Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Nazis in the CIA, McCarthy & Bush

Elizabeth Holtzman, a former congresswoman from New York and member of the panel, the Nazi War Crimes and Japanese Imperial Government Records Interagency Working Group, said the documents showed that the C.I.A "failed to lift a finger" to hunt Eichmann and "force us to confront not only the moral harm but the practical harm" of relying on intelligence from ex-Nazis.

The United States government, preoccupied with the cold war, had no policy at the time of pursuing Nazi war criminals. The records also show that American intelligence officials protected many former Nazis for their perceived value in combating the Soviet threat.

But Ms. Holtzman, speaking at a news briefing at the National Archives on Tuesday, said information from the former Nazis was often tainted both by their "personal agendas" and their vulnerability to blackmail. "Using bad people can have very bad consequences," Ms. Holtzman said. She and other group members suggested that the findings should be a cautionary tale for intelligence agencies today.-- C.I.A. Knew Where Eichmann Was Hiding, Documents Show, NY Times, Scott Shane 6/7/06

I don’t believe in random coincidences. The ringing mantra lesson of the Holocaust is “Never Again.” Yet the ringing is false—the genocides of Bosnia, Rwanda, Darfur, the mega-war in the Congo—point to lessons not learned, and us as poor students.

The coincidence is the confluence of warnings about the repetition of mistakes at high governmental levels. Documents recently released show US government complicity in keeping secret the whereabouts of Nazi war criminals, in order to use these former enemies of humanity as spies for the CIA against communist East Germany and the Soviet Union. This amoral rationale to let Nazis escape justice backfired in the worst way:

In another case, Ohio University historian Norman Goda discussed records showing how former Nazi SS intelligence officer Heinz Felfe, who was recruited by the Soviet KGB after the war, was able to join the West German intelligence service set up by the United States. He eventually rose to become chief of the division responsible for surveillance of the Soviets, the records show.

"He was no common mole," Goda said in a press briefing at the National Archives Building. Felfe was in charge of operations against the Soviets while "he took his orders from the Soviets."

Goda said Felfe caused "massive damage ... as large an intelligence disaster as occurred during the Cold War."CNN CIA papers: U.S. failed to pursue Nazi, Pam Benson 6/7/06

As this evidence comes to light, so does a new book about Senator Joseph McCarthy, the 1950’s communist witch hunter. Shooting Star: The Brief Arc of Joe McCarthy by veteran reporter Tom Wicker, is reviewed in the New York Review of Books by another veteran reporter of the New York Times, Anthony Lewis. While a modern-day best-selling author, Ann Coulter, can grab headlines by making outrageous and scurrilous remarks about any public figure, she is seen as a fringe radical partisan, even by those who support her inane drivel. McCarthy, on the other hand, as a US senator, was taken completely seriously in that role by everyone on up to and including President Eisenhower, who cowered before every appointment he made lest McCarthy would attack the individual as a communist. Such was the fear and dread and ignorance that permeated the innocent citizenry in those days.

The key factor of “McCarthyism,” as the witch hunt came to be known, was fear. As Lewis points out in his conclusion of the review of Wicker’s version of McCarthy’s reign:

He deals well with the underlying question: Why did this unlikely figure have such an impact on American life? After the war, he writes, Americans believed that

with their know-how and determi­nation and faultless intentions, [they] could do anything...and were bound inevitably to tri­umph__Failure whether in com­bat or diplomacy could not, there­fore, be an American failure, for there was no such thing; failure could only result from subver­sion, espionage by the evil empire, and treason —betrayal in high places.

Something like those feelings did exist among many Americans in the post-I war period; they were exacerbated by the Soviet Union's surprise success in acquiring nuclear weapons, a success abetted by Soviet spies. They were combined with another persisting ele­ment in the American tradition: fear.—New York Review of Books June 8, 2006

The full circle is that 50 years ago Americans were told to be afraid of the Russians and the A-Bomb landing in Kansas. The CIA hired Nazis to spy on communists in the US, only to have these Nazi spies give the Russians more inside info than the Russian or East German spies could have gotten on their own.

A half century has passed, and the watchword more than ever is “FEAR.” The Bush/Cheney regime strives to keep the citizen/mob in a state of fear in order to more easily manipulate policy to further consolidate their power: civil rights are quashed in the name of defense in the “war on terror;” the bird flu pandemic threat is promoted daily across the media which justifies the expenditure of billions of taxpayer dollars to a few republican-campaign-supportive drug conglomerates for a vague r & d for a spurious vaccine which can’t happen until the pandemic is under way. The regime even has former gadfly John McCain deliriously spouting the ridiculous coda “we need to fight the terrorists over there, rather than on the streets of Scottsdale” or wherever, to numb us up on why it’s OK to spend $1 billion every couple of days to keep the futile Iraq occupation going. Meanwhile, the domestic terrorist threat is ignored and Homeland Security cuts funding by 40% to the two cities most likely to get hit—New York and Washington, D.C.

A tyrannical, unaccountable big government has exercised its muscle to amass power as much as possible—that’s why the constitution has the three-way checks-and-balances separation of powers built into the system. The founding fathers assumed each branch would utilize its prerogative and thereby keep in check the other two—they didn’t figure on congress dropping the ball while a cohesive right-wing single-minded executive branch barrels on ahead full steam.

We have abrogated our responsibility as citizens in our society. We have let tyranny overrun us without a peep—as if it didn’t matter to each and every one of us personally. There is an election this fall. Congress is up for grabs and we can make changes. In the Orange County vote tally from yesterday’s primary election, around 25% of registered voters cast ballots.

While the pick of candidates and issues may seem slim, it’s better than none. And all those who are running are potential representatives of us. But only 1 out of 4 cares to make any choice at all.

In the Lewis review of Wicker’s book, the closing quote is from Edward R. Murrow’s broadcast about the McCarthy hearings:

The actions of the junior senator from Wisconsin have caused alarm and dismay amongst our al­lies abroad, and given consider­able comfort to our enemies. And whose fault is that? Not really his. He didn't create this situation of fear; he merely exploited it—and rather successfully. Cassius was right. "The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars but in ourselves."

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