From: Jeffrey Bogdan,
Reply-To: Conference "act.indonesia",
To: All
Receive-Date: woensdag, 02-apr-97 01:59:23
Date: 31 Mar 97  16:04:53
Subject: U.S. role in PKI documented by on-the record interviews.

Lines: 281

Charles Scheiner suggested I post this to you.
The url for the national security archive is

        Kathy Kadane letter
        Mon, 31 Mar 1997 19:38:20 -0500
        Jeffrey Bogdan <>

Charles, here it is. OCR is amazing,
imperfect as it is. It would take me a month
to type all this. Post it to whomever you
think might use it. Can't this stuff be used as
evidence in some kind of U.S. lawsuit or a
world court proceeding?

From New York Review of Books
April 10, 1977

To the Editors:

I very much admired Ms. Laber's piece on
Indonesian politics and the origins of the
Soeharto regime. In connection with her
assertion that little is known about a CIA
(or US) role in the 1965 coup and the army
massacre that followed, I would like to
make your readers aware of a compelling
body of evidence about this that is publicly
available, but the public access to it is little
        It consists of a series of on-the-record,
taped interviews with the men who headed
the US embassy in Jakarta or were at high
levels in Washington agencies in 1965.1 pub-
lished a news story based on the interviews
in The Washington Post ("U.S. Officials'
Lists Aided Indonesian Bloodbath in '60s,"
May 21, 1990), and have since transferred
the tapes. my notes, and a small collection of
documents, including a few declassified ca-
bles on which the story was based, to the Na-
tional Security Archive in Washington, D.C.
The Archive is a nongovernmental research
institute and library, located at the George
Washington University.
        The former officials interviewed included
Ambassador Marshal! Green,.Deputy Chief
of Mission Jack Lydman, Political Coun-
sellor (later Ambassador) Edward E Mas-
ters, Robert Martens (an analyst of the In-
donesian left working under Masters'
supervision), and (then) director of the
Central Intelligence Agency's Far East di-
vision, William Colby.
        The tapes, along with notes of conversa-
tions, show that the United States furnished
critical intelligence-the  names of thou-
sands of leftist activists, both Communist
and non-Communist-to the Indonesian
Army that were then used bloody
        There were other details that illustrate
the depth of US involvement in the killings
which I learned from former top-
level embassy officials, but have not previ-
ously published.. For example, the US pro-
vided key logistical equipment hastily shipped
in at the last minute as Soeharto weighed
the risky decision to. Attack. Jeeps were
supplied by the Pentagon to speed troops
over Indonesia's notoriously bad roads,
along with "dozens and dozens" of field ra-
dies that the Army lacked. As Ms. Labor
noted, the US (namely, the Pentagon also
supplied "arms." Cables show these were
small arms, used for killing at close range.
        The supply of radios is perhaps the most
telling detail. They served not only as field
communications but also became an ele-
ment of a broad, US intelligence-gathering
operation constructed as the manhunt
went forward. According to a former em-
bassy official, the Central Intelligence
Agency hastily provided the radios-state-
of-the-art Collins KWM-2s, high-frequency
single-sideboard transceivers, the highest-
powered mobile unit available at that time
to the civilian and commercial market. The
radios, stored at Clark Field in the Philip-
pines, were secretly flown by the US Air
Force into Indonesia. They were then dis-
tributed directly to Soeharto's headquar-
ters--called by its acronym KOSTRAD--by
Pentagon representatives. The radios
plugged a major hole in Army communica-
tions: at that critical moment, there were
no means for troops on Java and the out-is-
lands to talk directly with Jakarta.
        While the embassy told reporters the US
had no information about the operation.
the opposite was true. There were at least 
two direct sources of information. During
the weeks in which the American lists were
being turned over to the Army, embassy

officials met secretly with men from Soe-
harto's intelligence unit at regular intervals
concerning who had been arrested or
killed. In addition, the US more generally
had information from its systematic moni-
toring of Army radios. According to a for-
mer US official, the US listened in to the
broadcasts on the US-supplied radios for
weeks as the manhunt went forward, over-
hearing, among other things, commands
from Soeharto's intelligence unit to kill
particular persons at given locations.
        The method by which the intercepts
were accomplished was also described. The
mobile radios transmitted to a large,
portable antenna in front of KOSTRAD
(also hastily supplied by the US--I was
told it was flown in on a C-130 aircraft).
The CIA made sure the frequencies the
Army would use were known in advance to
the National Security Agency. NSA inter-
cepted the broadcasts at a site in Southeast
Asia, where its analysts subsequently
translated them. The intercepts were then
sent on to Washington, where analysts
merged them with reports from the em-
bassy. The combined reporting, intercepts
plus "human" intelligence, was the primary
basis for Washington's assessment of the
effectiveness of the manhunt as it de-
stroyed the organizations of the left, in-
cluding, inter alia the Indonesian Commu-
nist Party, the PKI.
        A word about the relative importance of
the American lists. It appears the CIA had
some access prior to 1965 to intelligence files
on the PKI housed at the G-2 section of the
Indonesian Army, then headed by Major-
General S. Parman. CIA officials had been
dealing with Parman about intelligence con-
cerning the PKI, among other matters, in the
years prior to the coup, according to a for-
mer US official who was involved (Parman
was killed in the coup). The former official,
whose account was corroborated by others
whom I interviewed, said that the Indone-
sian lists, or files, were considered inade-
quate by US analysts because they identified
PKI officials at the "national" level, but
failed to identify thousands who ran the
party at the regional and municipal levels, or
who were secret operatives, or had some
other standing, such as financier.
- When asked about the possible reason
for this apparent inadequacy, former US
Ambassador Marshall Green, in a Decem
her 1989 interview, characterized his
understanding this way:

"I know that we had a lot more informa-
tion than the Indonesians them-
selves.... For one thing, it would have
been rather dangerous [for the In-
donesian military to construct such a
list] because the Communist Party was
so pervasive and [the intelligence gath-
erers] would be fingered... because of
the people up the line [the higher-ups,
some of whom sympathized -with the
PKI]. In the [Indonesian] Air Force, it
would have been lethal to do that, And
probably that would be true for the p0-
lice, the Marines, the Navy-in the
Army, it depended. My guess is that
once this thing broke, the Army was
desperate for information as to who
was who [in the PKl].

        By the end of January 1966, US intelli-
gence assessments comparing the Ameri-
can lists with the reports of those arrested -
or killed showed the Army had destroyed
the PKI. The general attitude was one of
great relief: "Nobody cared" about the
butchery and mass arrests because the vice-
Tim were Communists, one Washington
official told me.

Kathy Kadane
Washington, D.C.

Jeri Laber replies:     
I agree with Ambassador Robert L. Barry
that "political change has lagged badly be-
hind the economic transition, and that
President Soeharto's successors will face a
major challenge in restoring the balance."
Indeed, that is one of the major points of
my article.
        And yes, there is a remarkable range of
critical comment in the Indonesian press,"
but this testifies less to' the degree of per-
missible free expression in Indonesia than
to the courage of Indonesian journalists
and activists who know that at any time
they can be, and are being, punished for
speaking their minds. At this very moment,
Andi Syahputra, the printer of Suara Inde-
penden, the underground magazine that I
mention in my article, is on trial, charged
with insulting the head of state and with
disseminating printed materials that insult
the President and the Vice -President. Five
thousand copies of the latest issue of the
magazine were confiscated because of its
lead article, which gave the results of a sur-
vey indicating that only 9 percent of the
people interviewed believe the govern-
ment's version of the events surrounding
the July 27, 1996, riots in Jakarta. Mega-
wati supporters have been blocked from
running for re-election in the parliamen-
tary elections scheduled for May, and
dozens of people are under arrest, on trial,
or serving prison terms for alleged political
offenses linked to the July 27 riots. A num-
ber of newspapers and magazines have been
threatened with closure.
        Ambassador Barry takes exception to
my thesis that the anti-Communist, anti-
Chinese that followed the 1965
coup was orchestrated by Mr. Soeharto.
"The bloodletting which followed the
coup was indeed terrible," he says, "but far
more readily explained by the sponta-
neous explosion of pent-up tensions in a
society which lent us the word 'amok."'
Yet experts generally agree that it was the
Indonesian Army, under Soeharto, that di-
rectly armed and incited local groups to
launch attacks against suspected leftists.
The Ambassador does not even address
my allegation that the US government, at
the very least, lent moral and financial
support to the "bloodletting," a fact for
which there is evidence, some of which is
cited in my article. And now we have Ms.
Kadane's interviews with former US em-
bassy officials, cited in her letter above,
which indicate that "the United States fur-
nished critical intelligence--the names of
thousands of leftist activists, both Comma-
nits and non-Communist--to the Indonesian
Army that were then used in the
bloody manhunt." This is not the first time
I have heard such charges, but Ms. Kadane
claims to have recorded interviews and
other documentation from the very people
who were involved. We are talking about
one of the worst massacres of the twentieth
century, not a "spontaneous explosion,"
and US complicity in compiling
"death lists" is a subject the Ambassador
and other US officials might well explore.
It is time that the Indonesian and the US
governments release the documents from
that period so that the real truth may finally be known.