The Enduring Legacy of Gerald R. Ford

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I first wrote about the pivotal role that Ford, along with Henry Kissinger (currently the chief outside adviser to the White House, according to Cheney -- hey, it's like the Nixon-Ford era never ended!), back in 2001, just after the release of declassified documents which had been gathered and published by the invaluable National Security Archive (see their report East Timor Revisited for more). As I noted in a follow-up report in May 2006 (slightly edited here):

...The documents were obtained through the Freedom of Information Act – in June 2001, before George W. Bush gutted the law – but only reported in December of that year by the Washington Post. Kissinger and Ford had long denied any prior knowledge of the murderous assault, even though they'd been feasting with the genocidal Indonesian tyrant Suharto the day before the troops went in. However, in a secret State Department cable, Ford and Kissinger actually told Suharto before the attack that "we understand the problem you have and the intentions you have" and "we will not press you on the issue."

Kissinger, ever mindful of the media angle, added in another love note: "We understand your problem and the need to move quickly but I am only saying that it would be better if it were done after we returned."

The murders were carried out with U.S. weaponry. Congress had restricted their use to defensive purposes only, but Kissinger blithely brushed this aside, assuring Suharto that America would "construe" the invasion as "self-defense rather than a foreign operation." Kinda like Hitler did with Poland.

Naturally, the December 2001 story was buried by the usual bull-roaring of Bush praise in the media. In fact, in the same issue of the Post in which news of the declassification first appeared, you might have been diverted from its revelations by a fascinating piece on the editorial page, a long disquisition on the new ordering of the world, penned by one of our most revered elder statesmen:

Henry Kissinger.

I also noted in the May post that on September 21, 1999, Sander Thoenes, a former colleague of mine at The Moscow Times, was murdered in East Timor, almost certainly by Indonesian military forces, while covering the last throes of Jakarta's fury before East Timor won its independence -- another fact to be recorded with the high and mighty deeds of Gerald R. Ford.

[For more on how the enduring legacy of Gerald R. Ford in Indonesia has been erased from history,  see this post from Dennis Perrin: Airbrushing the Dead.]

It's unlikely that we will hear very much about these aspects of Gerald R. Ford's enduring legacy in the innumerable encomiums that will fill the corporate media in the coming days. There the focus will undoubtedly be on the way Ford "healed the nation" by thwarting the course of justice and keeping the most depraved operators of the Nixon gang in power. But as a public service, we thought it only fitting to recall these triumphs of the 38th President of the United States. 

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