When Looking at Lindsey’s Slip, Don’t Miss the “But”
Marcy Wheeler has already pointed out a huge mistake that Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) made in discussing the status of Raymond Davis, who sits in a jail in Lahore, Pakistan after killing two Pakistanis on Januray 27. Besides Graham’s possible slip of the tongue in characterizing Davis as an “agent”, Graham’s statement reported by AFP is worthy of scrutiny for other reasons, as well:
But Senator Lindsey Graham, the top Republican on Leahy’s subcommittee, strongly warned against any rollback of assistance to Pakistan, citing the need for help in the war in Afghanistan and the hunt for suspected terrorists.
“Our relationship’s got to be bigger than this,” Graham said.
“This is a friction point, this is a troubling matter, it doesn’t play well in Afghanistan. We can’t throw this agent over, I don’t know all the details, but we cannot define the relationship based on one incident because it is too important at a time when we’re making progress in Afghanistan,” he said.
Graham is anxious here not to suspend payments to Pakistan and cites non-existent “progress” in the profound failure that is the US war in Afghanistan. As a long-time anti-Muslim war monger, Graham has much of his career invested in promoting our multiple wars. However, could it be that in broaching the subject of “throw(ing) this agent over”, even while claiming he doesn’t want to do so, Graham is sending a signal that he thinks we should? After all, the “we can’t throw” part of Graham’s statement has a “but” following it, where he points out that his beloved war must be more important that this one incident.
In suggesting this possibility, it becomes even more significant that Graham would “downgrade” Davis’ status from President Obama referring to him as “our diplomat” to now being a mere agent. It seems far more likely to me that the government could abandon a spy but never could abandon a diplomat. Note a concern that crops up in a Reuters article from Thursday:
The postponement to March 14 will likely be met with exasperation in Washington, where the Obama administration has urged Pakistan to free consular employee Raymond Davis and avoid a precedent being set for trials of U.S. officials abroad.
So now an important concern driving the push to have Davis freed is the “precedent being set for trials of U.S. officials abroad.” And that concern comes less than two weeks after George W. Bush abruptly canceled a trip to Switzerland, perhaps out of fear that he might face prosecution for torture.
There clearly are significant political forces within Pakistan who prefer a trial for Davis:
In an argument before the court in Lahore, the advocate general of Punjab Province, Khawaja Haris, said the authorities had filed a “double murder case” against Mr. Davis.
The judge in Lahore, Chief Justice Ijaz Ahmad Chaudhry, ordered the Foreign Ministry to present its findings on Mr. Davis’s immunity in three weeks, further frustrating the Obama administration’s effort to win his speedy release.
The argument by Mr. Haris before the court echoed the hard line taken by former Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi. Mr. Qureshi lost his job in a cabinet reshuffle last week because he said he refused to issue the “blanket immunity” for Mr. Davis demanded by the United States, and favored by President Zardari and his close advisers.
By downgrading Davis’ status from diplomat to agent, perhaps Graham is hoping that Davis will merely be locked away and forgotten. It’s too bad for Graham that Pakistan is not as lawless as the US in this regard, so there is little chance that Davis will be held indefinitely without being tried. The US also can’t rely on its infamous Hague Invasion Act which is still in effect, because it only applies to armed rescue of those in the armed forces facing charges in the International Criminal Court.
Is it possible that Senator Graham thinks we should sacrifice a spy in order to continue our war efforts at full speed ahead? He appears to be at least floating that possibility as a trial balloon.