Ray Davis rescue? 'Mission Impossible,' CIA vet says
The betting is that President Obama will somehow figure out a way to spring Davis, a CIA operative whose diplomatic cover is a matter of heated debate. But given the exigencies of Pakistani politics, the Obama administration's threats, pressure and general foot-stomping are not guaranteed to work.
A CIA counterterrorism veteran with extensive experience in Pakistan offered the following scenario by e-mail, but only after figuratively shaking his head and exhaling deeply. He would not allow his name to be used, in part because he didn’t want to expose himself to ridicule.
“I suppose, if you knew exactly to the meter where Davis was being held, and it was a ground floor room with access to an external wall that was not impossibly thick, you could use a shaped charge to blow a hole in the wall, toss in some flash-bangs, then get a few guys in there to drag out Davis, while hoping you didn't kill Davis or any cops with debris from the shaped charge. That would be simplest and fastest, but would also have to be used with some sort of diversion to draw off cops and civilians before and during the raid. “
“You somehow get the layout, figure out where Davis is being held. You start pumping tear gas into the ventilation system until 90 percent of the cops in the station come stumbling out. You have a team waiting to disarm them and immobilize them, and send another in with gas masks, flash bangs and stun guns to get Davis out.”
Oh, and another thing:
“Of course, as soon as you start the assault, you'd have to have taken down the Paks' commo [radio communications], or create a big diversion by setting off a simulated bomb or fire somewhere else, to draw off potential reinforcements.”
There’s a lot to consider.
“The problem is, even if the building were empty, you'd probably have to pass several heavy duty doors to which you don't have keys, and don't have time to get and figure out the keys -- the cops, even if one of them has them all, is hardly going to explain them in the 3 minutes you'd have to get in and out -- which would mean reliance on various breaching aids. And now you're getting trickier and trickier depending how heavy duty the doors and bars are.”
“What do you do about the mob waiting outside for Davis to by lynched, not to mention all the press?”
“The more you think about it,” my CIA friend said, “the more it seems like 'Mission Impossible' silliness.”
Indeed. Espionage and counterterrorism veterans have been grumbling for days about the missteps in Lahore that once again left egg on the CIA’s face. Some compare it to the disaster in Khost, Afghanistan last year that left seven agency employees dead: “Amateur hour.”
“I think they missed the play on this,” said one, whose name cannot be used because he maintains close ties to the agency. “The [right] move was for [Davis] to drive/walk/run away from the scene [instead of] calling for backup. Then, from the security of the embassy compound, they could either negotiate or slip him out of the country a million different ways.”
“This is what comes of taking guys who are basically commandos and letting them play at being spooks. They think in the wrong way. They do not understand that spies are not supposed to fire their weapons, and, if they do, they are supposed to float away, not hang around to talk to the authorities.”
On Tuesday ABC News reported that “Davis first arrived in Pakistan in December 2008, and was posted at various times in Islamabad, Lahore and Peshawar. Until last August, Davis was stationed in Pakistan as an employee of the company once known as Blackwater, now called Xe Services, and contracted to the CIA.”
According to The Post’s Greg Miller, quoting a U.S. official who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter, “At the time of his arrest, Davis was based at a house with five other CIA contractors as well as an agency employee.”
He was been moved to a separate section of the Lahore jail where the guards' guns had been taken away "for fear that one of them may kill him," Miller reported, citing a U.S. official.
"Our first fear is that the sentiment of the street in Pakistan is, 'Let's take him and hang him,'" a current senior U.S. official told ABC.
| February 22, 2011; 9:00 PM ET
Categories: Foreign policy, Intelligence, Lawandcourts, Military | Tags: Raymond David; Barack Obama; Jimmy Carter; Bruce Willis; Last Action Hero
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