Human rights come second

The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists discovers the hidden relationship between Washington lobbyists and Indonesia’s intelligence services:

Indonesia’s national intelligence agency used a former Indonesian president’s charitable foundation to hire a Washington lobbying firm in 2005 to press the U.S. government for a full resumption of controversial military training programs to the country, the Center for Public Integrity’s International Consortium of Investigative Journalists has learned.

The connection between the intelligence agency, Badan Intelijen Negara (BIN), and the charity group, the Gus Dur Foundation, is documented in papers filed by the lobbying firm, Richard L. Collins & Co., in compliance with the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA).

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

After years of lobbying by both the Bush administration and the Indonesian government, Congress and the State Department in late 2005 fully reinstated military cooperation and aid to Indonesia, even though BIN has a long history of involvement in human rights abuses and was recently linked to the assassination of a prominent Indonesian human rights activist.