diplomats are in another country, then they are not subject to that country’s local prosecution.”
President Obama’s lies at a press conference on 15 February 2010.  Davis may have been a member of the embassy or consular staff, and may have had some form of immunity (see this post for more about these immunities).  Davis is certainly not a diplomat.

(2)  Government transparency we can only dream of:  Pakistan releases key documents

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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.

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.


  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:

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A powerful story about America’s dealings with Pakistan, and how the news media hides the facts from us

Summary:  We remain ignorant about the world because we reply on the news media for information.  Recent events provide a powerful case study illustrating not only how the US news media misinforms us but why the American government has a dark reputation in much of the world.

The sanitized version:  “American Charged in Pakistan Killing“, New York Times, 28 January 2011 — News for those who prefer Disneyland to reality.

A more complete brief:  “A caper gone tragically wrong“, by F. B. Ali (Brigadier, Pakistan Army, retired), Sic Semper Tyrannis, 8 February 2011 — “The bomb continues to tick on.”

For those who want the rest of the story:  “The Deepening Mystery of Raymond Davis and Two Slain Pakistani Motorcyclists“, Dave Lindorff, Counterpunch, 8 February 2011

Today’s news about the Ak-Pak War, about al Qaeda’s strength

Summary:  Our descendents will read about the Af-Pak War and conclude that early 21st century Americans were either fools or insane.  As seen in these two stories from today’s news.

(1)  Michael E. Leiter, director of the National Counterterrorism Center, said that the government estimates that there are somewhat “more than 300” al Qaeda leaders and fighters hiding in Pakistan’s tribal areas (“New Estimate of Strength of Al Qaeda Is Offered“, New York Times, 1 July 2010).  How nice of them to tell us.  How long have they known this?   In addition AQ has another 50 – 100 in Afghanistan (per CIA Director Panetta). 

(2)  Now read “We must crush the Taliban and Al Qaeda in a ‘long war’ in Afghanistan“, John R. Bolton (former U.S. ambassador to the UN), op-ed in the Los Angeles Times, 1 July 2010:

“U.S. objectives in Afghanistan are straightforward: first, defeat Taliban and Al Qaeda efforts to reconquer Afghanistan and make it a base for international terrorism , and second, ensure that Afghan turmoil does not weaken or endanger Pakistan, permitting its nuclear weapons arsenal to fall into the hands of radical Islamists”. 

Bolton gives no evidence that either of those things is likely.   Esp that the few hundreds of al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan pose any substantial threat to us.   His assertions are variants of the two most common  justifications for the war:

  1. to prevent another 9-11, and
  2. to build a stable and “good” Afghanistan.  Good defined in many ways, and steadily down as the war winds on (see here for the “protect women” version)

The second reason is so absurd that it needs no rebuttal, as most Americans reject it as either impossible or not worth the cost in blood and money.  The first of these is the big lie of the war (see Wikipedia).  Afghanistan had little or no role in 9-11.  Whatever we do in Afghanistan does not prevent another 9-11.

  •  The 9-11 attack was planned in Karachi, Kuala Lumpur, and Hamburg.
  •  The most important and relevant training of the 9-11 terrorists took place in the US.
  •  The Afghanistan camps primarily trained fighters against the Northern Alliance.  The training they provided for 9-11 could easily have been done elsewhere.  For more on this see “The ‘safe haven’ myth“, Stephen M. Walt, Foreign Policy, 18 August 2009, or “Who’s Afraid of A Terrorist Haven?, Paul R. Pillar, op-ed in the Washington Post, 16 September 2009.

The 9/11 Commission’s investigation:  what role did Afghanistan play?

The most complete public collection of information about 9/11 is The 9-11 Commission’s Report.  For details about the role of the training in Afghanistan, see page 156, Chapter 5, Al Qaeda Aims at the American Homeland.  Pretty weak basis for a long war, as the important planning and training was done in Europe and the US:

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Exum looks at Af-Pak campaign of the Long War, revealing more about ourselves than the foe

Summary:  Andew Exum’s new report reveals more about America’s defective OODA loop than about the Af-Pak War, esp our myopia (Observation) and insularity (Orientation).  As other posts on the FM website have shown, this is characteristic of our geopolitical experts.  The causes remain obscure.  Perhaps institutional factors, esp the Pentagon dominating the discussion and funding.  Perhaps cultural factors, such as success having made us stupid.

This post examines a new report by Andrew Exum (aka Abu Muqawama):  “Leverage: Designing a Political Campaign for Afghanistan“, Center for a New American Security, May 2010.   Exum provides an excellent example of  our smart, knowledgeable, and experienced geopolitical experts writing about what are in-effect theoretical worlds.  Oz, rather than Earth.  Social scientists make unrealistic assumptions (e.g, the rational investor) as intermediate steps, providing analytical rigor to the process of developing accurate theories.  In geopolitics, the author’s political intent encourages unrealistic descriptions and theories — to obscure, to deceive.

For example, note how Exum never describes Afghanistan as a client or puppet regime.  Careful writing and euphemism disguise this important truth.  On page 7 he observes “some Afghans consider Hamid Karzai to be a puppet of the United States and its allies” — but never asks if they are correct.  This myopia is not just Exum’s; it’s ours.  Geopolitical experts, journalists, layfolks blogging about our wars — all tend to write with similar blinders.


Above all, the United States and its allies need a functioning relationship with the elected Afghan government.  {page 5}

On the first page of his analysis Exum goes to the heart of the issue.  It’s never followed up, beyond implying the correct relationship is we command, they obey.

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