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In early 1958 the CIA gave direct aid to rebel groups, on the island of Sumatra that were attempting to overthrow Indonesian President Sukarno. CIA pilots flew B-26 bombers on missions in support of the insurgents. On May 18, 1958, during such a bombing mission, CIA pilot Allen Lawrence Pope was shot down and captured by the Indonesians.

In 1957, perceiving that Indonesian President Achmed Sukarno's policy of "nonalignment" was, in fact, moving the country toward communism, the Eisenhower administration authorized the Agency to provide arms and other assistance in response to a request from a group of Indonesian dissidents - anticommunists, principally former Army colonels, located on the island of Sumatra-who were in open rebellion against the Sukarno government. When the group proclaimed its independence in February 1958, however, the central government responded with a blockade of the rebel-controlled area and later with military force. The Agency continued to provide assistance during this period to counter the government's offensive, but by April 1958 the dissidents on Sumatra were no longer a viable political or military force.

Another group of dissidents on the island of Sulawesi, however, continuedto receive Agency support. This group controlled its own airfield, from which CIA-supplied aircraft carried out bombing and strafing runs against the government forces that had massed against the dissidents.

It was during one ofthese runs, on 17 May 1958, that government forces shot down an aircraft piloted by an American, Allen L. Pope. Pope survived the crash and later contended that he was merely a private citizen, an American "soldier of fortune," but among his effects discovered in the crash was evidence linking him to the CIA. An Indonesian military tribunal convicted Pope and sentenced him to death, but the sentence was never carried out. He was released to the United States in 1962.

In the aftermath of the shootdown, assistance to the dissidents was halted, as the Eisenhower administration changed course and began providing substantially greater levels of foreign aid to the Sukarno government.

Although there is no documentary evidence that the CIA briefed its sub-committees on these operations, Dulles "almost certainly" told the heads of the CIA subcommittees about it. Several weeks before Pope's aircraft was shot down, Eisenhower had stated publicly that the United States was staying neutral in the Indonesian rebellion. After the shootdown, it was apparent to the Congress (and the rest of the world) this was not the case. If this were not enough, once the Indonesian government publicly charged Pope with working for the CIA- at a press conference it displayed the document identifying him as an employee of an Agency proprietary - in all likelihood, the leaders of the CIA subcommittees would have been advised.

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Page last modified: 22-11-2013 00:03:22 ZULU