from the book


America's recruitment of Nazis,
and its disastrous effect on our domestic and foreign policy

by Christopher Simpson

Collier / Macmillan, 1988

U.S. clandestine operations employing Nazis never did produce the results that were desired when they were initiated, but they did contribute to the influence of some of the most reactionary trends in American political life.

Crimes against humanity, " states the Allied Control Council Law No. 10 of 1945, are "atrocities and offenses, including but not limited to murder, extermination, enslavement, deportation, imprisonment, torture, rape, or other inhuman acts committed against any civilian population, or persecutions on political, racial or religious grounds...."

U.S. national security planners appear to have concluded that extreme-right-wing groups that had once collaborated with the Nazis should be included in U.S.-sponsored anti-Communist coalitions, for the participation of such groups became a regular feature of U.S. covert operations in Europe ...

The army, air force, and CIA all began competing programs to prepare for the post-nuclear battlefield. This included creation of what eventually came to be called the Special Forces-better known today as the Green Berets-in the army and the air resupply and communications wings in the air force. The job of these units, Prouty explains, was to set up anti-Communist political leaders backed up by guerrilla armies inside the USSR and Eastern Europe in the wake of an atomic war, capture political power in strategic I sections of the country, choke off any remaining Communist resistance, and ensure that the Red Army could not regroup for a counterattack.

The concepts of maintaining "plausible deniability" for the actual murder and of the expendability of the killers themselves are a key to understanding U.S. assassination techniques. In most cases, it appears to have been neither necessary nor practical for U.S. intelligence officers to give precise instructions for murder. Instead, the OPC gave directions to commit assassinations to guerrilla movements in the same simple, sweeping terms that had been used in wartime Yugoslavia.

"We kept personnel at several air bases around the world for these types of missions," says Colonel Prouty, who was responsible for U.S. Air Force air support of CIA missions overseas, including the delivery of agents to their targets and subsequent evacuation measures. "Some of these guys were the best commercial hit men you have ever heard of. [They were] mechanics, killers. They were Ukrainians, mainly, and Eastern Europeans, Greeks, and some Scotsmen. I don't know how the Scotsmen got in there, but there they were.

Before the decade of the 1950s was out, the CIA is known to have established mechanisms for using "deniable" assets and émigrés for the execution of heads of state and other international leaders. These later killings, which are arguably the most serious blunders ever made by the CIA, have created blowback problems on an international scale and have had a significant and generally negative effect on the lives of millions of people.

According to a top secret U.S. State Department intelligence report of May 1947, "the Vatican ... is the largest single organization involved in the illegal movement of emigrants . . . [and] the justification . . . for its participation in this illegal traffic is simply the propagation of the Faith. It is the Vatican's desire to assist any person, regardless of nationality or political beliefs, as long as that person can prove himself to be a Catholic." The classified study confirmed that Nazis and their collaborators were not excluded from the effort: "[I]n those Latin American countries where the Church is a controlling or dominating factor, the Vatican has brought pressure to bear which has resulted in the foreign missions of those countries taking an attitude almost favoring the entry into their country of former Nazis and former Fascists or other political groups, so long as they are anti-Communist. That, in fact, is the practice in effect in the Latin American Consulates and Missions in Rome at the present time."

Hundreds of thousands of decent people of Central and Eastern European heritage entered this country legally during the 1950s, often at the price of great personal sacrifice. But the measures undertaken by the CIA in connection with [National Security Council intelligence directives] NSC 86, NSCID 13, and NSCID 14 led to the infiltration of thousands of Waffen SS veterans and other Nazi collaborators into their communities in the United States at the same time. This in turn laid the foundation for a revival of extremist right-wing political movements inside immigrant communities in this country that continue to be active.

Allan Ryan, the former director of the Justice Department's war criminal investigation unit, estimates that nearly 10,000 Nazi war criminals entered the United States during... [the 1950s], although he rejects the suggestion that U.S. intelligence agencies had anything to do with this.

The price tag for the U.S. arms buildup, according to Paul Nitze, who drafted most of the main policy statements on the issue, was some $50 billion-almost three times the then existing U.S. military budget. The real question for U.S. policymakers of the day, write Walter Isaacson and Evan Thomas in their study of American foreign policy formulation The Wise Men, "was whether Congress and the Administration would pay for it. The public had to be persuaded. The way to do that, Nitze knew from experience, was to scare them; to tell them that the Soviets were intent on world domination, that they were poised to attack, and that the U.S. had to meet them everywhere."

It was in this context that the CIA launched a major propaganda effort in the United States. Despite a legal prohibition against domestic activities by the agency, it initiated a multimillion-dollar publicity project in this country called the Crusade for Freedom.

The fact that a man might have been a mass murderer did not by itself disqualify him from working for the agency [CIA] if he was believed to be useful.

In the final analysis, the cold war became the means for tens-of-thousands of Nazi criminals to avoid responsibility for the murders they had committed. The breakdown of East-West cooperation in the prosecution of war criminals-motivated, again, in part by the short-term interests of the intelligence agencies of both sides in protecting their clandestine operations assets-provided both the means for criminals to escape to the West and the alibis for them to use once they arrived here. "Nazi criminals," as Simon Wiesenthal has commented, "were the principal beneficiaries of the Cold War."

There are moments in history when small events clarify much bigger patterns, and such is the case with the CIA's enlistment of Nazis during the 1940s and 1950s.

Here one sees the extent of the corruption of American ideals that has taken place in the name of fighting communism. No one, it seems, not even Adolf Eichmann's personal staff, was too tainted to be rejected by the CIA's recruiters, at least as long as his relationship with the U.S. government could be kept secret.

The American people deserve better from their government. There is nothing to be gained by permitting U.S. intelligence agencies to continue to conceal the true scope of their association with Nazi criminals in the wake of World War II.

Blowback - CSimpson

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