Selected postings from east-timor (reg.easttimor)

Subject: CONG: Senators to Rumsfeld, Powell Re. Indonesian Military

May 14, 2002

The Honorable Donald H. Rumsfeld 
Secretary of Defense 
Department of Defense 
1000 Defense Pentagon 
Washington, DC 20301-1000

The Honorable Colin L. Powell 
Secretary of State 
U.S. Department of State 
2201 C St. NW 
Washington, DC 20520

Dear Secretaries Rumsfeld and Powell:

We all share a feeling of outrage and grave concern over acts of terrorism worldwide, and we stand ready to support well-conceived and responsible counter-terrorism programs. We are concerned, however, about the prospect that, in our efforts to bolster counter-terrorism capacities abroad, our armed forces will be called upon to provide assistance to militaries that continue to commit atrocities, refuse to hold their own accountable for human rights violations, and remain, in some circumstances, the largest threat to their own people. By providing such assistance, the U.S. would send conflicting foreign policy messages that would be likely to undermine our own interests and our efforts to build broad global support for the fight against terrorism. Whenever possible, we should avoid these mixed signals. Certainly one way to avoid such self-defeating inconsistency is to retain authority over military assistance programs within the State Department, so that these policy tools are integrated into our overall strategy and country-specific goals.

Specifically, we are concerned with two recent initiatives relating to Indonesia. First, the Emergency Supplemental Appropriations request would provide for an additional $16 million to be used in part for military assistance for Indonesia. We believe that any assistance to Indonesia must adhere to existing, legislative restrictions on military assistance. Likewise, we believe that the $17.9 million Regional Counter-Terrorism Fellowship Program should not be used to skirt the restrictions currently placed on U.S. military assistance to Indonesia and that implementation of this new program should be consistent with the spirit and the letter of existing law.

Moreover, during the implementation and duration of any military assistance programs involving Indonesia, the Departments of Defense and State should continue to consult with Congress in a timely fashion about the involvement of Indonesia, as the Department of State has rightly done in the past. Regular and thorough consultation is especially important in this case, as it is critical that the U.S. avoid any perception that the current situation parallels controversial recent history, in which Indonesian troops participated in Joint Combined Exchange Trainings (JCETs) while the International Military Education and Training (IMET) ban was in place.

We all share an interest in fostering stability, genuine democratic governance, and a respect for basic human rights in Indonesia. Taking pro-active steps to ensure that our policy toward the Indonesian military is transparent and consistent can only strengthen our efforts to work together toward that end.

Thank you for your consideration of our request. We look forward to continuing to work with you in fighting terrorism worldwide and ensuring that U.S. foreign policy pursues our national interests in a manner consistent with our national values.

Sincerely yours,

Senator Russell D. Feingold 
Senator Ron Wyden 
Senator Dianne Feinstein 
Senator Herbert H. Kohl 
Senator Robert G. Torricelli 
Senator Barbara Boxer

cc: Admiral Dennis Blair, Commander in Chief

see U.S.-Indonesia Military Ties page

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