Secret Meeting in the Home of
President Megawati of Indonesia
Feb. 28, 2005
A number of requests have come in for more information on the secret meeting
to which I was a witness in September of 2002. My testimony in Indonesia
last month related to this meeting made
headlines in newspapers and TV programs across Indonesia, and most recently
was even featured on the front page of the Wall
the end of each year, I write up a summary of the highlights of my year. Below
I've copied a fairly detailed summary of what I wrote in my yearly summary of
2002 about this meeting. You will see that subtle, yet clear pressure was
put on President Megawati of Indonesia by U.S. officials to secretly capture
and turn over a prominent Muslim cleric. Yet these same officials and others,
though acknowledging my presence at the meeting, have continually denied in
the international press putting pressure on Indonesia in this case.
made a few editing adjustments to the original, like removing the name of the
CIA agent. The end of the writing has some humorous details I think you'll enjoy.
May each of us have the courage to stand and speak the truth when it clearly
is in the interests of all good people who share our world. Take care
and have a great day.
With best wishes,
Former language interpreter
for Presidents Bush and Clinton
PS For what led to me testify, see http://www.WantToKnow.info/powerofnightmares
Secret Negotiations with
Indonesian President Megawati
My most fascinating interpreting work in
2002 was in Indonesia with President Megawati. I got a call from Karen
Brooks, the Indonesian expert on the National Security Council one Friday in
September. The very next day I hopped on a plane to meet her and another
woman for a secret presidential briefing in Jakarta.
This other woman ended up letting me know she was a CIA
agent. It's the first time anyone has ever admitted being in the CIA to me.
She and I dined together one night. She said she enjoys and believes in the
work, even though it means she often has to live a secret life. As an
example, she couldn't go out with a friend in Jakarta on this visit, as no
one was supposed to know that she was there. She was headed out on a secret
mission to Afghanistan immediately after Jakarta.
Secret Clearance. During the initial phone call from
Karen, she asked me if I had secret clearance. I told her that I have only a
basic, low-level clearance. She said, "Oh sh*t! Well, can you keep a secret?"
I'd been invited to apply for secret clearance a couple times in past years,
but was told it was not required. As long as I don't have to, I'd rather not
go through the process as it's a big hassle.
Over a year ago, Stephanie, the chief of Interpreting
at the State Department, told me that it could make things easier in the
future if I had secret clearance. I informed her that I had used
the drug ecstasy twice about four years prior and could not lie about
this on the forms. After hearing this, she recommended that I don't apply
for secret clearance. She appreciated my honesty, though. We've become friends,
and I've even given her information on the major cover-ups from www.WantToKnow.info. I'd rather be honest
about my own life and risk being fired than try to keep something secret.
I would not make a good CIA agent.
A Wanted Man. At the meeting with Megawati, Ambassador Ralph
Boyce, Karen Brooks, myself, and the CIA agent were present. The CIA
agent was introduced as a special assistant to the president. She told
Megawati that the US needed help in "rendering" Muslim cleric Abu
Bakar Ba'asyir, who she claimed had known ties to Al Qaeda. I had just learned
that rendering means a secret agreement between two governments to covertly
capture and turn over a wanted person. The "special assistant" said that US
intelligence had proof that Ba'asyir had made two attempts on
Megawati's life, in addition to masterminding a number of other heinous plots
as the leader of Jemaah Islamiah. This information came from Omar al-Faruq,
who had been rendered to the US previously by Indonesia.
Megawati responded that unlike al-Faruq, Ba'asyir was
quite well known in Indonesia and revered by many (he is something like a Muslim
version of Jerry Falwell or Pat Robertson). To secretly hand him over to the
US would likely cause political and religious instability that she could not
afford. The special assistant responded that she understood these legitimate
concerns, but that if Ba'asyir wasn't turned over by the time of the APEC
meeting (about six weeks later), the situation could become difficult. Megawati
responded that the only way she could turn him over was if public opinion
of Ba'asyir were somehow to turn against him. She also said that she hoped this
situation would not lead to a severing of the good relations between our countries.
It's very interesting to note that just a few weeks after
this meeting, a nightclub in Bali was bombed, killing nearly 100 Australians
and another 100 Indonesians. US intelligence almost immediately linked Ba'asyir
to the bombing. This gave Megawati the reason she needed, and the cleric is
now in Indonesian custody, though he has not been rendered to the US. As the
majority of Bali bombing victims were Australian, the bombing also served to
scare both the Australian government and people into much more fully
supporting the American war on terror. They had previously been quite
reluctant. So the bombing ended up being very convenient for the American
government—a little too convenient in my opinion.
Layers of Secrecy. On this particular visit, I spent
a lot of time in secure parts of the embassy (which was under bomb
threat alert at the time with concrete barricades out front and all).
There were numerous notices on the walls stating, "Taking classified
documents home is a violation of federal law." I worked on translating
classified documents on a classified computer. It was quite something
to see layer upon layer of security and secrecy in the embassy. It's
very sad to me that this is how governments are run. I am very much
into total transparency in my life. I find it incredibly liberating
to live without hiding anything. Even the "secret" meetings I've interpreted
for often end up being leaked (not by me) so that I can
talk about them.
Anti-terrorism Training. A few weeks after the Megawati briefing, I interpreted at an anti-terrorism
training for high-ranking Indonesian police in Washington, DC. This took place
at the same time all of the sniper killings were going on there. In this one-week
course we had some very interesting high-level speakers. A three-star general
who specialized in intelligence started off his speech with "Everything I tell
you is the truth." Just a few sentences later, he stated, "We have no CIA officers
in Indonesia." He was so full of it!!! I could hardly believe it! He even looked
like he was lying! Several of the Indonesian police generals told me they didn't
believe the guy. On the other hand, a four-star U.S. army general gave a great
talk on the importance of effective communication and taught some empowering
methods for this. I learned later that this friendly general had retired from
the army during the Gulf War because there was too much bullsh*t going on behind
the scenes. Fascinating experiences!!!
A Funny Story :o) I have to
share one funny, fascinating story. The day after I arrived in Jakarta for
the Megawati briefing, the US Embassy called me in to do some written
translation. When I asked about clothing, they said to come dressed casually
as the Megawati briefing wouldn't happen till the following day. I breathed a
sigh of relief, because for the first time in my life, I had forgotten to
bring my dress shirts when I packed back home! On discovering my huge error
after getting into my hotel the previous evening, I ran out and managed to
buy a couple decent shirts that fit, but I hadn't had a chance to iron them
several hours working in my casual clothes in the embassy, one of the guys
came rushing up saying, "The briefing time has been changed. We're going to
do it NOW!" I responded, "That may be a problem because I don't have a suit
with me." I was thinking to myself that even if I rushed back to
the hotel by taxi, my new shirts were not ironed and would look terrible!
Taking a deep breath, I offered to rush to the hotel to change, feeling it
was my only option at this point.
guy stopped for a moment and looked at me kind of strange—like he was sizing
me up or something. "What size neck do you have?" he asked. And then "What size
chest and waist?" Ten minutes later I was wearing this guy's suit, which he
always kept hanging in his office for unexpected meetings! It just happens that
we were exactly the same size—height and all!!! I looked great at the briefing
as his suit fit perfectly!!! God works in many miraculous ways!
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