Thank you for holding this hearing on this bill-- and I'd like to also thank Senator DeWine of Ohio for his leadership in the Senate. It's been a matter I've been working on for several years.
The more I learn about Nazi war criminals, and the possibility that there are people living in the United States, who are responsible for such heinous deeds, the more dedicated I become to exposure.
My work- as I mentioned- spans several years. But that is very small compared to the work and the pain that holocaust survivors have suffered in their search for the truth.
H.R. 4007 - the Nazi War Crimes Disclosure Act will help to reveal some of those truths. The bill sets up a process for the declassification of documents held by Federal agencies.
World War II ended a half century ago. Our policies in dealing with many countries have changed a great deal since then. Our policies WITHIN the U.S. must also change.
It's also interesting to note that other countries, like Russia, Argentina, and Lithuania, are opening THEIR war crime files. We, the country with Democratic roots, should not be the last to lift the shroud of secrecy.
This bill establishes an interagency working group to locate and sort out, all nazi war crime records. They will recommend certain records for declassification. The working group will also coodinate with those agencies which are holding the documents to be sure the information flows freely and properly to the public.
While the working group is charged with making information more available, it also has the task of selectively witholding those pieces of information which would pose a threat to our nation's security.
I am hoping that this discretion will alleviate concerns among members of the intelligence community regarding the reporting of damaging information to researchers, families and the media.
We must not allow those guilty of committing unspeakable crimes to hide behind our own country's secrecy.
Secrecy and trust are important. But sometimes secrets are simply kept too long.
For years the CIA was keeping its information about Kurt Waldheim "classified". A secret told in this instance would have surely eliminated a shameful chapter in the history of the United Nations.
Some secrets reveal embarrassing histories.
Evidence was recently discovered that the US actively recruited Nazis and facilitated their entry into this country in order to pursue Cold War objectives.
We've also recently learned that millions of dollars in gold looted by the Nazis is currently sitting in the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
Again, sometimes a secret kept too long does more harm than good. That is the essence of the bill before us today.
I know our witnesses -- former congresswoman Liz Holtzman, who has fought to bring Nazis to justice for many years; Professor Robert Herzstein-- a man who has painstakingly researched the Waldheim case; and the World Jewish Congress which has worked consistently toward the release of information -- all share with me the sentiments of philosopher George Santayana, who said, "those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it ."
I thank them all for joining us here today in our effort to present our own government the proper tools for rememberance.