By John M. Miller
Tell Your Senator: Nation’s Top Intelligence Post Must Go to Someone Who Respects Human Rights – Not Admiral Blair!
ETAN Action ALERT
Call your Senators and tell them that you oppose the confirmation of Admiral Dennis Blair as President Obama’s Director of National Intelligence. Call today toll free at 800-828-0498/800-473-6711 and e-mail them via the Senate website ( http://senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm).
* Adm. Blair has a poor human rights record. As head of the Pacific Command, he demonstrated a disregard for crimes against humanity committed against the East Timorese in 1999 and undermined executive and congressional efforts to support human rights in Indonesian-occupied East Timor.
* The Senator should oppose Adm. Blair’s nomination as Director of National Intelligence. The post must go to someone who respects human rights and is committed to justice and accountability.
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The Director of National Intelligence coordinates all U.S. intelligence agencies. The post requires Senate confirmation.
As Commander-in-Chief of the U.S. Pacific Command from February 1999 to May 2002, Admiral Dennis Blair was the highest ranking U.S. military official in the region during the period of East Timor’s independence referendum at the end of Indonesia’s violent occupation. During that time he undermined the Clinton administration’s belated efforts to support human rights and self-determination in the Indonesian-occupied territory and opposed congressional efforts to limit military assistance. Blair’s troubling record on East Timor demonstrates that he puts maintaining a relationship with the worst human rights violators above justice and accountability.
In early April 1999, Blair met in Jakarta with General Wiranto, then the Defense Minister and the commander of Indonesian forces. Dozens of refugees in a Catholic church in Liquica, East Timor, were hacked to death by militia members backed by the Indonesian military (including the notorious Kopassus Special Forces) just two days before in a well-publicized massacre.
Instead of pressuring Wiranto to shut down the militias, Blair promised new military assistance, which the Indonesian military “took as a green light to proceed with the militia operation,” according to Allan Nairn, writing in the Nation magazine. In fact just weeks later on April 17, refugees from the attack in Liquicia were again attacked and killed in the capital Dili. The next day, Blair phoned Wiranto and again failed to tell him to stop the killing and shut the military’s militia proxies down.
According to journalist Nairn, classified cables summarizing the meeting and the call, say that Admiral Blair “told the armed forces chief that he looks forward to the time when [the army will] resume its proper role as a leader in the region. He invited General Wiranto to come to Hawaii as his guest… [Blair] expects that approval will be granted to send a small team to provide technical assistance to… selected TNI [Indonesian military] personnel on crowd control measures.”
The link between the militia and the military was clear to the U.S. at the time. Princeton University’s Bradley Simpson writes, “According to top secret CIA intelligence summary issued after the [Liquica] massacre…. (and recently declassified by the author through a Freedom of Information Act request), ‘Indonesian military had colluded with pro-Jakarta militia forces in events preceding the attack and were present in some numbers at the time of the killings.’”
The Washington Post’s Dana Priest reported that in the bloody aftermath of East Timor’s independence vote, , “Blair and other U.S. military officials took a forgiving view of the violence surrounding the referendum in East Timor. Given the country’s history, they argued, it could have been worse.”
U.S.-trained Indonesian military officers were among those involved in crimes against humanity in East Timor. “But at no point, Blair acknowledges, did he or his subordinates reach out to the Indonesian contacts trained through IMET or JCET [U.S.-funded military training programs] to try to stop the brewing crisis,” wrote Priest. “It is fairly rare that the personal relations made through an IMET course can come into play in resolving a future crisis,” Blair told Priest.
General Wiranto was indicted in February 2003 by a UN-backed court in East Timor for his command role in the 1999 violence. The attack on the Liquica church is among the crimes against humanity cited in the indictment. He is currently a leading candidate for President of Indonesia in elections to take place next year.
Additional background and links can be found at http://etan.org/news/2009/01blair.htm .
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John M. Miller
East Timor & Indonesia Action Network (ETAN)
PO Box 21873, Brooklyn, NY 11202-1873 USA
Mobile phone: (917)690-4391
Web site: http://www.etan.org