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CIA Faces Pressure to Divulge Ties to Ex-Nazis
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A U.S. senator demanded on Wednesday that the CIA director release thousands of pages of documents detailing the agency's ties with former Nazis who aided in Cold War espionage against the Soviet Union, officials said.
Sen. Mike DeWine of Ohio, Republican co-author of a 1998 bill ordering the disclosure of government records on Nazi war criminals, wants CIA Director Porter Goss to say publicly why his agency has not agreed to divulge the records.
DeWine has asked Goss to appear this month at an open hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee, on which the Ohio lawmaker sits, a Senate aide said. The CIA had no immediate comment on the invitation.
"Sen. DeWine wants an explanation from the CIA. Our hope would be to have (Goss) there and that's what we're working toward," said DeWine spokeswoman Amanda Flaig.
The CIA has already released an estimated 1.25 million pages of documents about Nazi war criminals. Most are records of the agency's wartime predecessor, the Office of Strategic Services.
The Nazi War Crimes Disclosure Act of 1998 requires federal agencies to make public records of individuals alleged to have committed Nazi war crimes by turning them over to a special working group.
The working group, known formally as the Nazi War Crimes and Japanese Imperial Government Records Interagency Working Group, includes officials from the National Archives, the CIA, FBI, Pentagon and other agencies.
Goss co-sponsored the legislation during his tenure in the U.S. House of Representatives, where he led the chamber's intelligence committee.
But the CIA has refused to disclose documents about its postwar dealings with former Nazis who have not been accused of war crimes but belonged to organizations like the German Nazi party and the SS, congressional officials said.
Some of the material is believed to deal with former Nazis who joined the allied Cold War effort against the Soviet Union in Europe, the officials said.
The CIA defines the 1998 law to require only the disclosure of documents on war criminals.
"Any material identified in our files as dealing with the commission of war crimes has been released," a CIA spokesman said.
But congressional officials and public members of the working group interpret the statute to require disclosures on any individual connected with organizations involved in war crimes.
"Where material has been withheld, the auditors from the working group have been able to see that material. This has not been a closed process in that respect," the CIA spokesman said.
But with the working group scheduled to dissolve at the end of March, lawmakers, including DeWine and Democratic Rep. Carolyn Maloney of New York, have joined group members in pressuring the CIA for a fuller disclosure.
Lawmakers also intend to introduce legislation extending the life of the working group by up to two years.
"The group has already been extended by one year. But they still haven't gotten the documents because of CIA intransigence," said a congressional aide.