Thousands of Nazis — from concentration camp guards to high-level officers in the Third Reich — came to the United States after World War II and quietly settled into new lives. They had little trouble getting in. With scant scrutiny, many gained entry on their own as self-styled war “refugees,” their pasts easily disguised and their war crimes soon forgotten. But some had help and protection from the U.S. government. The CIA, the FBI, and the military all put Hitler’s minions to work as spies, intelligence assets, and leading scientists and engineers, whitewashing their histories.
For the first time, once-secret government records and interviews tell the full story not only of the Nazi scientists brought to America, but of the German spies and con men who followed them and lived for decades as ordinary citizens. Only years after their arrival did private sleuths and government prosecutors begin trying to identify the hidden Nazis. But even then, American intelligence agencies secretly worked to protect a number of their prized spies from exposure. Today, a few Nazis still remain on our soil.
Investigative reporter Eric Lichtblau, relying on a trove of newly discovered documents and scores of interviews with participants in this little-known chapter of postwar history, tells the shocking and shameful story of how America became a safe haven for Hitler’s men.
Just months after September 11, the Bush Administration, without court-approved documents, secretly authorized the National Security Agency to eavesdrop on Americans and others inside the US to search for terrorist activity. Eric Lichtblau‘s eye-opening reports have helped the public to make sense of this post-9/11 story that questions the reach of presidential powers, and how the government balances homeland security against the civil rights of Americans.
For his work on the domestic spying scandal, Lichtblau is the recipient of a Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting and is also this year’s recipient, with Times reporter James Risen, of the Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting. The Pulitzer jury applauded them “for their carefully sourced stories on secret domestic eavesdropping that stirred a national debate on the boundary line between fighting terrorism and protecting civil liberty.”
Lichtblau has recently uncovered more government monitoring activities. The Swift story, in which counter-terrorism officials accessed the banking transactions of thousands of Americans from an international database, has alarmed many. The government’s departure from typical practice in how they acquire large amounts of sensitive financial data has stirred concerns about legal and privacy issues.
Eric Lichtblau covers federal law enforcement and national security issues for the Washington bureau of The New York Times. Before coming to the Times, he worked for the The Los Angeles Times for 15 years in both California and Washington, focusing on investigative reporting, legal affairs and law enforcement. He is currently working on a book on the remaking of federal law enforcement since 9/11.
Lichtblau is also a guest commentator on television, appearing frequently on CNN, CNBC’s Hardball, PBS’s NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, and C-SPAN’s Washington Journal. He also appears regularly on NPR’s All Things Considered. Lichtblau has given speeches for Cornell University, Syracuse University, Mensa, judicial and academic conferences, and other forums.