Australia's Indonesia experts were accused yesterday of being a bunch of drongos before the Senate committee investigating the East Timor crisis.
Led by former army chief John Sanderson, Paxiquest, a team of peacekeeping specialists, issued a damning indictment of Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) staff.
Paxiquest consultant Mark Plunkett said the department had rejected any notion of Indonesia pursuing a scorched-earth policy, brushing aside leaked documents as "hysterical and fake" and indulging in wishful thinking about the outcome of the independence poll.
THE CANBERRA TIMES, Thursday September 16 1999
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"It is a fair inference, that there has been an almighty cock-up, a gigantic bungle of some sort or another, because it put at risk not just the lives of Australians on the United Nations mission, but all international people," he said.
"But worse still, the lives of the people who the international community and our Government encouraged to go to the polls and vote. And the U.N. said it would not leave."
Mr Plunkett said he was surprised by the depth of arrogance among DFAT officials. "When I see the elegant tomfoolery of some of our representatives then I know, just from their lack of people skills, they are not trained," he said.
"There are stars like (Australian ambassador to Indonesia) John McCarthy, but there are a lot of drongos."
In a scathing submission, Paxiquest said the failure of Australia's public-sector information-gathering and analysis bodies on the planned genocide was reprehensible in the extreme and deserving of censure.
"The Australian government agencies failed to search out and listen to disconfirming information that would have alerted the Australian Government and the world community to the genocide," the submission said.
"In the weeks preceding, there was publicly available evidence -- including documents and authoritative public statements -- predicting the genocide, but this was discounted by them as false and hysterical."
A Fitzgerald-style inquiry into those government agencies was needed to determine the extent of institutional corruption, the submission said. -- Aban Contractor, The Canberra Times, Thursday September 16 1999
Lawyer Mark Plunkett, a special prosecutor during the United Nations Cambodian peacekeeping mission, claimed the departments [diplomatic staff and spy networks] had contributed to the failure of the world to prevent the killings. ...
He said the Indonesian army spent millions of dollars recruiting and training the militias in an orchestrated campaign.
"It beggars belief that this could have happened without our departments and various information gathering agencies knowing about it," Mr Plunkett said. -- Rebecca Rose, The West Australian, Sep 16 1999, p 9
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