Today is the confirmation hearing for Admiral Dennis Blair as National Intelligence Director. We speak with investigative journalist Allan Nairn, who says he has new information that reveals that as commander of Pacific forces, Blair offered US aid to the general in charge of a massacre that took place in a Catholic Church in East Timor. [includes rush transcript]
JUAN GONZALEZ: Today is the confirmation hearing for Admiral Dennis Blair as National Intelligence Director. We turn now to investigative journalist Allan Nairn, who says he has new information that reveals, as commander of the Pacific forces, Blair offered US aid to the general in charge of a massacre that took place in a Catholic Church in East Timor.
AMY GOODMAN: Allan Nairn is an award-winning journalist who has reported from Indonesia for years. He joins us from there on the telephone. Allan Nairn, what have you discovered?
ALLAN NAIRN: Well, we already knew that Blair met the Indonesian commander just two days after the Liquica Church Massacre and, rather than telling him to stop the killing, offered him support [inaudible]. We also already knew that Blair had been defending himself by saying that when he went into that meeting with Wiranto, he didn’t even know that the Liquica massacre had occurred.
Now there are new US and Church documents which show that Blair has been lying when he has been claiming that he didn’t know. US officials who were there in Jakarta, as they were preparing for the meeting, sent messages at the time showing that they all already knew about the massacre. And Catholic Church records show that before Blair met with Wiranto, the Timorese bishop, Bishop Belo, the Nobel Peace Prize winner, had held a press conference in which he, Bishop Belo, and the pastor of the Liquica church that had been massacred described that massacre in detail. So when Admiral Blair, the prospective intelligence chief, says he went into that meeting not knowing what had happened, he is self-evidently lying, as most public and internal records show.
JUAN GONZALEZ: And, Allan, do the records show what advice, if any, the US officials gave to Blair before the meeting?
ALLAN NAIRN: Could you repeat the question?
JUAN GONZALEZ: Do the records show what advice, if any, US officials gave to Blair before the meeting?
ALLAN NAIRN: Yes. Other separate cables show that Blair was told to tell Wiranto to stop the killings, to stop the massacres, to shut his militias down. But the cable which reports on the result of the meeting, by Blair’s own aide, shows that Blair did not do that. Instead, Blair supported Wiranto, and he offered him new US military assistance. And this was pivotal. This Blair-Wiranto meeting was absolutely crucial, because Wiranto naturally took it as encouragement, and Wiranto’s forces then increased the pace of killing in East Timor, and they went on to do a series of other church and other massacres.
AMY GOODMAN: Finally, Allan Nairn, the description of the Liquica massacre, when it took place and what happened?
ALLAN NAIRN: Dozens of refugees were hiding in the Liquica church and a rectory. The Indonesian forces of General Wiranto, militias, army and Brimob, attacked the church and the rectory, went in with machetes. They hacked the refugees to bits, and many dozens died.
At 10:00 this morning, the Senate Intelligence Committee will be considering Blair’s nomination. People can call the US Congress at (202) 224-3121, ask to be connected to the Senate Intelligence Committee, and also the offices of Senator Wyden, Senator Feinstein, the intelligence chair, Senator Feingold, Senator Bond or Senator Mikulski, and tell them to ask Admiral Blair why he lied about his knowledge of the Liquica massacre and why he gave support to General Wiranto as his forces were in the midst of killing civilians.
AMY GOODMAN: Allan Nairn, joining us on the telephone from overseas in Indonesia, award-winning journalist, has reported from there for years. You can go to his website at allannairn.com.