What the CIA's Nazi Files Can Tell Us About Iraq
The Poisoned Well

BY WERTHER (Werther is the pen name of a Northern Virginia-based
defense analyst).

    "The past is not dead. In fact, it's not even past."
    --William Faulkner

Since the attacks of 11 September 2001, the American public has
endured an astounding avalanche of official lies, half truths,
pseudo-events and sheer balderdash that will surely enter the Guinness
Book of Records. Among the most persistent and infuriating lies of
government, to those who have imbibed their knowledge of the past from
the crystalline springs of Gibbon and von Ranke, is the misleading
historical analogy. Its purpose is twofold: to relativize whatever
current disaster the governing class has waltzed the hapless populace
into; and to kill any usable past. The technique also has the added
benefit of making government placemen sound learned ­ at least in
estimation of an audience which gains its knowledge of the world
through Fox News and other State media.

Iraq is a fruitful field for detecting such historical fables. It was
during the summer of 2003, as it first became evident that the natives
of Mesopotamia were less than entirely enthusiastic about their
liberation, that the American apparat swung into action with
historical comparisons between Iraq and the occupation of Germany.

Then-National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice took to the hustings
to tell the Veterans of Foreign Wars, in her characteristic
school-marmish fashion, that occupied Iraq was no more of a problem
than occupied Nazi Germany ­ and look what a rousing success that
turned out to be: "There is an understandable tendency to look back on
America's experience in postwar Germany and see only the successes,
but as some of you here today surely remember, the road we traveled
was very difficult. 1945 through 1947 was an especially challenging
period. Germany was not immediately stable or prosperous. SS
officers-called 'werewolves'-engaged in sabotage and attacked both
coalition forces and those locals cooperating with them-much like
today's Baathist and Fedayeen remnants." 

Whereupon the irrepressible Secretary Rumsfeld immediately chimed in
with his own historical tour d'horizon: "One group of those
dead-enders was known as 'werewolves.' They and other Nazi regime
remnants targeted Allied soldiers, and they targeted Germans who
cooperated with the Allied forces. Mayors were assassinated including
the American-appointed mayor of Aachen, the first major German city to
be liberated. Children as young as 10 were used as snipers, radio
broadcasts, and leaflets warned Germans not to collaborate with the
Allies. They plotted sabotage of factories, power plants, rail lines.
They blew up police stations and government buildings, and they
destroyed stocks of art and antiques that were stored by the Berlin
Museum. Does this sound familiar?"

Frankfurt Was Not Fallujah

One wonders which community college-educated speech writer activated
the larynxes of our senior government officials. As history, this was
bunk, although it sounded plausible to the half-educated mind.
American forces took Aachen in October 1944 ­ well before the
battle ever fought by the U.S. Army, the Battle of the Bulge, and
fully six months before the 8 May 1945 "end of major conflict" in the
European Theater. The assassination of Aachen's mayor and the capers
of the Werewolves were distinctly small beer, because they occurred in
the midst of the bloodiest land battles in world history. The
Werewolves, Rumsfeld's proto-Baathists, only existed as a viable force
as an adjunct to a still-functioning German government holding
territory between the Rhine and the Oder-Neisse; a government that
could put, even at that late date, 8 million men into the field. At
the time, 4th Generation Warfare operations were distinctly subsidiary
to conventional military campaigns. 

Once hostilities ended, the situation was otherwise than described by
Professor Doktor Rice and Kriegsminister Rumsfeld. Compared to the
1,484 dead and 10,487 wounded in Iraq, the few post-VE Day GI
homicides principally occurred from black market deals gone wrong or
quarrels over a Fräulein. The dynamic of post-war Western Germany,
where the population was uniformly terrified of a vengeful Red Army
and accordingly seeking protection of the Amis, is a dynamic absent
from present-day Iraq.

There are, however, profound lessons to be derived from the occupation
of Germany and its integration into the post-World War II American
world system. Principal among the institutions which America absorbed
into its national security state was German Intelligence, specifically
the Gehlen Organization.

A Viper Enters the Nest

The story of General Reinhard Gehlen has been endlessly rehashed in
books, articles, History Channel reprises, and Gehlen's own
self-serving memoirs, so we do not intend to recapitulate the full
historical record. But this precis will suffice for our purposes:

During mid- and late World War II, Gehlen was head of Foreign Armies
East, a Wehrmacht organization tasked with gaining order-of-battle
estimations of the Red Army. As the self-flattering retrospectives
would have it, Foreign Armies East's estimations were more accurate
than those of the ever-optimistic Hitler and his sycophantic retinue.
Consequently, Gehlen's favor fell as the Russian steamroller
inexorably crunched towards the Reich.

By early 1945, Gehlen and his associates saw the inevitable, and,
having no desire to join their Führer on a Wagnerian funeral pyre,
resolved to make a deal with the Western allies. They microfilmed
choice extracts from their files and buried them in containers
somewhere in the Alps.

At war's end, Gehlen surrendered to the Americans and made a startling
proposition. He would provide the Americans with what they lacked:
intelligence about their erstwhile ally, the Soviet Union. To
newly-minted intelligence officers from Topeka and Paducah, this
sounded like an arresting offer. By August 1945, the Americans were
sufficiently intrigued to fly Gehlen, in the uniform of a U.S. Army
general, to Washington in General Walter Bedell Smith's transport
aircraft. He met with such "present at the creation" panjandrums as
Allen Dulles and William Donavan.

The outlines of the deal are these: Gehlen would transfer his
organization and its information into the American intelligence
network. As indubitable anticommunists, their zeal to serve their new
masters was self-evident. All Gehlen demanded in return was the

    o Gehlen must have complete control over his organization's

    o He retained the right to approve U.S. liaison officers to the

    o The Organization would only be used against the USSR and its
client states;

    o The Organization would become the official intelligence agency
of a future West German state;

    o The Organization would never be required to do anything Gehlen
considered against German interests. 

As the reader can surely guess, the American authorities snapped at
the bait like a starving barracuda. And the rest is history: Since the
Gehlen Organization's sole claim to legitimacy was its purported
knowledge of the Soviet Union, the Red Army perforce became 20 feet

Threat Inflation: A German Import?

Elementary knowledge of human psychology suggests that once the United
States Government ceased to be terrified by the Soviet military, the
Organization would no longer have a privileged and well-paid function;
its flunkies would accordingly be obliged to scratch a living through
honest toil. That alternative being abhorrent, the U.S. Government
received and disseminated the most baroque exaggerations of Soviet
power ­ only a few years after the European USSR had been nearly
leveled, with up to 27 million military and civilian deaths. Despite
the fundamental weakness of the post-war Soviet Union (which Stalin
attempted to conceal) Congress and the America public obtained a
steady diet of scare stories:

    o In 1948, U.S. intelligence purported to believe the Red Army
could mobilize "320 line divisions" in 30 days. This at a time when
millions of Soviets were living in holes in the soil of Western
Russia, there being nothing better to house them.

    o The same year, the Secretary of the Navy told Congress that
Soviet submarine were "sighted off our coasts" ­ although the
of Naval intelligence could offer no evidence of such sub sightings.
Its own estimates said that the Soviet Navy would be unable to mount
continuing, overseas operations until 1957.

    o Air Force Secretary Stuart Symington claimed in Congressional
hearings that the Soviet Air Force was superior to that of the U.S.

    o The military governor of Germany in 1948, General Lucius Clay,
wrote a letter that conveniently found its way to Congress, stating
that it was his "feeling" that the Soviets were planning war.

Where did these estimates come from? Did the Gehlen Organization,
which was essentially the executive agent of U.S. intelligence in
Eastern Europe, have anything to do with it? The CIA's reticence,
right up to February of this year, to declassify its files regarding
interaction with Nazi personages is telling. 

The historical rehashes belabor the obvious: not only did the Gehlen
Organization have a motive to exaggerate the Soviet threat, but the
potential interest of war crimes courts in its members made them prime
candidates for KGB blackmail. And, predictably, the Gehlen
Organization was thoroughly penetrated by Soviet intelligence, to the
detriment of both American intelligence operations and the German
government ­ whose chancellor, Willy Brandt, fell in a spy scandal.

So far, so bad. Conventional history has correctly perceived the
corrupted intelligence provided by the Gehlen Organization during the
cold war. But it does not answer the question, why did the Americans
tumble so readily in 1945 when they had abundant adverse information
available to them about the effectiveness of German Intelligence?

Dulles and Other Dullards

In 1945, when Walter Bedell Smith, Alan Dulles, and their coat holders
fell for Gehlen's pitch, they were in possession of a priceless
insight into the spying abilities of their wartime foe ­ the Ultra

Beginning in 1940, the British were able to read the ciphers
transmitted by what the Germans believed to be their unbreakable
Enigma code machine. Intermittently at first, the British (with their
American allies looking over their shoulder) succeeded with increasing
speed and accuracy to crack first the sloppy Luftwaffe code, then the
Army's, and finally the Kriegsmarine's. The allies not only knew what
the Germans knew and planned, but perhaps more critically what they
did not know about allied operations.

And in fact, strategic intelligence about the allies was a blank spot
for Germany. Tactically and operationally very proficient (perhaps the
best in the world), the Germans were amateurish in divining what B.H.
Liddel Hart would have called what was happening "on the other side of
the hill." What else would explain the fact that MI 5 turned or
executed every single agent the Germans attempted to insert into
Britain? What else would explain the Germans' falling for the
elementary ruse of the fake "Army Group Patton" in the buildup to
D-Day? What else would explain the Germans' horrendous failure at
Kursk, in contrast to the Russians' accurate divination of the
Wehrmacht's plans to attack the Kursk salient?

Given their access to this information, why did the American
authorities nevertheless assume that Reinhard Gehlen had something
valuable to offer them ­ at extortionate terms? Foreign Armies East
may have been more or less accurate in providing rough order-of-battle
estimates of Red Army strength, as long as there was a copious supply
of Red Army POWs, but why did the Americans assume, against all
evidence, that Gehlen had the slightest clue about strategic matters:
what Stalin was planning, the general thrust of Soviet policy?

Ordinary human experience suggests that the wish was father to the
thought: American intelligence believed because it wanted to believe.
Far from being righteous and wise pillars of the American Century,
Allen Dulles and his comperes were merely corrupt and incompetent
scions of rich establishment families; in Dulles's case, he elbowed
his way into intelligence work in order to provide hot tips to his
investment banking friends.

Dulles's post-World War II partiality towards Nazi war criminals was
essentially a continuation of his pre-war activities as a partner of
Sullivan and Cromwell, a firm which facilitated transnational business
agreements with the German cartels. Dulles's performance in the Bay of
Pigs invasion does not suggest a penetrating strategic mind. His
primitive thinking more likely went along the following lines: If
Meyer Lansky could replace Castro as the ruler of Cuba it would
signify a victory for private investment, just as Gehlen or Alfred
Krupp was preferable to some German Social Democrat who had spent the
war in Buchenwald.

Chalabi: Bastard Child of Gehlen?

But the U.S. Government's gullibility, and culpability in these
matters, does not end with its danse macabre with National Socialism.
>From the abortive invasion of Cuba, through Dallas, Watergate,
Iran-Contra, to the present imbecility of economic sanctions, Cuban
"exiles" have distorted and debilitated American politics for more
than four decades. All our knowledge of Cuba is what "exiles"
comfortably ensconced in Coral Gables want us to think, just as our
appreciation of the USSR was distorted by exiles from the Greater
Germany Project. Exiles like General Gehlen.

Does this begin to sound familiar? Why is everything we are supposed
to know about "the Greater Middle East" funneled through a foreign
power? Do Ahmed Chalabi's alarming pronouncements about Iraq's weapons
of mass destruction circa 2003 sound oddly similar to Reinhard
Gehlen's ominous estimation of Soviet capabilities circa 1948? Will we
soon hear alarming news of Iran's nuclear capabilities from Iranian
exile organizations like the Mujahedeen e Kalq?

Gehlen's malignant ghost is laughing.

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