Category Archives: Divide and Conquer

US military spy operation manipulates social media with “sock puppets” to spread propaganda and disinformation


Gen David Petraeus has previously said US online psychological operations are aimed at ‘countering extremist ideology and propaganda’. Photograph: Cliff Owen/AP

Military’s ‘sock puppet’ software creates fake online identities to spread pro-American propaganda

guardian.co.uk | Mar 17, 2011

by Nick Fielding and Ian Cobain

The US military is developing software that will let it secretly manipulate social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter by using fake online personas to influence internet conversations and spread pro-American propaganda.

A Californian corporation has been awarded a contract with United States Central Command (Centcom), which oversees US armed operations in the Middle East and Central Asia, to develop what is described as an “online persona management service” that will allow one US serviceman or woman to control up to 10 separate identities based all over the world.

The project has been likened by web experts to China’s attempts to control and restrict free speech on the internet. Critics are likely to complain that it will allow the US military to create a false consensus in online conversations, crowd out unwelcome opinions and smother commentaries or reports that do not correspond with its own objectives.

The discovery that the US military is developing false online personalities – known to users of social media as “sock puppets” – could also encourage other governments, private companies and non-government organisations to do the same.

The Centcom contract stipulates that each fake online persona must have a convincing background, history and supporting details, and that up to 50 US-based controllers should be able to operate false identities from their workstations “without fear of being discovered by sophisticated adversaries”.

Centcom spokesman Commander Bill Speaks said: “The technology supports classified blogging activities on foreign-language websites to enable Centcom to counter violent extremist and enemy propaganda outside the US.”

He said none of the interventions would be in English, as it would be unlawful to “address US audiences” with such technology, and any English-language use of social media by Centcom was always clearly attributed. The languages in which the interventions are conducted include Arabic, Farsi, Urdu and Pashto.

Once developed, the software could allow US service personnel, working around the clock in one location, to respond to emerging online conversations with any number of co-ordinated Facebook messages, blogposts, tweets, retweets, chatroom posts and other interventions. Details of the contract suggest this location would be MacDill air force base near Tampa, Florida, home of US Special Operations Command.

Centcom’s contract requires for each controller the provision of one “virtual private server” located in the United States and others appearing to be outside the US to give the impression the fake personas are real people located in different parts of the world.

It also calls for “traffic mixing”, blending the persona controllers’ internet usage with the usage of people outside Centcom in a manner that must offer “excellent cover and powerful deniability”.

The multiple persona contract is thought to have been awarded as part of a programme called Operation Earnest Voice (OEV), which was first developed in Iraq as a psychological warfare weapon against the online presence of al-Qaida supporters and others ranged against coalition forces. Since then, OEV is reported to have expanded into a $200m programme and is thought to have been used against jihadists across Pakistan, Afghanistan and the Middle East.

OEV is seen by senior US commanders as a vital counter-terrorism and counter-radicalisation programme. In evidence to the US Senate’s armed services committee last year, General David Petraeus, then commander of Centcom, described the operation as an effort to “counter extremist ideology and propaganda and to ensure that credible voices in the region are heard”. He said the US military’s objective was to be “first with the truth”.

This month Petraeus’s successor, General James Mattis, told the same committee that OEV “supports all activities associated with degrading the enemy narrative, including web engagement and web-based product distribution capabilities”.

Centcom confirmed that the $2.76m contract was awarded to Ntrepid, a newly formed corporation registered in Los Angeles. It would not disclose whether the multiple persona project is already in operation or discuss any related contracts.

Nobody was available for comment at Ntrepid.

In his evidence to the Senate committee, Gen Mattis said: “OEV seeks to disrupt recruitment and training of suicide bombers; deny safe havens for our adversaries; and counter extremist ideology and propaganda.” He added that Centcom was working with “our coalition partners” to develop new techniques and tactics the US could use “to counter the adversary in the cyber domain”.

According to a report by the inspector general of the US defence department in Iraq, OEV was managed by the multinational forces rather than Centcom.

Asked whether any UK military personnel had been involved in OEV, Britain’s Ministry of Defence said it could find “no evidence”. The MoD refused to say whether it had been involved in the development of persona management programmes, saying: “We don’t comment on cyber capability.”

OEV was discussed last year at a gathering of electronic warfare specialists in Washington DC, where a senior Centcom officer told delegates that its purpose was to “communicate critical messages and to counter the propaganda of our adversaries”.

Persona management by the US military would face legal challenges if it were turned against citizens of the US, where a number of people engaged in sock puppetry have faced prosecution.

Last year a New York lawyer who impersonated a scholar was sentenced to jail after being convicted of “criminal impersonation” and identity theft.

It is unclear whether a persona management programme would contravene UK law. Legal experts say it could fall foul of the Forgery and Counterfeiting Act 1981, which states that “a person is guilty of forgery if he makes a false instrument, with the intention that he or another shall use it to induce somebody to accept it as genuine, and by reason of so accepting it to do or not to do some act to his own or any other person’s prejudice”. However, this would apply only if a website or social network could be shown to have suffered “prejudice” as a result.

Foreign shock troops enter Bahrain to put down protests


Foreign troops enter Bahrain as protests continue. AFP

CNN | Mar 14, 2011

(CNN) — Foreign troops arrived Monday in the strategically and financially important Persian Gulf kingdom of Bahrain after a month of citizen protests, the Bahraini government said.

Saudi Arabia, Bahrain’s giant neighbor to the west, appears to have provided at least some of the troops, who arrived under the banner of the Gulf Cooperation Council.

In a statement, the government described the troops as “coalition forces” but did not say what countries were represented. Their mission was equally vague: “The GCC Peninsula Shield coalition forces arrived in the Kingdom of Bahrain today following recent events, to help protect the safety of citizens, residents and critical infrastructure,” it said.

The Saudi state news agency said its government had responded to Bahrain’s request for help in view of the importance of security there.

According to the state news agency of the United Arab Emirates, southwest of Bahrain, it too “decided to send a security force to keep the peace in the Kingdom of Bahrain” at that country’s request.

Anwar Mohammed Qerqash, the UAE minister for foreign affairs, described the move as part of his country’s responsibility within the Gulf Cooperation Council to bring “security and stability to the region.”

It was not clear how many foreign security troops had entered Bahrain. Various parts of the Bahraini government referred CNN questions to other government offices on Monday.

A witness said dozens of armored vehicles and buses full of soldiers crossed Monday afternoon from Saudi Arabia into Bahrain afternoon via the causeway linking the two countries.

The Gulf Cooperation Council comprises six Gulf states — Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Oman and Qatar — and encourages cooperation among members in a number of areas, including the economy and security.

The movement of forces came on the same day that protesters seized control of a key part of the capital city of Manama, a Human Rights Watch official said.

About 100 demonstrators blocked access to the Bahrain Financial Harbour with barricades such as trash cans and cinderblocks, in effect shutting down the commercial district, Faraz Sanei said.

There was no police presence, he added.

“What we are witnessing in Manama is no peaceful protest,” Bahrain’s Foreign Minister Khalid al-Khalifa said. “It’s wanton, gangster style takeover of people’s lives,” he said on Twitter.

A pro-government group of lawmakers was urging the king of Bahrain to impose martial law for three months in the wake of the protests.

The arrival of the troops followed a day of clashes between protesters and security forces that resulted in the hospitalization of more than 1,000 people, human rights activists said.

The protests were the latest in a series that has swept across the Arab world this year, toppling the leaders of Tunisia and Egypt, but it was not clear that any other country had taken the step of calling in foreign troops for help.

“Temporarily, it should calm the situation,” said Simon Henderson, director of the Gulf and energy policy program at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. He noted that the administration of Barack Obama has been urging political dialogue but said Monday’s move was not what the U.S. president meant.

“Sending in Saudi forces is hardly encouraging political dialogue,” Henderson said. “The great danger is, it will actually worsen the situation by encouraging Iran to get involved. Not militarily, probably, but certainly diplomatically and rhetorically.”

The underlying concern is that Iran, an overwhelmingly Shiite state, could seize the opportunity to meddle in Bahrain’s internal affairs. Bahrain has a Shiite majority population, but its rulers are Sunni.

Saudi Arabia’s eastern province is home not only to many of the country’s rich oil fields but to its largest concentration of minority Shiite as well. In recent weeks, Shiite demonstrators there have protested the Saudi government, whose leaders are overwhelmingly Sunni.

The Saudi government would presumably be concerned that any uprising by Shiite Muslims in Bahrain could inspire the Shiite population in nearby Saudi Arabia to follow suit.

Protests on Sunday appeared to have been among the most violent since last month, when police tried to clear the capital’s Pearl Roundabout, leaving seven people dead, according to demonstrators.

Most of Sunday’s injured suffered gas-related injuries, including burns and breathing problems, according to Nabeel Rajab, president of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights. Doctors and nurses were among the injured. At least five people were in critical condition, and at least two people lost their eyes because of bullet injuries, he said.

Manama was sealed off Monday, journalists there said. The highway stretching from the Pearl Roundabout to the Bahrain Financial Harbour was blocked by trees and other debris.

The government denied accusations Sunday that unjustified force was used against protesters at the harbor, along a key highway and at Bahrain University.

Britain’s Foreign Office warned Sunday against all travel to the Gulf kingdom until further notice, saying, “The risk of further outbreaks of violence has increased.”

The nation’s Independent Bloc of lawmakers called on Bahrain security forces to intervene to protect national security and stability, the Bahrain News Agency reported Sunday. The bloc is composed of the 22 pro-government members of the lower house of the legislature.

“Extremist movements are resorting to escalation and sectarian mobilization, which led to an unprecedented disruption of security and hostile sectarian polarization at health and educational institutions,” the group said in a statement.

The members of parliament asked King Hamad to enforce a curfew and deploy security forces across the country.

During protests in the tiny island nation, moderates have been demanding a constitutional monarchy, and hardliners have called for the abolition of the royal family altogether.

Arab League asks U.N. for no-fly zone over Libya


Egypt- and Tunisia-inspired protests spread through Middle East, North Africa: Motivated by recent shows of political strength by neighbors in Egypt, demonstrators in the Middle East and North Africa are taking to the streets of many cities to rally for change.

washingtonpost.com | Mar 12, 2011

By Richard Leiby and Muhammad Mansour

CAIRO — The Arab League called on the U.N. Security Council on Saturday to immediately impose a no-fly zone over Libya and announced that it was recognizing the rebel movement as that country’s legitimate government.

The move could significantly raise pressure on the United States and European nations to act in response to the conflict that has erupted in recent weeks as rebels have seized half of Libya and Col. Moammar Gaddafi’s security forces have struck back with massive firepower. NATO has said an Arab endorsement of the no-fly zone was a precondition for taking such action.

Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa announced the league’s decision in Cairo on Saturday evening, describing the no fly-zone as a “preventive measure” whose chief goal is to “protect Libyan citizens.”

“The main priority right now is to stop the deadly situation,” Moussa said.

Related

In a statement, the White House said Saturday that “we welcome this important step by the Arab League, which strengthens the international pressure on Gaddafi and support for the Libyan people.”

“The international community is unified in sending a clear message that the violence in Libya must stop, and that the Gaddafi regime must be held accountable,” the statement said. “The United States will continue to advance our efforts to pressure Gaddafi, to support the Libyan opposition, and to prepare for all contingencies, in close coordination with our international partners.”

The Arab League’s decision came after 51 / 2 hours of closed-door deliberations by the foreign ministers of 21 nations. Representatives of Gaddafi’s government, which the league had suspended this month as a member, were not invited.

Addressing a packed news conference at the league’s headquarters, Moussa also said the Arab League would begin working immediately with an interim council established by rebels in the eastern city of Benghazi.

To buttress their extraordinary request for international military action against one of their own members, the ministers issued as statement saying the measure was also needed to “maintain the safety and sovereignty of neighboring nations.”

In declaring Gaddafi’s regime illegitimate, Moussa referred to a section of the statement that cited “the fatal violations and serious crimes at the hands of Libyan authorities that make [the government] illegal.”

Moussa, who this week declared he would run for president of Egypt, seemed determined at the briefing to avoid describing the no-fly zone in military terms, although such an operation could require aircraft enforcing the zone to engage Libyan aircraft in combat.

Gaddafi is just one of the autocratic leaders who have become targets of popular uprisings throughout the region. But taking action against him does not open the door to other military intercession, said Oman’s foreign minister, Yusuf bin Alawi Abdullah, who joined Moussa at the briefing.

“We refuse any foreign intervention in any Arab affairs,” he said when asked whether the resolution could be applied to other Arab states.

Outside the league’s headquarters on Tahrir Square, Egyptians and Libyans waved signs describing Gaddafi as a genocidal butcher and displaying grisly photos of dead Libyans. But they also expressed wariness about any Western military involvement in the conflict. “We are not calling for American intervention,” said Omar Mohamed, a 21-year-old student. “But they should give weapons to the rebel fighters.”

Officials of Libya’s so-called government in waiting welcomed the Arab League’s endorsement of a no-fly zone and said they hoped the United States and other Western powers will follow, adding pressure on the U.N. Security Council to impose a no-fly zone. Western powers have stressed they would not take military action unless they had the approval of Libya’s neighbors.

“We hope the Europeans will deliver now. This changes things a lot,” said Mustafa Gheriani, a spokesman for the Libyan National Council, the provisional leadership running eastern Libya. “We hope it will change the American position, but most of all the European position.”

Abdul Hafidh Ghoga, vice chairman of the Libyan National Council, said that if a no-fly zone is imposed, the rebels will prevail over Gaddafi’s forces. But he warned that if Western powers do not take military action, the rebels were prepared to purchase more weapons from other countries to protect their revolution.

“If the international community chooses to play the role of bystander, with Libyan cities being destroyed and Libyan people being killed, then we will have to defend ourselves on our own,” Ghoga said. “If no steps are taken, we have to take the decision to arm ourselves as best as we can.”

Ghoga said the rebels have made contacts with other nations that might provide them with weapons, if needed, although he declined to name those countries.

Britain sent sniper rifles to Gaddafi just before his troops began killing


Crossing boarders: An Egyptian loads a minivan after crossing the border from Libya

This is London | Feb 23, 2011

by Joe Murphy

Britain approved the export of sniper rifles to Libya just months before marksmen began murdering protest- ers in Tripoli.

An export licence was granted to let “a small quantity” of deadly long-range weapons be shipped out in November for exhibition or testing. Four licences were approved for the rifles, along with assault rifles and semi-automatic handguns, with cleaning kits.

They were signed off by officials in the Department for Business and it was unclear today whether ministers were involved in the decision.

Business Secretary Vince Cable told the Standard: “It is essential to stop arms exports where this could be used to suppress human rights and democratic protests and also fuel regional conflict.” He said he was “certainly surprised” about the export licences, particularly in the case of sniper rifles.

He indicated that he would insist on tougher future curbs over exports to controversial regimes, saying: “We are where we are and have to act correctly from here.”

Horrific wounds among Libyan demonstrators, including limbs ripped off, are consistent with the impact of a high-velocity round from a sniper rifle.

Following calls from the Standard, the Department for Business was this morning contacting the firms involved to establish whether the British weapons were sent back, as required under the licence conditions.

Last week the department suspended export licences to Bahrain and Libya after concern at attacks of protesters.

These licences included tear gas but the department was unable to say this morning whether tear gas was exported to Libya. The Business Department was unable to give details of who signed the export licences and when. A spokeswoman said she understood that decisions were delegated to officials.

The department would not say which companies were involved as this was “commercially confidential”. Britain’s top manufacturer of sniper rifles, the Portsmouth-based Accuracy International, said it was not involved.

Labour today called on the Government to freeze Colonel Gaddafi’s overseas assets. Shadow foreign secretary Douglas Alexander said an agreement on sanctions should be pursued via the European Union.

“The Government appeared slow to act on freezing assets misappropriated from the Egyptian people,” he said. “They should now be urgently seeking agreement in Europe to freeze assets of the Libyan regime.”

The Treasury said the Government could freeze assets owned by a foreign leader but only after a United Nations or EU vote to impose sanctions, a request from the country involved or a Home Office decision that action was needed to prevent terrorism against Britons.

Arizona shooting survivor involuntarily committed after threat against Tea Party member


Tucson shooting victim Eric Fuller was arrested for allegedly telling a tea party spokesman, “you’re dead” at a town hall meeting. Photo and caption: JENNIFER PLOIXENNI BRANKIN, NY Daily News

Arizona shooting survivor in custody after allegedly making threat.

The target of the threat says they came amid a discussion on gun control.

James Eric Fuller is in a county medical services unit.

CNN | Jan 15, 2011

(CNN) — A man who was shot but survived last Saturday’s massacre in Tucson, Arizona, was taken to a county mental services unit Saturday after making a threatening comment at a town hall event, Pima County Sheriff’s Department spokesman Jason Ogan said.

James Eric Fuller, 63, was involuntarily committed after he made threats against a Tea Party member at the Tucson event sponsored by ABC News, Ogan said.

Fuller photographed Trent Humphries and said “You are dead” when Humphries began speaking at the event, according to Ogan.

Humphries told CNN that Fuller’s comment came when the town hall discussion turned toward the issue of gun control.

Humphries has not pressed charges against Fuller and said Saturday that he doesn’t want to do anything to heighten tensions after the shooting.

“I am more worried about our community,” he said. “This doesn’t need to be about Trent Humphries. This doesn’t need to be about politics.”

The Pima County Sheriff’s Department said Fuller was taken into custody after 12 p.m. (2 p.m. ET) and was in a county facility. He cannot be reached for comment.

The town hall event was held at St. Odilia Church in the southern Arizona city and was taped for Christiane Amanpour’s “This Week” program on ABC.

Pima County Sheriff Sets Off Debate on Price of Free Speech


Sunday: Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik speaks at a news conference in Tucson, Ariz., a day after a shooting injured or killed 20 people, including a federal judge. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords survived the shooting and was in critical condition following brain surgery. AP

FoxNews.com | Jan 9, 2011

Heightened and “vitriolic” political rhetoric is being blamed by some for the kind of violence that landed Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in intensive care following a mass casualty shooting on Saturday, but others say a blame game is hardly appropriate or useful right now.

Pima County, Ariz., Sheriff Clarence Dupnik sparked much of the debate during a press conference Saturday evening in which he blamed talk radio and television for a decline in America.

“I think the vitriolic rhetoric that we hear day in and day out from people in the radio business and some people in the TV business and what (we) see on TV and how our youngsters are being raised, that this has not become the nice United States of America that most of us grew up in. And I think it’s time that we do the soul-searching,” the sheriff said.

On Sunday, Dupnik didn’t back down.

“I think we’re the tombstone of the United States of America,” Dupnik said of The Granite State, which a day earlier he called the “Mecca” of hatred and bigotry. “To try to inflame the public on a daily basis 24 hours a day, seven days a week has impact on people, especially who are unbalanced personalities to begin with.”

“The sheriff out there in Tucson, I think he’s got it right,” Rep. James Clyburn, D-S.C., the assistant minority whip, told “Fox News Sunday.” “Words do have consequences. And I think that we have to really — this is nothing new. I’ve been saying this for a long time now.”

“I think the sheriff was right,” added Rep. Steny Hoyer, D-Md., who appeared on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”

“Bob, when you and I grew up, we grew up listening to essentially three major news outlets: NBC, ABC, and of course, CBS. We listened to people like Walter Cronkite and Eric Sevareid, and Huntley-Brinkley, and they saw their job as to inform us of the facts and we would make a conclusion,” Hoyer said. “Far too many broadcasts now and so many outlets have the intent of inciting, and inciting people to opposition, to anger, to thinking the other side is less than moral. And I think that is a context in which somebody who is mentally unbalanced can somehow feel justified in taking this kind of action. And I think we need to all take cognizance of that and be aware that what we say can, in fact, have consequences.”

Others suggested that the shooting that left six dead and 13 wounded is a one-off that can’t be attributed to any logical explanation or current events.

“Our politics takes place in the halls of Congress and at the ballot box. It doesn’t happen at a barrel of a gun. This is clearly an isolated incident,” Rep. Blake Farenthold, R-Texas, told Fox News.

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., who appeared with Clyburn, said she is not aware that alleged shooter Jared Lee Loughner is tied to a political movement or engaged in a politically motivated act.

“You know, his favorite books are ‘the Communist Manifesto’ and ‘Mein Kampf.’ I think it’s important that we recognize that this is an individual that had — that has mental challenges, and we need to act appropriately in dealing with him and making sure that justice prevails here,” she said.

Still, blame seems to be pouring out from all kinds of sources. FBI Director Robert Mueller said in a Sunday press conference that the “ubiquitous nature of the Internet” has made hateful information “much more readily available to individuals than it was eight or 10 or 15 years ago and that absolutely presents a challenge to us particularly as it relates to lone wolfs.”

Mueller added that investigators are looking through Loughner’s computer for indications of possible motives.

After news broke Saturday about the shooting, Republican Sarah Palin issued a statement offering “sincere condolences” to Giffords and other victims and said her family was praying for peace and justice.

But on Sunday, ABC reporter Dan Harris interviewed Facebook consumer marketing director Randi Zuckerberg, who said the top question being asked on Facebook is whether Palin is to blame for the violence. During the election season, Palin had written a post that used crosshairs on districts in a visualization congressional districts targeted for Republican takeover. In 2004, Democrats used bullseye targets in a similar appeal.

A Palin aide told USA Today that the sights used on the election map were not meant to represent the sights of a gun, and any suggestion otherwise is the work of political flame-throwers.

“This is a terrible politicization of a tragedy,” former Palin aide Rebecca Monsour told the newspaper. “We don’t know (the shooter’s) motive. It doesn’t seem like he was motivated by a political ideology. Craziness is not an ideology.”

Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., who appeared Sunday on CNN, said it’s the responsibility of those in public life and the media to “try to bring down the rhetoric.”

“The phrase, ‘Don’t retreat; reload,’ putting crosshairs on congressional districts as targets. These sorts of things, I think, invite the kind of toxic rhetoric that can lead unstable people to believe this is an acceptable response,” he said.

Other politicians suggested the Tea Party movement is somehow responsible for the shooting, which elicited a fierce response from Judson Phillips, co-founder of Tea Party Nation, who issued a statement condemning attribution of the tragedy to heated political discourse.

“At a time like this, it is terrible that we do have to think about politics. No matter what the shooter’s motivations were, the left is going to blame this on the Tea Party movement. While we need to take a moment to extend our sympathies to the families of those who died, we cannot allow the hard left to do what it tried to do in 1995 after the Oklahoma City Bombing. Within the entire political spectrum, there are extremists, both on the left and the right. Violence of this nature should be decried by everyone, and not used for political gain,” Phillips said.

Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., agreed that it’s reckless to impute the motives of the shooter to any particular group of Americans who have their own political beliefs.

“What we know about this individual, for example, is that he was reading Karl Marx and reading Hitler … That’s not the profile of a typical Tea Party member and that’s the inference that’s being made,” Alexander told CNN’s “State of the Union.”

“It’s tempting to say this person’s actions might have been a result of [another] person’s comments, but I think we need to be very careful about imputing any of these actions on someone else,” he said.

Rep. Jim McDermott, D-Wash., a liberal firebrand, added that it’s easy for some people in society not to make a distinction between words and actions, but talking to the shooter will help reveal his true motivations.

“Whatever this young man was responding to or whatever we find out … one of the most interesting things here is that we have the shooter in custody and he’s alive … we’re going to find out an awful lot about what’s going on, but we’ve got to be careful about what we say to each other,” McDermott said.

Secret papers reveal Nazis given ‘safe haven’ in US


The report details the government’s posthumous pursuit of Dr Josef Mengele (L), the German SS officer and physician known as the ‘Angel of Death’ Photo: ALAMY

A secret United States government report has offered fresh evidence that the CIA granted Nazi war criminals a “safe haven” in the US after the Second World War.

Telegraph | Nov 14, 2010

By Toby Harnden

The 600-page report, written in 2006 and which the US Justice Department has tried to keep secret ever since, describes what it calls Washington’s “collaboration with persecutors”.

Agents from the Justice Department’s Nazi-hunting Office of Special Investigations (OSI) found that war criminals “were indeed knowingly granted entry” to the US, even though government officials were aware of their pasts, the report concluded.

“America, which prided itself on being a safe haven for the persecuted, became – in some small measure – a safe haven for persecutors as well.”

The report, obtained by the New York Times, details cases of Nazis being helped by American intelligence officials.

In 1954, the CIA assisted Otto Von Bolschwing, an associate of Adolf Eichmann who had helped develop plans “to purge Germany of the Jews”.

In a series of CIA memos, officials pondered what to do if Von Bolschwing was confronted about his past, debating whether to deny any Nazi affiliation or “explain it away on the basis of extenuating circumstances”, according to the report.

The Justice Department sought to deport Von Bolschwing after it learned in 1981of his Nazi past but he died the same year.

Another case involved Arthur L. Rudolph, a Nazi scientist who ran the Mittelwerk munitions factory. He was brought to the US in 1945 for his rocket-making prowess as part of Operation Paperclip, an American initiative to recruit scientists who had worked in Nazi Germany.

The report highlights a 1949 note from a very senior Justice Department official urging immigration officers to let Rudolph back into the US after visiting Mexico because excluding him would be “to the detriment of the national interest”.

Justice Department investigators later discovered that Rudolph was much more implicated in using Jewish slave labour at Mittelwerk than he or the CIA had admitted. Some intelligence officials objected when the Justice Department tried to deport him in 1983.

The report states that prosecutors filed a motion in 1980 that “misstated the facts” in insisting that CIA and FBI records revealed no information on the Nazi past of Tscherim Soobzokov, a former Waffen SS soldier.

Instead, the Justice Department “knew that Soobzokov had advised the CIA of his SS connection after he arrived in the United States”, the report found.

The report details the government’s posthumous pursuit of Dr Josef Mengele, the German SS officer and physician known as the “Angel of Death”. A piece of Mengele’s scalp was kept in the drawer of an OSI director in the hope that it would establish whether he was still alive.

Investigators used diaries and letters supposedly written by Mengele and German dental records to follow his trail. After the development of DNA, the piece of scalp, which had been handed over to Brazil, helped to establish that Mengele had died in Brazil in 1979, without ever entering the US, the report stated.

The US government has resisted making the report public ever since it was written four years ago. Under the threat of legal action, it provided an expurgated version last month to the National Security Archive, a private research group. The New York Times then obtained a complete version.

The US Justice Department told the newspaper that the report, which was the product of six years of research, was never formally completed, did not represent official findings and claimed there were “numerous factual errors and omissions” though it declined to detail these.

Since the creation of the OSI in 1979, several hundred Nazis have been deported, stripped of their American citizenship or excluded from entering the United States. The OSI was merged with another unit this year.