East Timor and Indonesia Action Network
Urge Your Senators to oppose
the nomination of
Tell Your Senator: Nation’s
Top Intelligence Post Must Go to Someone Who Respects Human Rights – Not
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 (
Also write a letter to the editor of you local
newspapers. See sample letters
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.
Please let us know if you
acted on this alert and any response you receive. Also contact us with
any questions -
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
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
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
Additional background and links can be found at
For background go see these ETAN media releases:
In addition to the action above, you can also cut, paste and modify
the text below and post it to President-elect Obama's transition
website. Just go here:
http://change.gov/page/s/seattable and send a comment.
Thank you and spread the word! ETAN
President-elect Obama -
We urge you to withdraw your appointment of Adm. Dennis Blair as Director of National
Intelligence. During his years as Pacific Commander, Blair actively
worked to reinstate military assistance and deepen ties to
Indonesia's military, despite its ongoing human rights violations in
East Timor and its consistent record of impunity. In 1999, he
undermined the U.S. efforts to support human rights and
self-determination in the Indonesian-occupied territory and opposed
congressional efforts to limit assistance.
In April 1999, just days after Indonesian security forces and their
militias carried out a brutal, churchyard massacre, Adm. Blair
delivered a message of 'business-as-usual' to Indonesian General
Wiranto, then Commander of the Indonesian armed forces. Following
East Timor's pro-independence vote, Blair sought the quickest
possible restoration of military assistance, despite Indonesia's
highly destructive exit and the failure, which continues to this
day, to prosecute the senior officials who oversaw the violence.
This lack of concern for human rights shows that he is unlikely to
be a champion of reform. I don't believe that this is the kind of
change people are expecting.
Sample Letters to the Editor
Improve them. Adapt to your own words. Mix and match. Share your
letters: Let us know what you send and what gets published.
Go to your local papers website or to
http://www.congress.org/congressorg/dbq/media/ to e-mail your
letter. Letters to the editor are often the most widely-read
section of newspapers. Be sure to include your full name, address, and
telephone number. Keep your letter to about 200 words. If possible,
include a local angle or respond to an article or opinion published in
the paper. Don't forget to put complete contact information at the
bottom. Timeliness is best, so the sooner you submit your letter, the
better. Contact John M. Miller, email@example.com or 718-596-7668, if you'd
like some help.
Sample Letter #1
President-elect Obama’s decision to appoint Dennis Blair as
director of national intelligence is deeply disappointing
[INSERT title, date of published article, if any].
While head of the Pacific Command, Blair gave
support to the Indonesian military during its rampage and
destruction of East Timor. Contrary to the wishes of his superiors,
Blair failed to apply pressure on his Indonesian counterpart to stop
Although East Timor succeeded in gaining its independence, it has
yet to recover from the Indonesian military’s campaign of terror. In
Indonesia, not a single member of the military elite responsible for
war crimes has ever been successfully prosecuted.
If Obama is really for change, he should reconsider his
appointment of Blair. Obama’s action not only betrays his stated
commitment to human rights, it also sends the wrong signal to
Indonesia’s unreformed military.
Sample Letter #2
Admiral Dennis Blair is the wrong choice for director of national
intelligence, and now is the time to push President-elect Obama to
reconsider. [INSERT title, date of published
article, if any]
In 1999, the Indonesian military and its militias brutalized the
people of East Timor as they prepared to vote on independence from
Indonesia. As head of the Pacific Command, Blair met with the top
Indonesian brass just days after dozens of refugees in a Catholic
church in the town of Liquica were hacked to death by an Indonesian
military-backed militia. Blair kept silent on Indonesia’s
violations, effectively giving U.S. approval to the massacre.
Blair’s troubling record in East Timor indicates a mindset which
places maintaining a relationship with the worst human rights violators
over justice and accountability. This is a poor precedent for his
future role in supervising America’s intelligence agencies.