Monday, July 28, 2014

The Trouble with the Polygraph

My first disappointment with polygraph conclusions came in 1950, with the defection of the youngest Soviet Navy destroyer captain, who took his own captain's boat across more than 100 miles of the Baltic Sea with his Polish girlfriend from Gdynia to Sweden. He was then transferred to the Defector Reception Center in Frankfurt, where he underwent the polygraph interview which was standard practice in the handling of defectors. The polygraph complication of Artamonov's (renamed Shadrin) debriefing was described in the book “Shadrin, the Spy Who Never Came Back”, by Henry Hurt: “But on at least one occasion, in Frankfurt, Artamonov flunked his polygraph test, a fact that was resolved at the time, but which would pop up nearly two decades (sic, 16 years) later as evidence to suggest doubts about his bona fides.” (Actually, he did lie about his age, as he had given his girlfriend a younger age!).

In a footnote, Hurt states:

"Simple failure of a polygraph test certainly carried no great significance in the minds of the top CIA management under Admiral Stansfield Turner. When one of his appointees for chief of a major division was unable to pass a polygraph test in 1979, Turner waived the results and put him in the post anyway—after ordering new questions and a new polygraph operator. The case is not dissimilar to what appears to have happened to Shadrin's case in Frankfurt, as well as in other cases of initial polygraph failure”.

Between our debriefing of Artamonov and that by the Navy, the top priority intelligence we expected on the Soviet Navy, of which the U.S, was practically ignorant, was produced.

When a KGB officer in Washington phoned DD/P Helms in April 1969 and offered to work for CIA if Artamonov would pretend to work for him, Artamonov was persuaded by D/DCI Admiral Taylor to accept the proposal. Artamonov then met several times with the KGB officer, including two meetings in Canada. In December 1975, at a meeting with the KGB in Vienna, they kidnapped him, and killed him in the car with an overdose of chloroform as they were driving him to Czechoslovakia. The CI Staff, even DCI Turner, indicated that Artamonov was probably working for the KGB when he defected. That was unanimously contradicted by all subsequent defectors and assets, including the chief of the Soviet KGB division which killed him, who admitted to having been personally involved in the kidnapping in Vienna; that officer subsequently defected and is now a U.S. citizen.

My first direct conflict with our polygraph procedures came in July 1961. During the second series of meetings with GRU colonel Oleg Penkovskiy in London I was called in by COS Wisner and handed a HQ cable which raised another of our operations then going on in London, of which I was totally unaware. That was with the interpreter for Soviet cosmonaut Yuriy Gagarin, who was then visiting London. Boris Belitskiy was a Radio Moscow announcer who had learned English in high school in Brooklyn when his father was an Amtorg businessman/agent there. Belitskiy (AEWIRELESS) had walked in to us at the Brussels World Fair in 1958. The message directed me to contact our case officer and MI-5/MI-6 and review and evaluate the intelligence provided by Belitskiy (which would have been my routine assignment at HQ). As I reviewed the information, I was informed that Belitskiy had just been polygraphed and that there was “no deception indicated”. The information dealt with some topics of priority interest, but the more I read, the more I realized that Belitskiy was under KGB control, providing information which was not consistent with what we already knew, was certainly partially false, and, in several cases was information to which Belitskiy would not have normal access. I sent that evaluation to HQ, with the conclusion that he was under KGB control. HO came back with instructions that I provide the information to HQ so they could decide whether or not he was under control.

When we returned to HQ, the Soviet Division chief took case officers Bulik and Kisevalter, and me, to report to DD/P Helms on the Penkovskiy meeting. After we had all made brief statements about the series of meetings, the division chief told Helms that I had concluded that Belitskiy was under KGB control. Fortunately for me, Helms reacted angrily, throwing his hands into the air and saying loudly that he had no time for that. Then I was called in by CI Staff chief Angleton and asked to come down and discuss Belitskiy with him and his CI analyst. I did that and they seemed to agree with my evaluation. The next day, the Soviet Division chief called me up to his office and reprimanded me for having given Angleton an evaluation which was not the position of the Soviet Division. In the Europe Division staff meetings, I was orally attacked for “personally denigrating a valuable Soviet source acquired in the Europe Division geographic area”.

In December 1961, KGB officer Golitsyn defected and told us that the KGB was running a double agent against us who walked in to us at the 1958 Brussels World Fair. That had to be Belitskiy, but that was not accepted immediately. In June 1962, a KGB walk-in told us that Belitskiy was being run against us by the KGB (which I learned from Kisevalter, who had met with the June 1962 walkin.). Meanwhile, meetings with Belitskiy continued, and his information eventually was published with the word “FABRICATION” printed diagonally in large red letters across each page. The division chief, apparently puzzled as to how I had reached my conclusion, called me in and asked for an explanation (unaware that Kisevalter had already informed me). He said Belitskiy had told us that the Soviets were providing the Cubans five million dollars a day— another bit of information which there was no reason for Belitskiy to know. CIA never thanked me for having provided the initial warning about the operation. It was over 30 years later that I lunched with the case officer and he finally admitted to having been fooled by Belitskiy when he walked in in Brussels in

March 1958.

During the second series of meetings with Penkovskiy in London in July 1961, HQ raised the question of polygraphing Penkovskiy. In view of the documents and other information which Penkovskiy had provided by that time, there was no reason at all for polygraphing him. MI-6 asked my opinion and I said just that, adding that we had just polygraphed Belitskiy (they were totally witting of that operation), and that I considered the polygraph conclusion to be entirely false—that Belitskiy actually was under KGB control. That became part of the basis for the MI-6 opinion about polygraphing Penkovskiy, and MI-6 then strongly resisted the plan to polygraph Penkovskiy (as did CIA case officers Bulik and Kisevalter).

Meanwhile, KGB officer Nosenko had defected in February 1964 and been interviewed several times by the Soviet Division, then taken in late 1965 to solitary confinement at the Farm. He had been subjected to a number of polygraph tests, all intended to disprove his bona fides.

In November 1965, the Soviet Division chief came to me and said that I was wrong to consider Nosenko bona fide, and that he would have me read the analysis done so far, which would prove that to me. The division C/CI then brought me the relevant notebooks, containing about 1,000 pages, and I reviewed them quickly. Immediately I saw that there was analysis and argumentation which was not valid, often even contradicting itself. Realizing that my access to these memos would not last long, I spent most of Saturday and Sunday reading them and taking notes so that I could write a counterargument. Indeed, quite early Monday morning, the division C/CI came in, said that I should never had access to the documents, and took them away. I then wrote up my comments on the documents, some 19 pages in all, and took that memo to the division chief the next day. He reacted immediately, calling me, my superior, Katharine Hart (nee Colvin), and her other deputy, Bob Lubbehusen, to his office. He said that I was completely wrong in my analysis, that all copies of my memo were to be brought to him at once, and that, if it was ever mentioned to anyone, that person who mentioned it would be fired. We were all severely shaken by that meeting.

General reports on Nosenko's handling at the Farm over the next few months came to me regularly from Dick Kovich, who had been assigned there to bar his access to sensitive operational information, as he was one of three officers with Soviet Division experience who were (falsely) suspected by Angleton of working for the KGB. He made contact regularly in the cafeteria and around the base with the Security officers guarding Nosenko, and used his exceptional elicitation capability to keep informed of Nosenko's treatment and visits by HO officers to try to further develop their case against him.

In January 1966, our secretary came in with a carbon copy of my Nosenko memo, explaining that she always kept an extra copy of everything she typed, and did I want it? I kept it nervously for a month or two, then decided that the time had come to bring the matter to the attention of Helms, who was to leave in a couple of months to become DCI. I took the copy to his office, gave it to his secretary, and asked her to give it to him. He called me the next day and asked if I would object to its being passed to our psychologist!

Of course not. The psychologist read my memo and called me a few days later and asked if I would like to go downtown with him for lunch. We did, he asked a few questions, and it was obvious that he saw my side of the analysis.

Then I was informed that the GS-15 promotion which I had just received had been revoked by Helms' replacement as DD/P, Karamessines. I then made an appointment with him, went over the case with him, and he reprimanded me for not having gone through proper channels to get a memo to Helms, but said that I should go to division chief Murphy and apologize, and tell him that my promotion had been restored.

Nosenko remained in solitary confinement. Meanwhile, my memo was being used to correct certain aspects of the 1,000-page case against him. The three officers assigned to do that, none previously aware of it, were told not to talk to me about the case. In spite of that, two of them did, and my impression was that both of them were beginning to have doubts about the case. More and more concerned about Nosenko's situation, I wrote another memo, pointing out that, no matter whether Nosenko was bona fide or not, our handling of him was not only inappropriate, but no doubt illegal. I took the memo up in August 1967 and gave it to Helms' secretary, who had come up with him from DD/P, and asked her to pass it to Helms. Helms called a few days later, I went to his office, and he advised me that he had turned the case over to the D/DCI, Admiral Taylor, who would work with the Office of Security to resolve it.

Admiral Taylor called me in and asked why Murphy would do such a thing. All I could say was that he was being consistent with the conclusions of CI Staff chief Angleton, who had cast doubts on every operation we had, including Penkovskiy, and had initiated investigations of all of us Soviet Division officers who had Russian-language capability. In October 1968, Bruce Solie of Security, whom Angleton had turned to operationally ( having suspected most Soviet Division officers), interviewed Nosenko, polygraphed him, found him bona fide, and secretly removed him from the Farm without informing the CI Staff or the Soviet Division.

A few months later, not long before he left for Iran, Helms held a meeting of senior-level officers who had participated in review of the case, and made the official CIA decision that Nosenko was bona fide. He then gave a medal to my psychologist friend “for having helped to resolve one of the most difficult cases we ever had”—the Nosenko case. (When I congratulated the psychologist at the medal ceremony, he said: “This medal belongs to you”. A recent book, “Circle of Treason”. claims that I was entirely responsible for resolution of the Nosenko case, but no credit at all has ever been acknowledged by CIA!)

In July 1977, we lost a potentially very valuable asset, when the case officer was detained in Moscow while she was picking up a dead drop (Martha Peterson, “Widow Spy”). The asset had been recruited in Bogota (with which I participated to develop the case), was then assigned to the Soviet Ministry of Foreign Affairs central mail distribution room, and we put him on ice for a year before meeting him in Moscow. One of the last cables he (allegedly) gave us, in April 1977, was a very strange Soviet cable from Washington to Moscow purportedly reporting a meeting of Secretary of State Kissinger with Soviet Ambassador Dobrynin.

In that meeting, Kissinger was apparently providing Dobrynin with our strategy for the START talks in Geneva. My initial evaluation of the cable was that, if it happened, it would be "tantamount to treason”. (a comment which somehow appeared in Henry Hurt. “Shadrin, the Spy Who Never Came Back”, and in an op-ed article in the Post.)

A few weeks after the arrest of this asset and capture of our case officer, I was visited in my office in the CI Staff by DI analyst David Sullivan. Our relationship went back to my management of the prioritizing, translation, and dissemination of Penkovskiy's and, later, Kuklinski's, documents. At my request, my chief had asked the Dl to assign an analyst with appropriate background and knowledge for me to consult on the more complicated information we received, and Sullivan was selected by Chief, OSR and I consulted him several times.

Sullivan had learned of the arrest of the Foreign Ministry asset and the Kissinger cable. He said that he regularly visited the NSA special branch working on Soviet communications traffic, and would be glad to check out that cable with them. That was a very welcome offer, at least a potential way of determining whether any such cable had ever been sent, so I got the print of the cable from the Soviet Division and gave it to Sullivan to take to NSA. He asked for the translation of the cable, but I told him that I did not have it and that NSA would not need it—all they had to do was check Soviet traffic for the day the cable allegedly was sent —the English translation was of no use for that purpose. Sullivan took the copy, came back the next day, and said that NSA could not determine whether the cable had been sent.

In Late 1977, as deputy chief/CI Staff, I was visited by a Security officer who asked if I had given the Kissinger cable to David Sullivan. Yes, I had (the original Russian version), and that was the end of the discussion—no reason given for the question. A couple of weeks later, the Director of Security called and asked if I knew that I was to be called up the next day by DCI Turner to be fired.

The next day, I was called to the 7" floor and told to wait outside the Senior Staff conference room. After 15-20 minutes, Sullivan came out of the conference room looking very upset, barely said hello, and left. About 15-20 minutes later, Chief/CI Staff came out of the conference room and said I could return to work.

About three weeks later, I was called up to meet with the DCi and D/DCI. DCI Turner said that he was demoting me from GS-17 to GS-16 for having collaborated with Sullivan in giving the (translated) Kissinger cable to Senator Jackson. I told him that I had not done that, but he reached for an envelope on his desk and said that I had done so, as the cable was right there in his hand. There was no further discussion.

Undoubtedly, the cable translation had been given to Jackson (or his aide) by Sullivan, but where did he get it? I checked with the Soviet Division Reports Branch, which had issued the translation in an extremely limited dissemination, and they had not given it to Sullivan. Only much later did I learn that the Soviet Division case officer who was in charge of the case which produced the cable had been Sullivan's classmate at Columbia University.

In early 1979, I left for Europe, an assignment which lasted six years. In early 1983, I was repolygraphed and, throughout the home leave, I spent 21 hours on the polygraph, the next-to-last interview devoted to determining if I actually was working for the Chinese! Then a senior polygraph officer (the branch chief and I had worked well on several cases) came in, conducted a brief interview, and told me there was no problem. I returned to Europe, retiring in May 1985, when HQ did not offer me another assignment.

In 2000, I returned to Washington to accompany my son through his senior year in high school. I was then employed on CIA declassification projects, and was, by coincidence, consulted by the History Staff on Penkovskiy, Popov, and some other, minor, cases, during which I met Ben Fisher. When the case came up in which the Kissinger cable figured, he said that Sullivan now lived on Whidbey Island, and that he had consulted Sullivan on some cases via email. I told him the story of my demotion based on the false polygraph report, and he suggested that I contact Sullivan. So I emailed Sullivan, and told him what had happened to me after he was fired. He apologized and said that he would send me the facts, explaining that I had no part in the passage of the Kissinger cable to Senator Jackson. Then he did so.

When I returned to Europe, I sent Sullivan's email to HQ. In July 2001, I received a cable originated by Mike Sulick, stating that he had asked Jack Downing to take my cable to Turner and discuss it with him. Turner then concurred in cancelling the demotion (23 years after it had done it).

The modest loss of income which the demotion had cost me was paid to me, and my annuity was adjusted accordingly. There was no way at this point, sixteen years after my retirement, to recover the loss to my career, restore my reputation among all of my former and current colleagues who were aware of my alleged security violation and demotion, or to compensate for the shame and loss of self-respect with which I had had to live for 23 years.

The polygraph of Sullivan was the cause of this catastrophe. It would appear that, as soon as Sullivan admitted having passed the cable to Senator Jackson (or aide), my name entered into his admission, whether as his deliberate accomplice, or simply to protect the former classmate who had given him the translation. Whatever he said, the polygraph clearly did not result in the determination of the truth, thereby leading to the permanent damage to my career and reputation, and to my continuing contribution to CIA priorities.

Conclusion: Considering the above experiences with the polygraph in the 60 years during which I have worked on and off in the Clandestine Service in some 30 countries around the world, I would recommend that the bona fides of all clandestine assets be evaluated using the following methods, in descending priority:

  1. Is the asset reporting everything of intelligence significance to which he should have access?
  2. Is it really likely that the asset has access to everything which he is reporting?
    (If the answers to the above questions are positive, no polygraph test should be conducted. The asset may view it as a sign of distrust.)
  3. Is the asset reporting only what we already know?
  4. What is the case officer's evaluation of the asset?
  5. If doubts arise in any of the above evaluations, a polygraph test might be conducted. However, its conclusion should not automatically be accepted as accurate. Instead, consider which aspects of the polygraph examination indicate uncertainty or hesitation on the part of the asset, and review those with the asset to determine their relevance to his reporting.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Wikipedia Commentary: Oleg Penkovskiy

Note: These comments refer to a Wikipedia entry as it was in 2013.

This account of the Penkovskiy operation is mostly unreliable, casting doubt on the most important CIA operation of the Cold War.

The "two very different opinions" about the operation were never the official CIA opinion, but the opinion of paranoid Soviet defector Anatoliy Golitsyn, accepted by CI Staff chief James Angleton and his supporters from 1963 on, including some in the FBI, and applied by them to all Soviet assets and defectors until Angleton and his staff declined reassignment by DCI William Colby in December 1974 and were replaced.

The citation of technician Peter Wright ("Spycatcher") as one of those suspecting Penkovskiy of being a Soviet plant is particularly irrelevant and meaningless. Wright was not a counterintelligence or intelligence officer but the first really capable and respected technician in MI5. His only connection with the Penkovskiy operation was to set up the recorder for the series of meetings with Penkovskiy in London in April and July 1961.

The comment here that Wright suspected Penkovskiy of misleading the US about
Soviet strategic missile capability is nonsense which Wright had no experience or background for asserting. Just the opposite, Penkovskiy provided correct information on Soviet ICBM development which led to a major reduction of that capability in the 1961 National Intelligence Estimate, and provided President Kennedy the confidence he needed to confront the USSR during the Cuban missile crisis in October 1962. Wright’s personal opinion in this and other matters was based entirely on his relationship with, and confidence in, Angleton.

Greville Wynne ("The Man from Odessa") certainly contributed to the operation, but only as a safe intermediary between Penkovskiy and the US/UK team of four operations officers who met with him. Wynne's book has a number of significant inaccuracies and unfounded claims, but his role in the operation certainly earned him some such reward. There is no basis for the statement that Penkovskiy was compromised somehow by Jack Dunlap, an army sergeant working as a courier for lower classified documents at NSA. When he was arrested, documents found in his house included some of those provided by Penkovskiy and given lower classifications because a great number of Soviets would have had access to them. KGB surveillance of Janet Chisholm eventually led to Penkovskiy's compromise.

The comment here which assigns operational responsibility to the British, M16, is entirely inaccurate. Penkovskiy planned from the start to contact the Americans, and work with them, and that was his message to those in Moscow that he tried to get to help him make that contact , and in the message he finally got to MI6. MI6 accepted that fact, but the head of the American team, Joe Bulik, expressed his suspicion that MI6 was trying to steal the operation, which led to a confrontation in London just before the July meetings started. His attitude remained all the way to the end of Paris meetings in October 1961, when the MI6 and CIA teams were speaking to one another only through Leonard McCoy. The description here of the manner in which Penkovskiy provided his information, particularly in large volume to wife Janet Chisholm in Moscow, is indeed correct.

Why Wright's opinion of the case deserves so much attention here makes no sense at all. He did not see Penkovskiy’s information, had no background to evaluate it, and could only quote Angleton, Golitsyn, and the MI6 officers whom he identifies as having served in Washington, Christopher Phillpotts and Stephen de Mowbray, who had accepted Angleton's (Golitsyn's) medically paranoid theory.

Maurice Oldfield, the (SIS) officer in Washington during the operation, later chief of MI6, did not accept that theory. In my last meeting with Wright in London, just before his retirement, when he said he would settle in Dover and raise Arabian horses, the only subject he raised which came up later in his book was to the effect that his analysis of Soviet KGB broadcasts to its agents supported Angleton's accusation that Canadian RCMP CI chief Leslie James Bennett was a KGB asset. In his book, however, he comments that he did not believe that.

The description here of Penkovskiy's contribution to the identification of the Soviet intermediate range missile being deployed in Cuba is greatly exaggerated. It is absolutely true that his information resulted in the identification of the missile site being built and photographed by the U-2, which convinced President Kennedy of the threat and prompted his 22 October 1962 challenge to Khrushchev. That information was not extensive however, only presented in an article which appeared in the Strategic Missile Bulletin and was photographed by Penkovskiy.

Wikipedia would be wise to refer to Wright's comments only briefly, and focus on the accounts of the Penkovskiy operation presented in "The Spy Who Saved the World" and "The Penkovskiy Papers". The theory that Penkovskiy was somehow involved in a vast Soviet plot with a grand political strategy was not borne out by history or subsequent defectors or assets. It ranks in terms of credibility with the associated theory that the Sino-Soviet feud was simply theater to deceive the West.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Wikipedia Commentary: Yuri Nosenko

Note: These comments refer to a Wikipedia entry as it was in 2013.

This article starts out correctly saying that Yuriy Nosenko was a controversial figure, but states that the reason for that was his contradiction of defector Anatoliy Golitsyn's information. Not so, rather, that his information coincided with Golitsyn's information in several respects. The one apparent contradiction, the case of "Sasha", turned out to be two different persons, an important one in Nosenko's case and a wholly insignificant one in Golitsyn's case. Where their information coincided, Nosenko was almost always right and Golitsyn had only fragments which did not lead to useful identifications and conclusions. Golitsyn's jealousy of Nosenko and clinically diagnosed paranoia were accepted by CI Staff chief James Angleton as valid counterintelligence methodology, and he is responsible for the unprofessional and repulsive mishandling of Nosenko. Angleton then adopted the rest of Golitsyn's universally inaccurate analysis, evaluating all of Cl’s Soviet assets and defectors as under KGB control, which led eventually to false accusations against three outstanding operations officers.

Tennent ("Pete") Bagley is identified as Nosenko’s case officer, but he actually was run by George Kisevalter. Bagley happened to be in the area when Nosenko walked in in Geneva in June 1962, but his Russian was not adequate to handle the case, so Kisevalter was sent out to do it. When Nosenko defected in February 1964, Bagley was in a position in the Soviet Bloc Division to take over the case.

The failure of the KGB to question Lee Harvey Oswald when he defected to the USSR is raised. The fact is that after Oswald tried to commit suicide when he was first denied asylum, the Soviet Minister of Culture , a Khrushchev protégé, Instructed the KGB to leave Oswald alone. Nosenko did not claim review of the Oswald case, but that he had gone to Minsk, where Oswald lived, and brought his file back to Moscow after President Kennedy was assassinated.

FBI asset FEDORA is criticized for having supported Nosenko's bona fides, and FEDORA is described as having been recognized as under KGB control . He was included, of course, in the Angleton/Golitsyn comprehensive negative assessment of all assets and defectors, and the FBI eventually agreed with that, but CIA then reviewed his case after Angleton left and found him bona fide. He continued to report significant, confirmed information for almost 20 more years. He was not under KGB control.

Polygraph tests of Nosenko were carried out by the Soviet Bloc Division to prove him to be under KGB control, not to test his reliability. The conclusion was believed to indicate that he was suspect. As stated here, when he was finally released from isolated imprisonment in late 1967, not in Maryland but in a specially built prison in a CIA training facility in southern Virginia, a polygraph test by Security found him to be bona fide. KGB defector Petr Deryabin, never a general in the KGB, never a CIA agent, as is stated here, continued to believe that Nosenko was a KGB plant. Deryabin was a useful CIA contract employee, but he was dedicated to detail in every respect, and Nosenko had directly the opposite personality and disinterest in much of what existed and went on around him.

It is stated here that Golitsyn claimed that there was a "mole deep in the CIA". Not so, as he was taken to dinner with DCI Dulles soon after his defection and Dulles asked him whether CIA was penetrated by the KGB. Golitsyn said that it was not. Later, he brought up the insignificant "Sasha" case.

The question as to whether Angleton was responsible for our hostile interrogation of Nosenko is answered in part by the fact that he persuaded Bagley not to consider him bona fide.

Any review of the Nosenko case must consult the overt reporting and records of the FBI. The FBI finally was allowed to interview Nosenko, after almost five years, and acquired a substantial amount of significant information from him which was still useful. His use by CIA after 1974 to and lecture to substantial CIA audiences was very valuable. Every Soviet asset or defector since his defection has testified to his bona fides, and described the devastating impact of his defection on the KGB management and overseas assignments.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Wikipedia Commentary: Anatoliy Golitsyn

Note: These comments refer to a Wikipedia entry as it was in 2013

It is stated here that, after Golitsyn defected in December 1961, he was interviewed by CIA CI Staff chief James Angleton. Actually, as a Soviet KGB officer, he came organizationally under the jurisdiction of the Soviet Bloc Division, which would be responsible for handling and interviews, which certainly included an early interview by Angleton or one of his staff. The statement here that he provided significant information on Philby, Burgess, and Maclean, Vassall, and Kopatskiy is not supported by the record, and he definitely did not confirm Philby's guilt. His information on Vassall, like most of his reporting, was vague and inaccurate, and his report that KGB agent Vassall was high-ranking in the British Admiralty administration prevented Ml5 from exposing him until Yuriy Nosenko provided specific details on his identity. Kopatskiy was known to Golitsyn only as "Sasha", a supposedly major KGB penetration of CIA, and it took several months to determine that "Sasha" was Kopatskiy, who had worked for CIA in Berlin under contract for several years, but was fired by CIA several months before Golitsyn defected.

Angleton's identification of Goiitsyn as "the most valuable defector ever to reach the West" is a total and absolute contradiction of the truth. Exactly the opposite is true. Goiitsyn identified not a single significant KGB asset at all in the West, his exaggerated and vague leads to Vassall and Kopatskiy being his best contribution. A French official in NATO was arrested following his equally vague reporting of that KGB penetration, but the French official had not worked for the government until two years after Golitsyn defected! His accusation against a Canadian ambassador was not confirmed because he died of a heart attack while being interrogated; Golitsyn may have been right in that case, but nothing came of it.

The real tragedy is that Angleton, as the generally recognized leader of Western counterintelligence for 20 years, was demonstrably as much of a failure in identifying KGB penetrations and false defectors as Golitsyn was. There is not one significant case or officer of CIA or other Western governments which Angleton identified as under KGB control that turned out to have been evaluated correctly by him. To a large extent, this was the result of his absolute faith in Golitsyn and Golitsyn's modus operandi, in spite of the fact that Golitsyn had been medically diagnosed as paranoid. The devastating consequences of Angleton's/Golitsyn's false accusations against CIA's Soviet assets, defectors, and even staff officers, were a shocking loss of intelligence, and near paralysis of CIA operations against the USSR at the height of the Cold War. The statement here that Angleton was dismissed from CIA for this (and other actions) is wrong. DCI Colby offered him a different assignment, but he turned it down, and stayed on for another nine months after being removed from the CI Staff.

Golitsyn's accusations against UK Prime Minister Wilson and Finnish President Kekkonen, and the theory that the KGB poisoned UK Labour Party leader Hugh Gaitskell are typical of the paranoid thinking of Golitsyn which was ultimately never supported by any facts, but accepted by Angleton, as well as MIS officer Peter Wright ("Spycatcher").

The CIA mishandling of KGB defector Yuriy Nosenko is directly attributable to Angleton/Golitsyn. After the first case officer who met him when he walked in in Geneva in June 1962, Tennent ("Pete") Bagley, came to report the event to Angleton as "the most important operation CIA has ever had”, Angleton convinced him that Nosenko was actually under KGB control (Golitsyn's evaluation). The description here of Nosenko's subsequent handling after he defected in February 1964 is not quite accurate, but generally portrays the truth.

The false evaluation and mishandling of Nosenko eliminated acceptance of his reporting on the Soviet relationship with Lee Harvey Oswald, which would have been a crucial element in assessment of possible Soviet involvement in the assassination of President Kennedy. The FBI did not agree with the CIA evaluation of Nosenko as under KGB control, but had little information to go on until Nosenko was released from solitary confinement in late 1968 and declared bona fide by CIA in 1969. Contrary to the insinuation here, although Helms chaired the meeting which found Nosenko bona fide, he continued to comment, even after his retirement. that he had never made up his mind about Nosenko.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Wikipedia Commentary: James Jesus Angleton

Note: These comments refer to a Wikipedia entry as it was in 2013.

This report starts off with a good description of Angleton's career in OSS and his appointment and responsibilities as chief of the CIA CI Staff.

Emphasis is then placed, properly, on the impact on Angleton of the defection of KGB officers Anatoliy Golitsyn in December 1961 and Yuriy Nosenko in February 1964. However, Nosenko did not accuse Golitsyn of being a KGB plant—just the opposite, Golitsyn claimed that Nosenko was sent by the KGB to discredit his information.

Nosenko's account of the handling of Lee Harvey Oswald by the Soviets is described, and his not having been questioned by the KGB about his U-2 knowledge, and Nosenko is cited as having failed several polygraph tests. The handling of Oswald was dictated by Khrushchev protégé Minister of Social Affairs Furtseva, and the polygraph tests (two) were not conducted by Security, but by a Soviet Bloc Division officer who previously was a polygraph operator and was advised that he was to prove Nosenko a be KGB plant. The statement made here is correct—that Angleton did not object to placing Nosenko in solitary confinement for three and a half years.

Helms is again cited, like FBI chief Hoover, as having no faith in Golitsyn, but Helms did not question any of the totally erroneous evaluations which Angleton/Golitsyn made of CIA Soviet assets, defectors, and CIA staff officers whom Angleton/Golitsyn accused or suspected of being KGB penetrations of CIA. Golitsyn is credited here with identifying Soviet Bloc Division officers who reportedly were leaking information to the KGB, resulting in Angleton's suspending the careers of "multiple" (three) suspected officers.

Helms is described as unwilling to accept the operational paralysis caused by Angleton's/Golitsyn's theory of KGB dominance of all CIA Soviet operations, a conclusion reportedly reached in a 1968 hearing, resulting in Angleton’s losing Golitsyn's advice and guidance. Not so, as Angleton continued to be responsible for Golitsyn's relationship with CIA. One result of that was the Golitsyn/Angleton theory that the Sino-Soviet split was a KGB deception operation, a theory which DCI Helms forced CIA analysts to meet and consider. CIA's evaluation of Nosenko then was that he was bona fide, but Helms said, even in his book, that he never reached a firm conclusion about Nosenko’s bona fides. Curiously, Helms awarded an Intelligence Medal of Merit to psychologist John Gittinger "for helping me to resolve the most difficult case I ever faced" (Nosenko).

The comment is made here that counterintelligence was less enthusiastic after Angleton's departure; actually, it continued just as seriously as under Angleton, but without his (Golitsyn's) continuous false accusations against foreign leaders, our Soviet assets, Soviet defectors, and CIA staff officers. Some of Angleton’s false accusations against foreign intelligence officers were corrected by the new CI Staff which came in in December 1974. Aldrich Ames is cited as a subsequent CI oversight compromising CIA, which is one more case of mistakenly assigning the CI Staff the responsibility for identifying penetrations of the agency by foreign intelligence services, instead of the Office of Security. While Angleton may well have hypothesized, as asserted here, that "well-placed Soviet counterintelligence agents" could deceive the American intelligence community, it was not his job in the CI Staff to find them among CIA employees, but in operations conducted by CIA and in foreign intelligence services.

The allegation that DCI Turner used Angleton as a whipping boy for CIA excesses is a positive aspect of Turner's leadership, as the excesses that Angleton made in all respects, without ever making a correct evaluation in w investigation he initiated, cannot be better exemplified than in the statement here of Angleton's consideration of 150 staff officers as possible KGB penetrations of CIA.

Angleton's responsibility for CIA relations with Israel was an anomaly which never should have happened—it was not a CI matter, and DCI Colby was right to correct it. The "Lovestone Empire” matter is another case which did not belong under Angleton. it definitely belonged to the European Division, coordinating with the FBI and Internal Operations Division.

There is a good description here of the responsibilities of the CI Staff, but the final conclusion, that Angleton was growing suspicious of Philby, is not true. As stated, William Harvey was, but Angleton was not actually suspicious even after Philby was relieved of his assignment in Washington and eventually sent to Beirut as a journalist.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Book Commentary: James Angleton: le Contre-Espion de la CIA

One wonders why the author, a French PhD in modern history, would write on this subject at all. He may have realized that there would be no great demand for the work, so he put Matt Damon, who played Angleton in the movie "The Good Shepherd”, (Raisons d’Etat) on the cover. That may mean that the movie played well enough in France to encourage viewers to buy the book. His last chapter discusses the movie, and also various books, articles, and even novels, based on Angleton’s career, identifying the characters by their true names.

The bibliography he consulted is extensive, ranging from the most reliable, like Mangold, Winks, Martin and Powers, to the largely unreliable, like Trento and journalists Hersch and Epstein. He cites no interviews of former CIA officers that might have been conducted to confirm their accounts of various aspects of Angleton’s life and career. Actually, as one considers the individuals he refers to as having been associated professionally with Angleton, up to his retirement in September 1975, at age 58, one finds very few names of individuals still alive to tell their stories.

In his 173 pages, Arboit starts with a chapter on the formation of CIA in 1947 out of the scattered elements and survivors of OSS, before going into the biography of Angleton. He devotes a good deal of space to Angleton’s early life in Idaho and Ohio, as his father moved about as an employee of National Cash Register, before becoming the founder and manager of the NCR business in Italy. Much of the description of Angleton’s early years deals with his effort to play down the Mexican element in his descent, and, especially, the middle name he got from his Mexican grandfather, “Jesus”.

Much of the time his family lived in Italy, Angleton was in school in England, visiting Italy during school vacations, and attending Boy Scout events in Holland. By the time he finished his four years in England, 6 came away with something of a British accent, and subsequently was accepted at Yale University. Arboit devotes many pages to these university years, which were a scholastic disaster, as Angleton spent practically all of his few waking hours on poets and poetry, founding a poetry magazine which published the poems of most well-known American poets. He drank and smoked heavily, and slept seldom, working on his poetry contacts and magazine through the night. Meanwhile, his grades after his freshman year were almost entirely “D”s and and the awarding of his degree seems to have been a pure gift, out of sheer exasperation of the university administration.

Soon after, he then entered Harvard law school, WWII started for the US, and after a year, Angleton enlisted, was then accepted into the OSS, and was sent to London after training, where he worked the Italian desk for 088, in liaison with MI-5 and MI-6. The real significance of this assignment was that it made him one of the few Americans who needed, and were given, access to British decryption of German communications transmitted on the so-called Ultra machine. When the Allies invaded and captured substantial parts of Italy, Angleton was assigned there as head of X-2, the CI element of the OSS station in Rome, where he remained from late 1944 until late 1947. His continued access to Ultra was an indispensable contribution to his continued awareness of German actions and plans as background to his own.

The most positive chapter of this book, in fact, of Arboit’s description of Angleton’s entire career, is his reporting of Angleton’s performance in Italy. He cites the favorable comments of officers of the newly formed CIA who were on the headquarters end of his reporting and operations. In retrospect, this would appear from Arboit’s account to have been the most substantial contribution Angleton ever made to CIA operations, the highlight of his 27-year long CIA career. However, there is also another side to this part of his career, a side which has not been recorded elsewhere.

When we started working with MI-6 in April 1961 on the Penkovskiy operation (“The Spy Who Saved the World”), MI-6 assigned a senior operations officer named Shergold as their representative on the joint team. After the operation ended, in October 1962, Shergold came to headquarters twice (March 1998...) and addressed a full house on the subject of the Penkovskiy operation in the CIA auditorium. Shergold and I met many times in London and Paris during and after the operation, as we collaborated on exploitation of Penkovskiy’s voluminous production. As fate would have it, he had been the MI-6 counterpart of Angleton in Italy, a minor part of his assignment being to pass the Ultra material to Angleton. His evaluation of Angleton’s operational performance, when we met for lunch once during the delay of Penkovskiy’s arrival in Paris, was totally negative. With no background at all in the matter, all I could do was listen as he cited continuous mistakes Angleton made in the recruitments, bona fides assessments, and financial support, which were part of his operational program. My respect for Shergold, developed during the intensive joint effort to prepare for, cooperate in, and evaluate continuously the Penkovskiy operational meetings and their products, left no doubt in my mind that the saving grace of Angleton’s career as described by Arboit in Italy was actually invalid.

Angleton’s association with Philby is covered quite well by Arboit, emphasizing that even the thirty or so memos Angleton did write following his long liquid lunches with him were destroyed by Angleton after he realized that Philby had been debriefing him and toying with him for three years. As Arboit points out, only Angleton’s special relationship with former OSS colleagues, particularly Helms and Dulles, could be the explanation as to why he was not removed from his position for having done that. The so-called “molehunt” which Angleton initiated in cooperation with Golitsyn is also well covered, with appropriate emphasis on the drastic damage which that action caused to CIA priority clandestine operations and the careers, the lives, of numerous dedicated and capable officers operating against the Soviet target. The damage to our liaison with the French and the Norwegians which the Angleton-Golitsyn blundering caused is also well covered. From several meetings with French DST chief Chalet, serious counterintelligence coordination involving leads by an FBI source, I find Arboit quite wrong in calling Chalet a friend of Angleton, as every comment he made to me when Angleton’s name came up was strongly negative. Arboit’s reference to the French SDECE chief’s criticism of Angleton for allowing his nomination as a supposed KGB agent, a senior CIA officer with whom he sometimes worked to remain in that position was echoed to me by Chalet, who felt quite strongly about it, and claimed independent evidence. This was not borne out by subsequent investigation.

When Arboit does get to Angleton’s assignment as Chief, CI, taking over from Harvey in late 1953, the detail and positive evaluations of the Italian assignment disappear. After a brief summary of the first few, mostly operationally uneventful, years, the series of disastrous mistakes which began not long after Golitsyn’s defection in 1961 is described very well. He correctly points out that every decision or judgment about the few major Soviet and East European cases we had, or charges against supposed Soviet agents in the US or allied countries, which Angleton made from then until his replacement in December 1974, was wrong. And beyond that, as he points out, Angleton’s position on our Soviet operational program, which was shared by the Soviet Division leadership, practically brought CIA’s clandestine operations against the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe to a halt. Not only counterintelligence, but clandestine intelligence collection, in CIA was completely off track.

The cases which were affected, and constituted the base of Angleton’s/Golitsyn’s distorted analyses, are presented correctly in synopsis, and revolve to a large extent around the false accusations against Nosenko. In fact, had Golitsyn not defected, security of Western countries, even of Western intelligence services, would hardly have suffered. One of his first interviews with senior American officials, after having demanded several million dollars and an interview with the President, was with DCI Dulles. At this dinner, Dulles asked him if he knew of any penetrations of the American government, and particularly, of CIA. Golitsyn said that he did not. However, he did then go on later and make a strong accusation against a supposed CIA officer identified by the KGB codename “Sasha”, who had served in Germany. In his later “analyses” and accusations, he often referred to that case as a CIA penetration. It was in fact a low-level support officer who had worked in Berlin, had done some operational damage, but had little knowledge of Berlin operations, and had already been removed from Germany, and CIA employment, by the time Golitsyn defected. Golitsyn claims to have given a lead to a British Admiralty agent of the KGB, but his information did not lead to an arrest, until Nosenko identified the agent specifically. He claims to have compromised the microphones throughout the American Embassy in Moscow. A search following his statements found nothing—we knew already that they were there, but where? Nosenko pointed out precisely where they were hidden, and that discovery also led to the discovery of the wiring leading to the much better concealed microphones in the new embassy then under construction. Golitsyn claims to have informed us that Gagarin’s interpreter, Radio Moscow announcer Belitskiy was not really reporting to us, but was under KGB control. Not so, Nosenko did, as Belitskiy was meeting with us in Geneva when Nosenko walked in in June 1962. Behind that event was a development in London during the time Gagarin was there, and we were meeting Penkovskiy there. While the CIA case officer and polygrapher were there meeting Belitskiy for the first time since he walked in at the Brussels Fair in 1958, HQ sent a cable telling me to work with them and MI-5 on that case. Having done that, I sent a 19-page cable to HQ, concluding that Belitskiy was under KGB we returned to HQ, division chief Maury had Joe Bulik, Kisevalter and me accompany him to report to Helms on the Penkovskiy meetings. At the end of that report, Maury unexpectedly commented that I had concluded that Belitskiy was under KGB control. Helms became quite irritated, threw up his hands, and said that he did not have time to discuss that. After Nosenko reported almost a year later, which I did not know about, Maury called me in and asked why I thought Belitskiy was under KGB control. When I made my case, he still did not admit that Nosenko had confirmed that. Curiously, no doubt as another shot at the Soviet Division, Angleton had accepted my evaluation at once.

The hopeless defense of Angleton attempted by well-intentioned officers includes a monograph, which argues that he was not responsible for the solitary confinement of Nosenko for over three years. In fact, he was. The very fact of his having espoused and sponsored Golitsyn’s false accusation that Nosenko was dispatched by the KGB to neutralize his information was the underlying cause of the entire mishandling of the Nosenko case. This was made crystal clear to me soon after my assignment to the CI Staff in early 1975. Prior to my arrival in the CI Staff in February 1975, I had met Angleton twice, once to ask him to call Dulles to assure that Artamonov was accepted as a defector, the second time, at his request, to report my evaluation of the Belitskiy case, both quite successful and positive meetings. After Angleton declined DCI Colby’s offer of a new assignment, and opted for retirement, Angleton remained camped out in the CI Staff until September 1975 (actually, in his own office for over three months). Several times, he asked me to come see him, as he had something to tell me. During this first meeting in 1975, he was as emotional as I ever saw him, as he related to me how he convinced Pete Bagley, then chief of Soviet Division counterintelligence, that Nosenko was a KGB agent sent to discredit Golitsyn. He was very proud of that, and commented derisively how naive and gullible Bagley had been when he came into Angleton’s office after the meetings with Nosenko in June 1962 to announce enthusiastically that he had just returned from meeting with the most valuable asset CIA had ever had. He said that he then asked Bagley to come back when he had some time, as there were some papers he wanted Bagley to read. He said that Bagley then came back, sat outside Angleton’s office (other reports say—in the CI conference room), for three days, and read Golitsyn’s analysis. When he finished, he came in and stated that Nosenko was obviously a KGB plant. It is not clear to what extent Angleton consulted with the Soviet Division on Nosenko’s handling after that, but the memos on his transfer from confinement in the Washington area to the Farm, and photographs and reports of his behavior and treatment there, were in Angleton’s private safe once we broke into it in early 1975.

Arboit’s summary of the developments in the case of Soviet illegal Loginov ties it more directly to Golitsyn/Angleton, but leaves the ending as ominous as did Mangold (“Cold Warrior”). We have learned since Mangold’s book that Loginov’s likely execution following his being handed over to the KGB did not take place, and that a legal technicality (l) led to his only being exiled to Gorkiy, teaching English. This operational catastrophe was also directly and entirely Angleton’s doing, based, again, on Golitsyn’s analysis, particularly his case against Nosenko. Loginov had lived in the same building as Nosenko in Moscow, and reported that Nosenko’s defection had sent a shockwave through the KGB. The Soviet Bloc Division leadership (Murphy and Bagley) accepted the Angleton/Golitsyn evaluation of Loginov, and agreed with Angleton’s plan to compromise him to the South Africans, eventually to be turned back to the KGB, which was what was done. A few days before the South Africans were to be informed, Loginov’s case officer called me, having concluded that the positive evaluation of Nosenko’s bona fides that I had delivered to the DD/P was correct, and advised me of the Loginov plan. The next day, I called (now DCI) Helms and stated that this was a terrible mistake, that Loginov was bonafide, falsely accused because of his support of Nosenko. Helms reacted impatiently, replying: “The matter is out of my hands, Jim (Angleton) is handling that”. Later, when I was conducting the CI Ops course in 1987, and invited MI-6 to bring their former asset/defector, KGB London rezident Gordiyevskiy, to speak to the group, I asked him about Loginov, and learned for the first time that Loginov had survived the ordeal that CIA (Angleton) had subjected him to.

Simultaneously, Angleton was conducting equally disastrous counterintelligence activities against several liaison services, all of them based on Golitsyn’s “analyses”, all of them eventually found false, after the damage was done. The Canadian RCMP was advised that its counterintelligence chief was a KGB agent. The RCMP accepted the accusation, took a number of security actions, including one of their first polygraph tests, and eventually retired Bennett prematurely on “medical’” grounds, still considering him suspect. One of my first actions in the CI Staff in 1975 was to have the case reviewed, then went to Ottawa with my deputy, who had done the review, and advised that CIA was wrong, Bennett was innocent. RCMP rejected the finding, saying they were still investigating the matter. In the CAZAB meeting in 1976 in Melbourne, I presented the CIA reversal of analysis of Bennett, but the RCMP still would not accept his innocence. It was not until 1985 that we learned from KGB defector Yurchenko that it was actually Bennett’s deputy who had been the KGB penetration. Unfortunately, we had gotten so involved in clearing Bennett that we neglected to use the evidence falsely used against him to look for the real traitor.

Then there was the case of the secretary of the Norwegian security service chief, who had served in Moscow. Reluctantly, the Norwegians came to CIA to hear Angleton’s/Golitsyn’s case against Lygren and were convinced enough to arrest and imprison her. We reviewed the case (ten years later) and found her innocent, but the Norwegians had released her a few months after her arrest in 1965, and when my deputy went to Oslo in 1976, to apologize and offer to compensate her, she refused the offer. Then the Norwegians learned a year later that the real traitor had been the predecessor of the woman CIA had falsely accused. She was then arrested and imprisoned.

In the end, none of Golitsyn’s “leads” was sufficiently detailed or accurate to lead to the arrest of a Soviet agent in the West. When he raised the possibility of a French national in NATO being a KGB agent, the French investigated, but ended up arresting a press officer who was not in NATO until a year after Golitsyn’s defection. The actual NATO penetration turned out to be a Canadian, but it took so long to find him that he was able to continue reporting to the KGB for twenty more years! Other alleged KGB penetrations of us and our allies which Arboit correctly cites as Angleton/Golitsyn leads were Ambassador to Moscow Harriman, industrialist Hammer, Secretary of State Kissinger, British prime minister Wilson, MI-5 chief Hollis, the British Labor Party leader, various French, Canadian, German and other Western government leaders, and officers of the Dutch and other liaison services. All of these were false charges, but in the process of CIA’s developing the charges, MI-5 officers Arthur Martin and Peter Wright (“Spycatcher”) , and the MI-5 and MI-6 chiefs in Washington after Angleton’s departure, subscribed to his (Golitsyn’s) analytical methods and major elements of his conclusions. At lunch in 1976 in the club on “K” Street frequented by the MI-6 station chiefs, I undertook to convince the MI-6 station chief that Angleton had been entirely wrong about Nosenko and that Golitsyn’s charges were all false. He did not accept my argument, and subsequently became chief of security for MI-6 before being assigned as their chief in Paris.

Having essentially destroyed the Clandestine Service effort against the Soviet Union by declaring defectors and assets (including Penkovskiy) to be Soviet deception agents, Angleton also attacked the personnel of the Soviet Division most qualified to conduct those operations. Those officers who had capability in the Russian language were the primary, but not the only, targets of that intensive investigation, fourteen being singled out for special attention of Angleton/Golitsyn. The first to be charged and fired was Karlow, later “pardoned” and compensated for the false accusations against him. Arboit cites case officer Kovich as a major case in this travesty, and, following the disruption of his career at Angleton’s behest, he was given access to the CIA and FBI documents drawn up in the investigation against him, then retired prematurely. Kovich had been in Berlin when the individual known as “Sasha” in Arboit’s account was actually working for the KGB while we were using him as a low-level support asset, and Kovich had been the case officer of the Norwegian secretary falsely accused, which made him guilty by association, in Golitsyn’s analysis. The final clue—Kovich had been Loginov’s original case officer, having persuaded Loginov to stay in place and cooperate with us instead of defecting, as he had planned. While “on the shell" in our training facility at the Farm, Kovich learned of Nosenko’s confinement there, and provided me the impetus and the information needed to review Nosenko’s case and draw up the memo supporting his bonafides which eventually brought Helms to pay enough attention to the case to have the D/DCI, Director of Security, and Inspector-General review and reject the case against him. In my twenty years in the Soviet Division, working with every case the Clandestine Service had in Soviet and East European operations, it is my firm conclusion that Kovich was the best case officer CIA had throughout the Cold War. Kisevalter (“CIA Spymaster”) had no equal in terms of establishing a personal relationship and handling the two cases he personally managed (Popov and Penkovskiy), but he never recruited anyone, was far too empathetic to suspect or accuse a fellow human being of anything, and even made excuses for those whom he knew to hold anything against him. Arboit names him as supporting Nosenko’s bonafides, but he never took any initiative to do so, (nor did the other person Arboit cited), and George generously “understood” why anyone would hold the opposite opinion.

Arboit has much to say of Angleton’s relationship with Philby, and there has been much speculation that Angleton’s intense focus on suspicion and hostile presence all around him throughout most of his CI career is a consequence of his profound disappointment in himself as a CI officer, not to have discovered the KGB agent right across the table from him day after day. Arboit touches on this, but emphasizes mostly Angleton’s shock that came with Philby’s flight from Lebanon to Moscow in January 1963, removing all doubt of his loyalties. When Angleton was working the Italian desk for us in London in the later years of the war, he had little contact with Philby, who was then responsible for the Iberian Peninsula. However, after Philby moved to the Soviet desk of MI-6, he went to Turkey in September 1945 to paper over his compromise of a prospective Soviet defector, the deputy KGB resident. On the way home, he stopped to visit Angleton in Rome, and described the entire incident to him. Still there was no reason to suspect him. However, considering Angleton’s later ultra-sensitive CI outlook, it is a little odd that he did not give more thought to Philby’s loyalties in September 1950, when the head of Israeli Mossad saw Philby in Angleton’s office, and questioned his presence there, advising Angleton that Philby had married a leading Austrian Communist female leader, and had never divorced her, marrying again in England later.

There is considerable misunderstanding of the role of the CI Staff, most writers assuming that it was responsible for monitoring the entire Agency to look for enemy penetrations. That has practically no validity as far as the standard functions of the staff were concerned. Rather, it was charged with collecting and analyzing information on foreign intelligence services for preparation of studies for reference by the operating divisions. It maintained liaison relations with allied counterintelligence and security services. Special CI investigations which involved several Agency elements were assigned to it. In the past, at least, the Staff was responsible for reviewing clearance requests for agent prospects. There are occasional comments in books and articles to the effect that there were no penetrations of the Agency on Angleton’s watch. Actually, there was a Chinese penetration throughout Angleton’s career, Larry Te Wat Chin, and another came on in 1972, Karl Koecher. Neither had to do with the CI Staff responsibilities, one being in a part of the Agency to which the CI Staff had no access or responsibility, and the other in an element of the Soviet Division that the Staff would know little about. In the first place, every division had its own CI referent or branch to monitor operational developments and the behavior of its officers, and, more important, it was the Office of Security that had primary responsibility for personnel security as a Whole, and the relationship with the FBI and CIA Office of Legal Counsel in the event that indications, or suspicions, of treason or other criminal violations, in CIA, occurred.

Arboit finds little positive in Angleton’s marriage or family life, observing several times that the marriage was scarcely worthy of the name, as Angleton spent little time with the wife and family, primarily taking advantage of his wife’s contacts and social talents. Very little is said about his relationship with his son and two daughters, both of whom left the family to follow a yogi.

Arboit’s handling of the case of the French foreign intelligence (SDECE) chief in Washington, De Vosjoli, is surprisingly restrained. He makes it clear that Angleton was fundamentally responsible for De Vosjoli’s treason and defection to the US, but makes no major issue of that event.

None of the events described in the book, or commented on above, can be blamed on officers of the CI Staff. Those officers, as of the time of Angleton’s departure, were highly capable, experienced Clandestine Service officers, and they were loyal to Angleton and responsive to his direction. There were times when one or the other of them questioned some aspect of their assignments or analytical findings, such as Arboit’s statement that in 1967, when the Staff Communism analyst advised him that the Israelis were mobilizing for war, Angleton countered with the comment that it could not be so, as the Israelis had not said anything about that to him. Then there was war.

Arboit has little to say about Angleton’s handling of our liaison with the Israeli services, beyond their honoring him following his death by naming certain areas in Israel after him. He does point out that responsibility for Israel belonged properly in the Near East Division, but that Angleton had convinced Dulles to let him manage it personally. Arboit concludes that there was practically no advantage to our relationship with the Israelis, and correctly reports the vicious Israeli attack on the US SIGINT vessel Liberty. When our liaison With the Israelis resumed after Angleton’s departure, I went to Tel Aviv in 1976 and met with them. At the official dinner with half a dozen senior officers toward the end of that visit, they were unanimous in agreeing that they were glad Angleton was no longer in charge of our liaison with them. My reaction was that this was simply their way of welcoming one of their new CIA liaison officers.

Another topic Arboit discusses, an operation directly attributable to Angleton, is the intercept of mail between the US and the Soviet Union (HTLINGUAL). He has no positive comments to make, focusing more on the unenthusiastic reaction of the US Postal Service to CIA having access to personal correspondence of US citizens. A substantial amount of that mail was still stored in a room across the hall from the CI Staff front office when we got there in 1975, and DCI Colby shut down the project and directed disposition of the files. Whatever CI or security information resulted from that operation, the actual intelligence production was minimal, as was clear to me as one of those in the Soviet Division responsible for its dissemination.

In the three references to me in the book, each is slightly off the actual facts. He is quite wrong, for example, to say that, after Angleton left in December 1974, I was assigned to replace him until Kalaris arrived from overseas. Far from it, as it was not until February that I was assigned as his deputy for Research and Analysis, and transferred from the Soviet Bloc Division. From time to time, in the absence of Kalaris, I did act in his stead, or moved into the empty office of the previous deputy, who was temporarily replaced at first by an executive officer.

The ultimate consequence of the perpetually far-fetched “analysis” by Golitsyn, almost entirely a combination of his imagination, hostility toward anyone who opposed him or had recent KGB and GRU background, and, especially, the vast amount of information he gained from reading CIA, British, Canadian, and French intelligence files, was his naming almost all of our best sources, and case officers, as KGB agents. These included Nosenko, Penkovskiy, Popov, Artamonov, FBI assets TOPHAT and FEDORA, Gordiyevskiy, Mitrokhin, Goleniewski, Kisevalter, Kovich, Garbler, and Shergold. Perhaps the strangest finding of all was toward the end of Angleton’s tenure, when one of his key analysts used the Angleton/Golitsyn methodology to “prove” that Angleton himself was the KGB penetration of CIA that he had been looking for! Such a totally unfounded case was also made by a CI Staff officer against Bagley, completing the circle of worldwide false accusations, which Angleton/Golitsyn had launched by persuading Bagley to make a case against Nosenko. My own best evidence against the Angleton methodology came during a lunch with Cleve Cram, a friend of Angleton appointed by Kalaris to write the history of Angleton’s tenure as CI Staff chief. In an interview of Angleton as Cleve got ever deeper into his long, detailed history, Angleton told him that he had now determined who the KGB penetration of CIA was that he had been looking for. It was Leonard McCoy, because it was McCoy’s paper on Nosenko that had convinced Colby to move Angleton out of the CI Staff. Since I definitely knew him to be wrong about that, the other charges he/Golitsyn had made could be disputed with a good deal more confidence.

Once again, the painful account of Angleton’s diversion of the CIA counterintelligence responsibility into a hopeless tangle of false accusations against American and foreign intelligence officers and government officials, coupled with unjustified and personally destructive investigations, and the undermining of intelligence collection during the most vulnerable period in the history of our country, are presented by Arboit in a substantially complete and accurate manner. By this time, the attempts of some of our colleagues to justify, even commend, some of Angleton’s actions should be transparent to any objective observer as totally unfounded. It is difficult to comprehend Why there is any such attempt, except for the possible explanation that Angleton was exceptionally personable and had a genuinely magnetic personality. That hardly excuses his disastrous professional behavior, much less his being awarded the Distinguished Intelligence Medal. The most logical explanation for that final inexplicable oversight of the tremendous damage he did to intelligence collection, and to his country, is the same as the explanation as to how he succeeded in attaining and holding the assignments he was given, and why he was never reprimanded or removed from his position when his mistakes and failures, starting at least with destruction of the Philby memos (1963?), became known—had he been censured or removed from the assignments he had chosen , his protectors dating back to 08$ comradeship, Helms and Dulles, would have felt and earned, the bulk of the blame. At this late date, their fault is obvious and it is regrettable that they are no longer here to suffer for it, but it is high time to set the record straight, accepting the fact that we, as a crucial national security organization, placed our trust in officers who served themselves and their friends primarily, and violated the Agency’s trust, to the unequivocal detriment and peril of their country.

James Angleton: le Contre-Espion de la CIA, Gerald Arboit, 2007

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Book Commentary: The Man Who Kept the Secrets

This book, by a former CIA officer, is a mostly accurate and positive history of CIA during the assignments of Richard Helms between the founding of CIA in 1947 and Helms' reassignment from the DCI position to ambassador to Iran in 1973.

The first issue raised as controversial in his career is the defection in February 1964 and bona fides evaluation of KGB officer Yuriy Nosenko. It is described here as a continuing dispute in CIA. Whatever some former officers may believe, CIA properly approved the bona fides of Nosenko in 1969, in a meeting chaired by Helms.

It is stated here that Nosenko claimed to have handled Oswald's case when he defected to the USSR in 1959—not so, Nosenko claimed to have recovered Oswald's file from Minsk after President Kennedy was killed in 1963. In 1964, Helms told the Warren Commission not to trust Nosenko’s bona fides, an evaluation he received from CI Staff chief James Angleton, thus discounting Nosenko's evidence of lack of KGB/Soviet involvement in the assassination.

As for the statement here that no one knew of Angleton’s "deeper operations"- no doubt there are some missing details about those operations, as in the case of the total lack of the numerous memoranda for the record of Angleton’s countless meetings with Kim Philby, but Angleton's operational and evaluative actions are generally known, and the DD/P’s Richard Bissell and Desmond FitzGerald were entirely justified to want to dispose of him, but failed, before DCI William Colby finally took that action.

The statement that there was little doubt about Philby's bona fides in CIA is quite untrue. After he was declared persona non grata by CIA in 1951, he continued to have the confidence of Angleton until he defected to the USSR from Beirut in January 1963.

The comment here that CIA has never been penetrated was untrue when it was made—Larry Wu Tai Chin having been working for China in CIA from 1951 to 1985, Czech/KGB agent Karl Koecher 1972-1978, but none of that was known in 1979. In view of those two cases, the comment that Angleton had kept the KGB out of GA for 20 years makes no sense, but that was not Angleton's job at all. He did made several attempts to do that, all of them totally unjustified and eventually disproven, resulting. Among other things, in congressional compensation to three staff officers falsely accused by him.

The description here of a supposed significant lead from Anatoliy Golitsyn is entirely inaccurate. First of all, there was no contact with Golitsyn before he defected in December 1961. Soon after his defection, he was asked by DCI Allen Dulles if CIA was penetrated by the KGB. Golitsyn said it was not, but later raised a case which he said was a penetration, supposedly a high- level CIA officer who had served in Germany. After a good deal of investigation, and interviewing of Golitsyn, it turned out that it had been a low- level contract support officer who had been fired some months before Golitsyn defected. He is given credit for having identified KGB assets in several European countries—entirely untrue, as the closest he came to actually identifying one, in the UK, was by providing misleading information about him until Yuriy Nosenko defected in February 1964 and provided details leading directly to the British Admiralty penetration. If any (unjustified) charge was to be made that Angleton was responsible for keeping the KGB out , Kim Philby was the obvious evidence that he had utterly failed.

The removal of Angleton by DCI Colby is described as a feud having a lot to do with Colby's dislike of Angleton, but at least there is reference to Colby’s believing (correctly) that Angleton's (Golitsyn's) suspicions were close to paranoia. It is alleged that nobody could know what Angleton suspected, but that is directly contradicted by the false charges he made against numerous CIA officers, and officers of foreign intelligence services which surfaced in the CI Staff and were corrected after his departure.

In the commentary on the Nosenko case, Angleton is described as uncertain of his bona fides—in fact, he is entirely responsible for the false CIA decision that Nosenko had been dispatched by the KGB. After Nosenko was released from solitary confinement and his bona fides was certified in a 1969 meeting of senior CIA officers, chaired by DCI Helms, Angleton, Helms, and the Soviet Bloc Division continued to doubt his bona fides (Tennent Bagley, "Spy Wars").

The Man Who Kept the Secrets, Thomas Powers, 1979