by Wayne Madsen
A female “Indiana Jones” who “human terrained” Communists in Indonesia for the CIA.
A third world leader who had challenged the hegemony of the United States was accused of trying to obtain an atomic bomb and helping to create an “axis” of America’s enemy. We are not referring to either Saddam Hussein or Mahmoud Ahmadinejad but to President Sukarno of Indonesia.
U.S. support for the Indonesian coup and Project CAMELOT
President Obama’s step-father, Lolo Soetoro, a reserve Indonesian army officer called back into service in the army in 1965 from his CIA-supplied scholarship at the East-West Center at the University of Hawaii, was a foot soldier in the putschist cabal of General Suharto, the man who the CIA designated as the leader of the 1965 coup that deposed Sukarno and targeted between 500,000 and 1 million members of the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) for elimination. Lolo Soetoro was one of some 4000 Indonesian army officers who were trained in the United States between 1958 and 1965 and the CIA and Pentagon ensured that these officers would be available for the long-planned overthrow of Sukarno. In fact, an overwhelming majority of Indonesian army officers who were trained abroad received their training in the United States, not in the Soviet Union or China. The air force, on the other hand, was seen as pro-PKI and PKI influence extended into the junior officer ranks of the Indonesian navy, particularly in Surabaya, eastern Java.
The Indonesian army also included some PKI sympathizers, especially in units in central and eastern Java, which were also areas of interest to Ann Soetoro in her “anthropological field work” for the U.S. government. In addition, the police force in central and eastern Java was also sympathetic to the PKI.
Obama’s mother, Ann Soetoro, was dispatched from Hawaii to Indonesia in 1967, along with seven year-old Barack Obama, to infiltrate villages in Java to carry out a CIA survey of political leanings among the Javanese population. Those unfortunate enough to be tagged as Communists or Sukarno supporters were then targeted for elimination by the CIA, which turned the target lists over to Suharto’s army officers, including Lolo Soetoro. During the Cold War, the use of anthropologists by the CIA and Defense Department in the collection of ethnographic and cultural intelligence was commonplace, with modern roots in a classified U.S. intelligence program created in 1964, three years before Dunham Soetoro arrived in Indonesia, called Project CAMELOT. The first testing ground for CAMELOT was Chile and the target was that nation’s indigenous population, including the Mapuche Indians.
The use of anthropologists like Dunham Soetoro was supported through grants laundered by the Ford, Rockefeller, and Carnegie Foundations. Many of Dunham Soetoro’s activities in Java were funded by the Ford Foundation.
CAMELOT was officially described as follows by the U.S. Army: “Success in such tasks as equipping and training indigenous forces for an internal security mission, civic action, psychological warfare, or other counterinsurgency action depends on a thorough understanding of the indigenous social structure, upon the accuracy with which changes within the indigenous culture, particularly violent changes, are anticipated, and the effects of various courses of action available to the military and other agencies of government upon the indigenous process of change.”
CAMELOT’s work was conducted at American University in Washington, DC by the Pentagon’s Special Operations Research Office (SORO). SORO ran the Army’s psychological warfare operations. In addition to CAMELOT “research” in Chile, SORO anthropological research also targeted the indigenous peoples of Colombia and Peru.
CAMELOT still exists under a new name and Obama supports it
Today, a number of elements in CAMELOT are integral to the much-discredited “Human Terrain System” (HTS) operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. As with CAMELOT and other covert operations involving anthropologists, HTS has been charged with exacerbating tensions between various indigenous groups and tribes to create intelligence opportunities for the U.S. military. The targeting of village leaders, a replay, of the CIA’s PHOENIX assassination program in South Vietnam, part of CIA Southeast Asia regional chief William Colby’s Civil Operations and Revolutionary Development Support (CORDS) program, has also been a charge leveled against those involved with HTS. President Obama has done nothing to curtail HTS funding, although there have been some moves by some in Congress to do so.
Obama continues to fund the follow-on to CAMELOT, PHOENIX, CORDS, and MODJOKUTO, all CIA/Pentagon operations familiar to his mother and her colleagues, the Human Terrain System, which has been responsible for massacres of civilians in Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, Yemen and Pakistan.
Members of the American Anthropological Association (AAA) have, like they did with CAMELOT and PHOENIX, have condemned HTS for its reliance on what the AAA has described as “mercenary anthropology.” A survey of literature during the late 1960s and 70s indicate that Dunham Soetoro and many of her colleagues engaged in U.S. government- and Ford Foundation-financed anthropological field work in Indonesia met the definition of “mercenary anthropologists.” Central and eastern Java were known as hotbeds of what was termed “rural radicalism,” and, thus, were of extreme interest to CAMELOT and the CIA behavioral science and ethnographic elements. Other CIA-funded anthropologists fanned out after the 1965 coup to other areas of Indonesia known to be areas of strong PKI support, including Aceh in northwestern Sumatra and Bali. The massacres of actual and suspected PKI members were so great that sanitation in Java, Bali, and Aceh became an issue as a result from the rotting of human corpses. It was into this environment that Ann Soetoro brought seven year-old Barack Obama in 1967, yet Obama barely mentions these “years of living dangerously” in his autobiographical sketches about his mother’s and step father’s activities in Indonesia. There is only a brief mention of Lolo Soetoro’s counter-insurgency operations in Indonesian occupied West Papua, which, like East Timor and Aceh, would attract the interests of a fair number of CIA-funded anthropologists in counter-insurgency — and even genocidal campaigns in the case of East Timor — into the 1970s, 80s, 90s, and to the present day.
At its height, the PKI was estimated to have some 20 million members, with its main areas of support in central and eastern Java, particular areas of focus after the Suharto coup for Ann Soetoro and her US Agency for International Development (USAID) and CIA official and non-official cover embassy and consulate colleagues in Jakarta and Surabaya. One of Dunham Soetoro’s colleagues in Indonesia was Ford Foundation consultant Clifford Geertz who became known later as an eminent scholar on cultural anthropology in Indonesia and Morocco.
In a poem written by intelligence expert Professor Peter Dale Scott about the Indonesian massacre Geertz is mentioned in a cryptic passage:
Clifford Geertz having just
reread your Notes
on the Balinese cockfight
how you were first accepted
by cautious villagers
after you all fled
from the Javanese constabulary
and how slaughter
in the cock ring itself
after red pepper
is stuffed down their beaks
and up their anuses
joins pride to selfhood
selfhood to cocks
and cocks to destruction
a blood sacrifice
offered to the demons
to pacify their cannibal hunger
Geertz, who was heavily funded by the Ford Foundation, happened to have arrived in Indonesia the day before the coup against Sukarno. Geertz immediately went to Yogyakarta, the PKI hot-bed that would later also see Dunham Soetoro conducting “field research.”
The use of cultural anthropologists for CIA work created a furor in the 1960s, especially with their use in South Vietnam and Thailand in support of the war effort. However, one of the most noted anthropologists in the world at the time, Margaret Mead, renowned for her seminal work in 1928, “Coming of Age in Samoa,” and her controversial views on the sexual morés of the 1960s, defended the CIA’s use of anthropologists in field work. In a 1971 report, called the Mead Report, Mead rebutted the Beals Report and stated that the use of anthropologists in counter-insurgency “research” met the “traditional canons of acceptable behavior” for anthropologists.
Mead found herself in opposition to senior anthropologists of the AAA who were opposed to the CIA’s use of anthropologists in covert operations and counter-insurgency programs. In 1966, Professor Ralph Beals of UCLA presented a report commissioned by the AAA on the subject of CIA co-option of anthropologists. The Beals Report stated: “several anthropologists, especially younger ones who had difficulty in securing research funds, were approached by ‘obscure’ foundations or were offered support from such organizations only to discover later that they were expected to provide intelligence information to the CIA.” The report added, “agents of the CIA have posed as anthropologists, much to the detriment of the anthropological research programs.”
Note: WMR is attempting to obtain a copy of the full Beals Report, which was officially adopted by the AAA’s Council of Fellows in 1967, the year Dunham Soetoro arrived in Indonesia. Professor Beals died in 1985.
Geertz worked with the Center for International Studies (CENIS) at MIT on projects funded by the CIA and Ford Foundation. One was Project MODJOKUTO in Indonesia. In fact, in his book, “The Bridge: The Life and Rise of Barack Obama,” David Remnick cites Geertz as one of Dunham Soetoro’s Indonesian colleagues. Geertz, a specialist in the post-war Javanese economy, believed in modernization of tribal and rural societies and was not sold on Dunham Soetoro’s quaint ideas of promoting the interests and development of Indonesian village craftsmen and weavers.
CENIS’s anthropological work on behalf of the CIA was the brainchild of Max Millikan, CENIS’s first director, and Walt W. Rostow who, in 1954, convinced CIA director Allen Dulles of the need for CIA involvement in development projects abroad. Rostow later became deputy national security adviser in the Lyndon Johnson White House. Rostow worked for McGeorge Bundy, who, after leaving the White House in 1966, became President of the Ford Foundation, the main source of the laundered CIA funding for Geertz’s and Dunham Soetoro’s field work in Indonesia.
Many of the pre-1977 CIA files on its interactions with the American Anthropological Association have either been heavily redacted or destroyed. Many of the MK-ULTRA documents on CIA behavioral science work in the United States and abroad were ordered destroyed in 1973 by CIA director Colby, shortly after he took over at Langley. Some of the CIA’s anthropological studies were directed domestically a the Black Panther Party, which also gained the attention of Barack Obama, Jr. in the mid-1980s, while he was allegedly involved in “community organizing” in south Chicago, a Black Panther base of operations, after leaving a high-paying job as a “journalist” for CIA front Business International Corporation in Manhattan.
Three anthropologists serving with Human Terrain Teams in Afghanistan have been killed since the inception of the program or what could be termed the resurrection of CAMELOT and PHOENIX. Dunham Soetoro and her colleagues were much luckier in Java and on other Indonesian islands following the 1965 military coup. For one thing, the CIA had already infiltrated and sponsored a number of Indonesian groups prior to the coup against Sukarno, providing a ready-made network of informants for Ann Soetoro and her anthropology colleagues. Groups sponsored by the CIA included the Central Organization of Indonesian Socialist Employees (SOKSI), student organizations, and others.
Ann Dunham Soetoro: A female “Indiana Jones” surveying villagers to root out Communists for the CIA. She was not the only anthropologist involved in such activities.
As with the reasons why the United States went to war in Afghanistan and Iraq, which were based on false premises, the covert U.S. incursion into Indonesia in 1965 was also based on fraudulent “new stories” and outright lies crafted by the CIA and Pentagon.
The CIA propaganda war against Sukarno
In September 1964, Sukarno accused leaders of the Murba Party, a “nationalist” Communist Party with ties to Moscow, as opposed to the pro-Chinese PKI, of attempting to launch a palace coup backed by the CIA. The Murba Party masked its true intentions by launching a new group, the “Body to Promote Sukarnoism” (BPS), however Sukarno saw it as a ruse to further the ambitions of Washington and Moscow and he banned the BPS. Ann Soetoro’s knowledge of Russian, which she took, along with Barack Obama, Sr., at the University of Hawaii in 1960, would come in handy in her contacts with Murba officials, including Murba secretary general Adam Malik, who had been Indonesia’s ambassador in Moscow in 1959. In January 1965, Sukarno banned Murba, which, after the coup later that year, became legal again under Suharto. Malik, who may have also acted as an agent of the CIA while in Moscow and as Indonesian Trade Minister in 1963, became Indonesian foreign minister and deputy prime minister under Suharto in 1966.
The western media began a full propaganda effort against Sukarno in late 1964. On October 16, China tested its first atomic bomb. In November, Chinese Foreign Minister Chen Yi visited Jakarta and almost immediately, there were bogus reports put out by the CIA in the Asian and western press that China was prepared to give nuclear weapons technology to Indonesia. There were also Western media reports that Sukarno was planning to set up an anti-western “axis” of Indonesia, Cambodia, North Korea, North Vietnam, and mainland China. Only Cambodia was a member of the United Nations. The similarities between this so-called “axis” and the “axis of evil” of Iraq, Iran, and North Korea promoted by the neo-conservatives before the U.S. invasion of Iraq are stark.
The CIA’s propaganda efforts even extended to Indonesian seers and mystics, who began to predict Sukarno’s imminent downfall or death.
The stage was being set for a coup against Sukarno. In January 1965, Indonesia withdrew from the United Nations because its arch-enemy, Malaysia, was given a seat on the UN Security Council. There were also reports that Chinese Prime Minister Chou En-lai had promised to provide weapons to PKI cadres to provide Sukarno with his own armed militia against the suspect Indonesian army. The bogus story about the secret supply of Chinese weapons to the PKI for a communist revolt first appeared in a Malaysian newspaper, citing unnamed sources in Bangkok, who heard the story from Hong Kong sources who picked up the information from contacts in mainland China. Even by today’s shoddy journalism standards of Fox News and CNN, the story lacked any credulity.
A mysterious letter surfaced in Indonesia in July 1965, purportedly written by British ambassador in Jakarta Andrew Gilchrist to the British Foreign Office in London that referred to “our local army friends.” Gilchrist was a British intelligence agent in India and Thailand during World War II. Gilchrist, in the months leading up to the coup, told London that regime change in Jakarta would entail “more than a little shooting.” Before being posted to Jakarta, Gilchrist was British Consul General in Chicago. The University of Chicago’s “New Nations Project, a suspected CIA-linked research project that examined nationalist movements around the world during the 1960s, involved none other than Dunham Soetoro’s colleague in Indonesia, Clifford Geertz.
In March 1965, Sukarno infuriated the West by taking over the operations of western oil companies, including Shell, Caltex, and Stanvac, which was owned by Mobil. In 1970, after leaving the army, Lolo Soetoro went to work for Mobil, which was assured of no interference from the pro-U.S. Suharto government.
In April 1965, Sukarno expelled the Peace Corps from Indonesia as he grew more and more suspicious of American covert activities in his country. The next month, Sukarno accused the United States and Britain of planning a coup against him with the aid of the Indonesian army. Army forces began to call back Indonesian army reserve officers who were studying abroad in order to supplement their ranks for the planned coup against Sukarno. On July 20, 1965, Lolo Soetoro, who had been in the United States receiving CIA- and Pentagon-funded training since September 18, 1962, left Hawaii for Indonesia. He had married Ann Dunham on March 15, 1965. Ann Soetoro received her U.S. passport on July 19, 1965, the day before Lolo Soetoro left for Indonesia and just as events were heating up in Indonesia.
Suspiciously, Lolo Soetoro’s Wikipedia entry has been altered to reflect his departure from Hawaii to Indonesia in 1966, the year following the coup. It appears that certain interests want to cover up Lolo Soetoro’s involvement in the 1965 CIA coup.
In August, Sukarno committed the arch sin as viewed by the West and quasi-CIA support organizations like the Ford Foundation. Sukarno withdrew Indonesia from the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and INTERPOL. In August, while receiving a foreign delegation, Sukarno began to vomit uncontrollably and he collapsed. This was during the height of the CIA’s assassination program led by the “Black Sorcerer,” Dr. Sidney Gottlieb, the head of MK-ULTRA, who had previously attempted the poisonings of Fidel Castro, Iraqi leader Abdul Karim Qassem, and Congo’s Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba.
False flag assassinations blamed on the Communists
On September 30, 1965, what unfolded in Indonesia may have been a classic CIA disinformation and “false flag” operation. Low-ranking army officers, said to be part of an attempted PKI takeover and calling themselves the “30 September Movement,” attempted to kidnap seven anti-PKI army generals, however, oddly, General Suharto, the CIA’s point man for the coup, was not among the kidnapping targets. Generals Yani, Haryono, and Panjaitan were killed at their homes “while resisting arrest,” while Generals Soeprapto, Parman, and Sutoyo were taken alive and shot later by the coup plotters. The bodies of all seven generals were dumped into a well.
The Minister of Defense and Security, General Nasution, managed to escape alive from his home and received asylum at the Iraqi embassy, although his five year-old daughter was killed in the attack. The coup was launched from the Halim airbase outside Jakarta. However, for a coup attempt blamed on the PKI, which was used to launch a bloody massacre of PKI members and their sympathizers and force Sukarno from power, it was amazing that most of the PKI leadership were not in Jakarta and were not in contact with the low-ranking coup leaders. Aidit, one of the PKI Politburo members, was present at the Halim base but Politburo members Njoto, Lukman, Subandrio, Chaerul Saleh and Sastroamidjojo were not in Jakarta. There is no conclusive evidence that the PKI staged the murders of the seven generals but there is ample evidence that given the CIA’s and MI-6′s pre-coup operations, that it was they and Suharto that staged the massacre to provide a reason to oust Sukarno and begin the systematic massacres of PKI members.
It was also odd that given General Yani’s soft approach to the PKI, that he was marked for assassination by alleged PKI cadres. However, General Nasution, who was known to be extremely anti-Communist and who was counted in the pro-U.S. camp, was able to escape assassination and hide out in the Iraqi embassy. Although Nasution swore Suharto in as the new president after the formal ousting of Sukarno, Nasution later broke with Suharto.
Why Indonesia 1965 matters for America 2011
Obama’s advent to the White House was hailed as a first for the United States, someone had been elected as the “leader of the Free World” who had a multi-cultural background and a unique international understanding, as opposed to the pedestrian nature of George W. Bush. As Obama’s policies have become more clear, it is now a distinct possibility that Obama’s “international understanding” has been influenced not so much by America’s founders’ principles but by the “strong man” characteristics of Asian personages such as Suharto, Adam Malik, and Obama’s step-father Lolo Soetoro. And for that, all Americans should be fearful.
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