In Vienna, Waldheim said yesterday he had a clear conscience and the U.S. move to bar him from the country as a private citizen was against the basic principles of justice, the Austrian Press Agency APA said.
Waldheim told a dinner for Austrian parliamentarians attended by APA editor-in-chief Otto Schoenherr that he was deeply disappointed and expected the Austrian government to react appropriately to defend Austria's reputation.
Austrian Foreign Minister Alois Mock said the decision produced "great dismay" and the government recalled Ambassador Thomas Klestil from Washington for consultations.
Attorney General Edwin Meese made the decision that found that "a case of excludability exists with respect to Kurt Waldheim as an individual," the Justice Department said in a statement.
At a news briefing, a department official, speaking on condition he not be identified, said, "The available evidence demonstrates that Lt. Waldheim
assisted or otherwise participated in . . . the transfer of civilian prisoners to the SS for exploitation as slave labor; the mass deportation of civilians to concentration and death camps (and) the deportation of Jews from Greek islands and the town of Banja Luka, Yugoslavia, to concentration and death camps."
The official added that Waldheim also assisted in "the utilization of anti-Semitic propaganda, the turnover of Allied prisoners to the SD (the security arm of the Nazi SS) and reprisal executions of hostages and other civilians."
If Waldheim tries to enter the United States, he will be turned away at the border. If he were to contest the action, he would be jailed at an immigration detention facility while he awaited an administrative hearing.
As a head of state, Waldheim would normally have diplomatic immunity.
Asked whether the president would consider inviting Waldheim here as a head of state, White House spokesman Marlin Fitzwater replied, "I think it's a moot point at this point. . . . There are no plans to invite him now."
Even if Waldheim attempts to visit the United Nations, "that question will have to be answered at that time" as to whether U.S. immigration authorities would allow him to enter the country, said Justice Department spokesman Terry Eastland.
The World Jewish Congress uncovered much of the evidence early last year that led to the Justice Department investigation.
Until early 1986, Waldheim had maintained that he was discharged from the German Army after suffering a war wound on the Russian front in 1941. He now acknowledges that he spent the remainder of the war as an intelligence officer in the Balkans, where thousands of Jews and others were executed or dispatched to concentration camps.