Subject: Obama’s Intel Chief Pick Backed Indonesian Occupation of East
also Retired admiral tapped for top intel position, Dennis Blair Wrong Choice for Director of National Intelligence, Obama’s choice for DNI ignored Timor massacres
Democracy Now -
Headlines for December 19, 2008
Obama’s Intel Chief Pick Backed Indonesian Occupation of East Timor
Obama has also reportedly chosen Admiral Dennis Blair for the nation’s top intelligence job. As Director of National Intelligence, Blair would oversee the US government’s sixteen intelligence agencies. Blair’s selection has come under controversy mainly over his role in backing the Indonesian occupation of East Timor during the 1990s. Blair provided key support to the Indonesian military while commanding US military forces in the Pacific. In a letter, the East Timor and Indonesian Action Network said, “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.”
Retired admiral tapped for top intel position
By Philip Ewing - Staff writer
Posted : Friday Dec 19, 2008 17:46:56 EST
President-elect Barack Obama has chosen retired Adm. Dennis Blair, a former head of Pacific Command, to be his director of national intelligence, according to reports Friday.
A surface warfare officer, Blair retired in 2002 after a 34-year career capped off by his post as the commander of all the military forces in the Asia-Pacific region, the largest of the operational areas into which the Pentagon slices the globe.
If confirmed by the Senate, Blair would be the third director of national intelligence since the post was created in the aftermath of the intelligence errors that presaged the 2003 invasion of Iraq. And he would be the second retired admiral to take the post, after its current occupant, retired Adm. Mike McConnell.
Blair graduated from the Naval Academy in 1968 the same year as Virginia Democratic Sen. Jim Webb and retired Marine Lt. Col. Oliver North and spent much of his career in the fleet as a surface warfare officer, eventually commanding the destroyer Cochrane and the Kitty Hawk Carrier Battle Group. Blair is esteemed within the Navy for having tried to water-ski in the Cochrane’s wake when it was forward-deployed in Japan in the 1980s.
In 1999, when Blair was commander of PaCom, critics in the Indonesian state of East Timor faulted him for working too closely with the Indonesian military even as it was trying to put down the Timorese bid for independence. Those critics have followed him back to the U.S.: A New York-based advocacy group, East Timor and Indonesia Action Network, already has begun circulating a petition that urges Obama not to appoint Blair to the intelligence post.
During his career Blair also studied Russian at Oxford; worked as a White House Fellow during the administration of President Gerald Ford; and served in intelligence positions in the Pentagon, with the CIA and the National Security Council.
After he retired, Blair served as president of the Washington-funded Institute for Defense Analyses. He also had a seat on the board of defense contractor EDO Corp.
In 2006 he was criticized by the Project On Government Oversight after an IDA report recommended the Air Force would save money by signing a multi-year deal to buy F-22 Raptor fighters, which POGO said would benefit Blair as an EDO board member. He rejected the criticism, saying he wasn’t involved with the preparation of the F-22 report, although he resigned from his EDO position, he said, to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest. Later, he also stepped down as the president of IDA.
He later became the John M. Shalikashvili Chair in National Security Studies at the National Bureau of Asian Research and the General of the Army Omar N. Bradley Chair of Strategic Leadership at Dickinson College and the U.S. Army War College.
As director of national intelligence, Blair would oversee a hodgepodge of 16 intelligence agencies across the government including federal and military spying operations and be tasked with coordinating and consolidating their output.
Dennis Blair Wrong Choice for Director of National Intelligence
by Andrew Silver Page 1 of 1 page(s)
Admiral Blair encouraged and supported the Commander of the Indonesian Military during the massacres in East Timor in 1999. Given the CIA's long history of supporting massacres, torture, and efforts to overthrow legitimate governments around the world, a person who does not have the moral sense to understand that this is wrong should not be director of national intelligence. Why does Barack Obama not consult distinguished intelligence veterans who have been right all along, like Richard Clarke or Ray McGovern?
If he nominates Dennis Blair to be Director of National Intelligence, President-elect Obama will be making a blunder that can not easily be set aside as a pragmatic choice as can his other nominations of persons who have supported or helped implement the atrocious policies of the Bush administration.
Hillary Clinton’s support for the invasion of Iraq and Tim Geithner’s participation in the quarter trillion dollar gift to major banks with no requirement that the banks use the fortune for making loans are policy positions that can be put into reverse by strong presidential guidance. But condoning and supporting widespread torture and massacres, as Admiral Blair did in 1999 in his meeting with Indonesian General Wiranto while his militias were on a rampage in East Timor , is a policy position on which the president might not be able effectively to override the Director of National Intelligence where covert operations are involved.
Regardless of who is really in charge of intelligence operations, because of the record of the CIA over the past 60 years in training and supporting torturers and death squads, and in fomenting rebellions against Democratic governments, in a dozen or more countries from Guatemala to Angola, it behooves the president to find persons to head national intelligence and the CIA who at least have a moral compass, and who can recognize that promoting torture and death squads, or rebellion against peaceful, legitimate governments is not in the national security interest of this country.
There are distinguished veterans of national intelligence agencies who been right when others have been wrong, particularly with regard to Al Qaida and 9/11, and who also have exhibited a capacity for moral judgment. Best known are Richard Clarke and Ray McGovern. Why does Barack Obama ignore these outstanding experts? If for any reason he finds them not the best qualified to be DNI and CNI, at least he ought to consult with them to find persons better qualified for those posts than those that he already has found.
Andrew G. Silver is an epidemiologist living in North Carolina. He is a dual citizen of the U.S. and Israel and has been involved over 45 years in movements for civil rights for minorities, and against wars, in both countries. Recently his heaviest involvement has been in fighting for honest elections with paper ballots that are counted, first suggesting to his state senator a bill that she introduced that led to the Voter Confidence in Elections Law of 2005.
Obama’s choice for DNI ignored Timor massacres
December 19, 2008
It has emerged that US President Elect Barack Obama intends to nominate retired US Navy Admiral Dennis Cutler Blair to succeed Mike McConnel as Director of National Intelligence (DNI). What most news outlets are not reporting is that in 2000 Blair led a group of Pentagon officials who were determined to maintain close relations with Indonesia’s military establishment, despite its documented involvement in horrendous massacres in East Timor.
Back in 1999, the Clinton Administration finally decided to terminate US military ties to Indonesia “in outrage over its army’s involvement in a brutal militia rampage in East Timor”, as The Washington Post reported at the time. However, many in the US Pentagon objected to severing ties with Indonesia’s military, among them Admiral Blair, who at the time headed the US Pacific Command. In 2000, he managed to circumvent the objections of the US Department of State, as well as repeated protests by US Ambassador to Indonesia, Robert Gelbard, and became “the first high-ranking US officer to visit Indonesia since the sanctions were imposed”. His reasoning for visiting Indonesia was that he “opposed abandoning a long relationship with Indonesia’s armed forces” and “worried that the Indonesian armed forces could become so alienated [by the termination of US support] that they would sever relations”. In 2002, former US President Bill Clinton was questioned while in a visit to Dili, East Timor, by journalist Allan Nairn, about Blair’s conduct and US military support to the Indonesian generals:
President Clinton, you sold weapons to the Indonesian military. You brought General Suharto, the Indonesian dictator, to the Oval Office and offered him F16s. The next day, a White House official told The New York Times Suharto was “our kind of guy”. Your administration under the JCET program sent Green Berets into Indonesia. They trained the Indonesian Kopassus Special Forces in advanced sniper technique, urban warfare and similar tactics. In 1999, in April, when the Indonesian military and their militias massacred [...] fifty people in the rectory in Liquica. They hacked them with machetes. Two days later, Admiral Blair, the Commander for the Pacific, your commander, met with General Wiranto, the Indonesian commander. He offered to help him in lobbying the US Congress to get full US military training restored. He made no mention of the Liquica massacre. During that same period, the Indonesian militias rampaged here in downtown Dili. They attacked the house of Manuel Carrascalao. They massacred the refugees there. Yet you continued for months with aid to the Indonesian military. Why?
To this question, Clinton responded by saying that he didn’t “believe America or any of the other countries were sufficiently sensitive in the beginning and for a long time, a long time before 1999, going all the way back to the 70s, to the suffering of the people of East Timor. I don’t think we can defend everything we did”. He also said that broader US geopolitical interests “led us to do some things, which, in my judgment, made us not as sensitive as we should have been to the suffering of the people here”. He refused, however, to comment on Admiral Blair’s position on Indonesia, saying “I can’t answer the question you asked about Admiral Blair. You’ll have to ask him that because I’m not aware of that”.
In a letter issued on December 5, 2008, the East Timor Action Network (ETAN) urged Barack Obama not to appoint Admiral Blair to the position of DNI. The latter said that “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”. [JF]