National Security Archive – 2005-02-05 11:49:34
National Security Archive Posts Secret CIA History Released Under Nazi War Crimes Disclosure Act
WASHINGTON, DC (February 4, 2005) — Today the National Security Archive posted the CIA’s secret documentary history of the US government’s relationship with General Reinhard Gehlen, the German army’s intelligence chief for the Eastern Front during World War II.
At the end of the war, Gehlen established a close relationship with the US and successfully maintained his intelligence network (it ultimately became the West German BND) even though he employed numerous former Nazis and known war criminals.
The use of Gehlen’s group, according to the CIA history, Forging an Intelligence Partnership: CIA and the Origins of the BND, 1945-49, was a “double edged sword” that “boosted the Warsaw Pact’s propaganda efforts” and “suffered devastating penetrations by the KGB.”
The declassified “SECRET RelGER” two-volume history was compiled by CIA historian Kevin Ruffner and presented in 1999 by CIA Deputy Director for Operations Jack Downing to the German intelligence service (Bundesnachrichtendienst) in remembrance of “the new and close ties” formed during post-war Germany to mark the fiftieth year of CIA-West German cooperation.
This history was declassified in 2002 as a result of the work of The Nazi War Crimes and Japanese Imperial Government Records Interagency Working Group (IWG) and contains 97 key documents from various agencies.
War Crimes Disclosure Act
This posting comes in the wake of public grievances lodged by members of the IWG that the CIA has not fully complied with the mandate of the Nazi War Crimes Disclosure Act and is continuing to withhold hundreds of thousands of pages of documentation related to their work. In interviews with the New York Times, three public members of the IWG said:
“I think that the CIA has defied the law, and in so doing has also trivialized the Holocaust, thumbed its nose at the survivors of the Holocaust and also at the Americans who gave their lives in the effort to defeat the Nazis in World War II.”
— Former congresswoman Elizabeth Holtzman
“I can only say that the posture the CIA has taken differs from all the other agencies that have been involved, and that’s not a position we can accept.”
— Washington lawyer Richard Ben-Veniste
“Too much has been secret for too long. The CIA has not complied with the statute.”
— Former federal prosecutor Thomas H. Baer
Documents Reveal ‘Extensive’ Links between Nazi Criminals and CIA
The IWG was established in January 11, 1999 and has overseen the declassification of about eight million pages of documents from multiple government agencies. Its mandate expires at the end of March 2005.
The documentation unearthed by the IWG reveals extensive relationships between former Nazi war criminals and American intelligence organizations, including the CIA.
For example, current records show that at least five associates of the notorious Nazi Adolf Eichmann worked for the CIA, 23 other Nazis were approached by the CIA for recruitment, and at least 100 officers within the Gehlen organization were former SD or Gestapo officers.
“This secret CIA history is full of documents we never would have seen under the Freedom of Information Act, because Congress in 1984 gave the CIA an exemption for its ‘operational’ files, on the grounds that such files were too sensitive ever to be released,” commented Thomas Blanton, director of the National Security Archive.
“The Nazi War Crimes Disclosure Act has proven this assumption false. Release of these files has done no damage to national security, has provided information of enormous public interest and historical importance, and however belatedly, has brought a measure of accountability to government operations at variance with mainstream American values.”
THE NATIONAL SECURITY ARCHIVE is an independent non- governmental research institute and library located at The George Washington University in Washington, D.C. The Archive collects and publishes declassified documents acquired through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). A tax-exempt public charity, the Archive receives no US government funding; its budget is supported by publication royalties and donations from foundations and individuals. http://www.nsarchive.org