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James Jesus Angleton


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I corresponded by email with Epstein once, on some point long forgotten. He replied back with "So you don't think I'm a CIA agent?", or something similar, and I responded back that no I didn't and I didn't even think he was he was a CIA "asset", but that it wouldn't suprise me if Angleton, considering his mind-set, might not have considered him to be such. He replied that it wouldn't altogether surprise him either.

I recently emailed Epstein about the comments made about him by Cleveland Cram. He did not reply, even though he had done previously to my questions. Joe Trento is also very sensitive about Cram's report. I can understand why.

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9 December 2005

Happy Birthday, James Angleton!

If he could avail himself to civil procedure I wonder if he would file suit for libel. Probably something he would not do even if he could.

Alas, dead men tell no tales (nor are they able to defend themselves).

History has been written....but not by the infallible.

Some things we're never know.

These facts alone should guard against the "absolutes" of others and are essential elements behind the concept behind benefit of doubt.

One thing history is certainly right about - since it didn't happen - Angleton never received due process. He was forced to retire for his "incompetence," so adjudges astute, wise men.

WW

Edited by William Wallace
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Objectivity is Key

Although Winks did not mention it - as it is an obvious essential ingredient in any honest examination - objectivity must be the central standard.

Since "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,'" the starting point appears to have begun with an end point in mind.

An interesting assertion, William. Have you any theories on why anyone within CIA might have deemed it necessary to trash Angleton once he'd already been defanged? If that was the case, can you explain why those anxious to trash Angleton would wait a total of six years for the desired report, only to ensure that it would thereafter be unavailable for review by all but a select few within CIA? Taking your assertion as a starting point, the end result seems counter-intuitive.

John Hart, in his HSCA testimony, is representative of the official tack the CIA was using post-Angleton to describe how "screwed-up" Angleton and his "fundamentalists" were. Hart's testimony is revealed for the kind of history distortion it was by Pete Bagley in his executive session testimony later on in the HSCA hearings:

VII. Testimony of the Deputy Chief, S.B. Division Before the HSCA, November 16, 1978 - Executive Session: Thursday, November 16, 1978 (linked here under "Oswald in the Soviet Union: An Investigation of Yuri Nosenko" http://history-matters.com/archive/jfk/hsc...12/contents.htm and linked here in pdf file: http://history-matters.com/archive/jfk/hsc...YuriNosenko.pdf

Apparently, there was more than one school of thought within CIA regarding Angleton, just as there is here. Given Angleton's 20-year hunt for The Big Mole, and complete inability to locate him, perhaps CIA was correct to assign a trusted Agency lifer to determine just what he had been up to in all that time.

Volumes of pages do not necessarily equate to accuracy or truth. Although the amount and material cited seems quite impressive, it is not the essence of what Winks was talking about nor described.

Most people would think that six years of effort and a resulting dozen-volume report might be considered a measured and meticulous approach to the topic, irrespective of the final finding. How exceedingly clever of you to see through this ruse, without having actually read the report. No need to however, since you claim to champion "objectivity."

I have not read what you referenced (in bold below), but I sense something about it which is not unique amongst Angleton's detractors: a reverse kind of McCarthyism whereby anyone who sides with Angleton or subscribes to his beliefs and concerns about Soviet deception and capabilities is somehow "rightwing," in a clearly pejoritive sense. "Rightwing" and "paranoid" are two of the favorite silencers used by Angleton detractors. (Of course, there is also the term "fundamentalist" which is interchangeably used against those (such as Bagley) who knew Angleton the best professionally, knew him the closest personally, and who can not recognize the monster as described by historical "researchers." This ties into the "Jesus" in J.A.'s name, which became a tool of ridicule to denote that the "fundamentalists" who supported him - his "disciples" - were somehow blind, unthinking, followers of the cult of Angleton. Mangold especially uses this method of smear and psychological intimidation throughout Cold Warrior - not a work of objectivity in the least.)

Rather than take "paranoid" as a smear, I would encourage you to consider it a requisite for the job. If one didn't have it upon taking the assignment, one would surely cultivate it in the process of doing the job. Occupational hazard/help, if you will. That the paranoia skewed Angleton's judgement is the crux if the issue. Kim Philby was not a Soviet mole, but Harold Wilson and Lester B. Pearson, among many, many others, were, according to JJA. It is not for Cram or Winks or anyone else to judge the veracity of that opinon, for history will do it for us.

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."

Cram continued to do research for the CIA on counterintelligence matters. In 1993 he completed a study carried out on behalf of the CIA's Center for the Study of Intelligence (CSI). Of Moles and Molehunters: A Review of Counterintelligence Literature. This document was declassified in 2003.

This document castigates those writers such as Joe Trento, Edward Epstein and Gus Russo who Angleton used to spread disinformation about the CIA. This included stories that the Soviets had a mole within the higher echelons of the CIA and that the KGB/Castro was behind the assassination of JFK. Angleton’s disinformation campaign has been eagerly grasped by right-wingers such as Tim Gratz (I am not describing Trento, Epstein and Russo as right-wingers for it is possible that they really believed Angleton’s stories at the time – although Epstein has attempted to distance himself from Angleton in recent years). Cram points out that David Martin (Wilderness of Mirrors), David Wise (Molehunt) and Tom Mangold (Cold War Warrior) got it right about Angleton.

Casting aspersions on those who believe Angleton had many things right - no one can have everything right - is not healthful or helpful. "Angleton's disinformation campaign has been eagerly grasped by right-wingers such as Tim Gratz..." This is not the path to finding out the truth of a matter.

The truth is this: none of us here posting commentary and none of the researchers who have done historical accounts of James Angelton, can assert with authority that they know the whole truth about Angleton. However, it would seem to me that those closest to the truth about the man would be those who were closest to him and those writers who actually interviewed him (such as Epstein) and who also considered and weighed information against him.

How many hours of interview with Angleton did Cram conduct?

Zero, I would guess. If so, why? Angleton was still alive then. If Angleton believed an honest recounting was underway at CIA by his replacement, Kalaris, I would think he would welcome the opportunity and make himself available. The fact that J.A. was still alive then, and that Cram's recounting of finding "out what in hell happened. What were these guys doing" did not include interviews of "the accused," indicates to me a strong possibility that the "recounting" very well may have been more of a "revision" instead.

You start the paragraph with what you admit is a "guess," but by the graf's end it is a fact used to bludgeon Cram. If you don't know for certain whether Cram debriefed Angleton in the process of completing his report, how can you draw any conclusions on this, one way or the other? Is this more of the highly-prized "objectivity" which you insist upon?

(Note, too, that Mangold waits until Angleton is dead to begin his book which commenced a short while afterward.)

So? Perhaps the sources one might wish to cultivate for such a book refused to speak about Angleton while he was still alive. Perhaps Mangold was busy with other matters. This means nothing.

The more an historical account attempts to ascribe motive to a subject figure - without first having some sort of in-depth interview or conversation with that figure - the more likely it is mere conjecture and opinion of the writing/researcher along with all the human bias that humans are capable of.

Cram's report was based upon a most thorough examination of Angleton's career output, the product of his work. If that career left something to be desired, I doubt very much that several three-martini luncheons with Angleton would have much altered Cram's report. If it had done, it would impugn Cram.

Although I am not able to discount Cram's research (as I haven't read it), based on its description, I would have to initially question its evidentiary value in weighing what the truth might be about James Angleton.

So, the only known comprehensive review/overview of Angleton's career - done by a CIA lifer, not a clueless journo or sensationalistic author - can offer us no insight into its topic. How "objective" of you.

A ton of one-sidedness is usually nothing more than lopsidedness and serving as counterfeit truth with little weight (if any).

This is also true of online apologias dashed off in a few hundred words by those who admit not having read what they nevertheless assail.

WW

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Robert,

I'll get back to your response as time permits, but this is my brief reply for now:

First of all, I am defending someone who I believe is being - and has been - sorely misunderstood and mischaracterized.

Fairness and open-mindedness is my overriding point.

The vast majority of this thread and the majority of writings in the public on this matter damn Angleton.

From what I have read (the vast majority of it negative) on Angleton, and from my understanding of the dialectics of thought behind the Soviet Union's intelligence/deception operations, I have come to some interim conclusions about him that are instinctual in part, discernment in part, and also based on an understanding of human nature as manifested in legal proceedings wherein recountings from memory and impression - often affected by bias and perception - take place which can be so wrong, so far from the truth, even when the testimony given is honestly averred.

So, in this sense and context of the thread, I am not "objective." I'm trying to provide counter possibilities to be put into the mix.

However, even though I'm not "objective" in this meaning, I believe my actual approach to assessing J.A. in my own pursuit of the truth is objective. (You will notice how I assert things here; I'm not declaring points as absolute truth, which is a substantive difference than other posts here.)

Everyone deserves a fair hearing; I don't think Angleton ever got one, yet the experts of the truth abound.

WW

Edited by William Wallace
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While I don't have the dates in front of me, I'm almost certain that there is no overlap between Aldrich Ames' spy career and Angleton's reign as Spyhunter. We are unable therefore to blame Angleton for not catching Ames; we are equally unable to say that Ames' existence proved Angleton right. Perhaps the most we can say is that those who followed Angleton should have been more paranoid than they were. It is an absolute historical FACT, at this point, however, that Angleton was more paranoid (paranoider?) than he should have been, as he is reported, by those who worked most closely with him and those who saw him up close, including Petty, Colby, and Shackley, to have been a mysterious tragic figure, and to have needlessly destroyed many careers.

There is the outside chance, of course, that, without Angleton's destructive paranoia and fear of the BIG BAD RUSSKIE INTELLIGENCE SERVICE that had already caught him with his pants down (Philby), a number of agents would have slipped through the cracks and caused irreparable damage to the U.S. For this reason and this reason alone his contribution to his country will be open to conjecture. My understanding is that at this point most former KGB officers think Angleton was a joke, and that most former CIA agents agree.

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James Jesus Angleton was in no sense "right," "correct" or ever vindicated.

His paranoid and counter productive decimation of US intelligence is well documented. The failure of Angleton to ever find any high level SOviet moles in US intelligence is a well worn fact in US diplomatic history.

Angleton's hysterical witch hunts reeked of McCarthyism and the worst kind of Cold War character assassination.

To be very clear, James Jesus Angleton was himself responsible for the grave defects in US intelligence morale during his reign as Counter Intelligence Chief at the Central Intelligence Agency. The witchhunt ruined many carrers, while shrowded in secrecy, and his victims were unable to pursue legal recourse to regain their tarnished reputations and ruined careers.

AJ Weberman's opinions on this matter of no real interest, as this is the YIPPIE most famous for digging through Bob Dylan's garbage, and his opinion about ALdrich Ames and Angleton bears no weight in serious discussions of Angleton's malfeasance and hysterical, reckless behaviour.

No Mr. Angleton was not right, and his decimation of the agency was a travesty of justice unparalleled in US diplomatic history......

J. Edgar Hoover was the very definition of paranoia and not even Angleton can rival his travesties.

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Robert,

I'll get back to your response as time permits, but this is my brief reply for now:

First of all, I am defending someone who I believe is being - and has been - sorely misunderstood and mischaracterized.

Fairness and open-mindedness is my overriding point.

The vast majority of this thread and the majority of writings in the public on this matter damn Angleton.

From what I have read (the vast majority of it negative) on Angleton, and from my understanding of the dialectics of thought behind the Soviet Union's intelligence/deception operations, I have come to some interim conclusions about him that are instinctual in part, discernment in part, and also based on an understanding of human nature as manifested in legal proceedings wherein recountings from memory and impression - often affected by bias and perception - take place which can be so wrong, so far from the truth, even when the testimony given is honestly averred.

So, in this sense and context of the thread, I am not "objective." I'm trying to provide counter possibilities to be put into the mix.

That's an honest admission, part of a measured reply. I look forward to more from you, William, as there are very few who rise to Angleton's defense. I've read a lot about the man over many years, and have a few hunches of my own about him.

However, even though I'm not "objective" in this meaning, I believe my actual approach to assessing J.A. in my own pursuit of the truth is objective. (You will notice how I assert things here; I'm not declaring points as absolute truth, which is a substantive difference than other posts here.)

Everyone deserves a fair hearing; I don't think Angleton ever got one, yet the experts of the truth abound.

Of course, whatever hearing JJA might have been entitled to is not a process to which we would have been privy in any event. No doubt when he was called to account for certain excesses prior to his dismissal, one would think he was granted an audience with his accusers, and given the opportunity to defend himself against their charges. It is entirely possible that he became a sacrificial goat, and that by exorcising him, CIA could thereafter say [true or not] it had instituted reforms to ensure those excesses would not recur.

For what it's worth, I think Pat is entirely correct to point out that Ames was not even in the Agency's service during JJA's tenure,so it is incorrect to point to JJA as negligent in the Ames affair. However, it is to his lasting detriment that JJA was never able to identify the mole he was certain existed within Langley, while nevertheless blackening the names of many good CIA men who didn't not deserve his accusations, nor the stalled careers that resulted. In point of fact, legislation was passed to atone to those who had been unfairly maligned by Angleton, a fact that should not escape our attention if we are, truly, to be objective on the topic.

Also, he did besmirch the reputations of many others who didn't work for CIA, with some tragic consequences. As a Canadian, for example, I know of a number of Canadian intelligence personnel and politicos who fell under grossly unfair suspicion, as a direct result of Angleton's widely cast net of aspersions. They deserved better fates, from what I can tell, and CIA was in no position to undo the damage to them. These are all sins of commission that must be factored in to any objective analysis of his career.

WW

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  • 4 weeks later...

John (or anyone),

Has there been any FOIA submitted of late to try getting access to Cram's "History of the Counterintelligence Staff 1954-1974"?

Is there any link avaliable to "Of Moles and Molehunters: A Review of Counterintelligence Literature."

Happy New Year to all!

WW

Edited by William Wallace
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A Gerry Hemming posting (in another thread) re JJA:

I have just about finished gathering up the relevant material pertaining to "our" efforts at derailing

ALL of the "White Hand/Death Squad" activities involving 1970s Guatemala, El Salvador, etc. operations

headed up by Mario Sandoval Alarcon, Oliverio Castaneda Paiz, et al. !! "Our" efforts at stopping the mass murders, kidnappings, etc. began during the early 1960s, and continued throughout the 1970s and 1980s.

Angleton was kept "aware" of progress and shortfalls, and he always insisted that these matters took precedence over any of the Cuban operations. JJA indeed saved thousands of lives over the years, and the

few perpetrators who have survived have come to know his name quite well !! He was an implacable enemy

of those barbarians, and the facts of his having created numerous organizations [including CISPES] during the late 1970s, might be told more sooner than later.

Edited by Tim Gratz
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  • 2 weeks later...
9 December 2005

Happy Birthday, James Angleton!

If he could avail himself to civil procedure I wonder if he would file suit for libel. Probably something he would not do even if he could.

Alas, dead men tell no tales (nor are they able to defend themselves).

History has been written....but not by the infallible.

Some things we're never know.

These facts alone should guard against the "absolutes" of others and are essential elements behind the concept behind benefit of doubt.

One thing history is certainly right about - since it didn't happen - Angleton never received due process. He was forced to retire for his "incompetence," so adjudges astute, wise men.

WW

Through absolute fluke, I chanced upon something that might be of interest to those who've read Forum member William Wallace's panegyrics to James Angleton. It seems that William's avocation is to edit a website devoted to rehabilitating the public's perception of Angleton. His work can be seen at:

http://www.thefinalphase.com/Angleton%20Myths.htm

Like Angleton, William seems to have taken very seriously the notion proposed by Golitsyn: that the Sino-Soviet split was a ruse designed to disarm and vanquish the west. In fact, the website's title "the final phase" seems to devolve from a warning issued by Golitsyn, as articulated by William at his website:

As explained by Golitsyn, the ascension of this younger Russian leader would mark the beginning stage of the deceptive plan's most dangerous phase, "the final phase."

William's website gives much space to former CIA operatives who, no surprise, sing Angleton's praises.

I think we should be highly flattered that William thinks this website is worthy of his contributions. It is not every website that can boast the participation of such unreconstructed Cold Warrior contributors.

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Indeed we should be proud of Mr. Wallace's partticipation.

_____________________________

Gratz,

Since you are a journalist (and former lawyer), you should know by now that the word "participation" has only two "t's."

_____________________________

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