January 1, 1970 |

Let us first briefly recap the circumstances surrounding agent Raymond Davis to put things in perspective. The Guardian, London broke the story and leading American newspapers and tv networks, including the Washington Post and the New York Times, followed suit. They all broke their silence, and, quoting US officials, said Raymond Davis worked for the CIA as a security contractor.

The American newspapers also explained that the US government had asked them to withhold Davis’s CIA affiliation out of concerns for his safety in prison (WSJ, NYT, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, ABC News). Davis was essentially a security guard providing physical protection to those affiliated with the embassy and consulate, attached to the CIA’s Global Response Staff, and was reportedly carrying out “area familiarization” – basic surveillance designed to allow operatives to become familiar with their surroundings – at the time of the shooting on January 27. (Foreign Policy Magazine, Feb 22nd).

Davis has also worked for the security contracting company formerly known as Blackwater, according to US officials, and the CIA team he was affiliated with in Lahore reportedly tracked Pakistani militant groups, including Lashkar-e-Taiba, though US officials deny that Davis himself was involved in militant surveillance.

One would presume that these revelations should come as an embarrassment for both President Barack Obama as well as the Secretary of State Hillary Clinton who conveyed their concerns to President Zardari and Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and pressed for the immediate release of Davis, who they insisted was a diplomat.

The deluge of information in the US media on Monday, on the other hand, also exposed the duality of the US media – their propensity to act in cahoots with the security establishment when it comes to the US interests. It matters little, so it seems, at what cost do they all secure the US national interests. They seem oblivious to the interests of countries where these agents operate – regardless of whether they kill people or infringe upon local sovereignty or trample laws.

Now back to the cobweb of spy networks that CIA and Pentagon contractors set up in countries where the US establishment decides to operate. The revelations in the American papers that Raymond Davis had been in contact with 27 militants of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan terrorists (according to The New York Times, Washington Post, Feb 21), are quite startling and certainly not unfounded; if extremely well-placed officials and a couple of private sources were to be believed. Minutes before his deadly act against two Pakistanis, Davis had held meetings with members of jihadi-looking people at a popular hang-out in the Minare Pakistan area. (For security reasons we would prefer to withhold the identity of the people and place involved).

An article in The Daily Beast by Tim Sharrock (a Washington-based investigative journalist and the author of Spies for Hire: The Secret World of Intelligence Outsourcing) offers a very instructive reading on the network of private security contractors in service of CIA and the Pentagon. Sharrock calls them the mercenaries “being hired in unusual numbers.”

“The Obama administration has greatly expanded the outsourcing of key parts of the US-led counterinsurgency wars in the Middle East and Africa, and as a result, for its secretive air war and special operations missions around the world, the US has become increasingly reliant on a new breed of specialised companies that are virtually unknown to the American public, yet carry out vital US missions abroad,” Sharrock writes.

It would not be out of place to mention that when a Jordanian al-Qaeda bomber blew himself up at the US Champan base in Khowst on Dec 30, 2009, two of the seven people killed were Blackwater operatives. (Although in those days the US establishment had been insisting it does not work with Blackwater any more).

Quoting observers, Sharrock fears that the widespread use of contractors for US counterinsurgency efforts in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the Horn of Africa could deepen the secrecy surrounding the American presence in those regions, making it harder for Congress to provide proper oversight.

Sharrock says that even in Iraq, where the US has ended combat operations, the government is “greatly expanding” its use of private security companies, creating “an entirely new role for contractors on the battlefield,” Michael Thibault, the co-chairman of the Federal Commission on Wartime Contracting, recently warned Congress.

Sharrock says that even in Iraq, where the US has ended combat operations, the government is “greatly expanding” its use of private security companies, creating “an entirely new role for contractors on the battlefield,” Michael Thibault, the co-chairman of the Federal Commission on Wartime Contracting, recently warned Congress.

Late last year, Pauline Neville-Jones, the UK’s minister of state for security and counterterrorism (and a former executive with QinetiQ PLC, a major intelligence contractor) told an audience at the Brookings Institution, Washington that “we have something of a crisis in Afghanistan partly because of the largely unregulated private sector security companies performing important roles there”.

The Pentagon’s Central Command had nearly 225,000 contractors working in Iraq and Afghanistan and other areas at last count, doing tasks ranging from providing security to base support. Intelligence agencies such as the CIA and the National Security Agency field thousands more under classified contracts that are not publicly disclosed, but extend into every US military command around the world. (According to reports in The Nation http://www.thenation.com/blog/156765/not-so-secret-anymore-us-war-pakistan and elsewhere Blackwater has contracted to send personnel into Pakistan to fight along with the Joint Special Operations Command.)

This alarming context prompts questions as to whether Davis is part of networks that have been involved in “false flag attacks” on Pakistani interests such as those on the GHQ (Oct 10, 2009), three ISI regional headquarters (Lahore, Multan and Peshawar 2009-2010), the deadly attack on Parade Lane Mosque, Rawalpindi (Dec 4, 2009), and sacred sufi shrines (Data Darbar in June 2010, Abdullah Shah Ghazi, October 2010).

Most of the people arrested in connection with many of these false-flag attacks were either from Waziristan or break-aways from the Punjabi militant groups. Were these militants enlisted for acts of terror by mercenaries commissioned by the CIA or Pentagon? Are these clandestine operations meant to blow holes into Pakistan’s security apparatus and make it appear vulnerable? Are they aimed at softening and defocusing the Pakistan army by engaging it all over, and thus forcing it to change its policies? Well, if the United States and its allies including India consider the Pakistan army as the source of problems in South Asia and Afghanistan, it would make sense for them to prick Pakistan army through private contractors wherever possible.

Raymond Davis case basically has reinforced what has been know even before; the manipulative role the CIA and the US security establishment play all over the world to secure its interests and pursue its objectives. Books such as Confessions of an Economic Hitman, Devil’s Games, Obama’s Wars offer plenty of evidence on the role of the US security establishment – for its commercial as well as security interests. And private security contractors serve as the mainstay of this power play.


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