Friday, November 8, 2013

Book Commentary: A Look Over My Shoulder

In a review of this book, two of the three themes which Tom Troy cites as important are the Nosenko affair and the influence of Angleton in CIA. He concludes that Helms actually reveals almost nothing that has not already appeared in other public analyses and declassified publications. He raises Helms’ claim that Angleton did not concur in the treatment of Nosenko, and he then refutes that claim, as he well should. Bagley confirms in his book the fact that Angleton did support the handling of Nosenko. The book makes no mention of my 40page memo countering the 900-page case made against Nosenko by Bagley, which i delivered to Helms in March 1966. The next day after I delivered it to Helms, he called and asked if he could pass it to psychologist Gittinger. Of course. A couple of weeks later, Gittinger called and we went out for lunch. We did that a couple of times. Gittinger had interviewed Nosenko and agreed with me. Nosenko stayed in solitary, under much worse conditions than described by Helms. Meanwhile, the new DD/P, Karamessines, cancelled my recent promotion, for having delivered a memo to the DD/P without going through the proper channels, after the chief of the Soviet Division, to whom it had been addressed, ordered that it be destroyed and never mentioned to anyone. I then contacted the DD/P and asked for an interview. At the end of the interview, he restored my promotion and directed me to go to the C/SR Division, apologize, and tell him that my promotion had been restored.

In September 1967, I wrote another memo, arguing that our handling of Nosenko was totally inappropriate, if not illegal, and that he should be released and his behavior monitored. l delivered that to DCI Helms. He called me to his office the next day and said that he was going to turn the case over to his deputy, Admiral Taylor, who would take it up with Security. Admiral Taylor called me a few days later, I went to his office, and he asked me why the SR and CI leadership would make such a case against someone. I could only refer to the influence which Golitsyn/Angleton had had on them.

As Troy states in his review, Helms never accepted that Nosenko was bona fide, but states in his book that Nosenko was the most challenging operation in his entire career. Before leaving CIA, he gave a medal to Gittinger. When I met Gittinger at the ceremony, he said that the medal actually should have been given to me. All Soviet assets and detectors have testified to Nosenko’s bona tides, and to the devastating impact that his defection had on KGB management and the assignments of many KGB officers overseas. Helms left the Nosenko case in the hands of Angleton. Although the SR Division dealt with Nosenko during his solitary confinement for over three years, the basis for the division’s approach was Angleton’s evaluation of Nosenko, based on Golitsyn’s continuing analysis, his accusations against any new assets or defectors who supported Nosenko, and Angleton’s jealousy of SR Division authority over Soviet operations.

The willingness of Helms to allow Angleton to take charge of anything he was interested in was never more evident than in the Loginov case. This case of a KGB illegal preparing to take over their operations in the US had been running for six years, when his apparent last training assignment, in South Africa, came up in late 1967. The night before CIA intended to turn him over to the South African security service, I was called at home by an officer familiar with the operation, and warned of the plan. The next day, I called DCI Helms and objected that the only reason that a case had been made against Loginov was that he had supported Nosenko’s bona fides. Helms was quite angry, raised his voice and almost shouted into the phone: —”Len, that’s out of my hands, Jim’s handling that”. In other words, if Angleton is 13 doing it, it must be the right thing to do. As in the case of Nosenko, one word from Helms and Nosenko would have been treated more humanely, and Loginov would have continued as a CIA asset, rather than being compromised to the KGB under circumstances which made his arrest and shooting likely. Troy refers to 088, and the fact that Helms and Angleton had served in it -—”with distinction”. The problem in CIA was that the OSS veterans remained in control of most of it, and they stuck together. With 088 veteran Dulles in charge, Helms and Angleton had undisputed authority. Helms had had almost no operational experience before he started to move up the management chain in CIA. An example of his general lack of operational concern and sense of responsibility occurred after we met with Penkovskiy in London in April 1961. Division chief Maury took the three of us to Helms' office to report on the operation. Joe and George made some comments, I summarized briefly the intelligence acquired, and then Maury said that I had evaluated Radio Moscow announcer Belitskiy, whom we had been running since he walked in at the Brussels world's fair in 1958, as under KGB control. Helms threw up his hands and exclaimed that he did not "have time for that!".

That attitude may be reflective of his failure to oversee Angleton’s actions and decisions. Angleton has generally been praised for his performance as our chief in Rome for several years at the end of WWII. However, there is really no way to judge that assessment by his 088 colleagues, and all of the OSS veterans were automatically viewed by CIA as exceptional as a result of their wartime service. A quite different view of Angleton’s wartime and X-2 service in Rome was given me by the senior MI-6 officer on the Penkovskiy case, Harold Shergold (who spoke on the Penkovskiy case in the CIA bubble in March 1998). Shergold had been Angleton’s MI-6 counterpart in Rome, and had nothing at all positive to say about Angleton’s actions there as far as he knew about them. Helms claims that much said about Angleton is unfair, to him and his superiors. Co-author Hood worked for Angleton in the CI Staff, and could hardly take issue with any of Helms’ positive remarks about Angleton without raising 7 questions as to why he, himself, did not take action against any of Angleton’s countless errors in analysis and management. As for his performance in Israel, when I went to Israel after moving into the CI Staff, the Israeli service chiefs were quite critical of Angleton (perhaps making me feel better about being there?). After the millions of CIA dollars which he delivered to them over 20 years, it is not too surprising that they named some woods after Angleton.

Troy refers with extreme negativity to the activity initiated by Angleton against officers of the SR Division, especially those with any Russian- language capability, or background, ending up with destroying the careers of at least four, damaging numerous others. He first evaluated Penkovskiy as a valuable asset, but after Golitsyn's detection in December 1961, he even decided that Penkovskiy had been sent to us by the KGB.

Helms cites nothing accomplished by Angleton, and there is, in fact, no operational or CI decision in the record which can be cited as evidence of his counterintelligence, or even his intelligence, capability or achievement. —-The best of his work is still classified. Well, I wish I could think of something classified, unclassified, whatever, to cite as support to his reputation, but I cannot. The only exception which comes to mind is my analysis of cosmonaut Gagarin’s interpreter’s (Belitskiy) bona fides, which Angleton asked me to discuss with him, apparently ending up with his agreement, but the acting SR Division chief called me up to his office and reprimanded me as being wrong—until a KGB detector confirmed the fact seven months later. If he did learn something from Philby, CIA will never know it, as none of the countless memos he dictated after meeting with Philby has ever been found.

He did set up the Anglophone CI committee, which was a useful means of getting to know, and coordinate with, officers of other government CI agencies. Helms denies that Angleton’s policies brought Soviet operations to a halt, but having been directly in the middle of them, i will deny that — detectors and potential assets were turned down in large part, and overseas stations were warned that the KGB had a large disinformation and deception program under way—totally untrue, as it turned out. Helms says no one in CIA ever raised any doubts, or criticized, Angleton—well, then, he forgets my memos on Nosenko and doubts raised by officers in the SR Division at the working level who were at serious risk if they expressed themselves other than to one another. Helms makes no mention at all of the fact that Angleton gave Golitsyn several hundred classified files on operations and personnel. Those files were recovered by my staff in 1975, from Golitsyn’s house in eastern New York (including my own personnel file).

Particularly puzzling to me is the absolute absence of any mention by Helms of the highest- ranking Soviet officer ever to work for us—two-star General Polyakov, (TOPHAT) from 1961 with the FBI until 1985 for us. He was identified in several books before Helms wrote his. There also is no mention of a KGB officer who worked for us, and the FBI, from 1961 to 1985—Kulak, (FEDOBA) also identified in several books previously. in both cases, the FBI CI chief, Nolan, evaluated them as under KGB control while I was in the CI Staff. Angleton had concurred in those assessments. In both cases, I received FBI agreement in 1975 to send CIA analysts to the FBI to review their reporting. In both cases, those analysts concluded that the two assets were bona fide, as their continued reporting for the following ten years indicates.

The SR Division chief, Murphy, and deputy, Bagley, were in complete agreement with Angleton in this case as well, and one of my later deputies in the CI Staff who told C/SR Murphy that Poiyakov was bona tide was dispatched the next day to an assignment in Africa! As Troy concludes, Helms’ (and Hood’s) obscuring and defending of Angleton’s actions is a major blot on Helms’ career and reputation. No detail at all is provided by Helms to justify his praise of Angleton’s performance in CIA, and my own 20 years in the middle of our Soviet operations and CI Research and Analysis left me with nothing to commend in that respect except the interview with him in 1961 of my negative analysis of the case of Gagarin interpreter Belitskiy mentioned above (and his aid in getting Artamonov under CIA control). After Angleton declined reassignment in December 1974 (he was never fired), he called me in and told me, with an arrogant and hostile look on his face, how he had straightened Bagley out when he came to him in June 1962 boasting of having dealt with the most valuable defector ever—Nosenko. That is why an excellent article by Samuel Halpern and Hayden Peake: "Did Angleton Jail Nosenko" (arguing that he did not) essentially loses its well- argumented validity--the fact is that the decision that Nosenko was not bonafide was Angleton's alone, and, after acceptance by the Soviet Division, resulted in his brutal handling for the next three and a half years. He certainly did not order the savage handling of Nosenko by the Soviet Division, but he gave them the reason for conducting a hostile interrogation a of Nosenko. Documents found in Angleton's personal files following his retirement show that he, and Helms were kept fully informed of Soviet Division treatment of Nosenko. One word to Helms from counterintelligence chief Angleton would have changed the Soviet Division interrogation methodology, starting with removing him from the absolutely unjustified, if not illegal, imprisonment of him in solitary confinement for over three years.

A Look Over My Shoulder, Richard Helms and William Hood, 2003

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