Behind the Headlines the New York Times — a Year Late

The New York Times apparently thought it had a “scoop” today in a story on its front page headlined “Vatican Is Reported To Have Furnished Aid to Fleeing Nazis.” The Times cited as one source for this story “a declassified State Department report” date 1947 “and never officially made public.”

The fact of the matter is that this report and the role of the Vatican first appeared in a series of articles written by Charles Allen, Jr. in the February 16, 17 and 18, 1983 issues of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency Daily News Bulletin and reprinted at the time in numerous American Jewish newspapers across the country. Allen obtained the report under the Freedom of Information Act.

The report, which until it was published in the JTA was a “Top Secret” 35-page set of State Department documents, was written by Vincent La Vista, an international lawyer who in 1947 was military attache to the American Embassy in Rome and, according to Allen, “already a skilled intelligence/diplomatic State Department officer.” The report, dated May 14, 1947, titled “Illegal Emigration Movements In and Through Italy, ” became known as the “La Vista Report” in American intelligence circles.

The Times in today’s story fails to mention the JTA series which first disclosed the existence and the contents of the La Vista Report. For a paper that claims to be a publication of record and contends on its masthead “All the News That’s Fit to Print” — albeit almost a year late in this case — this omission hardly qualified its boasts.

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