Virginia, a state bordering Washington DC, is the home of the CIA and of hundreds, if not thousands, of high-tech firms servicing the US government’s espionage industry, either directly or as contractors and partners.
Sometimes the connections get shadier. For eg. in one case in Virginia, the CIA apparently even hired a bank-robber to test the security of Washington-area banks.
“It seems more likely that the New York incident is connected to India detaining an anti-piracy ship owned by a US security firm.
The Sierra Leone-flagged ship, the Seaman Guard Ohio, belongs to the Virginia-based AdvanFort, a maritime security firm that specialises in anti-piracy operations.
The ship is held in the southern port of Tuticorin along with 10 crew members and 25 armed security guards.
The crew and security guards included British, Estonian, Indian and Ukrainian nationals.
The ship’s crew has been accused of obtaining subsidised fuel without authority. Bail for the crew has been denied.
The curious aspect of this case is that the ship is licensed to patrol the eastern Indian Ocean and Gulf. The sailors or ‘contractors’ are in the Indian judicial system and not likely to be let off easily.
To those who doubt this connection, a reminder that the US, including its President, went to extreme lengths to save Raymond Davis who was charged with murder in Pakistan.
It seems very likely that a compromise will soon be found to circumvent the judicial process in the US and in India.
The Indian diplomat will be off the hook and the ship with its crew will be released. However, these episodes raise a question mark on the future of India-US relations.
Coming close on the heels of the American non-cooperation in the David Headley case, this will leave a bitter taste.
What is extraordinary is the utter American insensitivity to public opinion in India — a rare country in which survey after survey showed the US as a popular country in the public perception.
Indians seem to have underestimated the strength of American self-perception of its ‘Exceptionalism’.
The Americans believe that they are the champions of human rights and religious rights and American justice is second to none. They also have legal systems in place that puts American law over international treaties and other nations’ laws.
Most of the world, especially after the scandal of the US National Security Agency snooping over communications in Europe, Asia and Africa with no distinction made between allies and enemies, see the US as a global sheriff, not just a global cop.
To an outsider, the US increasingly looks like a capitalist USSR, complete with its Big Brother snooping, its own Gulag at Guantanamo, its own version of Pravda in The New York Times and Izvestia in the Washington Post!
Even after the current impasse is resolved, Indians would do well to be strictly reciprocal in all dealings with the US and not keep all our eggs in a single basket.”