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Arming Indonesia's killers

July 26, 2002 | Page 2

GEORGE W. BUSH says that the "war against terrorism" is priority number one. Except when the terrorists are on his side.

The administration has asked Congress to lift restrictions on U.S. funding and training for the Indonesian military. Indonesia's generals have a long and bloody record of repressing political opposition, especially independence movements in various regions of the country. And the U.S. government backed them at each step.

The restrictions that the White House wants lifted were only put in place in 1999, following the scorched-earth campaign in East Timor carried out by the military and its death squads--in retaliation for the overwhelming vote for independence in a United Nations-sponsored referendum.

Indonesia's former dictator Gen. Suharto was toppled by a mass revolt in 1998. But the military has remained a powerful player, including under the presidency of Megawati Sukarnoputri, who U.S. officials claimed would carry out democratic reforms.

The Indonesian generals even have documented links to Islamic fundamentalist groups with ties to similarly hard-line organizations in Afghanistan and Pakistan, including Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda network.

Reopening the U.S. arms pipeline to Indonesia will only lead to more violence and human rights abuses. But that's okay with the Bush gang--as long as they're committed by U.S. "allies."

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