Subject: MJ: Documents Show Ford, Kissinger Approved Timor Invasion

Documents Show Ford, Kissinger Approved Timor Invasion

January 24, 2002

Recently-declassified documents show that former President Gerald Ford and former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger had prior knowledge of -- and approved -- Indonesia's 1975 invasion of East Timor, something both have long denied.

John Miller, outreach coordinator for the New York-based East Timor Action Network, says the documents confirm what many activists have believed for years: that Ford and Kissinger discussed the issue of East Timor directly with Indonesian President Suharto, and that the US had the leverage to influence Indonesia's plans. (See the Special Report, The Struggle for East Timor.)

"We always suspected that we weren't hearing a truthful account of what transpired that fateful December," says Miller. "This only gives us documentation that we were right."

Ford and Kissinger have consistently denied any prior knowledge of the invasion, which was illegal under US law. But according to recently declassified White House memos stored at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library, Ford and Kissinger met with Suharto while returning to Washington from Beijing. The memos indicate that the president and secretary of state expressed "understanding" for the planned invasion, asking only that Indonesia delay the takeover until they had returned to the US.

"It is important that whatever you do succeeds quickly," Kissinger states in one memo. "We would be able to influence the reaction in America if whatever happens happens after we return."

Miller says it makes sense that Suharto would seek approval from the Ford administration because Indonesia was concerned with maintaining a steady flow of arms from the US.

"It's clear that the US held considerable leverage over Indonesia," says Miller. "Look at what happened when (former President Bill) Clinton cut off military aid in 1999. Indonesia pulled out of East Timor immediately."

-- Andrew Friedman

see also ETAN's Kissinger pages

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