WASHINGTON (Jul. 19)
The General Accounting Office (GAO) was accused today of having “hedged on the most important questions” in response to a Congressional committee’s requests for information on what had transpired within the United States government that over the past 30 years have permitted Nazi war criminals to enter and live in the U.S.
The House Judiciary subcommittee on emigration, citizenship and international law had requested the GAO 17 months ago to investigate whether federal agencies had deliverately obstructed or quashed prosecutions of the alleged Nazis. When Victor Lowe, director of the GAO’s general government division, offered his long-awaited report to the subcommittee at the start of its three days of hearings on the basis of the GAO’s investigations, members of the House subcommittee responded with intense dissatisfaction over its contents.
Rep. Joshua Eilberg (D. Pa.), chairman of both the full committee and the subcommittee, pointed out that the GAO did not follow up on its own investigations. His staff, Eilberg said, could obtain material from the files of the Central Intelligence Agency that the GAO indicated were closed to them.
When Lowe said that it would have been helpful if the GAO had subpoena power to obtain CIA information, Eilberg labelled his testimony “bogey-man arguments” since the GAO had never asked the subcommittee over the past many months for subpoena power nor said it was having difficulty obtaining information.
Rep. Elizabeth Holtzman (D. NY) elicited from the GAO witness that, first, he did not know how much the CIA had paid alleged Nazis in its employ and, secondly, that he did not ask the CIA about such payments. After the GAO said it had reports on 40 of the 57 cases that existed before 1973, Lowe agreed to assign a liaison official from the GAO to the subcommittee to look into the 17 other cases.
One of these 17 outstanding cases was disclosed as involving the CIA’s alleged use with State Department approval of a former German Foreign Office official who had served as liaison between Nazi Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop and the Einsatzgruppen, the mobile extermination squad that roamed Eastern Europe during World War II. This official, according to those close to the investigation, had worked for several months for the CIA in the U.S.
Lowe contended that it is “unlikely that a widespread conspiracy existed” among U.S. agencies “but we cannot absolutely rule out the possibility of undetected isolated instances of deliberate obstruction.” He said that legal delays, appeals and other procedures and the age of the witnesses “make it doubtful that the government will ever be able to deport many” of the alleged criminals.
In a statement opening the hearing, Eilberg said the subcommittee is “trying to find out exactly” why individuals identified as having committed crimes against humanity were “allowed to remain undisturbed in the midst of our society, enjoying the very privileges they sought to destroy, protected by the same laws they violated.”
He said the subcommittee intends to hold further hearings to determine the roles of the FBI, the CIA, the army and the State Department, as well as the progress being made “presently” by the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS). Witnesses on hand to testify today included Charles Allen, author of numerous works on the Nazis, and former INS officials Anthony Devito, an investigator, and Vincent Ciano, a lawyer.