U.S. DOJ Office of Special Investigations

From Academic Kids

The Office of Special Investigations operates under the auspices of the Criminal Division of the U.S. Department of Justice. According to its self-description, it detects and investigates individuals who took part in Nazi-sponsored acts of persecution abroad before and during World War II, and who subsequently entered, or seek to enter, the United States illegally and/or fraudulently. It then takes appropriate legal action seeking their exclusion, denaturalization and/or deportation.

The Office of Special Investigations began operations in 1979. By early 2005, more than 70 people had been stripped of U.S. citizenship for assisting Nazi persecution. Many had lived in the U.S. for decades and led unremarkable lives. For example, Adam Friedrich had lived in the U.S. since 1955 and been a citizen since 1962 before OSI found that he had been a member of the Waffen SS assigned as a prison guard at the Gross-Rosen concentration camp. He was stripped of his citizenship in 2004 after being a U.S. citizen more than forty years.

Demjanjuk case

John Demjanjuk is a Ukrainian-American who was stripped of his U.S. citizenship, and deported to Israel, by the Office of Special Investigations for concealing his involvement in war crimes at the Treblinka death camp in order to immigrate to the United States. John Demjanjuk's trial began in 1978. It led him to death row in Israel. Demjanjuk's citizenship was restored in 1998 but it was again revoked in 2004.

During his first trial he was accused of being "Ivan the Terrible of Treblinka,". The OSI had evidence, which it withheld from Demjanjuk's attorneys, demonstrating that they were knowingly targeting the wrong man with forged and falsified evidence. One OSI prosecutor resigned from the Department, when his repeated written warnings that Demjanjuk was not "Ivan the Terrible" were ignored.

When the Chief Judge of the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals learned, through reading an article in the New York Times, of the prosecutorial abuses in the Demjanjuk case, he initiated a review of the case. After Robert Mueller, then the head of the Department's Criminal Division, refused to even reply to the judge's letters and telephone calls, asking for corroboration of the New York Times allegations, the Sixth Circuit took the unusual step of appointing a Special Master to probe the conduct of the Justice Department. Eventually, the Circuit ruled in November 1993 that OSI had "acted with reckless disregard of the truth," and had carried out "prosecutorial misconduct that constituted a fraud on the court.

Neither Attorney General Janet Reno nor the Department has ever taken responsibility for the prosecutorial misconduct. John Demjanjuk was retried and convicted of lying to enter the U.S., as he had, in fact, served as a prison guard in several Nazi prisons. He was again stripped of his citizenship in 2004.

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