REPORTER: Ginny Stein
PATSY SPIER: This is a picture of my family and some of our friends and these are - a picture of Rick and I that was taken in Sumatra about four years ago.
A year ago, Patsy Spier had it all - a great job, a loving husband and travel plans to rival a myriad of past adventures.
PATSY SPIER: And I just wanted to get married and we had three friends there who were our witnesses and took pictures of the whole time. And it was a lovely day and it cost us $19.
Patsy and and Rick's love of exploring brought them to one of the world's most remote places - the Freeport McMoran mine in West Papua, the world's largest copper and gold mine.
PATSY SPIER: Papua was - there weren't a lot of - it was like the last untouched area in the world where there was an American school, and we didn't mind at all being in isolated areas because we always had each other and we knew that.
We were very aware of the dangers that were there but we didn't feel that danger in Tembagapura. We felt that we were protected there because of the mine and the security around the mine.
But that life was shattered the day a group of gunmen stepped out into the middle of this jungle road firing hundreds of rounds at point-blank range into the two-vehicle convoy in which she and her husband Rick were travelling. A preliminary investigation by Indonesian police found there was a strong possibility of involvement by the military. Indonesia's armed forces responded by declaring they were not guilty. An important finding when Australia is considering re-establishing its links with the military's elite special forces, Kopassus. The survivor's testimony is in stark contrast to the military's claims.
PATSY SPIER: The first two shots killed Rick and Ted and then the shooting just kept continuing into their vehicle until our vehicle came upon it which was three minutes later or so, and then the shooting started coming into our vehicle.
Steve Emma, a newly arrived teacher at the mine's international school, was sitting behind Rick Spier and the school's principal Ted Burgon when they were shot dead. Steve was shot twice, in the back and hip.
STEVE EMMA: I think actually the first shot hit Rick but not dead on - maybe in the shoulder or whatever. The second shot, I think, hit his face. But it was in seconds as in milliseconds.
REPORTER: And the third hit Ted?
STEVE EMMA: The third hit Ted.
On this fog-drenched mountain road, almost one year ago, 45 minutes of pure terror followed as round after round was fired into their vehicles.
MAN: The driver was killed, went into the bank and then this vehicle was behind and it also stopped.
Patsy was travelling separately to her husband in the second of the two vehicles.
PATSY SPIER: I am pinned down and I am on my hip and the shooting just continued. The glass was shattered and the shooting was poof poof poof. It wasn't automatic rrrrr. It was poof, poof, into our vehicles and screaming and people were trying to get out of the seatbelts to get down.
By the time help arrived, three teachers were dead and eight others injured, including a 6-year-old girl.
Until now, not one of the survivors of this ambush has been prepared to speak on camera about their ordeal. Fear, coupled with the trauma of the attack, has held them back. Now two of the survivors have summoned the courage to speak to Dateline in the hope that by telling their story, action will be taken to find the killers.
PATSY SPIER: This shouldn't have happened to Rick. It shouldn't have happened to me. It shouldn't have happened to the 14 people who were involved in that ambush. It was so horrific, it was so monstrous, it was so evil what happened to us.
STEVE EMMA: It was hell, and therefore whether it was a terrorist act or whatever, it shouldn't occur. I mean, to put people through that, whether they survive or not.
It was these men, Papua's separatist rebels, that Indonesia's military, in the first few days after the attack, quickly accused of murder.
Freeport's exploitation of Papua's rich resources has generated deep resentment among locals, many of whom live in poverty after being forced off their land. Papua's police were called to investigate. General Made Pastika was West Papua's police chief at the time. He later became the chief investigator into the Bali bombing. He spoke with Dateline last year following the shooting. He said his preliminary investigation confirmed the intensity of the attack and also raised questions about the military's involvement.
MADE PASTIKA, FORMER POLICE CHIEF, WEST PAPUA: We found 134 shoot marks on the vehicles, mostly in the body of the minibus, two minibus. Some are in the trucks and some in the trailer. We saw that this shooting was very brutal.
REPORTER: To fire 134 shots in a short period of time...
MADE PASTIKA: That was only the shoot marks in the body of the vehicle. But you can also say that - we can also say that some other rounds were shot to the glasses - all glasses of this vehicle also broken.
The survivors were first medivaced to Townsville. Patsy and Steve have relived over and over the minutes they were pinned down under gunfire.
STEVE EMMA: Whether I wanted to give up I wasn't sure, but after 25 minutes of being under constant gunfire and it not stopping, I was at a point of I wanted to die.
PATSY SPIER: After about 45 minutes and the shooting was still continuing 'cause we didn't know any of this help was coming, and it was OK if they came and shot me. I had felt very at peace that it was OK.
REPORTER: Because you were there for that long and you thought it through?
PATSY SPIER: Yeah, because I felt Rick was gone and it was so unbelievable what was happening and the terror of it.
Patsy was shot twice, first in the back, the bullet shattering a rib, the second bullet sliced through her foot. Before she was flown out, she asked to see her husband one last time.
PATSY SPIER: Before we left, they wheeled my gurney into a room where Rick was laying on a gurney and he had a big wad of cotton or gauze in his mouth that was pink, but from the side, because I couldn't lean up or anything, he looked, he looked fine and so I got to hold his hand and tell him I loved him.
From Townsville, Patsy went back to America to be with her family, with her brother, his wife and their son in Denver. From there, she watched and waited for Indonesian authorities to investigate. First, Indonesia's police implicated the military. The military then cleared itself of any wrong doing. Patsy Spier realised she had to act. Three times she went to Washington.
PATSY SPIER: This is a letter from Congressman Wolfe and I met with him in March when I was there.
"Dear Mrs Spier, enclosed please find a response from the DOJ. I hope this information is helpful to you and will continue to monitor this situation. Again, thank you for contacting me. Frank R. Wolfe, Member of Congress."
And then he wrote "Wanted you to see the enclosed, best wishes."
BILL: This is his actual writing there?
BILL: That's good.
Her one-woman campaign to find the truth began in earnest.
PATSY SPIER: It was unbelievable to me that they would be allowed to investigate themselves so that told me that the FBI, another, an outside agency, had to come in because the investigation was stalled at that point.
The Indonesian Government's attitude driving her further.
PATSY SPIER: This is what it says. It says the Timika case was purely an unfortunate incident and noone planned or organised it. Obviously they don't realise that the ambush lasted 45 minutes on a mining road. There's only one road for thousands of miles and that's it and they had - those shooters had to be brought up through checkpoints, with hundreds of rounds of ammunition and guns, dropped off and there had to be communication.
REPORTER: So an unfortunate incident?
PATSY SPIER: Is not. It just tells me that they're not reporting the facts. This is Tembagapura. This shows the road on the way up to Tembagapura from Timika.
Patsy and Rick were the school's veterans, having spent more than eight years in Indonesia. This was to have been their third year at the remote mountain top school. The procedures for travelling down a road, which the mining company pays the military to secure, were well known to both of them.
PATSY SPIER: See the tunnel, would be another sort of a checkpoint, but they have to record the numbers because it's a one-way tunnel, like the vehicle that I thought ran Rick off the road was going toward the tunnel. If that vehicle didn't get help for us, then it had to go through the tunnel and it had to be recorded so they could find out who was in that vehicle. Whether they were part of the shooting team or whether they were just people that didn't get us help.
The road from the mine down to the lowlands of Timika is the lifeline to the outside world. The only way to reach the ambush site undetected would be a journey by foot, which would take days. On the day of the ambush, Steve Emma experienced for the first time the security procedures that were in place and the military's control of the process.
REPORTER: In your mind, it would mean anyone coming in and out - there would be a record, wouldn't there?
STEVE EMMA: I would think so, yes. I mean for the fact that I actually watched Rick fill out about five or six different columns of people's names, I think their ID number, where they were going, the time, and when they would return and watched him sign it. So there should've been.
Indonesia's military has been paid handsomely over the years to provide security for the giant Freeport mine. Since it opened in 1973, Freeport's security staff numbers have grown from 200 to 2,000. The company paid the military more than US$40 million to secure its mine site and its people. It's been a very lucrative business for the military but for Freeport, perhaps money not well spent.
There are several theories why the attack took place. One of the most credible points to an extortion attempt against the US mining company by local Indonesian army officers.
The teachers had been in Freeport vehicles travelling on Freeport's road, but so had two senior executives who passed the ambush site just minutes before the teachers.
Freeport, for its part, has not been forthcoming about the attacks or a possible motive, refusing all public comment. A spokesman answered Dateline's queries with an email, saying,
"This is a police matter and we cannot comment on the ongoing investigations. Freeport has no knowledge of the identity of the perpetrators but hopes that whoever they are, they will be brought to justice."
The firepower unleashed the day of the ambush was well beyond the collective weaponry, believed to be held by separatist rebels. But survivors have described the shooters they saw as being Papuan in appearance. This has raised speculation about Kopassus's involvement for Indonesia's elite special forces have a history of training local tribes people to do their dirty work.
In May this year, intelligence reports disclosed during a closed hearing at the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee raised the extent of military involvement in the ambush.
RUSS FEINGOLD,DEMOCRATE SENATOR: Mr President, last August, and let's be clear to the Senate, because the Senator from Missouri did not mention, last August, two Americans were killed and eight were wounded in an ambush in West Papua, Indonesia.
Indonesia's police investigated and their report concluded that the Indonesian military was very likely responsible for the deaths of these Americans.
American politicians were beginning to take notice.
RUSS FEINGOLD: Real partners in the fight against terrorism do not murder American citizens. And they do not conspire to cover up such murders. Mr President, I reserve the balance of my time.
But finding consensus on which way to act at a time when America is keen to engage Indonesia in its war on terror has been a political challenge.
KIT BOND, REPUBLICAN SENATOR: We need to support the people within these countries who are resisting the extremists in the countries. It is a tremendous challenge for them to stand up to extreme voices.
We should be supporting. We ought not to be sticking a finger in their eye. We ought not to be gratuitously slapping them in the face. In the case of Indonesia, we should encourage strengthening those institutions the Government will rely on to investigate terrorism, apprehend terrorists and prevent further attacks.
In Indonesia, the only institution with that capacity is the military.
As America's politicians debated whether to renew aid to the Indonesian military, so too did Australia. Patsy Spier was worried.
PATSY SPIER: Well at first I thought holy Toledo - if Australia re-establishes military ties with the elite training and because Australia and America are such allies of each other, that perhaps my government would follow Australia's lead.
But that's why I've gone to Washington three times is to educate my congress people that Americans were murdered and the Indonesian military are being accused by their own civilian police of being apparently behind the ambush.
Patsy has continued to push for action.
PATSY SPIER: I started vehemently writing letters to senators and congressmen and people in the State Department, just asking we need to get our FBI agents in there, we need to do that.
She called on the government to block the release of military training funds, in particular, funds from a program known as IMET, or International Military Education and Training.
PATSY SPIER: In my mind, this is a gold star to re-establish this IMET funds. It would be a gold star to tell the Indonesian military "We think you're A-OK."
Their own civilian police have implicated them into the murder of Rick, Ted and Bambang. Having them investigate themselves and then come up as being innocent isn't very logical.
All they have to do now is cooperate with the FBI agents by giving us access to witnesses without intimidation and have full access to all the evidence. As soon as they can do that, then the IMET funds perhaps could be released to them.
Republican Tom Tancredo is Patsy's hometown congressman. He believes Indonesia's military was involved but says the motive remains unclear.
TOM TANCREDO, REPUBLICAN CONGRESSMAN: I am convinced that the military, that some members of the Indonesian military played a role in this. I do not know how great a role, I don't know if they had total control over it and I don't know what the motivation was yet.
There's a lot of speculation as to exactly what caused it but I believe that it was the military.
He says while the amount of money withheld at the moment is small, it is by no means insignificant.
TOM TANCREDO: $600,000 but it's not - that's not going to change anything internally. They're not looking at that and saying, "Oh gee, if we don't get that $600,000 we can't do X right now."
The only significance, I think, it has, is that it portends something else. It portends a bigger cut, a - if they do nothing in response to it, it ratchets up the situation, the seriousness of the situation, I think.
The Freeport ambush has become the biggest impediment to the resumption of military aid between Indonesia and the United States.
TOM TANCREDO: Many parts of the world don't understand why one, two American lives would matter this much in the total scheme of things, but it's one of the things I think that separates Western civilisation from other civilisations.
Last week, Indonesia's military was told the IMET training program would remain frozen. The United States making it clear it remains dissatisfied with Indonesia's level of cooperation in investigating the Freeport killings.
But Indonesia's near neighbour Australia has softened the pain of that blow to the military's credibility.
Australia's chief of the Defence Force, General Peter Cosgrove, announced this week that Canberra has re-established ties with Indonesia's notorious special forces Kopassus - all in the name of the global fight against terrorism.