Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Blackwater and Raymond Davis

I have been captivated from the first by the story of this American contractor who found himself in some trouble in Pakistan. In short, here's what happened.
For whatever reason this man shot and killed 2 Pakistani citizens and directly contributed to the death of a third Pakistani who was struck by a vehicle coming to assist Mr. Davis. According to Davis, although his story is unsubstantiated, he was approached by the two Pakistanis in a way that caused him to believe that he was going to be robbed. Subsequently, Davis was arrested and brought to trial in Pakistan. Before the trial really got underway, secret meetings were held by unknown parties and members of the slain men's families. All or some family members (this is unclear) agreed to accept a sum of money and in return "pardon" Mr. Davis. The murder charges were subsequently dropped and Davis was returned to the states.
At this time, it's also unclear who paid the "blood money" to the families. Hilary Clinton has denied that our government has paid such money. Some reports indicate that the Pakistani government might have paid it, with the expectation of getting the money back from the United States. The amount of the payments has variously been reported to be between 1.4 and 2.4 million dollars.
What struck me most about this whole affair was how similar I thought it was to the killings of 17 Iraqis by the Blackwater contractors, similar but different in some significant ways. How were they similar? Well, both Davis and the Blackwater folks were government contractors, essentially guns for hire. Both parties claimed to have been under attack at the time of the killings. Both caused the deaths of civilians in a foreign country. Both incidents caused a good many hard feelings in the respective countries, even demonstrations. Five of the Blackwater contractors were eventually brought to court here in the US, but the charges were dismissed on the grounds that they had been forced to give statements without benefit of counsel. There does not seem to be any evidence that any sort of restitution was paid to the families of the victims.
How were the cases different? First the Blackwater personnel were operating in a war zone, under rules of war. They were legally carrying weapons. They were in a situation where circumstances such as those they encountered had actually turned out to be attacks in the past. They were acting as an escort and had the lives of unarmed personnel to protect. Mr. Davis was in an ostensibly friendly nation. He was in violation of Pakistan's weapons laws by being armed. Unlike the Blackwater folks, there is no one to verify his version of the events. He was alone, even though he obviously felt threatened enough to be carrying a Glock semi-automatic pistol. He claimed to have diplomatic immunity even though he is not a diplomat.
Where is the moral outrage that we saw in the liberal press over the Blackwater affair? Where are the accusations of cover-up? Where is the talk of Obama's private civilian army of murderers? The truth is the left didn't hate Blackwater...they hated Bush, and all their feigned indignation was simply another big put-on. So come on, let's sweep this under the rug and get back down to business.

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