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HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
SUBCOMMITTEE ON IMMIGRATION,
Washington, D.C. The subcommittee met, pursuant to notice, at 9:30 a.m., in room 2237, Rayburn House Office Building, Hon. Joshua Eilberg (chairman of the subcommittee) presiding.
Present: Representatives Eilberg, Holtzman, Hall, and Sawyer.
Also Present: Garner J. Cline and Arthur P. Endres, counsel; Raymond P. D'Uva, assistant counsel; Peter Regis, legislative assistant; and Alexander B. Cook, associate counsel.
Mr. ÉILBERG. The subcommittee will come to order.
Ms. HOLTZMAN. Mr. Chairman, I ask unanimous consent that the subcommittee permit coverage of this hearing in whole or in part by television broadcast, radio broadcast, or still photography, in accordance with committee rule.
Mr. EILBERG. Without objection, the motion is granted.
Since 1973, my colleagues and I have been trying to find out exactly what transpired within the U.S. Government beginning in 1948 which permitted the admission into the United States of a significant number of alleged Nazi war criminals in violation of our laws.
Why, after individuals were identified as having committed these crimes against humanity, were they allowed to remain undisturbed in the midst of our society enjoying the very privileges they sought to destroy, protected by the same laws they violated?
I can only ask why?
Were the U.S. Government agencies deliberately shielding these individuals?
Were they so ignorant of the atrocities committed by the Nazi regime that they gave no significance to these persons being here?
I sought to obtain answers to these questions when, on January 13, 1977, I requested the Comptroller General to conduct a thorough investigation of this situation and specifically asked him to determine whether there was any evidence of deliberate attempts on the part of U.S. Government agencies to obstruct or quash investigations and prosecutions of these individuals. I also asked the Comptroller General to explore all avenues to get the true facts behind these cases.
We have received the report from the Comptroller General and, in all candor, I must say that my questions have not been answered.
I hope that the series of hearings we start today and any subsequent hearings we will hold in the future, will allow us once and for all to get to the bottom of this intolerable situation.
The GÃO report has hedged on the most important questions.
An investigation on the situation ordered by the former Commissioner of Immigration and Naturalization was self-serving and exculpatory, to say the least.
We have sought to call witnesses to these hearings who have been associated or are knowledgeable of the various stages of the development and aggravation of this situation.
My only request of the witnesses is that they are open, frank, and candid in their testimony. Where it is deemed prejudicial to an ongoing investigation or prosecution, discussion of specific cases by name will be avoided.
These hearings have been planned to explore four phases of the problem. First, we shall hear from Mr. Lowe of the General Accounting Office with regard to the report I alluded to before, issued on May 15, 1978, in response to my request.
Second, we will hear from witnesses who have been intimately connected in the early investigation of allegations of war crimes, some who have made independent studies and research on the subject and those who have made various charges against INS in the handling of these cases.
We expect to pinpoint the charges and receive evidence ofsubstantiation.
Third, we have called forward former U.S. Government officials responsible for the administration of the Displaced Persons Act of 1948 and the Refugee Relief Act of 1953 who were responsible for the admission into the United States of displaced persons and refugees under these acts.
We expect to explore with them all phases of the processing of the applicants under these acts. We shall seek explanations from them on how these excludable persons could have been admitted to the United States when the law was specific in excluding them.
And fourth, we have former INS officials who were actively involved in the early stages of the investigation of alleged Nazi war criminals. We shall seek to determine exactly what was happening in INS prior to 1973 when only passive attention was given to investigating allegations of Nazi war criminal involvement.
We intend to hold further hearings in the near future to determine the roles played by the FBI, CIA, the Army, and the State Department in these cases, as well as to examine in detail the progress being made by INS presently.
Before we begin receiving testimony this morning I would like to remind the witnesses, the members and, of course, the general public that since this is an open hearing the use of names of individuals against whom charges of war atrocities have been made, must be avoided.
House Rule 21, clause 2, prohibits receipt of testimony in the course of an open hearing which, and I quote, “may tend to defame, degrade, or incriminate any person.”
Although I feel complete and thorough inquiry into the matter before us today is warranted, it is also my strong belief that the
inquiry as much as possible should be open to the American public, and for this reason I ask that the use of names be avoided.
In addition, many of the cases which were the subject of the GAO investigation and of which our other witnesses have knowledge, are presently actively pending in various stages of investigation and litigation. Reference to these cases by name here today may possibly jeopardize or prejudice those cases.
With this proviso in mind, before calling the first witness, I yield to the gentlelady from New York.
Ms. HOLTZMAN. I thank the chairman for yielding to me, and I want to compliment him for holding these hearings.
The presence in the United States of alleged Nazi war criminals is an ugly blot on our country's history. Much progress has been“ made since it first came to the attention of members of this subcommittee that the Immigration Service was not acting on cases involving alleged Nazi war criminals.
But the question still remains as to why for so long the Immigration Service did not act on these cases.
Why was it that in 1974, despite having a list of alleged Nazi war criminals, the Immigration Service had assigned no full time professionals to the investigation?
Why was it that the Immigration Service did not seek evidence from abroad?
Why was it that the Service's only inquiries in the United States were about the health of the people under investigation?
I think, Mr. Chairman, these hearings are vitally important to determine whether there was a coverup by the Government of the United States with respect to Nazi war criminals, who was involved in permitting these people to stay despite the allegations against them. And why no serious investigations were conducted until this subcommittee became concerned in recent years.
Mr. EILBERG. The Chair wishes to announce in view of the important subject matter of these oversight hearings it will be the policy of the subcommittee to swear in each and every witness. As the members know, this is common practice in other committees, and we will do likewise for these hearings.
Mr. Lowe, before I recognize you, Mr. Victor L. Lowe, Director, General Government Division, General Accounting Office, would you be kind enough to identify your associates since we would like to have their names on the record?
Mr. Lowe. Yes, Mr. Chairman.
To my immediate left is Mr. Dan Stanton, Associate Director, GGD, who is in charge of all of our work in the law enforcement
To my right is John Tipton, Audit Manager, the principal man on this particular job, and Mr. Robert Crystal is to the extreme right, and he is from our Office of General Counsel.
Mr. EILBERG. All right, gentlemen, can we stand up while you take the oath? Would you raise your right hands, please?
Do you swear that the testimony you are about to give will be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God?
Mr. Lowe. I do.
Mr. TIPTON. I do.
Mr. Lowe, would you proceed with your statement or in lieu of your statement whatever remarks you would like to make? TESTIMONY OF VICTOR L. LOWE, DIRECTOR, GENERAL GOV.
ERNMENT DIVISION, GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE, ACCOMPANIED BY DANIEL STANTON, ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR, GGD; JOHN TIPTON, AUDIT MANAGER, GGD, AND ROBERT CRYSTAL, ATTORNEY ADVISER, GGD
Mr. LOWE. I have a very brief statement, Mr. Chairman. If you don't mind I would like to read it into the record.
Mr. EILBERG. Please proceed.
Mr. Lowe. Our testimony today deals with our report dated May 15, 1978, entitled, “Widespread Conspiracy to Obstruct Probes of Alleged Nazi War Criminals Not Supported by Available Evidence-Controversy May Continue."
[For text of GAO report, see Appendix V, Hearings before the Subcommittee on Immigration, Citizenship and International Law, “Alleged Nazi War Criminals,” vol. I, serial No. 95–39.]
Mr. Lowe. Your letter dated January 13, 1977, requested this report on whether INS personnel deliberately obstructed active prosecution of alleged Nazi war criminals or engaged in a conspiracy to withhold or quash any information in its possession.
In conducting this review, we obtained information from INS, the FBI, CIA, U.S. attorneys, and the Departments of Defense and State. At various times during the past year we employed 6 to 10 staff members on this assignment, a total of about 1,000 direct staff days were expended.
Mr. EILBERG. Can I interrupt, Mr. Lowe? Would you also indicate the total moneys appropriated or used for this study?
Mr. LOWE. In excess of $180,000, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. LOWE. We examined case files, interviewed current and former Government employees in the United States and overseas, and analyzed immigration and naturalization laws.
We also visited and interviewed the Chief, Israeli Police Section for Investigation of Nazi War Crimes, Tel Aviv, Israel; Director, Documentation Center for Nazi War Crimes, Vienna, Austria; Director, International Criminal Section of Federal Republic of Germany Justice Ministry, Bonn, Germany; Director, Central Authority of
the State Justice Administration, Ludwigsburg, Germany; and the Director of the United States Berlin Document Center, Berlin, Germany.
We have no indication that the information provided to us by the various agencies was not accurate and complete. Because of our limited access to the files and the effect of the passage of time on the availability of information, we cannot adequately assure the subcommittee and the Congress that our findings are complete.
In April 1977, with your assistance, Mr. Chairman, we finally reached an agreement with the Department of Justice whereby INS would screen the appropriate files and cases for third-agency documents and would obtain approval from the third agency, such
as the CIA, FBI, and the Departments of Defense and State, to release the documents for our review.
However, it was not until August that the majority of the thirdagency documents were cleared and provided to us. Also in August, the Department of Justice authorized us, under certain guidelines, access to cases recommended for or under legal proceedings.
We believed that to adequately conduct this review, it was essential that we have access to information in agencies investigative files. However, we recognized the agencies concern for protecting the integrity of their investigative operations and their unwillingness to give us direct access to the files.
As you know, Mr. Chairman, we therefore entered into agreements with the CIA and FBI whereby these agencies prepared summaries in lieu of providing original documents of any file holdings on the cases we selected for review. Both agencies provided us the file documents upon our request to support the information included in the summaries.
Also, it was understood by all agencies involved in our review, that since a number of the cases were under current or possible future litigation by the Department of Justice, Department guidance would be obtained in providing available information for our review. This understanding was necessary so that the agencies involved would not in any way prejudice any ongoing litigation by the Department.
As part of our agreement with the Department, the contents of our report and this statement were reviewed and approved on the basis that its contents would not prejudice any ongoing litigation. In addition, it was agreed that individuals included in our sample would not be named at any time without the concurrence of the Justice Department.
This agreement was made in order that we not prejudice any ongoing litigation and also to protect those individuals against whom allegations either have not been proven or investigations have not been completed. Included in our sample are individuals who died before INS received the allegation about them. INS investigation ceases when it finds that the individual has died; thus the allegation is neither proved nor disproved.
The above arrangements and agreements appeared reasonable in view of the complicated matter of access to intelligence-type information and the agencies position regarding their intelligence files. Officials of the various agencies were cooperative and open in our discussions with them.
We believe our approach to this review clearly protected the integrity of all the involved agencies investigative operations.
Also, we believe that despite the limitations on our access, the extensive review we made of INS case files and our discussions with numerous current and former Federal employees were sufficient to support the conclusions we have reached.
As stated on the cover of our report, we believe it is unlikely that a widespread conspiracy existed, but we cannot absolutely rule out the possibility of undetected, isolated instances of deliberate obstruction. In any event, the inherent difficulty in establishing the existence of a conspiracy must be recognized.