Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Exchange Aafia with US "contractor/diplomat/spy"?

One US Opinion:
Aafia Siddiqui for ‘Raymond Davis’? Yeah!
FireDogLake weblog post By fairleft Monday February 14, 2011 2:20 pm

Lawyers for Aafia Siddiqui, who was sentenced by a U.S. court to 86 years in prison for attempted murder of U.S. soldiers, are proposing she be exchanged for ‘Raymond Davis’ (that may not be his real name), the American who killed two Pakistanis in January, emptying 10 bullets into their fronts and backs. The Pakistan law minister indicates he has the same thing in mind:

Stopping a little short of directly linking the release of Raymond Davis with Dr Aafia Siddiqui, Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Babar Awan said on Sunday that the United States has “a repatriation call (for Davis) and we have a call (for Aafia)”. Awan’s statement, the first of its kind by a state functionary, came during his talk with journalists as he visited Gujranwala … He made another similar statement on his arrival in Lahore later in the day.

I say yeah, let’s do it! Siddiqui, a woman broken by eight years of black hole imprisonment by Pakistan and/or the U.S., obviously was and should have been found innocent, as a report by Victoria Brittain explains:

Even the narrow grounds of the case on the shooting was full of curiosities and contradictions: there was no physical evidence on the gun of Dr Siddiqui having held it, no bullet casings from it or holes in the walls of the small room where it took place, except from the other gun which wounded her. Defence counsel made two visits to Afghanistan to get the forensic evidence, which could, and should, have got the whole case dismissed. [Siddiqui attorney] Linda Moreno described the defence forensic case as “very compelling, with no physical evidence whatsoever that she ever touched the gun….no DNA, no fingerprints, no bullets recovered, no bullet holes.” The military and FBI witnesses, Ms Moreno said, contradicted each other, and under cross-examination even contradicted their own earlier stories. She went on to say that “the government wanted to scare the jury with stories of her alleged terrorist past, and steered away from the actual case.”

One key piece of evidence was not in the trial and only emerged from Wikileaks, which revealed a Defense Department report that was not released by the military, so was unavailable as evidence in Dr Siddiqui’s defence. The incident report does not say Dr Siddiqui fired the gun she is alleged to have snatched and fired, merely that she “pointed” it. “Six American soldiers took the stand – powerful testimony for a jury. I argued, what happened at the front, stays at the front. The Wikileaks document would have added to my argument about the dubious credibility of the soldiers,” Ms Moreno told me.

As for Davis, it’s reasonably clear that he is an intelligence operative who violently blew his cool. The always insightful former diplomat M K Bhadrakumar writes:

What raises eyebrows among observers in Delhi is that Davis, who as a highly trained operative killed two motorcyclists who were tailing his car in obtrusive intelligence work for over an hour, knowing full well who they were. As a former US special forces officer, Davis was knowledgeable enough to estimate that such obtrusive intelligence was not meant to be life-threatening but was intended to be intimidating and obstructive. In short, Davis lost his cool at some point when he found he couldn’t shake off his “tail”.

The Pakistani authorities have been leaking to the media that they knew Davis was in touch with the “Pakistani Taliban”. The Washington Post quoted Pakistani intelligence officials to the effect that the two motor cyclists were warning Davis that he was crossing some “red line” (meaning, he was about to do something unacceptable to Pakistan’s national security interests) and it was at that point he shot them.

So in all likelihood both Davis and the two Pakistanis he killed were involved in imperial/military intelligence work. In my book that’s war, a bullet in the back is an expected cost of that shit, and so I wouldn’t call Davis a murderer. Instead the men he killed are two more of the millions of victims of the long imperial war waged by the U.S., in a whole lot of places we should long ago have left in peace.

On the other hand, releasing the catastrophically broken Aafia Siddiqui to the care of her parents and children will repair just a little of the cost of America’s post-2001, post-habeas-corpus era of throwing parents with young children into black holes.

Another fdl diary on this topic is excellent, filling in detail on the injustices done to Siddiqui here SEE many ONDELLETTE articles concerning the Aafia Siddiqui trial earlier for a good grasp of the layered issues involved.

Early responses to the Op Ed above:

openhope February 14th, 2011 at 2:41 pm «
Thank you, fairleft. Good post.

shekissesfrogs February 14th, 2011 at 4:58 pm «
Thanks. I’ve been thinking the same thing about Davis’s tails that he decided to take out. I wonder what he was working on? Incidentally the Pakistanis are getting heated up toward our treatment of them, and Zardari is very weak.

bluebutterfly February 14th, 2011 at 10:35 pm «
The parents of the murdered men are willing to drop murder charges in exchange for Dr. Siddiqui being returned home.

GO here

Yasir Syed February 15th, 2011 at 2:38 am «
Guys I appreciate all of you being very sympathetic to aafia, but I think important point is being missed here……..Aafia is not a murderer & as you all said her case was full of inconsistencies….she should be released as such…….If we ask for an exchange then we are indirectly admitting her guilt……which to me seems against every thing she has stood for.

But I do appreciate it is easy for me ro say this from comfort of my house……I hope something good comes out of this debacle….if it is release of poor aafia so be it.

Reply fairleft February 15th, 2011 at 8:25 am «
No one is admitting or saying or implying that; what you or I think the exchange would mean - it's simply our opinion.

1 comment:

Connie L. Nash said...

From Sify.com news today, an item not hard to believe considering the inflaming of hatred through arrogance, drones (ongoing) and other unjustifiable treatment of US military/Blackwater types and clones in Pakistan:

In a bizarre incident that shows special treatment being meted out to double-murder accused US diplomat Raymond Davis in Pakistani prison, the loudspeakers in Lahore's Kot Lakhpat Jail were muted after he complained about the prayer call on Monday morning.

Davis lodged a protest with the jail authorities on "being disturbed by the morning prayer call," The Nation reports.

"He started shouting in a quite savage manner in the wee hours when the Azaan was in progress and the prisoners were waking up for the prayers," said a prisoner, who requested not to be named.

The inmate said that Davis started shouting: "Shut the louder or I will raise the matter with the (US) Consulate."

"Surprisingly, jail officials shut the loudspeaker. It prompted the other prisoners to protest. In return, the officials switched the speaker back on," he added.

An official of the Kot Lakhpat Jail said that Davis had started huffing and puffing on hearing the Friday prayer call on his first day in that jail.

"Seeing four prisoners offering Asr prayers in the corridor of their barrack, Davis started grumbling in a derogatory way," he added.

Another jail officer claimed that the US official also abused Jail Superintendent Mian Mushtaq Awan, who was trying to pacify him.

Initially, Davis, who is facing murder charges, misbehaved with Awan's subordinates when they woke him up for breakfast around 8am.

"You all are bloody bastards. How dare you wake me without my permission? Now get lost," Davis swore at them.

The officer said that he had just woken Davis up to tell him that some senior officers, transferred from other jails for the special duty, had brought him breakfast, but he flew into a rage.

Then the senior officials themselves gave it a try, pleading humbly: "Davis Sahib, please take your breakfast".

But, instead of cooling down, Davis shouted in reply: "You uncivilised fools don't even make good servants. Is this the method to serve?"

On being informed, Jail Superintendent Awan arrived within no time and tried his best to placate Davis, who abused him also, saying: "I am saying you should go now, bastard."

The officer said that though the senior officers could understand what Davis was saying, they asked Awan, who tried to downplay it, saying: "Davis was using meaningless slang."

The other prisoners, who continue to face acute shortage of basic necessities in the Kot Lakhpat Jail, say that they see the imprisoned US official' behaviour as highly intolerable. (ANI)