Spy Games

| Wed Apr. 13, 2011 11:01 AM EDT

What's behind the recent Pakistani demand that the CIA essentially shut down its entire operation in the country? The proximate cause is the shooting of two Pakistani citizens by a CIA employee last January. But as Joe Klein summarizes things, there's a bit more to it:

It seems there may be a covert war going on between the CIA and Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate. The key event appeared, at first, to be a road rage incident (of which there are zillions in Pakistan, believe me). A US "embassy employee" shot and killed two Pakistanis who were allegedly trying to rob him. Except the "employee" — Raymond Davis — turns out to have been a likely CIA employee and the "victims" may well have been ISI operatives. The rumor is that Davis was trying to penetrate Lashkar-e-Taiba, the terrorist group that pulled off the Mumbai massacre and is not-so-loosely affiliated with the ISI.

If these rumors are true — and they seem entirely plausible — the root cause of Pakistan's move against the CIA may be anger that we're getting close to the root of Pakistan's operating hypocrisy: attempting to play our ally — and receiving $6 billion in aid — while funding the Afghan Taliban and supporting terrorist groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba.

I'm not sure how seriously to take something reported as "rumor," but this does indeed have an aura of plausibility. For now, though, I'm just passing it along.