Angleton, ……… James Angleton


A little over 50 years ago, Sean Connery starred in Dr. No and made movie history by showing audiences a stylish and thrilling look at life as a spy. Best-selling author Ian Fleming captured the imagination of the world, including President John F. Kennedy, who in March 1961 listed from Russia with Love as one of his ten current favorite reads in a Life magazine article. But the spies of 1962 were not restricted to the big screen, and they definately weren’t as debonair as the “shaken not stirred” martini drinking, James Bond.

James Angleton was chief of the CIA’s counterintelligence section. Some researchers believe that Angleton was involved in a cover-up concerning the CIA’s negligence in the assassination of President Kennedy. Declassified CIA records show that Angleton’s staff received pre-assassination intelligence information on Oswald from October 1959 to November 1963. There are indications that a secretive counterintelligence staff, known as the special investigations group, read reports on Oswald’s travel, family, and political views. CIA files indicate they also received information concerning Oswald in New Orleans and Mexico City.

Jeff Morley writes,

It certainly seems fair to ask: Did Angleton, Phillips or others who were well-informed about Oswald before the assassination simply misunderstand and underestimate him as he made his way to Dallas with a gun? Or is it possible that one or more of them participated in some kind of covert operation — sponsored by the Agency or the Pentagon — to manipulate Oswald before Nov. 22, 1963, for the sake of advancing the U.S. policy of overthrowing Castro?

In an earlier post, I spoke of expanding my knowledge in the Kennedy assassination, beyond the study of forensic evidence in Enemy of the Truth. I discovered reading about James Angleton is like reading a great spy novel it has everything you would expect: intrigue, secrecy, espionage, and mind-numbing twists. Unfortunately, Angleton’s convoluted story doesn’t prove him to be the hero of the story as James Bond was in Dr. No. In fact, instead of being the hero in the search for truth in our nation’s historical narrative, Angleton might just be a nemesis.

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3 responses to “Angleton, ……… James Angleton

  1. D.M.

    James Angleton is needlessly given a bad rap. People talk about the “mole hunt” without understanding it, and explain Nosenko and Golitsyn as if they were a single case instead of two cases which overlapped with several others.

    So far, the best biography of Angleton is the one written by Holzman. Though one would might also have to read the updated version of Wedge to understand his career.

  2. Three things, perhaps more, differentiate Angleton from all other senior CIA staff. First, he maintained his own files and is own his secure communications channels outside the Agency system; he even assigned his own project names/crypts. When his private safe system was cracked his files were retrieved and apparently destroyed in toto because of what was found so they were never collected in any document retrieval. Second, he personally engaged in wire tapping and break ins – totally on his own but with Director level knowledge, what he retrieved went into his own system. Third, we now know he used his foreign assets without Director level approval and that he was involved with Harvey in the Castro assassination project, totally at his own initiative.

    Angleton was essentially an agency without the agency and operated with virtually no oversight.

    — Larry

  3. Angleton had the means and opportunity.Kim Philby provided the motive.Angleton belived in hierarchy,religion and banking .He thought Kim Philby threatened all three.He was paranoid .The Soviets didn’t trust Philby and had no plans to use him.Angleton didn’t know that and thought Kennedy would be used by Philby and the method would be a new phone connecting Kennedy directly with the Soviets. The envoy negotiating the issue was at Idlewild airport waiting for a flight to Moscow on November 22,1963.The phone was never installed thanks to the guns of dallas.

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