Indonesian military (TNI) to reactivate its territorial function?
Speaking at the 60th anniversary of the TNI yesterday, after the latest attack on Bali, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono called upon the Indonesian Military (TNI) to be active in the fight against terrorism.
Interpreting the President's order, TNI chief Gen. Endriartono Sutarto said that he would take some necessary measures to crack down terror acts in the country by reactivating the military's territorial function, which in the past had been strongly criticized for massive involvement of the military in politics and alleged human rights abuses.
Handling terrorism in the country has so far been the domain of the National Police, who have been mandated to deal with internal security affairs following the reform movement in the late 1990s.
That there was a lack of warning about last Saturday's bombings in Bali is undoubted, but it is the nature of these particular groups to remain below the intelligence radar. One could blame the intelligence services here, now seemingly split into three, the police, the military and the State Intelligence Agency (BIN). As reformasi
slowly takes hold within a democratic society, lines of communication could well be hampered by unclear lines of communication between the agencies.
There is certainly a case for the sharing of information about the network of jihadists
brainwashed into throwing away lives, their own included.A.M. Hendropriyono
, the former head of BIN, who has denied
any role in the death of human rights activist Munir
in spite of strong suspicions
, has a suggestion.
What is needed is for SBY to clearly set out the goals and expectations for his or her intelligence agency. Just as important, the legislature has to pass an intelligence law that clearly lays out what is permissible conduct.
Most of all, I want an intelligence law in order to enable BIN to detain suspects for limited periods. Such detentions would not be for judicial reasons - the police already have that authority - but rather for operational reasons. Example: Intelligence officers sometimes need the ability to discretely take aside members of radical organizations in an attempt to entice them into providing information from inside terrorist cells.
To be fair, he does go on to say that limitations to prevent abuses could and should be contained in the letter of the law.
Ah, the rule of law, as practiced by the Suharto intelligence agencies no doubt. Indonesians I've spoken to today, including 'Er Indoors, are worried about a return to the 'bad old days' of the Suharto regime which used the military to stifle dissension and, in its final phase, staged 'disappearances' of those deemed to be against the regime.Many critically compare the abilities of today's intelligence officers with the reputed efficiencies of the intelligence units during the New Order.
This comparison, I believe, is unfair. For one thing, the pre-1998 intelligence leaders and those of today are largely the same people. I, for example, was a director in the Armed Forces Intelligence Agency (then known by the acronym BIA) during the New Order, then became chief of BIN during the reform era. My successor and the current chief of BIN, Sjamsir Siregar, was a former BIA chief during the heyday of the Soeharto regime.
So, that's all right then?
Hardly. Note the failure of the British intelligence services
to protect Londoners against the bombers on July 7th. In fact, it would appear that intelligence services in every country which has experienced terrorist outrages have 'failed'. Introducing, or, in Indonesia's case, reintroducing, draconian laws cannot prevent further outrages.
It may be jihadists
now, but who's to say that other nihilists with different agendas won't emerge?
According to research published this week
, out of 1,137 people from 33 provinces interviewed in the survey on civilian supremacy and national defense, 55 percent to 58 percent of them disapproved of the territorial military commands at district, regional and provincial levels.
The survey revealed, unsurprisingly, that 82.2 percent of those interviewed agreed that the military's main role was to defend the state from external threats.
Meanwhile, legislator Effendy Choiry from Commission I on security, defense and foreign affairs said he believed many in the military had no intention of letting civilians take away their special political and economic powers.
"Don't heap the blame on legislators or the failure of civilians. We all are still learning, so give us a chance. The military has reigned supreme for years," he said.
So, let's take SBY's call to the miltary at face value; the TNI should be active in the fight against terrorism.
He said nothing about the TNI returning to its old habits.