Tuesday, September 30, 2008

UK: Soldiers who hand prisoners to US could face legal action, MPs warned

ALSO SEE: "Parliamentary panel gives legal opinion on UK participation in CIA extraordinary renditions"

• Responsibility 'remains with British troops'
• Risks could lead to ban on rendition

By Duncan Campbell
September 29 2008

British troops who hand over prisoners in Iraq to US military personnel could find themselves facing prosecution, according to a legal opinion compiled for parliament. The finding has led to calls for the British government to rethink its current policy and investigate how the US treats its prisoners, and whether torture is employed against them.

Earlier this year the all-party parliamentary group on extraordinary rendition sought legal opinion from Michael Fordham QC on whether a human rights violation would arise under the European convention on human rights (ECHR) and the 1998 Human Rights Act (HRA) if an individual in British detention in Iraq were handed over to US military personnel, "despite substantial grounds for considering that there is a real risk of that person being subjected to torture or inhuman and degrading treatment".

The conclusion reached by Fordham and his colleague Tom Hickman is that an offence would definitely have been committed. If acted on, the opinion could mean that UK troops would not be allowed to "render" detainees to the US military until it was clear that they would no longer face the possibility of torture or ill-treatment.

What prompted the inquiry was a statement made in February this year by Ben Griffin, a former SAS soldier who was on active service in Iraq. In his statement, Griffin said that he was "in no doubt" that individuals handed over to the US military "would be tortured". He cited what had happened to those detained at Guantánamo Bay, Bagram airbase and Abu Ghraib prison.

The opinion adds: "UK forces operating in Iraq are potentially also subject to UK criminal law, tort law and Iraqi law. Notably, the Criminal Justice Act 1988 makes it a criminal offence for a public official, whatever his nationality and wherever located, to commit an act of torture."

Andrew Tyrie, the Conservative MP who chairs the committee which commissioned the report, said there had been a number of allegations that UK forces had been capturing people and handing them over to US authorities, knowing that these detainees were at risk of being tortured or mistreated.

"I commissioned a legal opinion to establish whether the UK acted unlawfully when they were handed over," said Tyrie. "I now have the answer. The UK remains legally responsible for the subsequent treatment of anybody who has been detained by the UK. It is likely that British policy on this area is not only ethically questionable but is also unlawful. The government now needs to radically rethink its policy on this issue."

Clive Stafford Smith, director of the legal action charity Reprieve, also welcomed the findings. "We are delighted that the all-party parliamentary group has recognised the illegality of British troops handing over prisoners to US custody in Iraq, " he said. "These prisoners promptly disappear into an unaccountable prison network in which over 20,000 prisoners are held for illegal interrogation and torture. If it is confirmed that this has been happening, the British government must immediately reveal how many people have been handed over, where they are now, and what has been done to them."

Paul Marsh, president of the Law Society, called on the government to investigate what happens to prisoners rendered from British custody. "Extraordinary rendition has been used by some states as a means of bypassing the formal justice system," said Marsh. "To do so is a breach of the rule of law and puts individuals at risk of ill-treatment. The Law Society calls on the UK government to look beyond assurances from other countries and positively investigate and monitor whether individuals rendered from British custody are receiving equivalent standards of due process. It is time we returned to our values in the rule of law."


Monday, September 29, 2008

2006 Reports: Neo-Nazis Infiltrating the US Military

See: "Hate Groups Are Infiltrating the Military, Group Asserts," NYT, July 7, 2006

Hate groups infiltrating the US military

The [SPLC] report cited accounts by neo-Nazis of their infiltration of the military, including a discussion on the white supremacist Web site Stormfront. "There are others among you in the forces," one participant wrote. "You are never alone."

An article in the National Alliance magazine Resistance urged skinheads to join the Army and insist on being assigned to light infantry units.

The Southern Poverty Law Center identified the author as Steven Barry, who it said was a former Special Forces officer who was the alliance's "military unit coordinator."

"Light infantry is your branch of choice because the coming race war and the ethnic cleansing to follow will be very much an infantryman's war," he wrote. "It will be house-to-house, neighborhood-by-neighborhood until your town or city is cleared and the alien races are driven into the countryside where they can be hunted down and 'cleansed.' "


Is Sarah Palin a John Birch Society Member?

By Bill Hahn
19 September 2008

An interesting event occurred late last night. Politico blogger Ben Smith contacted us to ask if a photo of Sarah Palin showed her with a copy of one of our publications.

Apparently the Palin family had released the photo to AP and the New York Times picked it up for an article last week. Politico was inaccurate in identifying the reprinted article as the cover of the magazine.

Clearly seen in the photo is a reprint of an article from The New American magazine back in 1995, entitled “Con-Con Call” in a three-ring binder in front of her. ...

Story continues at the JBS website.

Video: Fascism comes to America

"Who are the Nazis now?"

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Reinforcing the "Islamo-Fascism" Lie: 'Obsession' DVD is a Scare Tactic

ALSO SEE: "Swift Boat Tactics from Clarion Fund Seem Designed to help McCain Campaign," makkah.wordpress.com, Sept. 17, 2008

" First shown on Fox News during the 2006 mid-term elections and on college campuses, the production shows a long series of unsubstantiated experts equating radical Muslim movements with the German Nazis. ... "

Des Moines Register
SEPTEMBER 28, 2008

We received a copy of a right-wing terror propaganda DVD bundled into our Sept. 14 Sunday Register, Obsession: Radical Islam's War Against the West. I checked out the distributor, the Clarion Fund, and found that it is a New York-based group, an outfit that claims a 501c(3) nonprofit status despite an article recently on its Web site, since removed, that backed Republican presidential candidate John McCain.

We wondered when the scare tactics of the 2004 campaign would return. To coincide with Sept. 11, 28 million copies of the 60-minute film went out bundled with the ads in 70 newspapers in 14 swing states, including Iowa. First shown on Fox News during the 2006 mid-term elections and on college campuses, the production shows a long series of unsubstantiated experts equating radical Muslim movements with the German Nazis.

Despite two mild verbal disclaimers that not all Muslims are radical, there were two printed and verbal "quotes" about Muslim radicals planning to eventually occupy the White House. This is a not-so-subtle tie-in to the ideas behind the hate e-mail frequently passed along over the Internet this past year depicting Barack Obama as a Muslim, along with other supposedly despicable traits.

I would have thought the Register knew better than to pass along such drivel.

- Joann Estle, Washington

Newspaper-insert DVDs on 'radical Islam' stir up swing states
LA Times

Distribution of the controversial Clarion Fund documentary is pegged to 9/11, not the presidential election, the group says. Some see a 1st Amendment issue.

By DeeDee Correll, Special to The Times
September 28, 2008

Millions of copies of Obsession: Radical Islam's War Against the West were delivered over the last few weeks to homes in states whose votes will be critical in the presidential election, and more will be distributed through early October. Most of the 28 million DVDs were included as advertising inserts in newspapers. Some also were mailed directly to homes.

The campaign by Clarion Fund -- a nonprofit organization founded by filmmaker Raphael Shore "to educate Americans about issues of national security," its website says -- has prompted criticism of the newspapers for distributing what some describe as Muslim-bashing propaganda.

There are also accusations that the group is trying to influence the election in favor of Republican presidential candidate John McCain, cast by some as tougher on terrorism. One Islamic advocacy group recently filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission, alleging that Clarion is abusing its tax-exempt status by engaging in politics.

"Any neutral observer would say this is a biased, one-sided, inflammatory portrayal that seeks to portray Muslims and Islam as Nazi-like," said Ibrahim Hooper, spokesman for the Council for American-Islamic Relations, a nonprofit based in Washington, D.C.

Hooper claims the DVD campaign aims to steer voters toward McCain.

"If you're able to raise the level of fear in the public about terrorism or national security, those people are more likely to skew toward John McCain," he said.

Hooper said he heard reports that some DVD recipients in Ohio also had received automated phone calls referencing the film and saying, "We hope you take it into consideration when you go into the voting booth."

Clarion spokesman Gregory Ross said the group had no involvement in such calls.

Ross called the DVD campaign a nonpartisan effort to show Americans the dangers they face. The timing of the distribution, he said, relates not to the election but to the anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

"It's a reminder that a 9/11 could happen again, and we need to remember the past," Ross said.

He said the group chose to distribute the DVD in swing states -- including Ohio, Pennsylvania, Colorado, Michigan, Florida and North Carolina -- because that's where media attention is focused.

"That's where the press is these days, and we want to get the press engaged," Ross said.

Until recently, one Clarion website, RadicalIslam.org, had an article that expressed pro-McCain views. When questioned by the news media, Clarion took the article down. Its inclusion on the site, which has links to a number of articles, was an accident, Ross said.

"There was one article that slipped through the cracks," he said. He said the group had hired an editor to ensure it didn't happen again.

Ross declined to reveal how much Clarion had spent on the DVD campaign, but said it was in the "multimillions." He also would not name donors to the project. Ross said donations had risen sharply since the distributions began. Obsession is Clarion's first project; the nonprofit has financed a second film, The Third Jihad, due out next month.

About 70 newspapers have included or will include Obsession as a paid advertising insert. Of those approached, only a few refused, Ross said.

"We applaud those who have carried it and are willing to stand up to the radical Islamists," he said.

Most newspapers that have accepted the ad insert have defended the decision as a 1st Amendment issue. The Denver Newspaper Agency, which publishes the Denver Post and Rocky Mountain News, seeks to "keep access as wide as possible" on issues-driven advertising, said spokesman Jim Nolan. That position doesn't connote support for the content of the ad, he said.

"Our business is to come down on the side of letting opinions be expressed," he said.

The News & Record in Greensboro, N.C., rejected the insert, calling the DVD "fear-mongering and divisive."

"Of course, it's not free speech," wrote the paper’s editor, John Robinson, on his blog.

"It's a paid advertisement making the case for one side of a complicated, controversial issue," he wrote, noting that the other side would go unheard unless it buys its own ads.

He continued: "Newspapers decide not to publish information every day. Most of the time we call it news judgment."

Some readers also haven't accepted newspapers' explanations for distributing the DVD.

"If I paid you to distribute an anti-Semitic DVD, would you be so obliging?" Laurel Thompson wrote in a letter to the editor of the Denver Post, which distributed more than 553,000 copies of the DVD in its Sept. 14 edition. "Or how about a DVD celebrating the courage of [Columbine High School killers] Harris and Klebold?"

Newspapers should not have accepted the advertising, said Marianne Weigand, 50, of Arvada, Colo., who complained to the Rocky Mountain News in a letter to the editor.

If she wanted to watch such a film, she would have sought it out, she said.

"If you're going to send something out, it's a sample of Tylenol, not a movie full of something so violent, something that not everybody wants to watch," Weigand said. "It's propaganda about terrorism. . . . I don't see anybody benefiting from watching that."

When the film was released in 2006, shown primarily on college campuses, its supporters called it eye-opening; opponents called it inflammatory and unfair. The documentary -- which begins with a disclaimer that "most Muslims are peaceful and do not support terrorism" -- draws a parallel between Islam and Nazism and shows images of Sept. 11 and the terrorist bombings in Madrid and London, as well as footage of suicide bombers, children chanting about jihad and crowds railing against America.

Muslims across the United States have expressed anger about the film and concern for their safety. At the Northeast Denver Islamic Center, Imam Abdur-Rahim Ali said the dominant emotion was disappointment.

"People shake their heads and say, 'Here we go, it's election time,' " he said. Though the McCain campaign has denied any involvement, Ali doesn't believe that.

"It's hate-mongering," he said. "I think good American citizens should stand up against that type of behavior. I love my country; I'd fight for it, I'd die for it."



Bush, McCain and the Old Iran-Contra Team

The Gang's All Here
September 17, 2008

The vetting of Sarah Palin for the McCain campaign by an Iran-Contra alumnus brought an epiphany. (See “The Man Who Vetted Palin.") The American people’s inability to control this crime spree we call the Bush administration is not because we’re lazy, narcissistic or willfully blind to human rights violations, as much of the world now views us.

It’s because we’ve been misidentifying this crime spree as “the Bush administration.” What we’re clearly confronting is the Iran-Contra Alumni Association masquerading as the Executive Branch, replete with domestic spying, dark ops, fake journalists, fake news reels, press intimidation, protester arrests, infiltration and torture. Their latest maneuver is the woman with zero foreign policy experience a heart beat from taking that 3 a.m. call. A call which, of course, they’ll answer for her as they have done for Bush II.

We can’t counter this massive operation with Code Pink, despite my undying gratitude for their bravery and brains. We need to give the pink slips to the Iran-Contra gang. We need a full blown Congressional Committee on Corruption in the Federal Government – a truth commission with subpoena power. And we need the hearings to air live, for however long it takes, to get to the bottom of this syndication of crime.

Here’s five top questions the Committee can put on its priority list: did the Iran-Contra gang shake down Bush II for keeping the secrets of Bush I; did Bush II just decide on his own to reward the Iran-Contra gang for not writing tell-all books and for demonstrating they value loyalty over lawfulness. Why did Senator McCain call Iran-Contra central casting to round out his campaign? Why are these lawyers that hold the secrets to Iran-Contra vetting Federal candidates and judges?

Here’s a look at the amazing reemergence of the cast of recycled characters from Iran-Contra days:

Robert M. Gates, Secretary of Defense: On December 6, 2006, the United States Senate voted 95-2 to confirm Mr. Gates, despite the fact that he occupies a full chapter, Chapter 16, in the “Final Report of the Independent Counsel for Iran/Contra Matters.” Mr. Gates spent 26 years at the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). When the Iran arms sales and illegal diversion of funds to the Contras and other unknown pockets were taking place right under his nose, he was the CIA’s deputy director for intelligence (DDI) from 1982 to 1986. Despite his murky history, he was recycled as Director of the CIA by President George H.W. Bush in 1991, who, let’s not forget, was also a former Director of the CIA.

The Independent Counsel’s report concedes that while there was not enough evidence to indict Mr. Gates for his role in Iran-Contra, the Independent Counsel, Lawrence E. Walsh, heavily implies Mr. Gates lied about what he knew and when he knew it.

During the 2006 confirmation hearings, Senator Carl Levin (D-MI) questioned Mr. Gates about his role in Iran-Contra and Mr. Gates obfuscated, to say the least. Here are excerpts:
LEVIN: It is no secret that I voted against Dr. Gates' nomination to be director of central intelligence in 1991. I did so because I thought that he had been less than candid about the role that he played in the Iran-Contra affair. As I have said before, however, I, for one, intend to take a fresh and fair look at Dr. Gates' record…However, you gave a number of further explanations about these events and your lack of memory. You said that the matter had been investigated exhaustively by the Intelligence Committee. The key figures in the affair were interviewed or testified and affirmed that they had not shared important information with you…

However, there was one thing that you said in support of your answer which troubled me, and I wanted to give you an opportunity to comment on it. And that's when you said that the Iran-Contra independent counsel, after seven years of investigation, could not find a single witness to testify that my role in the matter was other than I described it…

GATES: Sure. I think the short answer, Senator, is: In the very short time that I had to prepare the answers to the questions that came from the committee, that it seemed, without having access to any of the documents or the records that I had seen before, that the best way to answer this current committee's question was simply to refer to the note to the response that I was invited to place in the record of the Iran-Contra report.

And the sentence that you quoted in terms of not finding any other witnesses was the central part of a three- or four-, I think, sentence response that I wrote to the report of the Iran-Contra independent counsel.

In other words, Mr. Gates refused to answer the question about his role in Iran-Contra while applying for one of the most important jobs in the United States; a job where he will take over for the train wreck left by Donald Rumsfeld to continue a war that has thus far cost hundreds of thousands of lives along with the credibility of the United States and left us a financial basket-case.

Mr. Gates assertion “that the Iran-Contra independent counsel, after seven years of investigation, could not find a single witness to testify that my role in the matter was other than I described it…” is more than a little problematic. The Independent Counsel did, indeed, find someone, namely Richard Kerr, a CIA colleague of Mr. Gates at the time. Here’s the relevant passage from the Independent Counsel’s report:
“…the evidence was clear that Gates's statements concerning his initial awareness of the diversion were wrong: Kerr brought him the information from Allen over a month earlier than Gates admitted. This would have been material because it suggested that the CIA continued to support [Oliver] North's activities without informing North's superiors or investigating. …In the end, although Gates's actions suggested an officer who was more interested in shielding his institution from criticism and in shifting the blame to the NSC than in finding out the truth, there was insufficient evidence to charge Gates with a criminal endeavor…”

Fred Fielding, White House Counsel: Mr. Fielding was appointed White House Counsel to President George W. Bush on January 9, 2007. Mr. Fielding was White House Counsel to President Ronald Reagan from 1981 to 1986, a period which saw secret Presidential “findings” that led the U.S. intelligence apparatus to illegally thwart the will of Congress with secret arms sales to Iran and illegal diversion of arms proceeds to the Nicaraguan Contras as well as millions in unaccounted for funds. The Contras were a U.S. funded mercenary army to a large degree, similar to Blackwater in Iraq. Mr. Fielding was a part of Blackwater’s legal team before becoming White House Counsel according to Legal Times. Blackwater is under criminal investigation over a Baghdad shooting by its armed guards that left 17 Iraqis dead.

During the period that Mr. Fielding was giving counsel to President Reagan, according to the International Court of Justice “the President of the United States authorized a United States government agency to lay mines in Nicaraguan ports; that in early 1984 mines were laid in or close to the ports of El Bluff, Corinto and Puerto Sandino, either in Nicaraguan internal waters or in its territorial sea or both, by persons in the pay and acting on the instructions of that agency, under the supervision and with the logistic support of United States agents; that neither before the laying of the mines, nor subsequently, did the United States Government issue any public and official warning to international shipping of the existence and location of the mines; and that personal and material injury was caused by the explosion of the mines...”

The man who admits in his autobiography, A Spy for All Seasons, that he was the mastermind behind planting mines in the ports of a country with which we were not at war is Duane R. “Dewey” Clarridge. This act was viewed as an act of terrorism by many. Mr. Clarridge was a career employee at the CIA. His major posts included chief of the Latin American Division, chief of the European Division and Chief of the Counterterrorism Center. On November 26, 1991, a federal Grand Jury indicted Mr. Clarridge on perjury charges as part of the Independent Counsel’s investigation. On December 24, 1992, George H.W. Bush pardoned Clarridge while his court case was ongoing. According to Clarridge, as reported in the Los Angeles Times, he was to be hired as a national security deputy in the Bush administration in 2001 but opposition arose (reported elsewhere as Democratic opposition).

John Negroponte: On January 5, 2007, John Negroponte was appointed Deputy Secretary of State after the President had previously appointed him to three other posts, including Director of National Intelligence, a post invented by the Bush administration. (On July 30, 2008, President Bush signed another of his notorious Executive Orders, Executive Order 13470, putting the Director of National Intelligence office and its budget under the direct control of the President of the United States, making it the “head of the Intelligence Community” and making the CIA subordinate to it.)

Negroponte was Ambassador to Honduras from 1981 to 1985. He has been widely linked to turning a blind eye to human rights abuses in Honduras during that time, overseeing a Contra staging operation in the country, and falsifying reports to Congress on the existence of death squads operating in the country.

Elliott Abrams, Deputy National Security Advisor: In the first term of Bush II, Mr. Abrams held the post of Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Near East and North African Affairs. On February 2, 2005, President George W. Bush appointed Mr. Abrams to the posts of Deputy Assistant to the President and Deputy National Security Advisor for Global Democracy Strategy.

Mr. Abrams also occupies a full chapter in the Independent Counsel’s report, Chapter 25. Mr. Abrams held numerous posts in the Reagan administration, most notably Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American affairs beginning in July 1985. He became the chief cheerleader for aid to the Contras in Nicaragua. Mr. Abrams pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor charges of withholding information in the Iran-Contra matter and admitted the following: he withheld from the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI) his knowledge of Oliver North's Contra activities. He also admitted that he withheld from HPSCI the fact that he had solicited $10 million in aid for the contras from the Sultan of Brunei. That would be the same $10 million that ended up in a private bank account and has yet to be adequately explained.

There is, of course, the typo explanation offered by Mark Belnick, a lawyer who assisted in the Senate investigation of Iran-Contra but was later himself tried in a 9-count indictment by the Manhattan District Attorney’s office for stealing millions from Tyco International while General Counsel. Mr. Belnick was acquitted. Mr. Abrams was pardoned by President George H.W. Bush on December 24, 1992.

This is just a small sampling of the Iran-Contra gang that found an equal employment opportunity waiting for them in jobs requiring background checks and security clearances in the Bush administration.

Equally troubling, Senator John McCain appears to be adopting a similar mind set. In addition to Arthur B. Culvahouse, the man who vetted Sarah Palin and read a treasure trove of classified Iran-Contra documents as White House Counsel to President Reagan, the McCain-Palin campaign web site lists another of their advisors as Robert (Bud) McFarlane. Mr. McFarlane is Chapter 1 in the Independent Counsel’s report. On March 11, 1988, Mr. McFarlane pleaded guilty to unlawfully withholding information from Congress about Oliver North’s Contra activities and foreign solicitation of funds. On December 24, 1992, President George H.W. Bush pardoned him.

What’s Bud McFarlane doing for the McCain campaign? He’s part of a “Truth Squad.” (Memo to Truth Squad: Focus your sights on Sarah Palin’s $40 Billion natural gas pipe dream that exists only on paper and in Republican convention speeches to 37 million Americans.)

McCain has also signed on Theodore (Ted) Olson to be Co-Chair of his Justice Advisory Committee to vet future Federal judges for lifetime appointments. Mr. Olson was Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Legal Counsel in the Reagan administration. During this time, he became the target of a different Independent Counsel investigation. Alexia Morrison investigated Mr. Olson for a potential coverup of Environmental Protection Agency conduct. No charges were brought. He then became President Reagan’s personal attorney representing him in the Iran-Contra matter, spending much time refusing to turn over documents. Mr. Olson is also the attorney who argued before the U.S. Supreme Court in Bush v. Gore, securing the 5 to 4 decision that put George W. Bush in the White House. Mr. Olson was appointed Solicitor General in the first term of George W. Bush.

The off balance sheet secrets that Wall Street has hidden away under this administration’s free market madness are now imploding and saddling our children with trillions more in national debt. The secrets that the Iran-Contra gang have hidden away for two decades are an equally dangerous brew, especially if they are now influencing the selection of Federal candidates and judges and creating new rogue operations to ensnare our country in more preemptive attacks.

Dark secrets and democracy cannot live side by side. The American people have waited long enough for the truth.
Pam Martens worked on Wall Street for 21 years. She has no securities position, long or short, in any company mentioned in this article. She writes on public interest issues from New Hampshire. She can be reached at pamk741@aol.com.

German Spies of WWII


World War II had been over scarcely a week when a U.S. Army DC-3 touched down outside of Washington, D.C., ferrying a top-secret German cargo. Stepping off the plane, possibly disguised as an American general, was Nazi legend Reinhard Gehlen, Hitler's master spy.

His slight physique - five feet eight, 130 pounds - belied his strategic importance to the U.S. officials who welcomed him with open arms. As chief of the Third Reich's Foreign Armies East, Gehlen had been Hitler's most senior officer on the Russian front. He had run an elaborate network of Nazi spies against the Soviet Union - the new villains in the budding Cold War.

Though he was forty-three years old, and Germany lay in ruin, Gehlen's best years were still ahead of him. He was about to make an offer that America's military and governing elites couldn't refuse: He would put his clandestine nexus of Nazi SS officers, underground fascist sympathizers, fugitive war criminals, and encyclopedic Soviet files into the service of Uncle Sam.

A shrewd survivor, Cehlen had buried his organization's plenary files on the USSR in the Austrian Alps as soon as Nazi Germany's collapse became imminent. Gehlen knew that the battle against communism would replace the war against fascist Germany as the overriding military and political goal of the capitalist West. "My view," he wrote in his memoir, "was that there would be a place even for Germany in a Europe rearmed for defense against Communism. Therefore we must set our sights on the Western powers, and give ourselves two objectives: to help defend against communist expansion and to recover and reunify Germany's lost territories." (Apparently, Gehlen's bargaining chip was so valuable, his host were willing to overlook the general's still-current ideas about Deustchland uber alles.)

Shortly after Germany's surrender to the Allies, Gehlen had descended from his Alpine retreat, audaciously turning himself over the American authorities. "I am head of the Section Foreign Armies East in German Army headquarters," he announced in his prepared speech. "I have information to give of the highest importance to your government."

"So have they all," snapped an army captain, who sent the arrogant, hot-tempered general packing to the camp at Salzburg with the rest of the Nazi prisoners. But he wouldn't stew there for very long. Within a month, with the Soviet Union demanding custody of Gehlen and his files, Hitler's spy master began to receive a stream of important American visitors.

At Fort Hunt near Washington, were an NCO butler and several white-jacketed orderlies catered to his needs, Gehlen conferred with President Truman's national security advisor, a gaggle of army intelligence generals, and Allen Dulles, a giant in America's wartime intelligence outfit, the Office of Strategic Services (OSS). Later Dulles would take the helm of the CIA.

After a year in Washington, Gehlen returned to the Father-land - not as a prisoner, but as an influential agent in America's anticommunist war of nerves with Russia. Gehlen took command of his old organization and became America's foremost intelligence source on the Soviet Union. His influence over American policy would be sweeping; and like the proverbial Faustian pact, there would be later reverberations: His exaggerated reports of Russian military strength would escalate the Cold War to dangerous peaks.

How the U.S. government came to collaborate with Gehlen and hundreds of other high-ranking Nazis is a rarely told chapter of American history. American officials, increasingly paranoid about the threat of Soviet influence in postwar Europe and around the world, found expedient soul mates in the Nazi scientists and SS officers they recruited. After all, Nazi Germany's fascists were vehemently opposed to communism, too. Invoking the exigencies of the Cold War, Dulles explained away any misgivings about hiring Gehlen: "He's on our side, and that's all that matters."

Even as the U.S. military was hunting down Nazi war criminals, other branches of the U.S. government were quietly enlisting many of the same fugitives. Project Paperclip was the U.S. War Department's code name for its secret importation of Nazi scientists, using sanitized, rewritten "records" to sneak the Germans through U.S. immigration. In Germany, many of those scientists had benefited from fatal experiments performed on prisoners at Dachau and from slave labor at other concentration camps. During the early 1980s the U.S. Department of Justice identified numerous Nazi veterans who were still living in America.

Truman's National Security Council issued classified directives sanctioning the use of former Nazi collaborators. The paper trail was subject to a massive coverup, and the complete history of America's dalliance with Nazis remains partially obscured. They may not have save Hitler's brain, as the B-movie conspiracy theory had it, but the Fuhrer's intelligence apparatus found a new host, transplanted onto America's spy and military agencies. It's ironic that when President Truman demobilized the OSS, he warned against setting up a permanent "Gestapo-like" intelligence agency, even as his administration was dotting the i's and crossing the t's on its make-work program for former and possibly not-so-former Nazis and their quislings.

Among the notorious Nazi fugitives quietly pardoned and employed by the postwar American government for intelligence work was Klaus Barbie, the SS "Butcher of Lyon." Barbie worked with Gehlen after the war and even lived for a time in the United States.

Though Gehlen promised his handlers, "on principle," that he wouldn't recruit former SS and Gestapo men, he immediately broke his official word, hiring at least six SS and Sicherheitsdienst (SD) veterans. And America's intelligence elite looked the other way.

Two of Gehlen's notorious postwar hires were Dr. Franz Alfred Six and Emil Augsburg, SS intelligence veterans involved in the mass extermination of Jews. They were both fugitive war criminals.

Franz Six was described by Adolf Eichmann as "a real eager beaver" when it came to the genocide of Jews. "The physical elimination of Eastern Jewry would deprive Jewry of its biological reserves," Six had announced at a conference on the so-called Jewish Question. He put his plan into practice in Smolensk, where his unit murdered some two hundred people in cold blood, among them "thirty-eight intellectual Jews who had tried to create unrest and discontent in the newly established Ghetto of Smolensk," he reported to headquarters.

Emil Augsberg, a staffer under SS chief Himmler, also had led a murder squad in Russia. According to his Nazi Party records, he achieved "extraordinary result…in special tasks," an SS euphemism for mass murder of Jews. Gehlen would find good use for Augsburg's specialty: overseeing assassinations behind "enemy" lines.

For the Gehlen Organization, both Six and Augsberg reactivated their Nazi spy networks in the Soviet Union and hired unemployed German intelligence veterans, many of whom were fellow fugitives. Gehlen must have realized that unofficial Allied policy favored the employment of war criminals: Augsberg was simultaneously moonlighting for several other U.S. intelligence agencies and a French government clandestine group, all the while serving in a private network of ex-SS officers.

When the U.S. Army's Counter-Intelligence Corps (CIC) caught up to Six, he was convicted of war crimes and got a twenty-year sentence. (Augsberg was luckier: the CIC didn't arrest him - it hired him.) After only four years in prison, though, Six won clemency - and U.S. permission to rejoin the Gehlen Organization as a valuable asset to Western security.

Gehlen's group not only formed the core in America's absorption of Hitler's espionage elite, it also helped midwife the newborn CIA: During the early postwar years, all of the Agency's anti-Soviet assets in Eastern Europe were managed and mastered by Gehlen. Sometimes his reports were retyped verbatim on CIA stationary and passed along to Truman. Gehlen also held great sway over NATO's intelligence and strategy. According to one estimate, the master spy generated 70 percent of NATO's information on the Soviet Union, Eastern Europe, and Europe.

In effect, the West's bulwark against the USSR was utterly dependent on information flowing from an operation run by former Nazis - and said information was often spurious, at that.

In his sobering book on America's recruitment of Nazis, Blowback, Christopher Simpson notes that Gehlen's alarmist reports helped ratchet up tensions between the United States and the Soviet Union during the Cold War: "Gehlen provided U.S. Army intelligence and later the CIA with many of the dire reports that were used to justify increased U.S. military budgets and intensified U.S./USSR hostilities," Simpson writes.

Gehlen's exaggerated reports about an imminent Soviet attack - when in fact the Russians were still licking their postwar wounds - came close to touching off several times. According to Gehlen biographer E. H. Cookridge and others, in 1948Gehlen nearly convinced the United States that the Soviets were about to launch an assault on the West. He advised that the West would be wise to strike first. later, during the 1950s, his erroneous claims that the Soviets had outpaced America in the military buildup fueled fears about the so-called missile gap, which helped stoke up anticommie feelings to feverish levels.

"The [CIA] loved Gehlen because he fed us what we wanted to hear," former CIA officer Victor Marchetti told Simpson. "We used his stuff constantly, and we fed it to everybody else: the Pentagon; the White House; the newspapers. They loved it, too. But it was hyped up Russian boogeyman junk, and it did a lot of damage to this country."

Ironically, the Org also damaged the CIA's anti-Soviet work. The Org's underground groups were so riddled with Soviet double agents, that Western intelligence was compromised for decades. John Loftus, formerly the chief prosecutor of the Justice Department's Nazi-hinting section, summed up the Soviet infiltration of anti-East Bloc groups this way: "It really shows how Soviet intelligence was able to keep communism afloat for the last seventy years."

Intentionally or not, Gehlen undermined the very "national security" that had justified his recruitment in the first place.

Which brings us to some interesting, yet unsubstantiated, speculation. Some researchers proposed that Hitler's haughty spy master had a plan B, an ulterior motive beyond the personal survival instinct and rabid anticommunism. Conspiracy researcher Carl Oglesby contends that Gehlen's postwar organization operated as a cover for the Odessa, an international underground set up by deputy fuhrer Martin Bormann to preserve the defeated Nazi Reich. Oglesby calls Gehlen's group "by far the most audacious, most critical, and most essential part of the entire Odessa undertaking." Military intelligence historian (and espionage veteran) Colonel William Corson seconds this notion.

The Gehlen Org, Oglesby argues, provided a have for fleeing Odessa members by putting them on the American intelligence payroll - a brilliant gambit. More than a few of Gehlen's operatives were indeed Odessa members.

Oglesby's evidence is curious, if not entirely convincing. A declassified CIA document from the 1970s reports that while he was in a U.S. Army VIP prison camp in Wiesbaden, "Gehlen sought and received approval" for his deal with the Americans from Hitler's appointed successor, Admiral Karl Doenitz. "The German chain of command was still in effect," Oglesby concludes, "and it approved of what Gehlen was doing with the Americans."

Whether or not the Gehlen Org was a diversion to preserve an underground Nazi empire is an open question. But Gehlen did manage to attain his goal of splitting away from U.S. intelligence to serve the fledgling West German government. Gehlen's Org continues to live on, as Germany's BND intelligence service.

The Org's legacy also survives in America. The forty-year defense buildup that helped transform America into the world's largest debtor nation, as well as the ongoing exploits of Gehlen's godchild, the CIA, in the expedient realms of political assassination, propaganda, and covert operations certainly owe a debt to Hitler's master spy, and the men who signed him up to "our side."


Saturday, September 27, 2008

Who is Henry Paulson?

" ... In 1970 ... Paulson entered the Nixon administration, working first as staff assistant to the assistant secretary of defense. In 1972-73, Paulson worked as office assistant to John Erlichman, assistant to the president for domestic affairs. Erlichman was one of the key figures involved in organizing President Richard Nixon’s notorious “plumbers” unit that carried out illegal covert operations against the president’s political opponents, including espionage, blackmail, and revenge. ... "

By Tom Eley
23 September 2008

The plan to rescue the US financial industry arrogates virtually unlimited money and power over the financial affairs of the state to the office of Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson. Paulson is a figure with a long history of intimate connections to the political and financial elite.

In 1970, fresh from the Masters program of the Harvard Business School, Paulson entered the Nixon administration, working first as staff assistant to the assistant secretary of defense. In 1972-73, Paulson worked as office assistant to John Erlichman, assistant to the president for domestic affairs. Erlichman was one of the key figures involved in organizing President Richard Nixon’s notorious “plumbers” unit that carried out illegal covert operations against the president’s political opponents, including espionage, blackmail, and revenge. Ehlichman resigned in 1973, and in 1975 he was convicted of obstruction of justice, perjury, and conspiracy, and was imprisoned for 18 months.

Utilizing his connections, Paulson went to work for Goldman Sachs in 1974. In a 2007 feature, the British newspaper the Guardian wrote, “Not only was he well connected enough to get the job [in the Nixon White House], but well connected enough to resign in the thick of the Watergate scandal without ever getting caught up in the fallout. He went straight to Goldman back home in Illinois.”

Paulson rose through the ranks of Goldman Sachs, becoming a partner in 1982, co-head of investment banking in 1990, chief operating officer in 1994. In 1998 he forced out his co-chairman Jon Corzine “in what amounted to a coup,” according to New York Times economics correspondent Floyd Norris, and took over the post of CEO.

Goldman Sachs is perhaps the single best-connected Wall Street firm. Its executives routinely go in and out of top government posts. Corzine went on to become US senator from New Jersey and is now the state’s governor. Corzine’s predecessor, Stephen Friedman, served in the Bush administration as assistant to the president for economic policy and as chairman of the National Economic Council (NEC). Friedman’s predecessor as Goldman Sachs CEO, Robert Rubin, served as chairman of the NEC and later treasury secretary under Bill Clinton.

Agence France Press, in a 2006 article on Paulson’s appointment, “Has Goldman Sachs Taken Over the Bush Administration?” noted that, in addition to Paulson, “[t]he president’s chief of staff, Josh Bolten, and the chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, Jeffery Reuben, are Goldman alumni.”

“But the flow goes both ways,” the article continued, “Goldman recently hired Robert Zoellick, who stepped down as the US deputy secretary of state, and Faryar Shirzad, who worked as one of Bush’s national security advisors.”

Prior to being selected as treasury secretary, Paulson was a major individual campaign contributor to Republican candidates, giving over $336,000 of his own money between 1998 and 2006.

Since taking office, Paulson has overseen the destruction of three of Goldman Sachs’ rivals. In March, Paulson helped arrange the fire sale of Bear Stearns to JPMorgan Chase. Then, a little more than a week ago, he allowed Lehman Brothers to collapse, while simultaneously organizing the absorption of Merrill Lynch by Bank of America. This left only Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley as major investment banks, both of which were converted on Sunday into bank holding companies, a move that effectively ended the existence of the investment bank as a distinct economic form.

In the months leading up to his proposed $700 billion bailout of the financial industry, Paulson had already used his office to dole out hundreds of billions of dollars. After his July 2008 proposal for $70 billion to resolve the insolvency of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac failed, Paulson organized the government takeover of the two mortgage-lending giants for an immediate $200 billion price tag, while making the government potentially liable for hundreds of billions more in bad debt. He then organized a federal purchase of an 80 percent stake in the giant insurer American International Group (AIG) at a cost of $85 billion.

These bailouts have been designed to prevent a chain reaction collapse of the world economy, but more importantly they aimed to insulate and even reward the wealthy shareholders, like Paulson, primarily responsible for the financial collapse.

Paulson bears a considerable amount of personal responsibility for the crisis.

Paulson, according to a celebratory 2006 BusinessWeek article entitled “Mr. Risk Goes to Washington,” was “one of the key architects of a more daring Wall Street, where securities firms are taking greater and greater chances in their pursuit of profits.” Under Paulson’s watch, that meant “taking on more debt: $100 billion in long-term debt in 2005, compared with about $20 billion in 1999. It means placing big bets on all sorts of exotic derivatives and other securities.”

According to the International Herald Tribune, Paulson “was one of the first Wall Street leaders to recognize how drastically investment banks could enhance their profitability by betting with their own capital instead of acting as mere intermediaries.” Paulson “stubbornly assert[ed] Goldman’s right to invest in, advise on and finance deals, regardless of potential conflicts.”

Paulson then handsomely benefited from the speculative boom. This wealth was based on financial manipulation and did nothing to create real value in the economy. On the contrary, the extraordinary enrichment of individuals like Paulson was the corollary to the dismantling of the real economy, the bankrupting of the government, and the impoverishment of masses the world over.

Paulson was compensated to the tune of $30 million in 2004 and took home $37 million in 2005. In his career at Goldman Sachs he built up a personal net worth of over $700 million, according to estimates.

After Paulson’s ascension to the treasury, his colleagues at Goldman Sachs carried on the bonanza. At the end of 2006, Paulson’s successor Lloyd Blankfein was handed over a $53.4 million year-end bonus, while 11 other Goldman Sachs executives raked in $150 million in year-end bonuses combined. That year, the top investment firms Goldman Sacks, Morgan Stanley, Merrill Lynch, Lehman Brothers, and Bear Stearns handed out $36 billion in bonuses. At the end of 2007, the executives of the same firms, excepting Merrill, were handed another $30 billion.


SPORTS: "I'm a Fascist," says AC Milan Star Christian Abbiati

ALSO SEE: "Risieria San Sabba" AND "Italian Minister Pays Homage to Fascist Troops" AND "Homage to Mussolini Troops Fans Italy Fascist Row"

The ultimate goal of the far-right for the past 80 years, since Mussolini conceived of fascism, has been open fascist rule. Presumably, a majority of Americans will, in time, speak unabashedly of their allegiance to fascism. Can't happen here ? Recently, we've had Sarah Palin quoting domestic Nazi Westbrook Pegler before a national audience at a convention with the theme of America First, an allusion to a movement that gave the Germans a free pass to engage in world conquest, code words for totalitarianism. Italy, the uncubator of fascism, may be ahead of the United States, but give it a few more years and fascists stateside will have open rule, too, and outbursts like this will be commonplace. We're almost there ... - AC

John Hooper in Rome
The Guardian
Saturday September 27 2008

AC Milan Goalkeeper Christian Abbiati

One of Silvio Berlusconi's players at AC Milan has declared he is a fascist. Christian Abbiati, 31, an Italian international, said: "I am not ashamed to proclaim my political beliefs. I share [the] ideals of fascism, such as the fatherland and the values of the Catholic religion."

The goalkeeper's remarks, published today in Sportweek magazine, come amid debate over Italy's fascist past and rightwing present under the leadership of AC Milan's billionaire chairman. The minority partner in Berlusconi's parliamentary alliance, the Freedom People, is a party spun out of the country's neo-fascist movement. Some members remain unabashed apologists for the dictatorship of Benito Mussolini.

The defence minister, Ignazio La Russa, sparked a row this month after he paid tribute to Italian soldiers who fought alongside German troops in the second world war. His comments came after the mayor of Rome, Gianno Alemanno, told a magazine he did not consider fascism an "absolute evil". Berlusconi dodged a question on his own views, replying: "I think only of working to resolve the problems of the Italian people."


Friday, September 26, 2008

USAID, key weapon in dirty war on Latin America

September 26, 2008

IN a statement drafted in scrupulously selected terms and circulated with exceptional discretion, the so-called U.S. Aid for International Development (USAID) has publicly confessed to having squandered taxpayers’ money in its dirty war on Cuba.

It did so in the face of warnings by certain scandalized congress members and the embarrassing revelations of audits related to its counterrevolutionary groups regaled with tens of millions from its enormous budget.

The USAID is the same U.S. federal agency charged with fomenting subversion and espionage in Cuba to the tune of tens of millions, and which the Bush administration has just proposed to the island as the intermediary in a hypocritical and reduced offer of humanitarian aid in the wake of Hurricanes Gustav and Ike.

With unusual candor, carefully calibrated by its legal advisers, the USAID has finally acknowledged that successive audits of its Cuba Program on the part of the Government Accountability Office (GAO) in 2006 and its own Office of Inspector General (OIG) in 2007 pointed to serious mismanagement of its subsidies.

The USAID text, dated July 18 and signed by Stephen Driesler, deputy administrative assistant, confirms the total cynicism of this privileged apparatus in the dirty war being waged by the U.S. administration not only on Cuba, but on Latin America as a whole.

While it acknowledges its total irresponsibility in managing public funds supposedly directed to international humanitarian aid, it also attempts to conceal the criminal activities of many CIA operatives.

The document states, in general, that auditors found internal control problems both in USAID’s handling of subsidies and the capacity of the subsidiaries.

Of course, it does not mention that the scandal of successive cases of corruption in that organization –Frank Calzón alone, from the Center for a Free Cuba, was responsible for the disappearance of $500,000 – was so extensive that it prompted the untimely exit of the aptly named Adolfo Franco, top official for Latin America, and his right-hand man for Cuba, David Mutchler, both involved up to their necks in the fraud.

In noting how the Democracy Support Group (GAD) has just acknowledged that one of its employees used a credit card belonging to this pseudo-NGO for personal expenses, the statement is trying to minimize the extension of the fraud attributed to this beneficiary of its generosity.

Likewise, it avoids any reference to Freedom House, one of its most strategic subsidiaries, which taught Calzón the art of disappearing funds. A CIA and State Department front, Freedom House is famous for having sustained cover operations in Central America for many years, against the Sandinista government of Nicaragua, as well as backing the ARENA Party in El Salvador and his death squads.


USAID’s public confession, put out for fear of some scrupulous congress member having an attack of nerves, leads one to notice more and more clearly how this agency is combining its actions throughout Latin America with the rest of imperial network of interference.

Dozens of its agents operate in the shadow of right-wing organizations, invented according to circumstances and sponsored by the International Republican Institute (IRI), the National Democratic Institute (NDI), Freedom House itself and a whole series of fronts, always under CIA directives.

Created in 1961 with apparently legitimate ends, the USAID is officially dependent on the State Department, with a budget of $850 million per annum.

It currently has agents in 16 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean where it is operating, and many other strategic operations in various parts of the world.

In Haiti, the USAID is among a number of U.S. agencies that organized, directed and funded Haitian political organizations to provoke the kidnapping and grotesque eviction of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide.

In Venezuela, the agency was scandalously active in backing and financing the sectors responsible for the coup of April 11, 2002.

The uninterrupted squandering of the funds of USAID and its subsidiaries with coup-inspired operations is already in excess of $15 million, via the funding of hundreds of groups and mini-groups aligned with the U.S. embassy.

In Bolivia, the USAID program is focused on the country’s Balkanization and the funding of violent activities against the authority of the president. A few weeks ago, various farmers’ federations and five municipalities in the Cochabamba region, expelled agents from this organization after exposing their involvement in plotting a coup d’état.


The USAID has an extremely long history in Bolivia that illustrates the total falsity of its humanitarian pretensions.

In 1971, the CIA organized an assassination attempt on President Fidel Castro, taking advantage of the Cuban leader’s visit to Chile. This plot was put in the charge of an old buddy, Antonio Veciana.

This Alpha 66 terrorist, an accomplice in the Kennedy assassination, was then working in Bolivia, in the U.S. embassy as a USAID official.

Among the most repellent pages in the history of that U.S. organization in Latin America, it should be recalled how Dan Anthony Mitrione, a U.S. instructor in torture techniques, turned up in Uruguay with USAID credentials at the end of the 70s to train police for a secret program directed at destroying left-wing forces in all of Latin America.

By confessing that it lost control of its finances some time ago, the USAID is covering up the odious nature of the sum of its activities. Faithful executor of CIA plots, fervent collaborator in the secret plans of the State Department, the U.S. development agency is one of the empire’s principal weapons in maintaining its dominion over what it has been used to designating as its backyard.

Until the peoples of the continent, like in Cochabamba, decided that the times of interference were over.


Thursday, September 25, 2008

Bush aides tied to talks on CIA interrogations

" ... the CIA began using harsh interrogation methods weeks before the Justice Department formally authorized the interrogation program in a secret memo dated Aug. 1, 2002. ... "

By Mark Mazzetti
International Herald Tribune
September 25, 2008

WASHINGTON: Senior White House officials played a central role in deliberations in the spring of 2002 about whether the Central Intelligence Agency could legally use harsh interrogation techniques while questioning an operative of Al Qaeda, Abu Zubaydah, according to newly released documents.

In meetings during that period, the officials debated specific interrogation methods that the CIA had proposed to use on Qaeda operatives held at secret prisons overseas, the documents show.

The meetings were led by Condoleezza Rice, then the national security adviser, and attended by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Attorney General John Ashcroft and other top administration officials.

The documents provide new details about the still-murky early months of the CIA's detention program, when the agency began using a set of harsh interrogation techniques weeks before the Justice Department issued a written legal opinion in August 2002 authorizing their use. Congressional investigators have long tried to determine exactly who authorized these techniques before the legal opinion was completed.

The documents are a list of answers provided by Rice and John Bellinger 3rd, the former top lawyer at the National Security Council, to detailed questions by the Senate Armed Services Committee, which is investigating the abuse of detainees in U.S. custody. Senator Carl Levin, the committee chairman, provided the documents to The New York Times, whose global edition is the International Herald Tribune.

ABC News first reported on the White House meetings in a broadcast earlier this year. Rice's answers to the questions shed some light on the internal deliberations among senior officials but do not present a clear picture of the positions taken by participants in the debate.

Some of the techniques proposed by the CIA - including waterboarding, which induces a feeling of drowning - came from a program used by the Pentagon to train U.S. pilots to withstand the rigors of captivity.

"I recall being told that U.S. military personnel were subjected in training to certain physical and psychological interrogation techniques and that these techniques had been deemed not to cause significant physical or psychological harm," Rice, now secretary of state, wrote in response to one question.

Still, Rice wrote that she had personally asked Ashcroft to review the program and "advise NSC principals whether the program was lawful."

Gordon Johndroe, a White House spokesman, declined to comment on which officials attended the meetings in 2002. He said that Vice President Dick Cheney often attended meetings of the National Security Council's principals committee, a group that advises the president on national security.

The new documents do not specify dates for the White House meetings. Current and former officials have said that the CIA began using harsh interrogation methods weeks before the Justice Department formally authorized the interrogation program in a secret memo dated Aug. 1, 2002.

The officials said Justice Department lawyers gave oral guidance to the CIA before the secret memo was completed. But at one point during the summer of 2002, current and former intelligence officials have said, CIA lawyers ordered that the use of the harsh techniques be suspended until they were formally authorized by the Justice Department.

Bellinger, the former National Security Council legal adviser, wrote in a separate document released Wednesday that during the White House meetings, Justice Department lawyers frequently issued oral guidance to the CIA about the interrogation program. One who did was John Yoo, the principal author of the August 2002 memo, Bellinger said.


Coca-Cola & the Nazis/British Comedian Publicizes Coke's Nazi Past


Sometimes during one of the many reversal of fortune so characteristic for the North African theater of war, German troops on the offensive stumbled across a cache of Coca-Cola left behind by retreating Allied troops. But the welcome find came with a snag and thirsty throats stayed dry despite the heat: The enemy had forgotten to leave some ice as well, and since every German soldier knew that a bottle of Coca-Cola had to be consumed eiskalt, the booty remained worthless unless somebody came up with another method of refrigeration under the scorching African sun.

Luftwaffe-pilots stationed nearby eventually provided an ingenious answer to this let-down by wrapping wet towels around the bottles and tying them to the wings of their Messerschmidts 109F before take off. Once the fighters were airborne, evaporation and the lower temperature of higher altitudes cooled the precious load down. The subsequent scene upon the pilots' return to base must have been irresistible: The pilots hopped out of their planes, plucked ice- cold Coca-Colas from the wings, opened them and then let the brown juice run down their throats to celebrate the thirsty return from another successful mission.

So much for the commercial potential of this image. Once the vision wears off, however, another question demands an answer. Would anybody have suspected that this harmless war-anecdote exemplifies the Coca-Cola Company's dual roles during the Second World War? Leaving aside the accidental aspect of this incident in the North African desert, it is still a fact that the soft drinks giant from Atlanta, Georgia collaborated with the Nazi-regime throughout its reign from 1933 to 1945 and sold countless millions of bottled beverages to Hitler's Germany.

Unfortunately, this in itself seems neither surprising nor exciting. Cooperation if not outright collaboration with the Nazis was the rule for many transnational corporations with a stake in Germany and has been the subject of extensive research. Next to Standard Oil and I.G. Farben, for instance, Coke's story of peddling soda to opposing trenches appears tame.

The immorality of bottling Coca-Cola for the Nazis stands in no relation to STP's selling of aviation fuel to the German war machine, nor can it overshadow the oil- producer's cozy wartime relationship with Germany's chemical giant I.G. Farben. Simply put, Coca-Cola's infamous deeds were not the Second World War's only ones, nor were they particularly sinister. After all, Coke cannot be used to fly airplanes or make bombs.

The Coca-Cola Company's tale of questionable wartime conduct would thus be comparatively insignificant and not worth the effort of dwelling upon, were it not for the fact that its product, namely Coca-Cola, was and is a luxuary item whose commercial success is inseparably tied to a public image created through advertising. Like all other companies in the business of selling goods nobody really needs, the Coca-Cola Company's advertisements must reflect the desires of the times in order to defend its share of the mass-market. How Coca- Cola chose to define itself through advertising was crucial to its success during the war years in the United States and is the story of the previous chapter. Thanks to a relentless barrage of war-supportive advertising built upon the Company's credo that "It isn't what a product is, but what it does that interests us," Coca-Cola after December 1941 convinced Americans at the front and at home that drinking Coca-Cola was somehow synonimous with fighting against the enemies of freedom and democracy. Coke wanted to be understood as a morale- booster for the American effort.

There was a moral price attached to this sort of advertising, because Coca-Cola's managers failed to couple the new patriotic image with a correspondent curbing of its contradictory activities in Germany, the company's second biggest market. While Coke-drinking GI's and other U.S. citizens had their carbonated soft-drink sweetened with patriotic statements like the 1943 slogan "Universal Symbol of the American way of Life," German Coca-Cola men had been busy quenching the thirst of the Third Reich and its conquered territories for years. To say the least, catchwords like Universal and American Way of Life were at odds with the Nazis' pursuit of their own "universalist" goals.

However, for the Coca-Cola GmbH (Inc.) odds existed in order to be overcome. While establishing itself in Germany, a politically difficult, but potentially rewarding market of seventy million people, the company solved an overwhelming number of problems: In defiance of strong anti-American sentiments within the turbulent Weimar Republic, Coca-Cola entered the country at the onset of the Great Depresion in 1929. Despite the bad timing for launching a consumer product, Coca-Cola overcame the intense competition of Germany's breweries and cola-imitators, learned to combine its interests with those of Germany's Nazi-rulers after 1933 in an overall harmonic symbiosis and thus even managed the seemingly impossible task of surviving the war intact as an American-owned company.

What saved the Coca-Cola GmbH from being crushed by Germany's fascist rulers was that its corporate structure and advertising philosophy came naturally close to the Nazis' totalitarian ideas of a brave new world. The case of Coca-Cola thus goes beyond mere collaboration: before Hitler decreed the Principle of Leadership (Fuehreprinzip) in industry, which replaced collective bargaining by handing dictatorial powers to company directors, the Coca-Cola GmbH was already dominated by its own authoritarian leader.

Company and government interests subsequently overlapped: the Nazis regarded mass-production and mass-consumption as crucial building blocks of their new society. Coca-Cola's modern means of producing a uniform product could have only impressed them. Similar things can be said about Coke's advertising strategy, which again reflected values central to the National-Socialist society. Through the same modern channels that the Nazis used for propaganda; namely film, radio, mass- publications, and sports events, Coca-Cola appealed, among others, to workers, soldiers, and automobilists, target groups that are significant insofar as they epitomized the Nazis' idea of modernity.

7X and Merchandise #5 aside, these were the true secret ingredients for Coca-Cola's German success, fully confirmed by the company's sales figures: In the ten year period spanning 1929 and 1939, the company's annual sales of cases of beverage soared from zero to a staggering four million. Even during the war's difficult late stages the company didn't falter; in 1944 the company still produced a respectable two million cases of bottled beverages, selling them to a country that was being rapidly reduced to rubble.

Back in 1929, these achievements seemed all but impossible. Germany between the wars was a humiliated and revanchist country. Public sentiments for the World War I victor nation USA were ambiguous at best as Dan Diner's excellent essay on the history of anti-Americanism in Germany points out. Despite an undeniable trend toward the "`Americanization' of the economy, technology and culture," Germany was still seething with increasingly entrenched anti- American sentiments," a situation not conducive to the high profile marketing of American brands.

Fears of U.S. economic domination, a country perceived as both ultra-capitalist and culturally inferior, encompassed the whole of the political spectrum. Indeed, next to the desire to tear down the embattled republic, virulent anti-Americanism may have been the only characteristic shared by the many political extremists. Communist Reichstag member Clara Zetkin's ad hoc rejection of the Dawes Plan in 1923 provides an illustrative example for the enthusiastic response to anti- American rhetoric, for it was met by the unusual sound of standing ovations from the gentlemen ideologically most opposed to Communism, the National-Socialists. Zetkin began her impromptu speech by claiming that America was bent upon turning Germany into "a colonized country." "The United States," she continued, "represents sharp-eyed and reckless capitalists without any of the old traditions that still sometimes constrain capitalism in Europe, so that they would be the last to trip over the thin thread of moral qualms. No, [the U.S. wants] to capture the German labor force with American capital, [make] cheap labor [out of them] and to thus turn Germany into a colony of the United States. No illusions about this fact!"

Since such rhetoric met with the approval of politicians of all colors, it seems not too far-fetched to argue that the general public cannot have been too warm about the United States either. Quite to the contrary: America, as David Large sums it up, became the object of a revival of "a set of deprecatory images [...] because doing so afforded [Germans] a measure of self-respect at a time of great inner doubt." Large argues that, true to a tradition that continues to this day "America [became] a kind of composite symbol for all the things that Germans [found] unpalatable in their own country, which [was], after all, the most Americanized in Europe."

Given such hostile circumstances, the Company had no illusions that it had to distance Coca-Cola from its American roots, were the Coca-Colonization of Germany to be successful. One cannot help but note that this initial strategy departed radically from the marketing ploys of the years after 1945, when, as Ralph Willett points out "Coca-Cola [came] to symbolize America and American culture: [...] the identification was already so strong by 1948 that when non- Americans thought of democracy, it was claimed, they instantly called to mind Coca-Cola."

The post-war Americanized image stands in complete contrast to the pre-war situation, a factor which helps account for the inability of Germans to recall Coke's presence prior to the war. Indeed, Coca-Cola's original German marketing strategy so successfully disassociated the drink from its Atlanta roots that Hans Dieter Schaefer felt compelled to note six decades later "It is characteristic for the state of our mind that we associate Coca-Cola only with the years of the Wirtschaftswunder (economic miracle)."

But the failure to remember once the clock struck "Stunde Null" (zero hour) cannot alter the facts of history. Coke's German business began with Ray Rivington Powers in 1929. The expatriate American set up shop in the City of Essen in the Ruhrgebiet, Germany's industrial heartland "where the thirst of workers would need quenching." He had a difficult stand there: Not only did Powers face the powerful competition of cola-imitators Sinalco and Afri-Cola, he also had to convince Germans that Coca-Cola was a tasty alternative to their beer-drinking habits. This meant hard work. Hubert Strauf, an advertising man in the service of Powers, described how this eccentric six and a half feet tall man who had allegedly once claimed to "have done everything in the world but murder," "filled the first bottles himself with the help of just one worker. With him he then drove to the Ruhr to peddle the first bottles of Coca-Cola in Germany himself - the American with his beautiful Marengo topcoat and stiff hat, a hulking fellow who called out with a thick Southern accent: `Drinken Coca-Cola, kostlich und erfrescht.'(which approximately means: `Drink Coca-Cola, delicious and refreshing')"

To properly introduce Coca-Cola in grammatically correct German, Powers printed up leaflets titled "Was ist Coca-Cola?" and had them distributed at sporting events and on the tables of restaurants in and around Essen. "When distraught proprietors threw them out, the Coke men doggedly replaced them," reports Mark Pendergrast and continues that "Many who picked up the folder expected to find an analysis of the ingredients and were angered when it simply said that Coke was a refreshing drink, but the endless repetition of the product name had its intended effect." The effect was that an increasing number of retailers carried Coca-Cola, most of them stashed beneath beer bottles so as not to anger the breweries that owned most restaurants and did not like potential competitors like Coca-Cola.

Thanks to the vigorous targeting of industrial workers with Hubert Strauf's slogan to "Mach doch mal Pause" (Come on, take a break) apparently derived from its U.S. pendant "The pause that refreshes" and a lot of hard work to open new outlets, Coca-Cola's annual sales rose to 111.000 cases four years later (see appendix). The Company had gained a small, but respectable foothold by the time the crucial year of 1933 came around.

It cannot be overemphasized, however, that a big portion of this success must be attributed to what the Coca- Cola ads failed to mention: Coke's U.S. roots. The Company had successfully established itself as a German brand in the unconscious mind of the soda-drinking public. The following anecdote shows just how successful the Company was in this respect: When a group of German prisoners of war debarked in Hoboken, New Jersey, in early 1945, one of the first things that caught their eyes was a large Coca-Cola sign.

This prompted excitement among the Germans and when one of the guards demanded an explanation for their behaviour, he received the answer: "We are surprised that you have Coca- Cola here too."

The twelve years separating 1933 from the end of the war provide an explanation for Coca-Cola's boom. One year after 1933, Coke's output had already more than doubled to 234,000 cases. This was no coincidence.

There were striking parallels between the Coca-Cola GmbH and the nation at large. Firstly, the business of Coca-Cola and the Reich was guided by similar-minded (and similar-looking) people: In Coke's case, the name of the man now in charge was Max Keith (pronounced Kite). According to the testimony of former employees, Keith's charisma and uncompromising nature invited more than one analogy to the Adolf Hitler. "He was a born leader and very charismatic," claims one. "You liked to work for him although he was almost a slave driver . . . . Oh, yes, I was scared of him. We all were, even aides who were older." Still, so the witness concludes, most of his followers "would have died for this man." Keith's own words definitely betray the fanatic in him: "I was full of activity and enthusiasm," he reported in 1963, "and the thing which then took possesion of all that was in me and which . . . has never lost its hold on me, was Coca-Cola. From then on and to all eternity, I was tied to this product for better and for worse."

It was mostly for the better that Keith was tied to Coke, because, as he himself recognized, "time marched with us." To quote Felix Gilbert, "At the time the Nazis took over, recovery from the recession was beginning" and Germany was economically prospering. The Nazis, through a massive public works system, which included "the construction of the systems of Autobahns, and . . . providing industry with armament contracts," were determined to keep the upward swing going and Germans content.

Economic prosperity, however, as catchwords like public works and infrastructure programs reveal, also meant the continued Americanization of Germany's economy under Hitler. Indeed, the dictator himself seems to have welcomed America's efficient methods of production. Hitler was, for instance, a proponent of mass-consumption, as shown by his statement from September 1941: "Frugality is the enemy of progress. Therein we we are similar to the Americans, that we are fastidious." Detlev Peukert underlines Hitler's pro- American stance, arguing that, not unlike the U.S., the Third Reich consciously aimed to represent "the dawning of the new achievement-orientated consumer society based on the nuclear family, upward mobility, mass media, leisure and an interventionist welfare state [. . .]."

The Nazis were thus not anti-modernists, but, according to Peukert, "Agrarian romanticism notwithstanding, [. . .] fostered enthusiasm for modern technology, not only because it needed it as part of its armoury for conquering Lebensraum, but also because the toughness, frictionless functionality and efficiency of the machine matched the ideal of the fighter and the soldier, the man hard as Krupp steel." Interestingly, Peukert assumes that the man "hard as Krupp steel" liked to quench his thirst with Coca-Cola, for in the same paragraph he mentions that "Even Coca-Cola consumption rose significantly in Germany in the thirties."

In other words, that Coca-Cola had tied its fortunes to the thirst of industrial workers paid out now, for the increasingly busy workers needed the pause that refreshed more than ever. The destruction of the trade unions resulted in longer working hours and Coke's chairman Max Keith himself recognized that "The requirements of the people were much higher than in the past . . . . They had to work harder, had to work faster, the technical equipment they had to handle required soberness." What soda could do a better job than a deliciously refreshing Coca-Cola?

Beside its industrial connection, modernization and newfound wealth opened additional avenues for Coke: refrigeration steadily invaded German households throughout the thirties which made home-consumption possible, whereas the massive infrastructure programs and the ensuing infatuation with the automobile allowed Coke to sell its products along Germany's vast network of new highways (see appendix). With the Company's dependency on restaurants removed, expansion proved limitless.

Coca-Cola's success was thus based on the needs of a modernizing and economically prospering totalitarian state. It was a stroke of luck that for strategy-purposes the company could consult with the Atlanta headquarters and imitate some of the New Deal ad campaigns pertinent to the German experience. This, however, is where the analogies with the United States must end, for it should be emphasized that neither Germany nor the Coca-Cola GmbH in Essen were turning distincly American under the Nazis. Far from it, Nazi- ideology thrived on a xenophobia that did not spare the U.S. and while Hitler might have been jealous of the efficieny of the U.S. economy, he was nevertheless rabidly anti-American in all other respects.

He openly described the United States as a "deeply lazy country full of racial problems and social inequities. . .", stating that his "feelings for America are full of hatred and antipathy; half Jewish, half negro and everything based on the dollar . . . Americans have the brain of a chicken. This land is a house of cards with an unequal standard of living. Americans live like swines, even if in a very luxurious pigsty."

During the 21 years of its existence in Germany, the producers of Coca-Cola could have easily constructed a mammouth concern. . . . with its own bottling plants, packaging, ice box producers, its own storage spaces, advertising companies and printing presses. They didn't do so but instead passed all contracts along to independent industries.

But Coke was not above moving behind the scenes and handing out bribes when their policy of limited greed failed to calm down xenophobic nazi-officials. Thus was the case when Hermann Goering in 1936 introduced a Four-Year Plan, which restricted imports to a bare minimum in order to make Germany self-sufficient and ready for war. When Coke's main lawyer could not convince the authorities that Coca-Cola was a German business which deserved government support, the company announced that it would from now on produce all of the concentrate's elements, with the exception of Merchandise No.5 and 7X, within Germany. When even this show of goodwill did not suffice to sway the government into granting an import exemption, the company turned to a frantic pulling of strings behind the scenes, which seems to have included a bribe for Goering. Coca-Cola gained the needed import license and saved itself from impending doom.

Coke's readiness to strike deals points to the second pillar of Coke's survival strategy which had a lot to do with the leadership of Max Keith, "the quintessential Coca-Cola man and Nazi-collaborator." Simply put, his strategy was to please the Nazis whenever possible and through whatever means necessary.

An abundance of examples shows how Coke's advertising supported the Third Reich. Hans Dieter Schaefer reports, for instance, that after the aggressive news broadcast by the Reichsrundfunk, silly advertising jingles propagating the evangelium of refreshment were next. Coke ads deliberately sought the close contact to the men in power. This meant that when the cover of a magazine sported a picture of the Fuehrer, chances were good that a Coke advertisement would grace the back of that cover. Even when visitors streamed into the Sportpalast to listen to one of Dr. Goebbels' infamous speeches, they had to pass by a large billboard urging them to drink "Coca-Cola eiskalt."

Max Keith left out no opportunity to ingratiate himself with Germany's leaders. Coca-Cola was one of the three official beverage sponsors with a Getraenkedienst (beverage service) at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin, and thus participated in an event the Nazis deliberately exploited to celebrate Germany's return to power and status. Moreover, to quote Ralph Willett, "By servicing the Olympices, Coca-Cola associated itself with the modernity of media technology, in the form of microphones, transmitter vans, and cameras for (respectively) radio broadcasts [. . .]. It was true that "the emphasis on sport [. . .] was in line with curent cultural ideology epitomized by the Berlin Olympics." Athletic competition was a Nazi ideal and the Coca-Cola GmbH cashed in heavily on this infatuation by becoming one of the biggest sponsors of sports events, most notably the annual Deutschlandrundfahrt (National Bycicle Championships) and the Soccer Cup.

In 1937, Keith succeeded in taking Coca-Cola literally into the heart of nazism. The occasion was the Reichsausstellung Schaffendes Volk, or Reich "A Working People" Exhibit. In this industrial exhibition reserved to the companies most loyal to the new order, the Coca-Cola GmbH, according to Mark Pendergrast, set up a functioning bottling plant, with a "miniature train carting Kinder beneath it, [. . .] at the very center of the fair, adjacent to the Propaganda Office."

The strategy of direct association with Nazi-leaders or of lending support to events propagandized by nazi-ideology sent a powerful subliminal message to both consumers and government by signaling that Coca-Cola was on Germany's side. Sometimes, however, it took a little more than that and it is interesting to note the circumstances under which Coca- Cola transgressed the boundaries of political neutrality in a more open show of support of the Nazis.

A flagrant example for such a transgression can be found in the October 1938 issue of the army-magazine Die Wehrmacht printed up to celebrate the annexation of the Sudetenland. In this (unfortunately unavailable) ad, Hans- Dieter Schaefer reports that a hand holds out a Coke bottle in front of a world map underlined by the caption Ja, Coca-Cola hat Weltruf (Yes, Coca-Cola enjoys international reputation) that goes on stating that `of the forty million automobilists from all over the world increasing attention is demanded,' which is the reason why they 'like to take advantage of the "pause that refreshes."' Schaefer quite correctly remarks that "this ad aimed at German soldiers and mixed a global point of view with a technologic-athletic perspective", but fails to point out the cynical effect of such a global point of view in a magazine dedicated to the glorification of Germany's recent annexations.

That such aggressive advertisements had become necessary was in part the result of the slanderous activities of Karl Flach, the boss of Afri-Cola. Intent on driving out the foreign competitor, Flach in 1936 began circulating flyers depicting Coca-Cola bottle caps from the U.S. with Hebrew inscriptions.

Although the inscriptions were nothing but an indication that Coke was kosher, the flyers claimed to prove that Coca-Cola was a Jewish company.

The damage was terrific and never quite contained as both the flyers and the rumor of Coke's Jewish owners continued to circulate over the years.

However, sales figures prove that most of the impact was only temporary and due to the bad publicity generated when, as Mark Pendergrast rightly asserts, "Nazi Party Headquarters hastily canceled their orders."

Pendergrast seems to be wrong, however, when he claims that "the entire business was in jeopardy" because the Atlanta headquarters had forbidden Keith "to print defensive literature." If Keith had been given such an order, he disregarded it, for he knew just like Coke's company lawyer Walter Oppenhof that nobody outside Germany "could have any conception" of the scope of the problem. Coca-Cola thus did attempt to regain status in the eyes of Germany's rulers by placing several ads denouncing the anti-semitic accusations in the Stuermer, the official Nazi publication renowned for its vicious attacks against Jews. These ads did not go unnoticed in the United States and produced angry headlines claiming that "Coca-Cola Finances Hitler."

It seems as if the only principle that the Coca-Cola GmbH never betrayed in its history of wheeling and dealing under the Nazis was the product itself.

The company fought the Nazi-bureaucracy tooth and nail to keep Coca-Cola unchanged after the Ministry of Economics in 1939 passed out rules demanding that bottles conform to a metric standard based on decimals.

Since the Coke bottle contained 180 cubic centimeters instead of 200, the Nazis promptly halted the production of new bottles, showing little understanding for the argument that the production of different-sized bottles would constitute an unacceptable drain on Germany's scarce glas resources.

Not surprisingly, the company found an ingenious and unscrupulous solution. With the help of Reinhard Spitzy, a well-connected former high official in the German Foreign Office, Coca-Cola manouvred to take advantage of the situation in the recently annexed Sudetenland, where German laws, including the packaging regulations, did not fully apply yet.

Spitzy recounts that when he asked the Gauleiter (District Leader) how the local glas industry was coping with the international embargo imposed on all German products after the annexation of Czechoslovakia, he received the answer: "My dear Party Comrade Spitzy, the situation of the glas industry is absolutely shitty, the machines run only a few hours a day." When Spitzy told him how unfortunate this was given that "the international company Coca-Cola urgently needs millions and millions of new bottles," the Gauleiter reacted predictably by engineering an import exemption for Coca-Cola bottles manufactured in the Sudetenland.

While this exemption could be regarded as the result of a successful act of opposition against the Nazi bureaucracy, one should not exaggerate the heroism in Coke's stand: by helping the Sudetendeutsche industries back on its feet, the Coca-Cola GmbH supported the Nazi-government in circumventing an international embargo designed to cripple its rule.

Stories like these illustrate how Coca-Cola achieved its success under the Nazis. Simply put, the Coca-Cola GmbH and the Nazis needed one another.

The former took advantage of the latter's economic and territorial expansionism, while the latter needed modern companies like Coca-Cola as role-models for mass-production. Underlying these overlapping interests was an undeniable ideological affinity that kept the relationship strong. The tale of the March 1938 concessionaire convention sums up best what is meant here. While Max Keith presided over the 1,500 people in attendance, German soldiers stormed across the Austrian border to execute the Anschluss. Mark Pendergrast's description of the event leaves no doubt that the swastika and the Coca-Cola logo rested next to each other comfortably.

Behind the main table, a huge banner proclaimed, in German, `Coca-Cola is the world-famous trademark for the unique product of the Coca-Cola GmbH.' Directly below, three gigantic swastikas stood out, black on red. At the main table, Max Keith sat surrounded by his deputies, another swastika draped in front of him.

Although acknowledging glorious past efforts, Keith urged his workers to forge onward into the future, never to be content until every citizen was a Coke consumer. "We know we will reach our goal only if we muster all our power in a total effort," he said. "Our marvelous drink has the power of endurance to continue this march to success." [. . .] The meeting closed with a "ceremonial pledge" to Coca-Cola and a ringing, three-fold "Sieg-Heil" to Hitler. Coca-Cola ?ber alles.

Given this overtly enthusiastic embrace of the Nazis, the fact that the Coca-Cola GmbH survived the oncoming war seems more a logical conclusion to this paper than a surprise in need of an explanation. Despite all the difficulties inherent in Coke's rise, by the time war broke out, Coke's situation was so secure that Max Keith could get himself "appointed to the Office of Enemy Property to supervise all soft drink plants, both in Germany and the captured teritory. As German troops overran Europe, Keith and Oppenhof followed, assisting and taking over the Coca-Cola businesses in Italy, France, Holland, Luxembourg, Belgium and Norway." Even that the war had cut off the supply of 7X and Merchandise #5 proved unimportant. Keith and his men countered by inventing Fanta to see them through the war, and thus created a success that still reverberates throughout the corners of the world where local bottling companies fill Fanta bottles.

Although it must be noted in all fairness that the Coca- Cola GmbH only in rare instances directly endorsed the Nazis, it is still a fact that the Coca-Cola GmbH went beyond mere opportunism to stay alive. Coca-Cola was part of the Nazi state. Should this paper have proven inadequate in pointing this out, plenty of other sources can. The survivors of the forced labourers kidnapped from the conquered territories will testify to that. Some of them were sent to work for Max Keith's Coca-Cola GmbH.


No laughing matter: comedian advertises Coca-Cola's 'Nazi" past
By Ciar Byrne, Media Correspondent
26 May 2004

Coca-Cola adverts are to be found in the farthest corners of the globe promoting a happy, wholesome image, but now they are the subject of a new exhibition which links the soft drinks giant with Nazi Germany.

The comedian Mark Thomas and the artist Tracey Sanders-Wood, who curated the art show Coca-Cola's Nazi Adverts, which opened in central London yesterday, say the company advertised in Nazi papers, exhibited at Nazi trade fairs and opened bottling plants in Sudetenland shortly after the Nazis invaded Czechoslavia.

Coca-Cola has rejected any suggestion that it sympathised with the Nazi regime, although it admits it operated in Germany while Hitler was in power.

Artists and members of the public with artistic aspirations were invited to contribute to the exhibition. Their brief was to imagine Coca-Cola's adverts in Nazi Germany. Mr Thomas said: "Coke exists through advertising. That's why people drink the stuff. You can't escape it. What we wanted to do was to create an exhibition which made people think again every time they reached for a Coke.

"It's a very democratic exhibition. I mentioned it after gigs and we set up a website. If a work is submitted, it will be exhibited."

Images in the exhibition, which will include more than 400 pieces when it moves to the Foundry in east London next month, feature Coca-Cola symbols - the company's slogan and the Coke bottle - combined with Nazi slogans, propaganda and pictures of Adolf Hitler.

Predictably, it has not gone down well at Coca-Cola. "We reject out of hand the suggestion that as a company Coca-Cola ever sympathised in any way with the abhorrent acts or policies of the Nazi regime in Germany," said Tim Wilkinson, communications director for Coca-Cola Great Britain. "That is an unwarranted insult toward every person working for our company."

Coca-Cola has donated money to help those who were involved in forced labour during the Nazi years in Austria and Germany, but Mr Wilkinson said this was good corporate practice and not an admission of guilt.

Richard Niman, whose sculpture portraying Hitler as a little girl holding a doll has been on display at the Imperial War Museum in London since 1990, is involved with the project. He believes that focusing on Coca-Cola's past gives the show wider appeal. "You have to pick something big to make it have a more universal context. Hopefully it will embarrass Coca-Cola," he said.

Thomas, known for his attacks on the Government and on corporate Britain, has been compared with the American Michael Moore. He uses stand-up gigs and his Channel 4 show to decry miscarriages of justice and oppression.

He has forced the former armed forces minister Nicholas Soames to display a family heirloom, a mahogany three-tier buffet, at Christie's in London, under a law that made works of art available to the nation in lieu of inheritance tax, and has driven a tank into a McDonald's "drive-thru" restaurant.

He has also has set up an exhibition of contaminated sea- gull droppings at the Sellafield nuclear centre, and went to the Athens arms fair in 1998 posing as a PR consultant and encouraging dealers to put on a media-friendly spin.

Thomas's concerns centre on Coca-Cola's actions in Kerala in India, where it has come under fire from courts over water consumption at its bottling plant. Coca-Cola denies that it is responsible for depleted water reserves in the region.

Coca-Cola's Nazi Adverts is on show at the Nancy Victor Basement, 36 Charlotte Street, London W1 until 10 June. The exhibition will then move to the Foundry, 84-86 Great Eastern Street, London EC1.