Subject: WP: Officials Correct Bush on Indonesia
Officials Correct Bush on Indonesia
By Dana Priest
President Bush misspoke when he said last week that the United States was ready to "go forward with" a new package of military training programs with Indonesia, according to a White House official questioned about the president's remarks.
Bush said on Indonesian television that new military programs could be launched because Indonesia had cooperated in an investigation into the killing of two U.S. citizens last year in the eastern Indonesian province of Papua.
The comments caught U.S. officials by surprise. Asked to explain Bush's remarks, a senior administration official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said: "We want to move ahead with increased military-to-military cooperation with Indonesia, which is in both of our interests.
"Progress in building a broader military-to-military relationship with Indonesia," he said, however, "will be pinned on continued cooperation from Indonesia on the investigation into the murders of two Americans" near the town of Timika, in Papua. "The investigation is moving forward due to the improved cooperation by the Indonesia government."
No new programs are currently planned or have been approved, other administration officials said, contrary to what Bush's statement implied.
During the same interview, Bush also mischaracterized Congress's continued opposition to such military training. Bush said that "for a while the Congress put restrictions on [military training], but now the Congress has changed their attitude."
In fact, opposition in Congress to military training programs with Indonesia grew stronger this year after the possibility of Indonesian military involvement in the Papua attack was raised in a closed-door hearing in May. The hearing also included testimony from a CIA analyst who discussed intelligence indicating that military personnel were seeking to withhold evidence from FBI agents.
Congress subsequently voted to prohibit the administration from allowing Indonesia to participate in a U.S. military training program called International Military Education and Training (IMET) until Bush certifies that Indonesia is cooperating fully with the investigation. No such certification is in the works, said several congressional and administration officials.
Last year, Congress defeated a similar measure to make the release of IMET funds conditional on cooperation in the murder investigation.
The ambush took place along a winding road on property controlled by an American mining company, PT Freeport Indonesia, and guarded by company security personnel and Indonesian soldiers. Two Americans and an Indonesian were killed. Eight other Americans, including a 6-year-old girl, were wounded. The adults made up the entire staff of a school for the children of the mine's American, British and Australian employees.
Although the Indonesian government has demonstrated some cooperation -- it allowed the FBI to take evidence pertaining to the ambush to the United States for forensic analysis -- the FBI, State Department and lawmakers closely following the case say they do not believe the FBI has received the level of cooperation needed to conclude the investigation.
Patsy Spier, whose husband was killed in the ambush and who was badly injured herself, met last week with Deputy Defense Secretary Paul D. Wolfowitz and John Pistole, chief of the FBI's counterterrorism division, to press the case for a full investigation. She said after the meetings that both men promised their continued help in making sure the Indonesian government cooperates.
"Americans were murdered," Spier said. "It was brutal and we need to find out what happened and to stop it so it doesn't happen again."