A FILE released by the United States government last week among those pertaining to the assassination of former president John F Kennedy has revealed that the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) considered murdering Indonesia’s founding father Sukarno.
Classified as “top secret” and dated from 1975, the document details an investigation by the CIA Commission into plans by its agents to launch assassination plots against various world leaders – particularly communists and those aligned with the Soviet Union.
The then-Deputy Director of Plans at the CIA Richard Bissell attested to discussions of killing Indonesia’s revolutionary hero and first president, the left-leaning Sukarno, which “never progressed as far” as recruiting somebody to assassinate him.
Bissell reportedly said that the CIA had “absolutely nothing” to do with Sukarno’s death, who died of kidney failure in 1970, still under house arrest at Bogor Palace by the country’s New Order military regime.
Nevertheless, along with Sukarno the CIA had discussed plans to assassinate Cuban leader Fidel Castro, Dominican dictator Rafael Trujillo and Congolese leader Patrice Lumumba.
For decades, Sukarno presided over what he called “guided democracy” which involved balancing the political aspirations of the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) and the country’s anti-communist military and Islamic groups. Espousing a postcolonial nationalism for Indonesia, he frequently rallied against what he called “American imperialism.”
A CIA report from 1964 noted that Sukarno’s anti-Western rhetoric and tactics “combined with Communist single-mindedness, seem likely ultimately to bring Indonesia under Communist control.”
However, “no assassination plans would have been undertaken without authorisation outside the Agency, and no such authorisation was undertaken … against Sukarno,” added Bissell in the newly released document.
Sukarno’s daughter Sukmawati Sukarnoputri said to the Sydney Morning Herald that “America should not only apologise to Indonesia, America should apologise to all the countries they disturbed, if they will admit to it. They never want to admit to it, especially the CIA.”
The revelation comes less than two weeks after separate, newly declassified documents showed that the US government had actively supported the mass killings of between 500,000 to a million Indonesians accused of being communists in 1965 and 1966.
Amid the Cold War, the massacres led to the ousting of Sukarno and ascendency of right-wing General Suharto who would come to rule the country for 32 years.
US-Indonesian relations are already under strain, particularly since the Southeast Asian nation’s military chief General Gatot Nurmantyo was prevented from boarding a flight to Washington DC earlier this month due to what US officials later called an “administrative error.”