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John Kerry owes Pakistan an explanation for contractor’s killings

It has been 16 months since Senator John Kerry helped win the release of Raymond Davis, the CIA contractor who was arrested in Pakistan after he shot and killed two men on motorbikes who he said were threatening him. Davis, who worked for Xe, the private security company formerly known as Blackwater, was charged with murder by Pakistani authorities. Initially, they refused to release him. But they relented after the US government paid the families of the victims $2.3 million, and after Kerry traveled to Pakistan and promised at a widely broadcast news conference that Davis would be investigated — and, if need be, prosecuted — by the Justice Department in the United States.

Raymond Allen Davis is escorted by Pakistani security officials.

Hamza Ahmed/ap file

Raymond Allen Davis is escorted by Pakistani security officials.

“I promise you our department will investigate it thoroughly and appropriately,” Kerry said. Kerry also suggested that his own Senate Foreign Relations Committee would keep track of the matter. “It’s not something that’s done underneath the table or quietly . . . Let justice speak here in the end.”

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But so far, little news of the promised investigation has been shared with the public, raising questions about the thoroughness of the probe. The Justice Department has declined to comment, except to say that the case remains open. So far, the only justice that has been brought against Davis was a felony assault charge for punching another man in an altercation over a parking space at a Colorado shopping mall after his return from Pakistan. Davis’s upcoming trial on that charge will be sure to keep him in the news.

That makes the Justice Department’s silence on his case all the more glaring. There may be good reasons for keeping the results under wraps. Relations between the United States and Pakistan have sunk to all-time lows this year. Announcing that Davis will not be charged — or that the people he killed were not innocent victims — could be disruptive at this sensitive time.

But at the end of the day, America’s credibility is based on keeping its promises, as Kerry acknowledged earlier this year. “I want my word to be good,” Kerry told the Globe in March. “There is a legitimate investigative effort that is underway and we are going to have to make public whatever that finding is, in my view, at some point in time.” Now that Davis is going to trial for another crime, this would be a good time. Kerry’s spokeswoman says he continues to be in contact with the Justice Department, and that officials are aware of his interest in the Davis case. He, and the Obama administration, shouldn’t let the matter drop. Following through on the Davis probe is one of the few steps the United States can take to refute some of the dangerous anti-American feelings in Pakistan.

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