A recently exposed Justice Department report about how the United States created a “safe haven” here for Nazis after World War II shows a secret double-standard: The government invited some elite Nazis to help U.S. Cold War military programs after the war but aggressively expelled others beginning a quarter century later.

On Nov. 13, the New York Times revealed highlights of a secret Justice Department report about its so-called Nazi Hunt, which I covered closely during its first years in the 1970s. The Times said:

WASHINGTON — A secret history of the United States government’s Nazi-hunting operation concludes that American intelligence officials created a “safe haven” in the United States for Nazis and their collaborators after World War II, and it details decades of clashes, often hidden, with other nations over war criminals here and abroad.

The 600-page report, which the Justice Department has tried to keep secret for four years, provides new evidence about more than two dozen of the most notorious Nazi cases of the last three decades. (See details here.)

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Here’s why the Justice Department’s halt to its probe of CIA obstruction of justice involving torture looks like another whitewash.

The DOJ compromised its probe from the beginning in 2008 by assigning it to Connecticut federal prosecutor John Durham, whom courts have twice implicated in suppressing evidence. In one of those cases, a federal judge rebuked him also for what she described as "severe misconduct" during cross-examination.

As background on this week's case, the DOJ announced Nov. 9 that it would not file obstruction of justice charges against CIA personnel for destroying 92 videotapes showing CIA interrogation of terrorism suspects in 2005 using waterboarding.

"This decision is stunning:There is ample evidence of a cover-up regarding the destruction of the tapes,'' commented ACLU Executive Director Anthony Romero.  "The Bush administration was instructed by a court of law not to destroy evidence of torture, but that's exactly what it did.''

No one should be surprised.

In today's exclusive report, the Justice Integrity Project reveals that U.S. District Judge Janet Arterton in New Haven found Durham was part of a prosecution team that failed to turn over evidence to the defense in a gun possession case. Her 57-page ruling also said Durham then engaged in "severe misconduct" during an "incendiary cross-examination" of a key defense witness. As a result, the government dropped its charges against the defendant, Anthony Washington.

Another of Durham's controversial cases was the prosecution of Connecticut businessman Charles Spadoni on corruption charges. The case also compromises the credibility of Durham's Connecticut colleague Nora Dannehy, whom the DOJ entrusted to probe potential misconduct by her colleagues in orchestrating the DOJ's notorious political purges in 2006. 

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Illustrating the fragility of our constitutional rights, attorneys for the Obama administration argued Nov. 8 for a presidential power to protect national security by ordering the death without trial of a dual-nation U.S. citizen who advocates killing Americans. Obama and his staff seek to kill or capture Anwar al-Aulaqi (sometimes spelled “Awlaki”), 39, a Muslim cleric in Yemen born in New Mexico, because of mostly secret evidence. In response, civil liberties attorneys retained by the target’s father urged U.S. District Judge John Bates, at right below, to enjoin the government’s plan against the former chaplain at George Washington University in the nation's capital.

The three-hour debate that occurred in the huge ceremonial room of the federal courthouse in Washington, DC illustrates how vague our society’s vaunted constitutional protections might become. Virtually all modern societies, whether Nazi Germany, Stalin’s Russia’s or today’s Iran, have laws, courts and citizen rights, at least in theory. But it’s primarily Anglo-American systems that have created and largely preserved for hundreds of years until now a strong tradition protecting free speech and due process in court, even when the central government seeks to inflame the public against the accused with secret evidence of public danger. These traditions are increasingly endangered, as such conservative legal scholars and Reagan Republican political appointees as Bruce Fein and Paul Craig Roberts argue, by the unprecedented concept of worldwide “war” with scant defined targets that requires abandonment of core legal protections.

“If the Constitution means anything, it surely means that the president does not have unreviewable authority to summarily execute any American whom he concludes is an enemy of the state,” similarly argued Jameel Jaffer of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). “It's the government's responsibility to protect the nation from terrorist attacks, but the courts have a crucial role to play in ensuring that counterterrorism policies are consistent with the Constitution.” The ACLU and co-counsel from the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) have further argued that the Obama administration’s request for court-permission to kill without due process sets a precedent that endangers many future citizens in many future situations under his successors.

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Intrigue, wishful-thinking and silly speculation are flourishing in the nation’s capital, as elsewhere in policy circles, now that the U.S. election results are (mostly) confirmed.

The leadership line-up for key congressional committees is a solid starting point to understand what’s next for our Justice Integrity Project’s core mission. The big change will be at the House Judiciary Committee, where the top-ranking Republican minority member Lamar Smith of Texas, left, will switch places with Chairman John Conyers of Michigan.

Smith is a 1969 Yale College classmate of former President George W. Bush who represents a gerrymandered district that is mostly rural but contains small parts of his state capital of Austin and of San Antonio.

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Client 9Two movies scheduled released last week dramatize the nefarious motives within official circles that destroyed the careers of New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer and CIA covert agent Valerie Plame ─  thereby curtailing also their ability to help the country.

Such developments prompt our Justice Integrity Project to launch a news round-up, whose first installments began this month. These roundups complement our in-depth case studies, investigative reports and archives. Quite simply, far too much news of prosecutorial and judicial misconduct is occurring. We need to report more of it more promptly, and bring you more news of nationwide reform efforts.

JIP is a non-partisan advocate for justice, not simply a research group. Therefore, your participation is not simply welcome, but vital.

Help us with news leads, ideas for presentations here on our site, and in effective follow-up in the nation’s capital and around the country. We’re improving our two-way communications capabilities but in the meantime welcome ideas through conventional email that reaches me via admin (at) justice-integrity.org.

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UPDATE: This column's headline was originally, "What Will DOJ Do Monday on Torture Probe?" But the Justice Department announced on Tuesday, Nov. 9, 2010 that the CIA's former top clandestine officer and others won't be charged in the destruction of CIA videotapes of interrogations of suspected terrorists. Details are at bottom, below.

The federal deadline for torture-related obstruction of justice charges against certain CIA personnel expired Monday. That probe is controversial because of claims that the DOJ is covering up wrongdoing by a whitewash investigation of misconduct by CIA and DOJ personnel. Suspicions arise especially because the investigation has been led since 2008 by John Durham, a career Justice Department prosecutor based in Connecticut. Our Justice Integrity Project (JIP) has revealed that courts have found that Durham was implicated in suppressing evidence in at least two cases.

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