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Legislation on War Criminals Clears First Hurdle in the House

July 30, 1996
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Classified files detailing Kurt Waldheim’s Nazi past could see the light of day as early as this fall.

The House Committee on Government Reform and Oversight unanimously passed a bill last week that would clear the way for U.S. agencies to release information on the former United Nations secretary- general and Austrian president.

Waldheim, who served as an German intelligence officer in the Balkans during World War II, has been implicated in deportations and reprisal killings of partisans.

Waldheim denies that he had any knowledge of Nazi slaughter during the war.

The War Crimes Disclosure Act, sponsored by Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.), would amend the Freedom of Information Act to require the government to release restricted files on Nazi war criminals.

Maloney said the committee’s action “represents a victory in the fight against the revisionism of Mr. Waldheim.”

The Justice Department investigated Waldheim in the late 1980s and placed him on the U.S. “Watch List,” which prohibits him from entering the United States.

But the CIA files on him were never released. Such files fell through Cold War- era loopholes that exempt certain information from public release due to intelligence issues.

If the measure passes, the CIA and other government agencies would be forced to make files on former Nazis available to the public, providing that the information does not endanger current investigations or national security.

Congressional supporters of the bill hope that the Intelligence and Judiciary committees will bypass their right to vote on the measure. This would clear the way for a vote on the House floor as early as September.

New York Sens. Daniel Moynihan, a Democrat, and Alfonse D’Amato, a Republican, plan to introduce a similar bill in the Senate.

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