The spying game

19 11 2013

“My sole motive is to inform the public as to that which is done in their name and that which is done against them.”

~ Edward Snowden, “Edward Snowden: the whistleblower behind the NSA surveillance revelations”

The Guardian, 11 June 2013



Here’s a quick backgrounder on those members of Indonesia’s political and military classes named yesterday in materials leaked by Edward Snowden and obtained by The Guardian Australia and ABC as targets for Australian SIGINT (signals intelligence) gathering in 2009:

Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono former General, President since 2004. His government has been criticised by groups including Human Rights Watch for repeated abuses against minority ethnic and religious groups, and for rewarding political supporters including Hatta Rajasa with key cabinet posts. As security minister under Megawati Sukarnoputri, SBY was in charge of the crackdown on the Papuan reformasi movement. SBY is reported to be working to ‘quell’ members of the Melanesian Spearhead Group, which admitted the West Papuan National Coalition for Liberation (WPNLC) as a full member in June, before Indonesian intervention saw the decision delayed by six months.

At the time of Australia’s alleged spying activities (2009), Wikileaks cables revealed the US refused a visa for a ‘senior aide’, former Indonesian army general Sjafrie Sjamsoeddin, to attend the Pittsburgh G20 leaders’ meeting, for ‘alleged involvement in East Timor war crimes’. SBY responded by making him deputy defense minister. Other leaked cables state that the family (the First Lady in particular) sought to benefit financially from their political position, and allege that SBY used the Indonesian State Intelligence Agency (BIN) to spy on his political allies and opponents, a charge former President Megawati Sukarnoputri made this year. Elected on an anti-corruption platform, SBY has been accused of underfunding agency efforts to clean up one of the world’s most corrupt countries – just last month the chief justice and head of the constitutional court was arrested by the Corruption Eradication Commission KPK.

Kristiani Herawati (also Ani Bambang YudhoyonoFirst Lady and Vice Chair of the Democratic Party (graft beset political party she cofounded with her husband. Daughter of Soeharto-era special forces general. You can read an interesting primer on the Yudhoyono / Wibowo families here. Her brother Pramono Edhie Wibowo was most recently Army Chief of Staff, and former head of Kopassus (the Indonesian Special Forces). Pramono commanded a Kopassus team deployed to Timor Leste in the lead-up to the 1999 independence referendum.

Boediono Vice President (preceded by Yusuf Kalla). Succeeded in 2008 as Coordinating Minister for the Economy by Sri Mulyani Indrawati, following his election as governor of the central bank. He resigned this post to become SBY’s running mate in 2009. The Jakarta Post speculated yesterday that the ongoing Bank Century bailout investigation may step up to include the Vice President.

Yusuf (Jusuf) Kalla former Vice President. The former chairman of the Golkar Party, Kalla may run as VP candidate on a ticket with former President, Megawati Sukarnoputri. Kalla has supported (and acknowledged as an honorary member of) the paramilitary group Pemuda Pancasila, formed in the 1950s as an anti-communist group and has been filmed wearing the organisation’s colours. Kalla laid the blame for the trillion-rupiah ‘Bank Century’ bailout at the feet of Sri Mulyani, Hatta Rajasa, Sofyan Djalil and his successor as Vice President, Boediono.

Dino Patti Djalal recently resigned as Indonesian Ambassador to the United States to run in presidential primaries for SBY’s Democratic Party; together with Andi Mallarangeng, he is a former spokesman for President Yudhoyono. East Timor and West Papuan activists strongly opposed his appointment as Ambassador, labelling him an apologist for the Indonesian military and militias in his role as spokesman for the “Task Force for the Implementation of the Popular Consultations in East Timor” in 1999. He has since spoken out against the government’s tactics and actions as Timor Leste moved toward independence.

Andi Mallarangeng former spokesman for President Yudhoyono, former Youth and Sports Minister, now under KPK (Corruption Eradication Commission) arrest in relation to the $42 million Hambalang sports center graft case. It is alleged he used kickbacks to buy votes in an attempt to secure the chairmanship of the Democratic Party.

Hatta Rajasa Coordinating Minister for Economic Affairs (preceded by Sri Mulyani Indrawati)  and chairman of the National Mandate Party. Former State Secretary of Indonesia; Minister for Transportation; Research and Technology. Alleged to have clashed with former finance minister Agus Martowardojo over implementing corruption and accountability measures. Despite several transportation disasters, including the crashes of Mandala Airlines flight 91, Adam Air flight 547 and Garuda Indonesia flight 200, as well as the sinking of the Digoel and Senopati Nusantara ferries occurring on his watch, SBY rewarded him with the position of state secretary (giving him the ear of the president and the ability to speak on his behalf). He is now second only to SBY in terms of setting Indonesian economic policy, despite having little financial experience.

Sri Mulyani Indrawati finance minister until 2010, now Chief Operating Officer and Managing Director of The World Bank. With no political affiliations, she has been an easy target over the Bank Century scandal, with parliament voting for criminal investigations into her role (& that of VP Boediono).

Widodo Adi Sucipto retired Admiral, former Commander-in-Chief of Indonesia’s National Armed Forces (TNI), and Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs until 2009. As TNI chief, and as security minister, he held a hardline stance toward independence movements in Aceh and Papua.

Sofyan Djalil former state-owned enterprises minister; questioned over corruption claims in 2012. Previously held the communication and information portfolios.

Do I feel more informed, knowing this was being done in my name? I’m not even surprised. Am I outraged that it was done? No. Here are some examples of how the media have treated allegations of Indonesian spying:

  • “Indonesians spying on Papuans: Greens” The Age, 26 May 2006
  • “Yudhoyono leadership tested by murder case” AM, 2 December 2005
  • “‘Death threats’ to widow of lawyer” The Australian, 17 September 2008
  • “Spy chief says Jakarta embassy bugged” SMH, 14 November 2004

I think it’s important to consider the context – both the personalities involved and the timing of this activity (read more here) – were the phone tapping activities linked to the twin bombings at the Marriott and Ritz-Carlton hotels? It was reported at the time of that the same explosive materials were used in the 2002 Bali bombings, and that security agencies including the CIA had been caught off guard. BIN used charity funds to hire Washington lobbyists to get Congress to drop ‘legislative and policy restrictions on security cooperation’ with Indonesia. Hell, former President Wahid told SBS Dateline he believed the second of the 2002 Bali bombings was a ‘false flag’ – organised by Indonesian authorities.

All of this counts for nothing, now. Our ‘friendship’, elastic for years, may have been irreparably damaged. Australia has lost Indonesia’s trust. What cooperation we could expect on transnational crime and terrorist activities is dust. That is the cost of being found out.



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