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NYT Releases Unredacted Report on “U.S. Aid for Ex-Nazis”

10:19 am in Uncategorized by Jeff Kaye

The New York Times has released a full unredacted version of the Department of Justice’s Office of Special Investigation (OSI) report, “Striving for Accountability in the Aftermath of the Holocaust.” According to NYT reporter Eric Lichtblau, “The Justice Department has resisted making the report public since 2006.” A “heavily redacted” version was released last month to the private National Security Archive (NSA), and now a leaked version of the entire document has been released to the public.

According to a November 13 NSA press release:

The National Security Archive posted today its original FOIA request, the government’s response, our appeal by counsel David Sobel, the legal complaint in the case National Security Archive v. Department of Justice, the interim response from DoJ, the “Vaughn index” of withheld pages and alleged justifications for the withholding, and the 45 pages of partial and highly-redacted response.

The evocation of words like “accountability” in the context of suppressed documents, leaks, and war crimes has an eerie resonance in the context of the current struggle to gain accountability for current and recent U.S. war crimes surrounding the methods by which “intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy” of invading Iraq, the widespread use of torture and extraordinary rendition by the government and its allies, and a policy of illegal human experimentation on “war on terror” prisoners.

The fact that DoJ would still be trying to hide information from decades-old files surrounding the U.S. recruitment of Nazi war criminals does not bode well for those trying to force the U.S. government from President Obama’s “Don’t Look Back” policy towards war crimes. In fact, it took almost fifty years to get a significant opening of U.S. archives to look at government actions at the close of World War II. The NYT leaked document is but the latest in a string of revelations about the use of both high and low ranking Nazis by the U.S. government. Author Christopher Simpson wrote the first major book, Blowback: America’s Recruitment of Nazis and Its Effects on the Cold War, documenting this history in 1988, followed by Linda Hunt’s excellent Secret Agenda: The United States Government, Nazi Scientists, and Project Paperclip, 1945 to 1990, and other books, many of them unfortunately now out of print.

Anyone wanting to become an archival researcher in Nazi or Japanese war crimes can begin at the National Archives webpage for the Interagency Working Group (IWG), where there are links to tens of thousands of documents and millions of pages from the files of the CIA, FBI, military intelligence, OSS and other agencies. The IWG issued their Final Report of the Nazi War Crimes and [Japanese] Imperial Government Records Interagency Working Group in April 2007, and is available online.

Revelations on U.S. Recruitment of Nazis

The OSI report is not without its new revelations. According to Lichtblau:

The full report disclosed that the Justice Department found “a smoking gun” in 1997 establishing with “definitive proof” that Switzerland had bought gold from the Nazis that had been taken from Jewish victims of the Holocaust. But these references are deleted, as are disputes between the Justice and State Departments over Switzerland’s culpability in the months leading up to a major report on the issue.

Another section describes as “a hideous failure” a series of meetings in 2000 that United States officials held with Latvian officials to pressure them to pursue suspected Nazis. That passage is also deleted.

In its paranoia and animus against its former Soviet ally (a paranoia and animus that ran in two directions), the United States turned to the recruitment of former Nazis in an attempt to gain intelligence and military superiority over the Soviet Union. The Times article describes how the report details the stories of infamous Nazi war criminals protected by the United States.

There was Arthur L. Rudolph, a Nazi scientist who used slave labor to operate Mittelwerk underground factories that produced the V-2 rocket. Twenty-five thousand slave laborers perished in the terrible conditions and treatment meted out at Mittelwerk. But Rudolph was protected from prosecution and went on to work for NASA as a primary designer of the Saturn rockets that took U.S. astronauts to the moon.

The article also notes the CIA’s recruitment of “Otto Von Bolschwing, an associate of Adolf Eichmann who had helped develop the initial plans ‘to purge Germany of the Jews.’” The Times article gentlemanly forbears the whole story, which was revealed in a 2006 UK Guardian story on new information found in a massive release in that year of CIA documents on its Nazi past. (CIA watchers should note the ironies entailed in the fact the release was approved by then CIA director Porter Goss.) Von Bloschwing, it turns out, had also been Heinrich Himmler’s representative in Romania.

According to the UK Guardian:

After the war Bolschwing had been recruited by the Gehlen Organisation, the prototype German intelligence agency set up by the Americans under Reinhard Gehlen, who had run military intelligence on the eastern front under the Nazis. “US army intelligence accepted Reinhard Gehlen’s offer to furnish alleged expertise on the Red army – and was bilked by the many mass murderers he hired,” said Robert Wolfe, a historian at the US national archives.

Of even more interest, perhaps, was the U.S. recruitment of Nazis and war criminals for its clandestine secret military groups after the war. Such secret armies were organized across Europe in the aftermath of World War II, and were later implicated in a number of right-wing terrorist actions and coups. The headquarters for this was ultimately centered in the NATO high command, and its various activities, including false flag operations to implicate leftists as terrorists became known as Operation Gladio.

Again, from the UK Guardian article:

Alongside the Gehlen Organisation, US intelligence had set up “stay-behind networks” in West Germany, who were supposed to stay put in the event of a Soviet invasion and transmit intelligence from behind enemy lines. Those networks were also riddled with ex-Nazis who had horrendous records.

One of the networks, codenamed Kibitz-15, was run by a former German army officer, Lieutenant Colonel Walter Kopp, who was described by his own American handlers as an “unreconstructed Nazi”.

A more detailed description of the U.S. organization of stay-behind networks is told in an essay by Timothy Naftali at the University of Virginia (PDF).

The New York Times is to be commended for the release of this important new document, whose 600-plus pages will take awhile to be fully digested. The Times also was one of four news outlets to release, against considerable government pressure, the Wikileaks war logs from Iraq and Afghanistan. But the Times editorial stance for accountability for torture has not been met with action by the U.S. President, Justice Department, or Congress. The Democrats had two years of full control of both houses of Congress and never brought any substantive hearings or investigations on the issue of torture or the machinations behind the invasion of Iraq. While there is no doubt that much was withheld from Congress by the Pentagon and White House, the Democrats demonstrated no appetite to press for accountability, and this will be their ignoble legacy.

We must not wait fifty, sixty, or seventy years for the truth about recent and ongoing war crimes to come fully out, and for accountability for these crimes. It appears that will only happen if the citizens of the United States take history into their own hands and form new political entities or parties capable of handling the truth and meting out justice. Such new political forces will be unlikely to stop there, and turn towards implementing the kinds of change we desperately need in this society.

Senior Greek Official: “We may have an uprising in the making”

8:56 pm in Uncategorized by Jeff Kaye

What if three million protesters poured into the streets of American cities, and with a general strike shut down all transportation, closing government offices, and setting banks and office buildings ablaze?

If one takes into account the size of Greece, a proportionate amount of the Greek population did just that on May 5. Over 100,000 protesters took took to the streets. But this was not your ordinary European mass rally. World markets, including Wall Street, felt the tremor from these demonstrations. The protests are against onerous economic cutbacks in the wake of a € 110 billion Euro ($145 billion) bailout for a near-bankrupt economy. But a large percentage of the Greek population doesn’t see itself paying for a generation for the corruption of their own officials, and the economic shock therapy dictated by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and German bankers.

From the UK Guardian:

"All of us are angry, very, very angry," bellowed Stella Stamou, a civil servant standing on a street corner, screaming herself hoarse, a block away from where the bank had been set alight.

"You write that – angry, angry, angry, angry," she said, after participating in one of the biggest ever rallies to rock the capital since the return of democracy in 1974. "Angry with our own politicians, angry with the IMF, angry with the EU, angry that we have lost income, angry that we have never been told the truth."

From the Wall Street Journal:

"For 30 years the Greek people have been held hostage," said Periandros Athanassakis, 48, a garbage collector in Piraeus, the port near Athens. "Those who stole the money should pay."

Some officials saw in Wednesday’s protests the seeds of broader discontent. "We may have an uprising in the making," one senior Greek official said.

The New York Times focused on the violence, predicting (in their hopeful way) that the violence would bring about a government reaction, and a backlash of Greeks "against a growing number of extremists". The Grey Lady intoned, "Some said they were willing to endure what some economists predict could be 10 years before the economy bounces back," even while others were responding differently:

… clustered among the protesters were subgroups numbering in the hundreds — mostly young and many clad in black, wearing hoods or masks and carrying helmets, wooden bats or hammers — that the police and other demonstrators identified broadly as anarchists. They led efforts to storm the Parliament building, chanting “thieves, thieves,” and hurling rocks and gasoline bombs.

Everyone agrees that the situation in Greece is dire. And Greece is the proverbial canary in the coalmine, as world financiers look doubtfully upon Spain’s 20% unemployment rate and indebtedness, and precarious economic conditions from the UK to Italy. The Germans are the real power behind the EU, and their economy is the one that others are looking to for a bail out the weaker states — but only at a price. The Germans are holding firm to the terms of their bailout, even as German chancellor Angela Merkel said, "Quite simply, Europe’s future is at stake."

What’s the Bailout Deal?

Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou has a difficult, maybe impossible austerity package to sell to the Greek people. The Greek state has been living on borrowed funds for some time. The bailout deal proposed by the Germans and IMF demands Greece reduce its national borrowing rate from 13.4% of national income to 3% within four years. But where’s the money going to come from?

According to another New York Times story:

The new measures include an increase of two percentage points in the value-added sales tax, which is now 19 percent; a further increase in the fuel tax; increases of 20 percent for alcohol taxes and 6 percent for cigarette taxes; a new tax on luxury goods; and a 12 percent cut in supplements to wages for civil servants, Mr. Petalotis said.

They also include a 30 percent reduction in the bonuses given to civil servants as holiday pay, which amount to two additional monthly wages, he said.

The Gerson Lehrman Company describes how the Greek economy is going to be chopped up and sold to the highest bidder, many of those foreign. Of course, they are quite sober about it all:

The government will accelerate privatizations (€ 2.5 bill. budgeted for 2010) and may change its mind regarding majority ownership by strategic (foreign/EU) investors of types of assets / industries that have been protected under the existing social /political model, including utility/infrastructure, transport or special state (monopoly) assets. Examples might include the railway company, water distribution companies, the electricity grid or the power company (PPC), as well as the soccer betting company (OPAP), gambling Casinos and the remaining stake in Hellenic Telecom (OTE), which will probably be sold to Deutsche Telekom. Other interesting candidates for privatization might include airports and seaports and enhanced PPP/PFI models will be considered for infrastructure investments.

So goodbye living wages, goodbye state-run utilities, transport, and telecom. As the quote above makes clear, German companies are primed to sweep up the goodies off the bargain basement floor. This is a bitter pill for the Greeks, who endured Nazi occupation during World War II, which they answered with a large bloody resistance. The old hatreds and resentments still simmer under the surface.

Back in February, Greek Deputy prime minister Theodoros Pangalos lashed out:

Nazi theft of Greek gold during the Second World War is to blame for the country’s faltering finances, Athens claimed yesterday….

Greece said the real culprit for its problems were the Nazis, whose occupation lasted from 1941 to 1945….

Germany swiftly rejected the accusation, saying it paid £50 million in compensation by 1960 and more to forced labourers of the Nazi regime.

Where is this all headed?

People in the U.S. are used to hearing about European general strikes. In the popular mind, fostered by a somnolent and ignorant press, such protests are quaint European customs, artifacts of a past that is not relevant anymore, especially since the fall of the Soviet Union. But this is a crisis that is not going to go away. And within living memory, European states have turned to violent coups and dictatorships to quell popular dissent, as in Greece and Portugal in the 1960s and 1970s.

In Italy, U.S./NATO-backed right-wing terrorists, part of the left-behind armies of Operation Gladio, facilitated the Italian government’s "strategy of tension" during the 1980s in order to keep the then-popular Italian Communist Party from entering the Italian government. Philip Willan covered the revelations of this story in the UK Guardian a decade ago:

The 300-page [Italian parliamentary] report says that the United States was responsible for inspiring a "strategy of tension" in which indiscriminate bombing of the public and the threat of a rightwing coup were used to stabilise centre-right political control of the country.

Those who carried out the attacks were rarely caught, it said, because "those massacres, those bombs, those military actions had been organised or promoted or supported by men inside Italian state institutions and, as has been discovered, by men linked to the structures of United States intelligence".

The crisis in Greece and the European Union in general is exposing the deep flaws within the post-Soviet economic and political structure in Europe. The fires in Athens are a harbinger of a bigger crisis to come, one that Americans will have to pay attention to. But do not count on the U.S. press to honestly report what will happen, or the U.S. government to stand aside in neutrality. The Obama administration is pushing the Europeans and the IMF to get the bailout deal in place quickly, even as right-wing Republicans are screaming they will not support the U.S. paying its portion of the IMF bailout funds.

The people of Greece seem determined they will not pay for the orgy of corruption and double-dealing that has left their economy in tatters. Whether it was Goldman Sachs playing funny with derivatives to help the Greek government to hide its debt, or German companies rushing to buy up newly privatized industries, or the wide-spread corruption of Greek politicians, they are saying something that American workers and middle class might be thinking, and that has some people afraid: "’let the plutocracy pay’…’Why should we, the little man, pay for this crisis?’"

Gladio: A Conspiracy So Large, It’s Time You Learned About It (Take That Cass Sunstein!)

5:37 pm in Uncategorized by Jeff Kaye

I am pleased to link here the 1992 three-part BBC documentary by Alan Francovich, Gladio. Utilizing interviews from the many European and American principals involved, the documentary relates the story of the biggest "conspiracy" of our time (are you listening, Cass Sunstein?) — the existence of a covert terrorist network maintained throughout Europe by NATO, which utilized terrorism in an effort to discredit the political left.

These "stay-behind" networks originally were built up by recruiting fascists from the countries the U.S. and Britain occupied, meant to be a bulwark against a possible and feared Soviet invasion after World War II. When the invasion never occurred, the networks were not dismantled, but took on a different mission: to keep the left from gaining power in any of these states, from Sweden and Belgium to France, Switzerland, Italy, Greece, Turkey and elsewhere.

The existence of secret "stay-behind" armies and groups, known today by the Italian name, Gladio, caused a sensation in the early 1990s, when they were revealed by then-Italian Prime Minister Giulio Andreotti. Since then, Gladio-like operations, supposedly ran by the CIA and to some extent the British MI6, have been linked to a number of terrorist attacks, assassinations, and right-wing coups in Europe, e.g., the Bologna train station bombing in 1980, the 1967 generals coup in Greece, etc.

The sensationalistic charges have fed a number of conspiracy theories, particularly those around the existence of "false flag" government operations. Some have indicated they see the 9/11 attacks in this light, though I can’t say I have the kind of evidence to make such an assertion. But one can understand how any individual might come to seriously mistrust the U.S. government after learning of the Gladio history, which is extensive and well-documented.

Among other canards the Gladio story can put to rest is the silly belief that no large scale conspiracies can exist, at least in a so-called open, democratic society such as ours. And yet, Gladio proves that is not true. In fact, since the revelations of the early 1990s, there has been practically no discussion of this crucial aspect of contemporary history by U.S. historians or policy makers. The existence of this huge conspiracy and intervention against sovereign European states is almost never even referred to by the vast majority of political commentators, left or right, in the United States. I don’t see how anyone can intelligently discuss modern European politics without understanding the Gladio revelations and the fallout from them in the various European countries.

More Documentation on Gladio

The first academic examination of Gladio was published in 2005 by Swiss historian Daniele Ganser. Mr. Ganser is currently a Senior Researcher at the Center for Security Studies at the Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, Switzerland. His book, NATO’s Secret Armies: Operation Gladio and Terrorism in Western Europe, is available at last at not too outrageous a price at Amazon, and likely other book outlets.

(Caveat emptor! The paperback version was said to be unavailable, leaving only the $190 hardback edition! However, there is a Kindle version available for under $40. And moreover, clicking on a link on the latter page brings me to another Amazon page that lists the paperback as available, with new and used copies from $41 on down.)

Another excellent book that delivers a good deal of research on Gladio comes from British journalist Philip Willan, who writes for the UK Guardian and other papers: Puppetmasters: The Political Use of Terrorism in Italy.

I can’t say that I have mastered the above material. Nor am I sure how exactly this aspect of American and European history is being played out even now. I do know that it much too large a story, with way too many ramifications to be ignored. In fact, from a historian’s standpoint, or that of any commentator on the events of the past fifty or sixty years, it appears that many of the assumptions about the world we live in are seriously called into question.

At the end of this posting are some links to other online sites of interest, as we begin to assimilate this gigantic story, one which until recently, has been kept from the American people — outside of small websites, chat rooms, or in the comments of blog readers who get labeled as "conspiracy nuts." Some of the latter are intemperate and have not really examined the proof for many of their statements. But Gladio is not one of those instances. It is a true conspiracy, by men and women at the highest levels of our society. It was kept secret for decades. By indifference and neglect, it is kept out of public consciousness even now.

Part One – "The Ringmasters"

Part Two – "The Puppeteers"

Part Three – "The Foot Soldiers"

The Wikipedia entry on Gladio. Not bad, with lots of links.

Selections from Ganser’s book

An article on Gladio by Arthur Rowse, formerly at the Washington Post and U.S. News and World Report.

Dr. John Prados, Senior Fellow at The National Security Archive, and who wrote the forward for Ganser’s book, discusses Gladio in his book on William Colby, which one can read in part at Google Books.

The ongoing ramifications of Gladio in Turkey, where the "stay-behinds" or embedded secret organization (take your pick) is called Ergenekon.

US ‘supported anti-left terror in Italy’
Report claims Washington used a strategy of tension in the cold war to stabilise the centre-right
Philip Willan, UK Guardian, 24 June 2000, page 19