Our Nazi allies

Louis Proyect lnp3 at SPAMpanix.com
Wed May 3 08:59:55 MDT 2000


Our Nazi allies

A German amateur investigator finds information on the U.S. government's
friendly dealings with war criminals. Meanwhile, the FBI and CIA guard
their records.

- - - - - - - - - - - -
By Ken Silverstein

May 3, 2000 | WASHINGTON -- Dieter Maier, an amateur investigator working
from his home on the outskirts of Frankfurt, Germany, has uncanny luck
finding out about U.S. ties to the Nazis.

For the past 20 years, Maier has been filing a steady stream of requests
for information to a variety of U.S. government agencies, largely for the
existential pleasure of historical inquiry, and also out of a fear of a
rebirth of Nazism, fascism and racism in Germany. The more he knows about
the past, he says, the better prepared he is to deal with the future and
present.

What is most startling about Maier's success, however, is that he appears
to have had an easier time finding information on U.S. collaboration with
Nazis after World War II than a committee appointed by Congress to extract
the same controversial data.

Maier, through Freedom of Information Act requests, has unearthed new
information on characters like Karl Heinz-Priester, one of the most
prominent postwar neo-Nazi leaders. According to "The Biographical
Dictionary of the Extreme Right," Priester, a former Waffen SS liaison
officer, helped found the National Democratic Reich Party in 1949. After
being expelled for his dictatorial tendencies, Priester set up the equally
virulent German Social Movement and became a leading player in the
international fascist movement.

Maier received files from U.S. Army Intelligence that show that Priester
was on the U.S. payroll as an informant, a fact never before reported.
Priester was terminated as a U.S. spy in 1959 when it was deemed that his
usefulness was falling off, or as it was put on his file card: "Subject's
services no longer needed. Production and performance poor." (The FOIA is,
unfortunately, a hit-and-miss proposition. I also filed a request on
Priester, and was sent, among other things, the identical file card -- with
the notations identifying Priester as a U.S. agent blacked out.)

That U.S. officials collaborated with Nazis after World War II is, of
course, well known. Just one day after Germany's surrender, on May 10,
1945, the Joint Chiefs of Staff ordered Gen. Dwight Eisenhower to arrest
all suspected war criminals, though advising him "to make such exceptions
as you deem advisable for intelligence and other military reasons." In
other words, cut deals with war criminals who could be usefully employed by
U.S. intelligence. Over the years, the United States found a spot on the
payroll for thousands of former Nazis, especially as part of intelligence
gathering operations aimed at the Soviet Union, our wartime ally but
soon-to-be mortal foe.

Not much has been learned about these programs since, with successes such
as Maier's rare. But that was supposed to change in the fall of 1998, when
Congress passed the little-noticed Nazi War Crimes Disclosure Act. It
requires government agencies to turn over to the National Archives all
files relating to Nazi looting and war crimes, including documents that
detail American ties to Nazi war criminals.

"The former Soviet Union has opened its archives. Eastern European
countries have done so; even Argentina has begun to open its files on
Nazis. Why are ours still closed?" asked former Rep. Elizabeth Holtzman,
D-N.Y., at the time. Holtzman is now a member of the Interagency Working
Group, which Congress established to oversee implementation of the NWCDA.
Federal agencies are to comply with the law by January 2002, but it's
unlikely this timetable will be met. Up to 10 million pages are expected to
be released, but only 1 million pages, many of them innocuous, have thus
far been declassified.

There are some logical reasons for the delay. The job is enormous, and of
course involves the review of tons of paper held by numerous government
agencies. Meanwhile, Congress failed to appropriate enough funding to
implement the NWCDA and then cut declassification budgets sharply last
year. (In the case of the Defense Department, they were cut by about half,
to $100 million.)

Still, there are no encouraging precedents for this degree of disclosure.
"From the end of World War II to Vietnam to Iran-Contra -- you name it and
[the CIA] lied about it," says Christopher Simpson, author of "Blowback,"
the definitive book so far on U.S. collaboration with the Nazis.

Holtzman is optimistic the files will ultimately be released. But, "There's
a long history of concealing these files," she says. "The impulse to open
them up is not in the genes."

Full story at: http//www.salon.com


Louis Proyect

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