East and Horta

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In this scene, Horta and East dine at the Turismo. Horta subsequently introduces East to several Fretilin soldiers who had been in Balibo at the time of the murders. East's scoop contained the memorable line: "Their testimony was shattering in its simplicity and directness."

It should be noted that Australian officials were told in advance of the attack on Balibo. They were thoroughly compromised by Indonesia's strategists, who made a mockery of their supposed expertise in foreign policy.

Indonesia's stategists provided confidential information to the Australian government in order to compromise the latter's ability to say anything meaningful afterwards. The information was passed on in three stages.

In the first stage, covert agent Harry Tjan told Australian diplomats in Jakarta that President Suharto had agreed to deploy 3,800 Indonesian soldiers to East Timor. There was no Australian government reaction to that information.

In the second stage, Harry Tjan informed Australian diplomats in Jakarta of the plan to attack Balibo and Maliana, and of the eventual decision to take Dili. Again, there was no Australian reaction.

In the third stage, Major-General Benny Murdani informed Australian ambassador Richard Woolcott about the forthcoming attack on Balibo. Thus, the Australian government was given detailed and precise advance warnings of the Indonesian attack on Balibo.

According to counsel assisting the coronial inquest, Mark Tedeschi QC:

"If the aim of the Indonesians in providing this precise military information to the Australian Government was to compromise the Australian Government's response to an invasion, it can only be said that it succeeded and spectacularly so. No Australian criticisms of what was essentially an Indonesian invasion followed the attack on Balibo.

Every single move by the Indonesians succeeded according to their plans. When informed of the precise Indonesian battle plans, no objection, public or private, was voiced. There were no news broadcasts showing Indonesian involvement in the attack on Balibo. Because senior Australian leaders had been compromised by advance warning of the attack, they were hardly in a position to disclose their true knowledge to the Australian people.

When news of the deaths came out, not a single word in public or in private was uttered by the Australian Government or political leaders to suggest involvement or blame on the part of the Indonesians for the deaths of the journalists. Instead, Australian officials in public and in private persisted in what can only be called a bizarre charade of asking the Indonesian Military to use their good offices in seeking information from their Timorese militia allies about the deaths of the journalists...

... it is apparent that the Indonesian leaders engaged in a masterful power play worthy of an international chess grandmaster using Australian leaders and departmental officers as their pawns."

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