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.