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FOIA Appeal Reveals More on 1982 Nazi Investigation

Records ultimately provided by the FBI in response to a FOIA request further establish that a search for Nazi sympathizers led to the CIA. The investigation, conducted in the 1980s by the U.S. General Accounting Office (GAO), included providing a list of organizations and projects to the FBI and requesting the Bureau search its files for information on each of the listed references. A 1982 memo, Subject: GAO Inquiry Into Alleged Nazi War Criminals, advised the FBI of and sought info on such CIA projects as the now infamous Operation Paperclip and a lesser known Project Permanent. The latter was described as enacted in 1948 at the request of the Director of Central Intelligence, who was Adm. Roscoe Hillenkoetter at that point in time.

Additional material was subsequently obtained by Expanding Frontiers Research after filing an appeal of records initially withheld. The further released material includes names of individuals who were of interest to the GAO along with identifying file numbers. Download the 8-page document here:

1510762-0 - Section 01
Download PDF • 338KB

Pages withheld and redactions applied in response to the original 2021 request were appealed with guidance from FOIA activist Attorney Beth Bourdon. Her Patreon is a recommended resource for those wishing to study the FOIA process and support the work her network accomplishes.

The original FOIA request to the FBI sought records pertaining to the Psychological Strategy Board (PSB), a CIA panel which operated from 1948-1952. The 1982 General Accounting Office memo to the Bureau was identified as responsive to the request because the PSB was specifically named on the list provided to the FBI. Parts of the list reflecting U.S. projects and offices of concern to the GAO:

Also making the list was the Office of Policy Coordination, a covert arm of the CIA and State Department which likewise operated from 1948-1952 before being merged into the CIA Directorate of Plans. The Office of Policy Coordination achieved extraordinary growth under the guidance of career CIA man Frank Wisner, ballooning from an early allowance of $4.7 million a year to an annual budget of $82 million by 1952.

Personnel increased exponentially during the time and included such notable names as psychological warfare expert and UFO man of mystery Col. Joseph Bryan III; eventual Watergate “plumber” E. Howard Hunt, who worked on a psy warfare team assembled by Bryan; and DCI Walter B. Smith, who succeeded DCI Hillenkoetter and took full control of the Office of Policy Coordination into the CIA from its previously shared assignment with the State Department. Smith and Hunt were credited with what was considered a successfully executed 1954 coup in Guatemala, code named Operation PBSuccess, while Bryan and Hillenkoetter became staples of the Board of Governors of the National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomena. The saga is explored rather lengthily in this writer's nonfiction book, Wayward Sons: NICAP and the IC.

It is all but impossible to separate right-wing extremism from the 20th century intelligence community, as has arguably remained the case for generations. The tendencies of select political figures to court fascism fuels conflict throughout American and global culture, and the UFO genre has certainly had its role in the circumstances. UFO organizations have been used to exploit the topic as a tool for conveying messages of political extremism to potentially credulous audiences.

Additional material provided in response to the FOIA appeal includes a previously redacted entire page of the GAO list. The page is now released in full, as pictured below both before and after the appeal. Included are names of some formerly high profile Albanians of interest to the GAO along with select file numbers.

Other now unredacted material includes the identification of John M. Anspacher as communicating with the FBI in 1952 on behalf of the Psychological Strategy Board. According to an FBI document, Anspacher “stated his responsibility as a PSB member was to survey the capabilities of various government agencies to determine what might be done in a deterrent or retaliatory manner to offset psychological advantages that momentarily are gained by Russian Satellite countries or the Soviets.”

The material provides numerous directions for further research and more FOIA requests. The response contains additional previously undisclosed file numbers and a reference to “FCI,” or foreign counterintelligence. Other items of note for potential FOIA requests include references to correspondence conducted between the FBI and Psychological Strategy Board not included in the records provided.

In related FOIA work, a request was submitted to the FBI for records on the CIA Office of Policy Coordination. The Bureau stated in a July 2022 letter it completed a review of responsive records but was withholding the material in its entirety, citing FOIA exemptions (b)(3), (b)(6), (b)(7)(c), and (b)(7)(e). A subsequent appeal was denied. "It is reasonably foreseeable that disclosure of the information withheld would harm the interests protected by these exemptions," the Department of Justice wrote in its Oct. 27 denial of the appeal.

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Excellent article, Jack. Their denial makes me wonder which side they are really protecting. In further appeals, I would be sure to make it a point to reiterate that under the administrative law of many agencies with OCA, it is unlawful to withold or classify information for political protection or to sheild an agency from embarassment arising from mismanagement, fraud, waste and other abuses.

Jack Brewer
Jack Brewer
Nov 18, 2022
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Thank you, Amy! Your interest in the blog and comments are appreciated.

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