Arrest of CIA Agent Sheds Light on American Covert War in Pakistan, Straining U.S.-Pakistani Relations

U.S. officials have admitted an American detained in Pakistan for the murder of two men was a CIA agent and a former employee of the private security firm Blackwater, now called Xe Services. Up until Monday, the Obama administration had insisted Raymond Davis was a diplomat who had acted in self-defense. The arrest of Davis has soured relations between the United States and Pakistan and revealed a web of covert U.S. operations inside the country, part of a secret war run by the C.I.A.

The Guardian of London first reported Davis' CIA link on Sunday and noted that many U.S. news outlets knew about his connection to the CIA but did not report on it at the request of U.S. officials, who said they feared for his safety. The New York Times, Washington Post, Associated Press and other media outlets subsequently confirmed the CIA link and admitted to withholding the story.

For more, Democracy Now! interviews the reporter who first broke the story, Declan Walsh, the Guardian's Pakistan correspondent.

"This is the story that has absolutely dominated the headlines here in Pakistan ever since this slightly mysterious shooting incident occurred on January 27th," Walsh says. "Initially the focus was pretty much on the details of what actually happened when Raymond Davis opened fire on these two men. But there was always this strong feeling of suspicion about what exactly his role was and what type of diplomat he was, if he was someone who was not not only armed with an illegal weapon but also someone who was able to use it so effectively. Davis fired 10 shots, all of which hit the two people who were killed. And now, obviously, since the news has come out that Davis is indeed employed by the CIA, that has really just added fuel to the fire here, and there have been street protests as well as pretty much blanket media coverage."

There's really not a lot of clarity about what Raymond Davis did," Walsh says. "You know, the official U.S. government line from the beginning was that he was either an employee of the consulate in Lahore or that he was a diplomat. Now it's really not clear whether--as an employee of the CIA, what exactly he did. Some reports are suggesting that he was merely part of a security team, and there are other reports suggesting that he was part of surveillance activities, espionage and surveillance. And certainly, when one sees the items that were seized on him at the time--not only the weapon, he was also carrying a GPS, he was carrying a telescope, and he was carrying an air ticket, things like that--those items have certainly aroused suspicion among Pakistanis that he was more than just a simple security officer."

For the complete transcript of the interview and for more reporting on the wars in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq, visit Democracy Now! and sign-up for our daily news digest email. Join us on Facebook.