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Action ALERT

East Timor and Indonesia Action Network

Urge Your Senators to oppose the nomination of former Adm. Dennis Blair

Tell Your Senator: Nation’s Top Intelligence Post Must Go to Someone Who Respects Human Rights – Not Admiral Blair!

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).

Also write a letter to the editor of you local newspapers. See sample letters below.

Talking Points

  • 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 - etan@etan.org.

Background

The Director of National Intelligence coordinates all U.S. intelligence agencies. The post requires Senate confirmation.

Call Obama's transition office to protest this nomination. 202-540-3000

Sign the petition now! http://www.petitiononline.com/blair01/petition.html

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 .

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, etan@etan.org 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 the abuses.

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.

A Letter from Noam Chomsky

Noam Chomsky
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