Subject: CONG: Q&A on E Timor & military assistance to Indonesia with Armitage





APRIL 18, 2003


While I support most of the initiatives in this request, I strongly caution the administration not to expect blanket waivers of all existing restrictions and law in the name of combating terrorism. Specifically, I am concerned that the supplemental request for ESF, FMS, peacekeeping and nonproliferation accounts totaling over $1 billion contain, "notwithstanding any other provision of law" clauses consistently.

This request also applies to all previously appropriated funds in these accounts. The explanatory material sent to Congress contains no justification for these actions, Mr. Secretary. So if there are specific concerns about existing restrictions on specific countries, I would encourage you to address them here today. We will work with you, but Congress should not and will not grant this type of broad waiver. It is my understanding that the supplemental request was structured around the concept that funds requested would be obligated by September 30 of this year. However, after a careful review of the request, I have concluded that there is no way most of this funding would be obligated by then.


I would also appreciate a clarification from you on the expanded authority sought in your request. As submitted, the language contains a broad, again, "notwithstanding" clause with specific exemptions to the human rights vetting requirements and U.S. manpower limits. Therefore, if approved as requested, the requirements included in the FY 2003 bill on severing with links to paramilitaries, section 567, reporting on the safety of aerial fumigation, and notifying Congress on resumption of the air bridge operations will all be removed. I hope this is not the administration's intent, and I would ask that you address this concern in your remarks.

The supplemental request also contains language in the DOD section authorizing the use of $100 million in DOD resources for military assistance to foreign countries and $30 million for indigenous forces. Although DOD has attempted to play down the significance of this, the fact remains that it would be a considerable sum with wide open authority to military assistance to any country without input from Congress or the State Department.

The Foreign Operations Subcommittee has jurisdiction over these programs, and as far as I know the State Department still has the primary role in setting foreign policy priorities.

Let me reiterate that most members of Congress are willing to work with the administration and support necessary resources with appropriate flexibility, which will include a substantial increase in foreign military financing. But this proposal and the cavalier manner in which it was put forward by the president, erodes the premise that the administration is seeking that type of partnership.

Another specific concern I have is the request for $8 million for training and equipping a domestic peacekeeping force in Indonesia. Current law prohibits military assistance to Indonesia, and this appears to be an attempt to circumvent these restrictions by assisting the military and couching the proposal as peacekeeping.

In addition, recent press reports have characterized Indonesia's cooperation with us in the war on terrorism as extremely poor. Apparently, they have been unwilling to cooperate in efforts to locate and apprehend known associates of Osama bin Laden residing in Indonesia. Given the administration's continued inability to certify that the conditions for resumption of military assistance have been met and the absence of cooperation on terrorism from Indonesia, I see no reason to go forward with this program.


REP LOWEY (D-NY): And I thank you for your efforts.

Quickly, with regard to Indonesia, I have indicated before, the $8 million requested in the peacekeeping account for Indonesia amounts to military assistance, in my judgment, under a different name and circumvents the certification standards of section 572 of the FY 2002 bill.

Number one, can you explain why this request is justified and what is the status of your ability to certify the conditions of section 572? And how would the provision of the $8 million affect ongoing efforts to obtain the compliance of the Indonesians on the conditions of section 572, particularly bringing justice to members of the armed forces and militia groups, the human rights violations to East Timor?

And lastly, rebuilding efforts in East Timor have stalled. There will be a financing gap between known pledges and upcoming needs. In light of East Timor's obvious progress on the road to democracy and stability, why is there no request for East Timor in this package?

I just want to conclude that by saying to those of us who have been very concerned about human rights violations in East Timor and shared their joy in the election of their new president, I would be very appreciative of your responses to these questions.

ARMITAGE: Yes, ma'am. On the $8 million for the -- we have indigenous internal -- there is term of art we use. There was no intent to evade legislation. We believe that in places like Western Angira (ph), there have been sectarian violence episodes, real possibilities of further sectarian violence.

We would love to have a trained police force with some civil affairs; people who would be able to fall in on these and take care of internal peacekeeping. And that was our thinking on this. We are very aware of the human rights abuses of the Indonesian armed forces, and to my understanding, there was no desire to evade that -- only a desire to not let sectarian violence in those places get out of hand. It is a specter that we can't stand.

We share your joy at the selection of Gusmao -- his 90 percent win, or so, in the elections. The reason that Timor is not in this is that we did not consider that part of an emergency supplemental, and particularly in the global war on terrorism that does not mean to say that after the investment of the international community and the United States has put into Timor, that we are going to turn away from it. That is not the case.

LOWEY: I would hope that we can have further discussions because certainly if we can put in dollars for the military in Indonesia, I think we should consider funds to provide some stability and important assistance to the good people of East Timor who have been through an awful lot in the last years.

ARMITAGE: This is very true. We are really worried that places that have sectarian violence, if I can finish the thought on Indonesia, can become the breeding ground. Indonesia is a tough problem for governance -- 14,000 to 17,000 islands, no one gives me a correct total, in far-flung locations.

It is a tough problem that President Megawati has taken on. It is an open, very hospitable country and it is a Muslim country. It is one we fear that Al Qaeda could operate in relatively freely -- just, by the way, like Al Qaeda operates until recently relatively freely in our own because we are a hospitable open country.

So to have that openness combined with sectarian violence is a fearful specter for us, and that is why we are trying to come up with some way to train some internal peacekeepers.

LOWEY: I am going to conclude and submit my other questions for the record. But I also want to conclude by thanking you for your direct responses, your openness. It is a delight dealing with you. You are always there to discuss any issue. You are appreciated, in case you did not know it.

ARMITAGE: Thank you very much.

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