The U.S. government has a poor record of managing people that it protects and builds up. A new case came to light recently as the Daily Mirror and Daily Mail featured the story of Klaus Barbie, the Nazi who killed hundreds of people during the war, only to enjoy CIA protection and become a narco-captain.
LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Osama bin Laden, Saddam Hussein, Klaus Barbie, what do these men have in common? They're all people built up by the U.S. government and the Central Intelligence Agency, only to turn their backs on the United States and become enemies.
During World War II, Barbie served as a Gestapo officer, in charge of Nazi security in France. Dubbed "The Butcher of Lyon," he ruthlessly hunted French resistance fighters and went so far as to send entire families to their deaths in camps. His counterinsurgency skills made him valuable after the war and at a time when most of his colleagues were dangling at the ends of nooses, he was enjoying CIA protection. The U.S. government wanted him to aid their fight against communism in South America.
At first, he helped the CIA gather information on French spies in the French-controlled sector of Germany. The CIA wanted to spy on the French because they feared that France could become a communist state after the war. However, the French soon learned that Barbie was alive and being used by the CIA.
The CIA decided to whisk him away for safekeeping, so they changed his name to Klaus Altmann, with the help of a sympathetic Vatican official who aided the CIA, Fr. Krunoslav Dragnovic, a Croatian.
Smuggled into Bolivia, with the help of the Vatican, Barbie went to work at a lumber mill and for a decade he laid low. However, by 1960, he started to advise the Bolivian military on torture techniques.
Barbie joined the Bolivian Army and became a colonel. He was subsequently enlisted by the CIA to help hunt and kill Che Guevara, an endeavor at which he succeeded.
He then built an illicit alliance with a hit squad called, "Fiances of Death," and teamed up with a rising drug lord, Pablo Escobar, and helped the kingpin establish a $60 billion per year drug empire. He routinely tortured people, using electric shocks, sexual abuse, breaking bones and other forms of torture to intimidate people.
As Escobar's pet Nazi, he was instrumental in protecting the drug king from prosecution.
According to Peter McFarren, an American journalist who interviewed Barbie on several occasions, Barbie traveled across South America, "He was the liaison between these kings of cocaine and the government, military and mercenaries."
As Barbie went about his routine business, he also trafficked arms, as a side venture.
Barbie became so powerful, he was safe from arrest and deportation to France. Nobody dared to touch him.
By 1980, fearing the takeover of a Communist regime in Bolivia, they plotted a military coup. A communist government would arrest Barbie and deport him to France where he remained a wanted man. A military dictatorship took over in Bolivia and Barbie became a well-regarded public figure.
Eventually, the military dictatorship collapsed and in 1983, Barbie suddenly found the tables turned against him. He was arrested and extradited to France.
He was 70 when his trial began. He was convicted and sentenced to life in prison in July 1987. Four years later, he died of leukemia.
Klaus Barbie was a notorious Nazi, who killed thousands of people during the war and across South America. However, because the U.S. government was afraid of communism, the CIA shielded him and recruited him to ply his sinister trade in South America. When he became too powerful for the CIA to control, he went to work for himself, helping to establish the cocaine trade and a military dictatorship.
Barbie is just one more person that the U.S. government tried to control and manipulate, only to see the entire operation backfire.