Looking back: Refugee Resettlement had a covert side

The purpose of RRW is to help the public understand the Refugee Resettlement Program that exists today thanks to the Kennedy/Biden/Carter Refugee Resettlement Act of 1980, but as readers know we have been bringing refugees to America for a long long time before 1980.  Here is a lengthy and fascinating article about how refugees were used in the Cold War as covert agents. 

It begins:

BAD AROLSEN, Germany – In the locked attic of a German archive is a dusty file that harks back to a long forgotten chapter of the Cold War — a humanitarian endeavor that, it now emerges, also had a covert side.

Marked “Escapee Program,” it contains a list of thousands of names of people who, through cunning, bravery and luck, slipped through the Iron Curtain that divided Europe after World War II and found freedom in the West.

President Harry Truman’s administration launched the program in 1952 to rehabilitate and resettle refugees from Eastern Europe, feting them as heroes who defied communist tyranny.

Recently declassified U.S. documents disclose that, from the start, the program went beyond giving them new lives and sought to use them for intelligence and propaganda. Some were offered money to be smuggled back to their home countries to gather information on Soviet military defenses and public attitudes toward the communist regimes that had replaced Hitler’s Nazi occupiers.

Of course some of those never got back here alive.

The article made me think of the Uzbeks we were bringing to cities like Boise, ID.  Last spring I wrote about the 2006 mysterious deaths of two Uzbek Muslim men in Boise, here.    At the time I wrote that story, someone knowledgeable about the Andijan Uprising from which these men were escaping, told me that the CIA flew the “refugees” here.  I’ve never heard another word about why these refugees are now going back to Uzbekistan.

Back in the 1970’s it came to my attention that an environmental group for which I worked was doing some dual purpose “wildlife studies” in odd corners of the world.  It dawned on me then how ‘do-gooder’ projects are wonderful cover for other less savory projects.

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