Friday, December 19, 2008

FOXES IN THE CHICKEN COOP: DENNIS BLAIR

Jeff Stein, CQ Spy Talk - [Admiral Dennis] Blair may face a squall over his conduct as president of the influential Institute for Defense Analysis from 2003 to 2007. According to the Center for Defense Information, a Washington think tank populated by reform-minded former military officers: "Blair worked on a report that helped the Air Force decide to pursue a multiyear contract for F-22 Raptor fighter jets. At the same time, he was on the board of EDO Corp., a subcontractor to Lockheed Martin on the F-22 project. After news reports about the apparent conflict of interest, Blair resigned as the head of IDA and his board seat at EDO." He's also on the boards of the scandal-scarred Tyco International as well as Iridium Satellite, which has extensive Defense Department business. . . Blair and Jones served together at the Project for National Security Reform, which only last week issued a report recommending a "massive" overhaul of the government's national security system -- including congressional oversight. . .

East Timor and Indonesia Action Network - "During his years as Pacific Commander, [Admiral Dennis] Blair actively worked to reinstate military assistance and deepen ties to Indonesia's military despite its ongoing human rights violations in East Timor and consistent record of impunity," said John M. Miller, National Coordinator of ETAN.

"His actions demonstrate the failure of engagement to temper the Indonesian military's behavior and his actions helped to reinforce impunity for senior Indonesian officials that continues to this day," added Miller. 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 assistance."

"It is unfathomable that Obama would consider appointing someone to such a prominent position who has shown so little concern for human rights in the past. Can we expect someone who has sought to undermine efforts to link human rights to military assistance to be a champion of reform? We don't think this is the kind of change people are expecting," said Miller.

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.

In April 1999, Blair met in Jakarta with General Wiranto, then the Defense Minister and the commander of Indonesian forces, just days after dozens of refugees in a Catholic church in the town of Liquica, East Timor were hacked to death by machetes by militia members backed by the military (including Kopassus) and Brimob troops.

Instead of pressuring Wiranto to shut down the militias, Blair promised new military assistance, which the military "took as a green light to proceed with the militia operation," according to Allan Nairn, writing in the Nation magazine at the time. [

Nairn reported that a classified cable summarizing the meeting said 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 in conjunction with the next round of bilateral defense discussions in the July-August '99 time frame. He said Pacific command is prepared to support a subject matter expert exchange for doctrinal development. He expects that approval will be granted to send a small team to provide technical assistance to police and. . . selected TNI personnel on crowd control measures." Nairn writes that the last offer was "quite significant, because it would be the first new US training program for the Indonesian military since 1992.". . .

Blair has acknowledged that U.S.-trained Indonesian military officers were among those allegedly 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 to try to stop the brewing crisis," wrote Priest. . .

In April 2000, over the objections of U.S. Ambassador to Indonesia Robert S. Gelbard, members of Congress and State Department officials, Blair made the first high-level visit to Indonesia since all military assistance was cut off in the aftermath of the 1999 independence referendum in East Timor.

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