CIA Agent Released After “Bloodmoney” Paid
By Zeeshan Haider and Mubasher Bokhari
LAHORE, Pakistan | Wed Mar 16, 2011 5:28pm EDT
LAHORE, Pakistan (Reuters) – A CIA contractor was acquitted of two murder charges and released by a Pakistani court on Wednesday after a deal to pay “blood money” to the victims’ families, Pakistani and U.S. officials said.
The deal, reached just hours after the American contractor had been indicted, ends a long-simmering diplomatic standoff between Pakistan and the United States.
“The court first indicted him but the families later told court that they have accepted the blood money and they have pardoned him,” Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah told Reuters.
“The court acquitted him in the murder case.”
Raymond Davis, 36, shot dead two Pakistanis in the eastern Punjab city of Lahore on January 27 after what he described as an attempted armed robbery. The United States had repeatedly called for his release, saying he had diplomatic immunity.
“The families of the victims of the January 27 incident in Lahore have pardoned Raymond Davis. I am grateful for their generosity,” U.S. Ambassador Cameron Munter said. “I wish to express, once again, my regret for the incident.”
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, speaking while on a trip to Cairo, said the U.S. government did not pay any compensation to the families of the two Pakistanis.
Asked if the Pakistani government had paid compensation, Clinton said: “You will have to ask the Pakistani government.”
A U.S. official speaking on condition of anonymity said Davis was quickly flown out of Pakistan. Despite the reported payment of the “blood money,” he insisted there had been “no quid pro quo.” He declined to elaborate.
A U.S. national security official closely monitoring the Davis case and who declined to be identified said that if the Pakistani government paid the compensation they likely will seek reimbursement from the U.S. government.
The case became a major test of ties between the United States and Pakistan, a vital ally in the U.S.-led campaign against Taliban militants in Afghanistan.
It is likely to have a lasting impact on how the Congress, already suspicious of Pakistan’s commitment to defeating some militants groups in Afghanistan, views a government that is a major recipient of U.S. military and civilian aid.
FEARS OF A BACKLASH
Republican lawmaker Dana Rohrabacher, a member of the party that controls the U.S. House of Representatives, said the Davis case “should suggest we take a close look at the fundamentals of who we give our aid to and whether or not they are our friends, or whether they are treating us like suckers.”
But CIA spokesman George Little said the resolution of the case showed that ties between the United States and Pakistan are strong. “That’s the sign of a healthy partnership — one that’s vital to both countries, especially as we face a common set of terrorist enemies.”
Analysts said Pakistan‘s government faced the risk of a backlash. Talat Masood, a retired general, said some groups in Pakistan could use the case to their advantage.
“Some elements will take advantage of it (such as) opposition parties, even if it’s only for rhetoric to gain points. With the religious parties and militant groups, they might use it to expand their reach.”
The country’s powerful religious parties had tried to block such a deal, calling for Davis to be hanged, and the families’ lawyer suggested they had been forced to sign the papers.
“We were put in detention for four hours and not allowed to meet our clients who were called by authorities to the court,” Asad Manzoor Butt, a lawyer for the family of one of the slain men, told Reuters.
Religious parties condemned the release.
“We will protest against this. This is shameful and unfortunate,” said Amir-ul-Azeem, a senior leader of the hardline Islamic party Jamaat-e-Islami.
There had been speculation that a deal was in the works between the United States and the families of the dead men, including a third killed when a U.S. consulate vehicle struck him while trying to extract Davis from the scene.
Such payments are sanctioned by Islamic law and are common in some parts of rural Pakistan as a way to settle disputes.
The identity of the victims has been questioned from the outset, with some media reports saying the men worked for Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency. Others have suggested they attempted to rob Davis.
The case also strained ties between the CIA and ISI, which said it was unaware Davis was working in Pakistan.
U.S. citizen and CIA contractor Raymond Davis was released from a Pakistani prison on Wednesday after $2.3 million was paid to the families of the two Pakistani men he shot and killed and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said repeatedly on Wednesday that the United States had not paid any “blood money” to win his release.
But that’s not the whole story. The truth is that the Pakistani government paid the victims’ families the $2.3 million and the U.S. promised to reimburse them in the future, according to a senior Pakistani official.
Clinton’s interview with NPR’s Steve Inskeep was only one of many where Clinton refused to say how the money got into the hands of the Pakistani victims’ families. Here’s the exchange:
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, first of all, the United States did not pay any compensation. The families of the victims of the incident on January 27th decided to pardon Mr. Davis. And we are very grateful for their decision. And we are very grateful to the people and Government of Pakistan, who have a very strong relationship with us that we are committed to strengthening.
QUESTION: According to wire reports out of Pakistan, the law minister of the Punjab Province, which is where this took place, says the blood money was paid. Is he mistaken?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, you’ll have to ask him what he means by that.
QUESTION: And a lawyer involved in the case said it was 2.34 million. There is no money that came from anywhere?
SECRETARY CLINTON: The United States did not pay any compensation.
QUESTION: Did someone else, to your knowledge?
SECRETARY CLINTON: You will have to ask whoever you are interested in asking about that.
QUESTION: You’re not going to talk about it?
SECRETARY CLINTON: I have nothing to answer to that.
In several other interviews, Clinton told reporters to ask the families — or anyone else other than the U.S. government — how the reported $2.3 million appeared. Obama administration officials want to focus on the fact that Davis is now returning home, not the quid pro quo that made it happen.
“The understanding is the Pakistani government settled with the family and the U.S. will compensate the Pakistanis one way or the other,” the senior Pakistani official told The Cable.
The U.S. government didn’t want to set a precedent of paying blood money to victims’ families in exchange for the release of U.S. government personnel, the source said, adding that the deal also successfully avoided a ruling on Davis’s claim of diplomatic immunity — an issue that had become a political firestorm in Pakistan.
As the Washington Post‘s David Ignatius explains, the deal for Davis was part of a larger agreement to mend ties between the CIA and Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence (ISI), the country’s main spy agency. Relations between the two agencies, which were already strained, totally broke down after the Davis incident because the ISI no longer trusted the CIA to inform them of its activities inside Pakistan. The two victims Davis shot and killed were allegedly ISI agents. But now, the two spy agencies will sit down and establish “new rules of engagement” and resume cooperation, the official said.
“Now ISI and CIA are working on ensuring that their relationship remains on track and there are no future undeclared CIA operations in Pakistan that result in jeopardizing bilateral relations,” the official explained.
Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) played a key role in getting the deal done. He traveled to Pakistan in February to lobby for the deal with a host of Pakistani interlocutors.
“This deal had four principal architects,” Ignatius wrote. “Hussein Haqqani, Pakistan’s ambassador to Washington, who shared the ‘blood money’ idea with Sen. John Kerry, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Kerry then traveled to Pakistan, where he met with President Asif Ali Zardari, with the leaders of the Punjab government that was holding Davis, and with top officials of the ISI. Haqqani also visited CIA Director Leon Panetta the evening of Feb. 28 to share the ‘blood money’ idea with him, according to a U.S. official. The final details were worked out by Panetta and ISI Director-General Ahmed Shuja Pasha.”
In the end, the Pakistanis and the U.S. government can claim the deal is a win-win scenario. For Pakistan, the families’ grievances have been resolved: They have been relocated within the country and the settlement is in accordance with Pakistani law. Moreover, the government of Punjab province was on board, and Zardari was able to find a solution to what had become a messy political situation for him.
U.S. officials, meanwhile, can claim victory for having secured Davis’s return and will argue that no precedent was set on the subject of diplomatic immunity that could be used against the United States in the event of a similar incident in the future.
“Pakistani diplomacy worked out well, quietly and behind-the-scenes,” the official said. “Pakistan’s anti-U.S. media and its Jihadi sources were, as always, louder than the realities.”
 Original Story: http://thecable.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2011/03/16/who_paid_the_blood_money_to_set_raymond_davis_free