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Aafia Siddiqui for ‘Raymond Davis’? Yeah!

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.

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