- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 22, 2011

A former CIA senior officer is urging the Obama administration to pay “blood money” to the families of two Pakistani men who were killed by a CIA contractor in order to win his freedom from Pakistani authorities holding him in a murder probe.

Duane Clarridge, the first director of the CIA’s counterterrorism center, said the State Department’s efforts in arguing that consular agreements compel Pakistani authorities to grant Raymond Allen Davis diplomatic immunity are at a dead end.

“All this diplomatic lawyer talk is going to be a waste of time,” Mr. Clarridge told The Washington Times. “What needs to happen is for someone to arrange for the payment of blood money to the relatives of the two guys who died.”

Mr. Davis shot two armed men as they approached his vehicle in Lahore on Jan. 27. He has explained he was defending himself, but authorities are weighing murder charges against him amid public outcry over the killings and U.S. drone attacks in Pakistan.

Islamabad has all but ignored Washington’s calls that Mr. Davis is protected from prosecution by diplomatic immunity. A Pakistani court is expected to rule on the issue soon.

Mr. Clarridge said that to secure Mr. Davis’ release with blood money, it is important that the go-between is someone with whom Pakistani authorities cannot refuse to meet.

“Given the complexities of the issue in Pakistan … the individual who deals with this needs to be to somebody who the Pakistanis cannot refuse. That man is a senior United Arab Emirates official I would rather not name,” said Mr. Clarridge, who runs a private intelligence service operating in Afghanistan and western Pakistan that provides information to the U.S. military and journalists.

“I want to get this guy out,” said Mr. Clarridge, who was a key figure in providing arms to rebel fighters known as the Contras in Nicaragua in the 1980s. “At the rate we are going, we are going to get him whacked.”

The nearly monthlong dispute between the U.S. and Pakistan, a key ally in the war on terror, came to the fore on Monday after Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani told parliament there is an impasse on Mr. Davis’ status.

“There are differences of opinion between Pakistan and the United State in the case of Mr. Davis on the issues of interpretation and applicability of international and national laws,” Mr. Gilani said.

On Monday, a senior State Department official told reporters that the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad notified Pakistan’s government on Jan. 20 that Mr. Davis is a member of the administrative and technical staff of the embassy under the interpretation of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations.

“That’s a treaty to which both the U.S. and Pakistan are parties without reservation, along with 185 other countries,” the senior administration official said. “From that point, he enjoyed the status as a member of the staff of the mission. He enjoyed privileges and immunities against local criminal law, including inviolability of person, inviolability from arrest and detention, immunity from criminal jurisdiction.”

The official added: “Any other form of action, including a judicial proceeding or any other action, is inconsistent with his status as a member of a diplomatic mission and would only compound the violations of international law.”

• Eli Lake can be reached at elake@washingtontimes.com.

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