Office of Special Investigations (United States Department of Justice)

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The Office of Special Investigations was a unit within the Criminal Division of the United States Department of Justice. Its purpose was to detect and investigate individuals who took part in state sponsored acts committed in violation of public international law, such as crimes against humanity.

In 2010, the Office was merged with the Domestic Security Section to form a new unit of the Criminal Division: the Human Rights and Special Prosecutions Section.[1] A redacted report about the office's work was released to the National Security Archives after a FOIA request.[2][3] A complete report was leaked to the New York Times, and according to David Sobel, the redactions were "without legal justification."[4]


OSI's work was primarily focused on acts by Nazis abroad before and during World War II, and who subsequently entered, or seek to enter, the United States illegally or fraudulently. It then takes appropriate legal action seeking their exclusion, denaturalization (revocation of U.S. citizenship), and/or deportation. As of August 2005, OSI had successfully prosecuted 100 persons involved in Nazi war crimes. These persons have been denaturalized and/or been deported from the United States. Many had lived in the U.S. for decades and led unremarkable lives. For example, Adam Friedrich had lived in the U.S. since 1955 and been a citizen since 1962 before OSI found that he had been a member of the Waffen-SS assigned as a prison guard at the Gross-Rosen concentration camp. He was denaturalized in 2004 but died in 2006 before he could be deported.

The number of Nazis in the U.S. and world has dwindled rapidly through natural mortality. As such, the mission of the OSI shifted in its last years from focusing strictly on World War II criminals to seeking out and prosecuting war criminals from the conflicts in Bosnia, Serbia, Rwanda, and Darfur who have sought refuge by coming to the United States.


The last Director of OSI was Eli Rosenbaum, who worked for OSI on and off since 1980. In 1995, he was appointed Director of the office after having served as its Principal Deputy Director since 1988. Rosenbaum is now the Director of Strategy and Policy for the new Human Rights and Special Prosecution Section.[5]

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