Kathy Kadane's research


WASHINGTON -- U.S. officials who said in interviews that they knew of and approved a decision to pass the names of Indonesian Communist party members to the Indonesian army in 1965 are now denying they did so, according to an article published in the New York Times.

States News Service in May reported the United States played a significant role in one of the worst massacres of the century by supplying lists of thousands of Communist party members to the Indonesian army in 1965, which hunted down and killed many of the leftists.

The Times article said there is no question that a list of names of alleged communists was provided to the Indonesians by the U.S. embassy.

But it said, "The dispute has focused on whether the decision to turn over the names was that of an individual American embassy officer, or was coordinated with the Central Intelligence Agency and approved by senior embassy officers."

The Times article asserted that transcripts of several key interviews are "ambiguous" about what top embassy officials knew.

But taped interviews, conducted after years of in-depth research and numerous interviews with Bob Martens and other mid-level officials, some of whom were not quoted in the article, show that top embassy officials knew of and approved the release of the names, that CIA employees contributed to the lists of names, and that CIA officials in Washington, along with embassy officials in Jakarta, during the massacre, gathered and "checked off" the names of the victims.

The House Select Committee on Intelligence is conducting a preliminary inquiry into the allegations to determine whether to open a formal investigation into the American actions in Indonesia in 1965.

Jack Lydman, the former deputy chief of mission -- the embassy's second ranking official -- confirmed in an interview with States News on May 14, 1990, that the decision to release the names was made by top officials at the embassy, including himself; that CIA personnel contributed to the lists; and that the embassy subsequently collected information about who had been caught and killed in an effort to determine whether the organization was being destroyed.

In an interview with reporter Kathy Kadane, Lydman responded "Absolutely" to the question of whether top embassy officials, he among them, approved the decision to turn over the names.

The Times, which interviewed Lydman after the States article appeared, quoted Lydman as saying this response was "absolutely not what I intended," and that "I certainly wasn't focusing on the impact" of what the reporter had asked him.

A portion of a transcript of the May 14, 1990, interview with Lydman shows the response came after an extended discussion of the lists.

Interviews with Edward Masters, chief of the embassy's political section, Martens' direct superior, also show that he and other top officials were aware of and approved the release of the names; that CIA personnel contributed to the lists, and that the lists were used as a basis for "checking off" what happened to the PKI leaders during the massacre.

In three interviews in December, 1989, excerpted below, Masters said the decision to release the names was made by an inner group of top officials at the embassy of which he was a member, and that top embassy officials knew the names were going to the army. He said he "fully recognized that (a) person might be taken into custody as a result of being on our lists."

When asked what was in his mind when he agreed to the released of the names, Masters said "In my own feeling, the Indonesians were out to take care of the communist party (PKI), and it was in our interest to help them."

The Times article asserted that interview transcripts show that former Ambassador Marshall Green "had no recollection that Mr. Martens had compiled lists of Communist Party members." A transcript of the Dec. 18, 1989, interview with Green clearly shows that he knew about Martens' work in the political section, though he said he was not familiar with the details of Martens' files.

"I knew he was sort of our guru with regard to the PKI," Green said.

When questioned about the Martens' PKI study, Green said that as political counselor (chief of the embassy's political section) in Sweden in the 1950s, he had supervised a similar project to gather names of Swedish communist party activists. By coincidence, he said, William Colby, later chief of the Far East Division of the CIA in 1965, served on his staff at the time, though Colby was actually an employee of the CIA.

"If you had asked our ambassador in Sweden about this file [on the communists], he wouldn't have known a thing -- but I did, because it was my section," Green said.

The transcripts show that later, when the army attack began, Green had more information about the PKI files.

In the Times article, the phrase, "if he said that were so, I would agree with it" was omitted.

The New York Times article erred in quoting portions of the Green transcript, confusing two key passages concerning Green's knowledge of the release of the names.

In the States article, Joseph Lazarsky, deputy CIA station chief in Jakarta at the time, said CIA employees contributed to Martens' lists, a point confirmed by Masters and Lydman, and by two CIA employees -- not identified in the article -- who said they worked on the PKI roster in the political section.

The Times said Bernardo Hugh Tovar, the station chief, denied his office gave "any classified information on Indonesian communist officials to Mr. Martens."

The States article did not say that the CIA information contributed to the PKI lists was classified.

Tovar did not return phone calls placed to his home during the preparation of the States News Service article.

The Times article asserted that "the two senior CIA officials in Jakarta at the time of the coup denied any involvement in Mr. Martens' action."

The States article did not assert that they had any hand in disseminating PKI names. The States account did include an account by Joseph Lazarsky, the deputy CIA station chief, about his dealings with Ali Murtopo, the Indonesian intelligence chief. Murtopo relayed back to the embassy information about who had been caught and who had been killed, Lazarsky said.

The Times story described John Hughes, a former editor of the Christian Science Monitor, who won a Pulitzer Prize for his reporting on Indonesia in the mid-1960s, as an "observer removed from the controversy."

Hughes told the Times that he thought the idea that the United States helped the army locate Communist was "pretty far out."

"I don't think the Indonesian Army needed any help in going after Communists in Indonesia at that time," he said. "It sort of boggles the mind that our embassy would need to be giving out lists. There wasn't any problem about killing people. There was an abundance of names and targets. Everybody knew who was a PKI cadre."

The Times article did not say that Hughes later served as a State Department spokesman (August 1982 to January 1985.) Michael Wines, the reporter who wrote the Times story, told States News Service he had decided to use Hughes as an expert in the story despite Hughes' apparent "conflict of interest" in his later employment by the State Department.

In August 1989, Kadane interviewed Hughes about his experiences in Jakarta after the abortive coup in late September, 1965. At the time, Hughes was a reporter in the Far East Bureau for the Christian Science Monitor.

In the weeks following the Sept. 30 abortive coup that set off the army backlash against the communists, embassy officials have said it was a hard task to gather intelligence about what was going on.

Hughes told Kadane that during this period, he and other western correspondents helped out, often functioning as the "eyes and ears of the embassy." As an example of the aid he gave embassy officials, he said, "I can remember going off to rallies and coming back (to the embassy) and playing a tape," he said.

Times reporter Michael Wines declined to answer questions about why he omitted key portions of the Lydman, Masters and Green interviews. He gave this statement.
David Johnson
Research Director
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email: djohnson@cdi.org
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