Toronto Star | 21Aug2009 | Carrie Johnson [Washington Post]

As prey die, what next for Nazi hunters?
U.S. war crimes unit gears mission toward new crimes as most WWII villains now dead

[W.Z. The following article is an attempt to extoll the virtues of the OSI (Office of Special Investigations) and other Holocaust Industry organizations like the Simon Wiesenthal Center. The reader is encouraged to read my CRITIQUE of Wiseman's Report and my letter to the International Association of Jewish Lawyers to understand the appropriate attitude toward the OSI.

To allow these evil people to persecute modern war criminals (which, by definition, exclude Israeli crimes) would be a crime against humanity.]

WASHINGTON -- Earlier this summer, 650 kilometres from downtown Washington, a Gulfstream IV jet carrying one of the country's most infamous accused war criminals prepared to take flight as U.S. Justice Department prosecutors watched a live television feed.
The target of their rapt attention: One-time Nazi concentration-camp guard John Demjanjuk, 89, who had outlasted a generation of American lawyers vying to deport him from the U.S. for allegedly lying about his role in the Holocaust.

One department attorney in the elite Office of Special Investigations died from cancer, another perished in an airplane crash and still more had retired from public service in the nearly three decades since the investigation began.

"Even as the plane took off, I thought, `Something's going to happen,'" recalled OSI Director Eli Rosenbaum.

"Because that was the case for so many years where if something could go wrong, it did go wrong."

On that day in mid-May, Rosenbaum tracked the plane's ascent from a Cleveland airport on a journey that would deliver Demjanjuk to Germany to face charges. But as employees in the Justice Department office basked in the afterglow of one of their largest victories, their anxieties turned to a question: What next?

The subjects of their life's work -- people with ties to the Nazis who lied on citizenship forms to enter the United States after World War II -- are dead or dying. Current and former employees of the OSI say the unit is racing against the clock to extradite the few elderly Nazis still residing on American soil. Jonathan Drimmer, the lead trial lawyer in the government's case against Demjanjuk, said Demjanjuk's expulsion is "a coda on a generation of work to bring major Nazi war criminals to justice."

Since the OSI began operations in 1979, it has won deportation orders against 107 people and prevented 180 more from entering the United States through its watchlist program. Yet it remains to be seen how the close-knit group of lawyers and historians, accustomed to combing document-rich archives in Europe's former Eastern Bloc for clues, will recast its mission from capturing Nazis to catching criminals who fled murderous conflicts in such diverse places as Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia.

The OSI focuses on revoking the citizenship of Americans who entered the country on false pretenses by lying about their involvement in war crimes, rather than targeting criminals based overseas.

The office continues to rack up international accolades for its work on the defining battles of the 20th century. "It's been the most important instrument in trying to bring Nazi war criminals to justice," said Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League and a Holocaust survivor who was hidden as a youth by a Catholic nun.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center gave the OSI an "A" for its efforts and concluded in a report last winter that it had "conducted the most successful program of its kind in the world."

But its staff levels have settled around 28 employees after peaking in the 1980s at nearly double that. And many of the tools that served the unit so well are no longer available to its history detectives. Scrupulous recordkeeping practices, characteristic of the Nazis, largely do not exist in the modern conflicts.

Nonetheless, OSI leaders say they are aggressively shifting their focus to fresh cases, which now make up the bulk of the workload.

So far, the unit has filed court charges in a half-dozen new war crimes cases, led by an effort this year to revoke the citizenship of Lazare Kabaya Kobagaya, 82, of Topeka, Kan., who allegedly took part in the 1994 Rwandan genocide.

Nearly 80 similar episodes involving modern war crimes remain under the office's investigation.

Rosenbaum, who joined the unit as an intern three decades ago, asserted that "unless mankind stops perpetrating these crimes, we will exist for the foreseeable future."