Jump to content
The Education Forum
Sign in to follow this  
John Simkin

Joseph Trento: Secret History of the CIA

Recommended Posts

Two initial questions:

(1) Did you find out anything on Operation Mockingbird during your research for your book on the CIA?

(2) Did you find any links between the CIA and the Suite 8F Group?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A few more questions...

1) Do CIA veterans openly acknowledge that Air America shipped opium? Is this something that is widely discussed? Should we accept this as history and not as rumor?

2) Did Angleton ever let on as to WHY Hunt was in Dallas in November 63? Could Oswald have been part of a Covert Domestic Ops plot to tie Lechuga, who'd been targeted for recruitment, to an assassination attempt on Kennedy? Or is this too far-fetched?

3) Did Angleton ever reveal what was in Mary Meyer's diary, or what he did with it?

Edited by Pat Speer

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

On page 199 of your book you claim: “In the years of guerrilla warfare against Batista, Castro received guns from Trafficante. In return, Castro promised Trafficante control of gambling in Cuba once the revolution succeeded. Trafficante also allowed Castro’s supporters to bring heroin into Miami and sell it on his turf to help finance the revolution.”

You do not tell us your sources for this statement. On the next page you quote Ricardo Canete, a Cuban-American, working for William Harvey’s anti-Castro operation who became embroiled in Trafficante’s criminal activity. He described how it worked: “Fidel needed money, and he needed information. A man out of the Cuban Mission to the UN named Fernandez ran the Cuban DGI (in the United States). He took orders from Trafficante. It was clear by the late 1960s that drugs and protection being run through Little Havana were far more profitable than anything the mob had done in Cuba.”

Was Ricardo Canete your source? If so, is he trustworthy? Could he been part of a campaign to undermine Castro’s moral and political credibility. For example, one of the things that is clear is that after he established himself in power, Castro destroyed the Mafia’s business interests (gambling, drugs, prostitution, etc.) in Cuba. When I interviewed people in Cuba about Castro, many mentioned this as being one of the reasons why he was so popular with the Cuban people.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
According to Joe Trento (The Secret History of the CIA): “In the years of guerrilla warfare against Batista, Castro received guns from Trafficante. In return, Castro promised Trafficante control of gambling in Cuba once the revolution succeeded. Trafficante also allowed Castro’s supporters to bring heroin into Miami and sell it on his turf to help finance the revolution.” (page 199)

He does not give his sources for this statement. On the next page he quotes Ricardo Canete, a Cuban-American, working for William Harvey’s anti-Castro operation and became embroiled in Trafficante’s criminal activity. He described how it worked: “Fidel needed money, and he needed information. A man out of the Cuban Mission to the UN named Fernandez ran the Cuban DGI (in the United States). He took orders from Trafficante. It was clear by the late 1960s that drugs and protection being run through Little Havana were far more profitable than anything the mob had done in Cuba.”

Ricardo Canete was probably Trento’s source? If so, is he trustworthy? Could he been part of a campaign to undermine Castro’s moral and political credibility. For example, one of the things that is clear is that after he established himself in power, Castro destroyed the Mafia’s business interests (gambling, drugs, prostitution, etc.) in Cuba.

The page 199 stuff came from John Sherwood, Bob Crowley and several others I still cannot name publicly.

Canete was one of my sources and I found him trustworthy on these matters. Actually Castro did not shut all ALL Mafia activities down. His actions regarding Tafficante baffled US law enforcement. By the way much of this ran counter to what the CIA and Justice Department expected.

The import of all this is that Trafficante had JM WAVE fully penetrated acording to Sherwood and others.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1) Do CIA veterans openly acknowledge that Air America shipped opium? Is this something that is widely discussed? Should we accept this as history and not as rumor?

2) Did Angleton ever let on as to WHY Hunt was in Dallas in November 63? Could Oswald have been part of a Covert Domestic Ops plot to tie Lechuga, who'd been targeted for recruitment, to an assassination attempt on Kennedy? Or is this too far-fetched?

3) Did Angleton ever reveal what was in Mary Meyer's diary, or what he did with it?

1. I accept it as history. It was widely discussed by people in Air America and the support staff. Chris Robbin's book is very good.

2. Angleton said Hunt was in Dallas not to kill Kennedy but on his way either to or from Mexico City where the Agency had a Station Chief who had been injured in an accident. Angleton's take on the Kennedy case is all in Secret History.

3. He gave it to her children. The diary was more a sketchbook then smoking hot diary. But there was enough personal stuff in it to make clear she had been JFK's lover according to Angleton.

(1) Did you find out anything on Operation Mockingbird during your research for your book on the CIA?

(2) Did you find any links between the CIA and the Suite 8F Group?

1. In case you are unaware Dave Roman and I broke the CIA's use of the media in the article "The Spies Who Came In From The Newsroom" in 1977.

2. I don't know what the Suite8F group is.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Canete was one of my sources and I found him trustworthy on these matters. Actually Castro did not shut all ALL Mafia activities down. His actions regarding Tafficante baffled US law enforcement. By the way much of this ran counter to what the CIA and Justice Department expected.

The import of all this is that Trafficante had JM WAVE fully penetrated acording to Sherwood and others.

FWIW, Charles Siragusa's The Trail of the Poppy supports that Castro refused to cooperate with the U.S. government in cracking down on the traffickers. As to the infiltration of JMWAVE, Shackley's recent memoirs reflect that he had concerns about Trafficante's influence over the exiles. Of course, he claims to have cleaned it all up.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1. In case you are unaware Dave Roman and I broke the CIA's use of the media in the article "The Spies Who Came In From The Newsroom" in 1977.

I did not know about the CIA article. Where would I get a copy of it?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Why do you think the KGB/Castro was involved in the assassination of JFK? Is James Angleton a reliable source?

I think Jim Angleton's view that the Soviet's played a role in the assassination makes sense because of the internal power struggles going on during the time period. As to the notion the CIA was capable of killing the President - I just don't believe it. They were not competent enough to kill Castro. But I do think the events outlined in Secret History - especially those things done behind Kennedy's back in Viet Nam in the 1963 overthrow of Diem and Nhu raise real questions about who was running the CIA. The Soviet's could not have gotten a better result than those murders. We know that Kennedy's orders to remove the brothers and take them to Taiwan were ignored. I think this bolster's Angleton's view that this was all tied to a bigger Soviet plot.

One thing I am certain of - if God appeared with answers to the Kennedy murder a lot of people would not believe what the deity would have to say. I will be revisiting the Kennedy case when I write Bill Corson's biography. As your members may recall it was Corson, who was very close to the President who Lyndon Johnson dispatched to Dallas in the immediate aftermath.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Why do you think the KGB/Castro was involved in the assassination of JFK? Is James Angleton a reliable source?

I think Jim Angleton's view that the Soviet's played a role in the assassination makes sense because of the internal power struggles going on during the time period. As to the notion the CIA was capable of killing the President - I just don't believe it. They were not competent enough to kill Castro. But I do think the events outlined in Secret History - especially those things done behind Kennedy's back in Viet Nam in the 1963 overthrow of Diem and Nhu raise real questions about who was running the CIA. The Soviet's could not have gotten a better result than those murders. We know that Kennedy's orders to remove the brothers and take them to Taiwan were ignored. I think this bolster's Angleton's view that this was all tied to a bigger Soviet plot.

It seems that all those authors who believe that the Soviets were behind the assassination of JFK rely heavily on information provided by James Angleton. Yet Cleveland C. Cram in his CIA investigation, Moles and Molehunters: A Review of Counterintelligence Literature (declassified in 2003) completely discredits Angleton. He shows how some researchers like Edward Epstein (Legend: The Secret World of Lee Harvey Oswald & Deception: The Invisible War Between the KGB and the CIA) was totally taken in by Angleton’s disinformation campaign. I am afraid Cram is also very unkind about your book Windows: Four American Spies, the Wives They Left Behind, and the KGB'S Crippling of American Intelligence (1989).

In this document Cram is very complimentary about the books written by David C. Martin (Wilderness of Mirrors), David Wise (Molehunt) and Tom Mangold (Cold Warrior). Cram points out that these authors managed to persuade former CIA officers to tell the truth about their activities. In some cases, they were even given classified documents. Although they talked to Angleton they realised that he was an unreliable source.

Martin, Wise and Mangold basically tell the same story. Angleton became convinced that the CIA had been penetrated by a "mole" working for the KGB. He ordered his assistant, Clare Edward Petty, of the ultra-secret Special Investigation Group (SIG), to carry out a study into the possibility that a Soviet spy existed in the higher levels of the CIA. Angleton suggested that David Murphy, a former chief of the Soviet Division, was a spy. Petty eventually produced a 25 page report on Murphy that concluded that he was "probably innocent". Angleton disagreed and insisted he was a Soviet mole.

Petty also investigated Pete Bagley, another former chief of the Soviet Division. His report on Bagley ran to over 250 pages and concluded that he was a "good candidate for the mole". Angleton disagreed and insisted that his friend was a loyal CIA officer.

Petty now became suspicious of Angleton and decided to carry out a private investigation into his past. As he later pointed out: "I reviewed Angleton's entire career, going back through his relationships with Philby, his adherence to all of Golitsyn's wild theories, his false accusations against foreign services and the resulting damage to the liaison relationships, and finally his accusation against innocent Soviet Division officers."

As a result of his investigation, Petty concluded that there was an "80-85 percent probability" that Angleton was a Soviet mole. Petty showed his report to several senior CIA officials including William Colby, William Nelson and David Blee. Colby instructed Bronson Tweedy, another senior CIA officer to review Petty's findings. After several months of study, Tweedy argued that there was no justification whatsoever for assuming Angleton to be a Soviet agent.

In February, 1973, James Schlesinger replaced Richard Helms as Director of the CIA. Angleton immediately went to see Schlesinger and gave him a list of more than 30 people that he considered to be Soviet agents. This list included top politicians, foreign intelligence officials and senior CIA officials. Those named included Harold Wilson, the British prime minister, Olof Palme, the Swedish prime minister, Willy Brandt, chairman of the West German Social Democratic Party, Averell Harriman, the former U.S. ambassador to the Soviet Union, Lester Pearson, the Canadian prime minister and Henry Kissinger, the National Security Adviser and Secretary of State under President Richard Nixon. Schlesinger listened to Angleton for seven hours. After consulting with other senior figures in the CIA he concluded that he was suffering from paranoia. However, he liked Angleton and decided against forcing him into retirement.

In July 1973, James Schlesinger became President Nixon's Secretary of Defence and William Colby became the new Director of the CIA. Angleton now presented his list of suspected agents to Colby. He reacted by carrying out an investigation into Angleton. He later recalled that he could not find any evidence "that we ever caught a spy under Jim". He added: "That really bothered me... Now I don't care what Jim's political views were as long as he did his job properly, and I'm afraid, in that respect, he was not a good CI chief."

Colby was also concerned about Angleton's mental health. However, he found it difficult to sack him. On 20th December, 1973, Seymour Hersh contacted William Colby and told him that he had evidence that Angleton had organized a massive spying campaign against thousands of American citizens. This action had violated the CIA charter. Hersh informed Colby that he planned to publish the story a few days later. Colby immediately called Angleton to his office and was ordered to resign.

In March, 1976, James Truitt gave an interview to the National Enquirer. Truitt told the newspaper that Mary Pinchot Meyer, who had been murdered on 12th October, 1964, was having an affair with John F. Kennedy. He also claimed that Meyer had told his wife, Ann Truitt, that she was keeping an account of this relationship in her diary. Meyer asked Truitt to take possession of a private diary "if anything ever happened to me".

Ann Truitt was living in Tokyo at the time of the murder. She phoned Ben Bradlee at his home and asked him if he had found the diary. Bradlee, who claimed he was unaware of his sister-in-law's affair with Kennedy, knew nothing about the diary. He later recalled what he did after Truitt's phone-call: "We didn't start looking until the next morning, when Tony and I walked around the corner a few blocks to Mary's house. It was locked, as we had expected, but when we got inside, we found Jim Angleton, and to our complete surprise he told us he, too, was looking for Mary's diary."

Angleton admitted that he knew of Mary's relationship with JFK and was searching her home looking for her diary and any letters that would reveal details of the affair. According to Ben Bradlee, it was Mary's sister, Antoinette Bradlee, who found the diary and letters a few days later. It was claimed that the diary was in a metal box in Mary's studio. The contents of the box were given to Angleton who claimed he burnt the diary. Angleton later admitted that Mary recorded in her diary that she had taken LSD with Kennedy before "they made love".

In 1976 Cleveland Cram, the former Chief of Station in the Western Hemisphere, met George T. Kalaris and Ted Shackley at a cocktail party in Washington. Kalaris, who had replaced Angleton as Chief of Counterintelligence, asked Cram if he would like to come back to work. Cram was told that the CIA wanted a study done of Angleton's reign from 1954 to 1974. "Find out what in hell happened. What were these guys doing."

Cram took the assignment and was given access to all CIA documents on covert operations. The study entitled History of the Counterintelligence Staff 1954-1974, took six years to complete. As David Wise points out in his book Molehunt (1992): "When Cram finally finished it in 1981... he had produced twelve legal-sized volumes, each three hundred to four hundred pages. Cram's approximately four-thousand-page study has never been declassified. It remains locked in the CIA's vaults."

My own view is that Angleton was not a Soviet spy. However, he had been cleverly manipulated by the KGB so that he would create havoc in the CIA. He had a similar impact on the British Intelligence Service as he convinced people like Peter Wright that senior figures like Roger Hollis and Graham Mitchell were spies. Wright also convinced others that Harold Wilson and several other leading figures in the Labour Party were working for the Soviets. In 1968 Peter Wright was involved with Cecil King, the publisher of the Daily Mirror and a MI5 agent, in a plot to bring down Wilson's government and replace it with a coalition led by Lord Mountbatten. Had Angleton five years earlier, been involved in removing another dangerous "left-wing" politician in the United States?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Why do you think the KGB/Castro was involved in the assassination of JFK? Is James Angleton a reliable source?

I think Jim Angleton's view that the Soviet's played a role in the assassination makes sense because of the internal power struggles going on during the time period. As to the notion the CIA was capable of killing the President - I just don't believe it. They were not competent enough to kill Castro. But I do think the events outlined in Secret History - especially those things done behind Kennedy's back in Viet Nam in the 1963 overthrow of Diem and Nhu raise real questions about who was running the CIA. The Soviet's could not have gotten a better result than those murders. We know that Kennedy's orders to remove the brothers and take them to Taiwan were ignored. I think this bolster's Angleton's view that this was all tied to a bigger Soviet plot.

It seems that all those authors who believe that the Soviets were behind the assassination of JFK rely heavily on information provided by James Angleton. Yet Cleveland C. Cram in his CIA investigation, Moles and Molehunters: A Review of Counterintelligence Literature (declassified in 2003) completely discredits Angleton. He shows how some researchers like Edward Epstein (Legend: The Secret World of Lee Harvey Oswald & Deception: The Invisible War Between the KGB and the CIA) was totally taken in by Angleton’s disinformation campaign. I am afraid Cram is also very unkind about your book Windows: Four American Spies, the Wives They Left Behind, and the KGB'S Crippling of American Intelligence (1989).

In this document Cram is very complimentary about the books written by David C. Martin (Wilderness of Mirrors), David Wise (Molehunt) and Tom Mangold (Cold Warrior). Cram points out that these authors managed to persuade former CIA officers to tell the truth about their activities. In some cases, they were even given classified documents. Although they talked to Angleton they realised that he was an unreliable source.

Martin, Wise and Mangold basically tell the same story. Angleton became convinced that the CIA had been penetrated by a "mole" working for the KGB. He ordered his assistant, Clare Edward Petty, of the ultra-secret Special Investigation Group (SIG), to carry out a study into the possibility that a Soviet spy existed in the higher levels of the CIA. Angleton suggested that David Murphy, a former chief of the Soviet Division, was a spy. Petty eventually produced a 25 page report on Murphy that concluded that he was "probably innocent". Angleton disagreed and insisted he was a Soviet mole.

Petty also investigated Pete Bagley, another former chief of the Soviet Division. His report on Bagley ran to over 250 pages and concluded that he was a "good candidate for the mole". Angleton disagreed and insisted that his friend was a loyal CIA officer.

Petty now became suspicious of Angleton and decided to carry out a private investigation into his past. As he later pointed out: "I reviewed Angleton's entire career, going back through his relationships with Philby, his adherence to all of Golitsyn's wild theories, his false accusations against foreign services and the resulting damage to the liaison relationships, and finally his accusation against innocent Soviet Division officers."

As a result of his investigation, Petty concluded that there was an "80-85 percent probability" that Angleton was a Soviet mole. Petty showed his report to several senior CIA officials including William Colby, William Nelson and David Blee. Colby instructed Bronson Tweedy, another senior CIA officer to review Petty's findings. After several months of study, Tweedy argued that there was no justification whatsoever for assuming Angleton to be a Soviet agent.

In February, 1973, James Schlesinger replaced Richard Helms as Director of the CIA. Angleton immediately went to see Schlesinger and gave him a list of more than 30 people that he considered to be Soviet agents. This list included top politicians, foreign intelligence officials and senior CIA officials. Those named included Harold Wilson, the British prime minister, Olof Palme, the Swedish prime minister, Willy Brandt, chairman of the West German Social Democratic Party, Averell Harriman, the former U.S. ambassador to the Soviet Union, Lester Pearson, the Canadian prime minister and Henry Kissinger, the National Security Adviser and Secretary of State under President Richard Nixon. Schlesinger listened to Angleton for seven hours. After consulting with other senior figures in the CIA he concluded that he was suffering from paranoia. However, he liked Angleton and decided against forcing him into retirement.

In July 1973, James Schlesinger became President Nixon's Secretary of Defence and William Colby became the new Director of the CIA. Angleton now presented his list of suspected agents to Colby. He reacted by carrying out an investigation into Angleton. He later recalled that he could not find any evidence "that we ever caught a spy under Jim". He added: "That really bothered me... Now I don't care what Jim's political views were as long as he did his job properly, and I'm afraid, in that respect, he was not a good CI chief."

Colby was also concerned about Angleton's mental health. However, he found it difficult to sack him. On 20th December, 1973, Seymour Hersh contacted William Colby and told him that he had evidence that Angleton had organized a massive spying campaign against thousands of American citizens. This action had violated the CIA charter. Hersh informed Colby that he planned to publish the story a few days later. Colby immediately called Angleton to his office and was ordered to resign.

In March, 1976, James Truitt gave an interview to the National Enquirer. Truitt told the newspaper that Mary Pinchot Meyer, who had been murdered on 12th October, 1964, was having an affair with John F. Kennedy. He also claimed that Meyer had told his wife, Ann Truitt, that she was keeping an account of this relationship in her diary. Meyer asked Truitt to take possession of a private diary "if anything ever happened to me".

Ann Truitt was living in Tokyo at the time of the murder. She phoned Ben Bradlee at his home and asked him if he had found the diary. Bradlee, who claimed he was unaware of his sister-in-law's affair with Kennedy, knew nothing about the diary. He later recalled what he did after Truitt's phone-call: "We didn't start looking until the next morning, when Tony and I walked around the corner a few blocks to Mary's house. It was locked, as we had expected, but when we got inside, we found Jim Angleton, and to our complete surprise he told us he, too, was looking for Mary's diary."

Angleton admitted that he knew of Mary's relationship with JFK and was searching her home looking for her diary and any letters that would reveal details of the affair. According to Ben Bradlee, it was Mary's sister, Antoinette Bradlee, who found the diary and letters a few days later. It was claimed that the diary was in a metal box in Mary's studio. The contents of the box were given to Angleton who claimed he burnt the diary. Angleton later admitted that Mary recorded in her diary that she had taken LSD with Kennedy before "they made love".

In 1976 Cleveland Cram, the former Chief of Station in the Western Hemisphere, met George T. Kalaris and Ted Shackley at a cocktail party in Washington. Kalaris, who had replaced Angleton as Chief of Counterintelligence, asked Cram if he would like to come back to work. Cram was told that the CIA wanted a study done of Angleton's reign from 1954 to 1974. "Find out what in hell happened. What were these guys doing."

Cram took the assignment and was given access to all CIA documents on covert operations. The study entitled History of the Counterintelligence Staff 1954-1974, took six years to complete. As David Wise points out in his book Molehunt (1992): "When Cram finally finished it in 1981... he had produced twelve legal-sized volumes, each three hundred to four hundred pages. Cram's approximately four-thousand-page study has never been declassified. It remains locked in the CIA's vaults."

My own view is that Angleton was not a Soviet spy. However, he had been cleverly manipulated by the KGB so that he would create havoc in the CIA. He had a similar impact on the British Intelligence Service as he convinced people like Peter Wright that senior figures like Roger Hollis and Graham Mitchell were spies. Wright also convinced others that Harold Wilson and several other leading figures in the Labour Party were working for the Soviets. In 1968 Peter Wright was involved with Cecil King, the publisher of the Daily Mirror and a MI5 agent, in a plot to bring down Wilson's government and replace it with a coalition led by Lord Mountbatten. Had Angleton five years earlier, been involved in removing another dangerous "left-wing" politician in the United States?

Good question. Mr. Trento I really enjoyed your latest book Prelude to Terror. Especially found info to The Safari Club fascinating. But your reliance on Angleton in your Secret History is still extremely problemeatic. Look forward to your reposnse to John Simkin's question.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
It seems that all those authors who believe that the Soviets were behind the assassination of JFK rely heavily on information provided by James Angleton. Yet Cleveland C. Cram in his CIA investigation, Moles and Molehunters: A Review of Counterintelligence Literature (declassified in 2003) completely discredits Angleton. He shows how some researchers like Edward Epstein (Legend: The Secret World of Lee Harvey Oswald & Deception: The Invisible War Between the KGB and the CIA) was totally taken in by Angleton’s disinformation campaign. I am afraid Cram is also very unkind about your book Windows: Four American Spies, the Wives They Left Behind, and the KGB'S Crippling of American Intelligence (1989).

In this document Cram is very complimentary about the books written by David C. Martin (Wilderness of Mirrors), David Wise (Molehunt) and Tom Mangold (Cold Warrior). Cram points out that these authors managed to persuade former CIA officers to tell the truth about their activities. In some cases, they were even given classified documents. Although they talked to Angleton they realised that he was an unreliable source.

Martin, Wise and Mangold basically tell the same story. Angleton became convinced that the CIA had been penetrated by a "mole" working for the KGB. He ordered his assistant, Clare Edward Petty, of the ultra-secret Special Investigation Group (SIG), to carry out a study into the possibility that a Soviet spy existed in the higher levels of the CIA. Angleton suggested that David Murphy, a former chief of the Soviet Division, was a spy. Petty eventually produced a 25 page report on Murphy that concluded that he was "probably innocent". Angleton disagreed and insisted he was a Soviet mole.

Petty also investigated Pete Bagley, another former chief of the Soviet Division. His report on Bagley ran to over 250 pages and concluded that he was a "good candidate for the mole". Angleton disagreed and insisted that his friend was a loyal CIA officer.

Petty now became suspicious of Angleton and decided to carry out a private investigation into his past. As he later pointed out: "I reviewed Angleton's entire career, going back through his relationships with Philby, his adherence to all of Golitsyn's wild theories, his false accusations against foreign services and the resulting damage to the liaison relationships, and finally his accusation against innocent Soviet Division officers."

As a result of his investigation, Petty concluded that there was an "80-85 percent probability" that Angleton was a Soviet mole. Petty showed his report to several senior CIA officials including William Colby, William Nelson and David Blee. Colby instructed Bronson Tweedy, another senior CIA officer to review Petty's findings. After several months of study, Tweedy argued that there was no justification whatsoever for assuming Angleton to be a Soviet agent.

Cleve Cram had a reason not to like me or Angleton. I reported in the 1970’s that Angleton conducted operations on his turf in Ottawa (where he was COS). The details of that operation involved Bennett and Nick Shadrin. Cram and his colleague – a former Russian desk officer and later CI official hated all my CIA reported. In both cases these men trie to pass on disinformation and both were caught at it.

Cram was also angry because I got a hold of his report on Angleton draft form and published a newspaper version of it. If you had read my books then you should be aware I included Petty’s views. Petty was a glory hound who tiook credit for the work of others. His report on Tenant Bagley was discredited not by Petty b ut by the greatest case officer in CIA history, the late George Kisevalter. Your little history review in or note leave out a great deal. I think it is fairly clear your knowledge about Angleton and Schlesinger is less than complete. No CIA head was less respected than Schlesinger among the rank and file , Angleton thought him a fool. He told me that only a fool would try follow Helm’s who clear would still play a leadership role at the CIA as Ambassador to Iran.

I am afraid I have repeatedly been over the territory you cite and just can’t come to the same conclusions. Mangold’s book was so discredited – it was a planned attack on Angleton – largely because it used such poor sources as Gerald Post etc., that the publisher pulled the rug out from under it shortly after it was published.

The mole was Igor Orlov and Angleton was right to chase down ever agent associated with Orlov. Orlov’s son called me the other day to tell me he had just read Secret History and for the first time understood why his father had done many of the things he did.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A very good post by Mr. Trento. Interesting that Cram had an "axe to grind". I hope readers will, as they should, conclude that Mr. Trento knows whereof he speaks. IMO every member should read his book with the attention it deserves. My assessment of Angleton is based in part on my conclusion that he was correct about Nosenko.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

First of all, I would like to thank you for showing the courage to defend James Angleton. It is something that Edward Epstein and Gus Russo are unwilling to do.

Cleve Cram had a reason not to like me or Angleton. I reported in the 1970’s that Angleton conducted operations on his turf in Ottawa (where he was COS). The details of that operation involved Bennett and Nick Shadrin. Cram and his colleague – a former Russian desk officer and later CI official hated all my CIA reported. In both cases these men trie to pass on disinformation and both were caught at it. Cram was also angry because I got a hold of his report on Angleton draft form and published a newspaper version of it. If you had read my books then you should be aware I included Petty’s views.

I am not convinced that Cram’s criticism of you in based on your report on events in Canada. It has to be remembered that the purpose of this report was for the briefing of senior CIA officials. In fact, he only spends a couple of sentences on your book: “Not every book on espionage and counterintelligence published between 1977 and 1992 is reviewed; only those that are historically accurate, at least in general, and were influential are assessed. Excluded are some recent works like Widows, by William R. Corson and Susan and Joseph Trento because they are not reputable by even the generally low standards of most counterintelligence writing.” (page 1). He also mentions you on page 8 when he claims you wrote a series of articles in 1979/1980 where you “launched a number of charges against Angleton, including some erroneous information about certain cases.”

Cram’s real target is not you but Edward Epstein, who he believes participated with Angleton in a massive disinformation campaign.

If you had read my books then you should be aware I included Petty’s views. Petty was a glory hound who took credit for the work of others. His report on Tenant Bagley was discredited not by Petty but by the greatest case officer in CIA history, the late George Kisevalter.

I did not attempt to defend the views of Petty. At first he was also taken in by Angleton’s disinformation campaign. It was only when he was carrying out research into Angleton’s proposed moles in the CIA that he came up with the idea that Angleton was working for the Soviets. As I have already said, I believe that Petty got this wrong. Cram does not give the impression that he believed this theory either.

Your little history review in or note leave out a great deal. I think it is fairly clear your knowledge about Angleton and Schlesinger is less than complete. No CIA head was less respected than Schlesinger among the rank and file , Angleton thought him a fool. He told me that only a fool would try follow Helm’s who clear would still play a leadership role at the CIA as Ambassador to Iran.

I do not agree that James Schlesinger was a fool. Nor did Angleton agree with this assessment. In fact the two men got on very well together. Schlesinger made no attempt to sack Angleton although he accepted that it was incompetent as well as being mentally ill.

Schlesinger was clearly Nixon’s man who posed a serious threat to the CIA. Soon after he was appointed Schlesinger was heard to say: “The clandestine service was Helms’s Praetorian Guard. It had too much influence in the Agency and was too powerful within the government. I am going to cut it down to size.” This he did and over the next three months over 7 per cent of CIA officers lost their jobs.

On 9th May, 1973, Schlesinger issued a directive to all CIA employees: “I have ordered all senior operating officials of this Agency to report to me immediately on any activities now going on, or might have gone on in the past, which might be considered to be outside the legislative charter of this Agency. I hereby direct every person presently employed by CIA to report to me on any such activities of which he has knowledge. I invite all ex-employees to do the same. Anyone who has such information should call my secretary and say that he wishes to talk to me about “activities outside the CIA’s charter”.

There were several employees who had been trying to complain about the illegal CIA activities for some time. As Cord Meyer pointed out, this directive “was a hunting license for the resentful subordinate to dig back into the records of the past in order to come up with evidence that might destroy the career of a superior whom he long hated.” The result of this investigation was the production of what has become known as the “Family Jewels”. This then became information that Cram was able to use in his investigation.

I am afraid I have repeatedly been over the territory you cite and just can’t come to the same conclusions. Mangold’s book was so discredited – it was a planned attack on Angleton – largely because it used such poor sources as Gerald Post etc., that the publisher pulled the rug out from under it shortly after it was published.

I would be interested in hearing further information about Tom Mangold being discredited (are you also making the same claim against David Wise and David C. Martin). In the UK Mangold is a much respected investigative journalist who has a long record of disclosing corruption in government.

I have read all three books and I agree with Cleveland Cram’s judgement of Mangold, Martin and Wise. In fact one cannot fail to be impressed by the logic of Cram’s assessment of the books he reviews. Cram had been recruited into the CIA from the Harvard’s history department (it followed the publication of his PhD). It shows. Intellectually he is head and shoulders above the rest of the senior figures in the CIA.

It also has to be remembered that Cram was also the same man who spent six years researching the History of the Counterintelligence Staff 1954-1974. As David Wise points out in his book Molehunt (1992): "When Cram finally finished it in 1981... he had produced twelve legal-sized volumes, each three hundred to four hundred pages. Cram's approximately four-thousand-page study has never been declassified. It remains locked in the CIA's vaults."

Cram was able to use this information when writing Moles and Molehunters. I suspect he knows more about what was really going on in the CIA during this period that anyone else, dead or alive.

As you probably know, Epstein admitted in May 1989 that Angleton was probably involved in a disinformation campaign. I would be interested to know if you also accept that now. Were you used by Angleton to spread false stories that the KGB/Castro were responsible for the assassination of JFK? If you do still believe this theory, what was the motive? Also, how did they managed to persuade the FBI and CIA to cover-up the crime? Why did LBJ not order an immediate invasion of Cuba? In fact, why did LBJ also help to cover-up KGB/Castro involvement in the assassination?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Please sign in to comment

You will be able to leave a comment after signing in



Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...