Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Press Release

Indonesian Intelligence Agency Uses Indonesian Ex-President’s Charitable Foundation to Lobby Congress

WASHINGTON, September 6, 2006 – The Indonesian national intelligence agency used a former Indonesian president’s charitable foundation to hire a Washington lobbying firm to press the U.S. Congress for a full resumption of controversial military training programs to the country, a new Center for Public Integrity investigation reveals.

The connection between the Indonesian intelligence agency, Badan Intelijen Negara (BIN), to former Indonesian President Abdurrahman Wahid, known for his moderate politics and support for human rights, is documented in papers filed by the lobbying firm Richard L. Collins & Co., in compliance with the Foreign Agent Registration Act (FARA).

The U.S. Congress fully reinstated military cooperation and aid to Indonesia in late 2005 after years of lobbying by both the U.S. administration and the Indonesian government.

Critics of the policy to reestablish ties with the Indonesian military cite concerns over the continued involvement of Indonesian military and security forces in human rights abuses. BIN has been linked in Jakarta court proceedings to the assassination of prominent Indonesian human rights Munir Thalib in 2004.

The Center for Public Integrity's acting Executive Director Wendell Rawls said of the findings, "This is the equivalent of the CIA using the Bush-Clinton Katrina Fund as an intermediary to influence foreign governments. The fact that a foreign intelligence agency retains ‘hired guns’ to press for changes to U.S. policy says a lot about the culture of Washington.

This investigation by the Center uncovered the following:

- In May 2005, the Gus Dur Foundation (founded by former Indonesian President Wahid) retained Collins & Co. for $30,000 a month to lobby Congress and the Bush administration, “to remove legislative and policy restrictions on security cooperation with Indonesia.”

- The American lobbying firm’s FARA filings describe the foundation’s relationship with Collins & Co. as, “directed and funded by the [BIN].”

- FARA records show that between June and October of 2005 (by which point the lobbying contract had been re-executed directly between Collins & Co. and BIN), the American lobbyists, sometimes accompanied by BIN officials, met with several key members of Congress and their staffs.

- The documents were uncovered as part of a year-long investigation into changes in America’s post-September 11 foreign military aid and assistance programs and the impact of those changes on human rights. The investigation, carried out by the Center’s International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, is focusing on 10 key countries, including Indonesia, and is scheduled for release in early 2007.

For more information or interviews contact:

Brad Glanzrock
Interim Press Secretary
Center for Public Integrity
(202) 481-1225 (office)

The Center for Public Integrity produces original investigative journalism about significant public issues to make institutional power more transparent and accountable. The Center is a non-profit, non-partisan organization based in Washington, D.C. Since 1990, the Center has released more than 275 investigative reports and 14 books. In the past eight years, the Center has been honored more than 30 times by, among others, Investigative Reporters & Editors (IRE), The George Polk Award and the Society of Professional Journalists.

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