CIA to reveal more about U.S. sheltering of Nazi criminals

September 10, 1992|By New York Times News Service

In a change of policy that could provide new information about U.S. recruitment of Nazi war criminals after World War II, the CIA says it has begun to systematically search its records with the aim of opening long-secret files to historians' scrutiny.

The CIA, which has been accused of shielding such contacts in the past, said it intended to make public the information, so long as it did not harm national security, regardless of its potential for embarrassment to the government.

Recent years have brought disclosures that U.S. intelligence protected such heinous killers as Klaus Barbie, the head of the German secret police in Lyons, who deported French Jews to Nazi death camps; covered up the German army record of Kurt Waldheim, the former secretary general of the U.N., and hired German scientists who had used slave labor.

An agency official said that the unit in charge of classifying secret material has been ordered "to search for and review all such records, including those previously released only in part, for declassification and transfer to the National Archives."

The pledge was made recently in a letter from the CIA's deputy director, Adm. W.O. Studeman, to Elizabeth Holtzman, a former New York congresswoman closely identified with the issue.

"The United States' attitude toward Nazi war criminals after World War II is one of the most sordid chapters in our nation's history." she said. "The more we bring it to light, the greater is the chance it will never happen again."

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