CIA: James Angleton


Miles Seeley writes: "I do have a lot of stories about James Jesus Angleton, most of which I will not tell because I honor my oath when I entered the CIA. Since so much of it is public now, I will comment that when I came back from Amman, I was assigned the task of re-evaluating the Nosenko case and putting it, finally, to rest. I assembled a team and we went over everything. To us, it was clear that Nosenko had been a legitimate defector. This conclusion displeased many conspiracy theorists, and certainly Mr. Anglelton, but it ultimately prevailed, largely due to the support I got from some very senior CIA officials. Nosenko was released and, I heard later, adapted quite well to freedom and a private life. I am very glad.

My few direct meetings with Mr. Angleton were strange indeed, since he was a distinctly different man from anyone else I knew in the Agency. My role in those meetings was to listen to him and say little or nothing. Then I would go back and get to work. I managed to have destroyed the majority of the files that had been assembled on CIA employees who were suspected of being "moles," ie agents of the KGB. They were a shameful collection of innuendo, rumor, and falsehoods. The head of Security and the Deputy Director for Plans (DDP) backed me up on that, too, and DCI Richard Helms approved.

Ah, memories of days long past and fights long resolved"
We have discussed James Jesus Angleton. He had a notorious feud with William Colby, about which here is an excerpt from an article by Christopher Ruddy (Newsmax, 5/7/96): The body of "the Old Gray Man of the CIA," William Colby, has been found in waters near his weekend home, but theories about his demise continue to thrive. Colby, who served as CIA director under Presidents Nixon and Ford, disappeared April 28. Maryland authorities found his body Monday morning after it washed ashore. This followed an intensive search of the Wimocico River near Colby's home in Rock Point, Md. Local police believe his body was lost in the cloudy waters of the Wicomico while canoeing, a favorite pastime of Colby's. At 76, Colby was physically fit and, after surviving parachute drops behind Nazi lines in War World II and stints in Vietnam, he was a cautious, careful and cunning man who lived up to his James Bond super-spy credentials. The New York Post's raised concerns about Colby's disappearance and apparent death with an article headlined "Conspiracy Crowd Snatches Colby." "The theory among conspiracy-minded, cloak-and-dagger buffs is that Colby was assassinated so he wouldn't spill any more agency secrets," the gossip page began. Agency insiders reportedly resented Colby for talking to Congress about the "family jewels" - supposed illegal operations the agency conducted in the decades before Watergate. As a result, Colby lost the support of agency insiders and the Ford administration. President Ford fired Colby on Halloween 1975.

Some theorists point to the similar circumstances surrounding the 1978 death of CIA deputy director John A. Paisley. Paisley's sailboat was found adrift in the Chesapeake Bay just 15 miles from Colby's home. His body was discovered days later. He died of an apparent gunshot behind his ear. His body had been weighted with diving belts. Since no blood was found on the boat, authorities theorized Paisley first jumped into the water and then fired the shot into his head. However, murder was never ruled out in the case.

Some old Cold Warriors recollect Colby's longstanding feud with James Jesus Angleton, the longtime head of the CIA's counterintelligence division. Angleton believed the CIA had been infiltrated by KGB moles; Colby believed Angleton had become symptomatic of Cold War paranoia and forced his ouster in 1974. After his dismissal, a bitter Angleton told associates he believed that Colby had been recruited by the KGB and was a long-term asset of the Soviets. Angelton's supporters noted Colby's association with far left committees - including ones supported by the Institute for Policy Studies - after Colby departed from the CIA. Colby also called for near unilateral disarmament - an immediate 50 percent reduction in the American defense budget during the height of East-West tensions.

RH: Did Miles Seeley know Colby, and has he any comments?

More on the CIA's James Jesus Angleton. Alberto Gutierrez writes: "Angleton is credited with coining the term "Wilderness of Mirrors " meaning the confusion of the world of intelligence and espionage. He wrote that the "Wilderness of Mirrors "consists of the myriad stratagems, deceptions and all the other devices of disinformation that the Soviet Union and its coordinated intelligence services used to confuse and split the West, producing an ever-fluid landscape where fact and illusion merge. The term was used by David Martin as the tittle of his book about Angleton, Wilderness of Mirrors.

Miles Seeley comments on the feud between James Jesus Angleton and William Colby, described in a previous posting: "Yes, I knew Colby a little. He was the boss of the Far East stations before he rose to the top. Most of us working-level case officers thought he revealed far too much to congressional committees and hurt the Agency. I had resigned by then, however, since they wanted me to stay in Headquarters and I wanted only to return to an overseas post.

Colby's feud with Angleton was well known, but it was DCI Dick Helms who reined in Angleton first. By the early 1970s, Angleton's apparent paranoia had got so bad that probably any DCI would have been forced to fire him. Frankly, Colby struck me as more of a bureaucrat than an operative. I left the Far Eastern domain for new challenges in the Arab world, and never regretted it. I reject absolutely the idea that Colby was murdered by other CIA agents".

RH: Can James Woolsey or as an Arab specialist Miles Seeley throw light on a statement James Woolsey made on ABC news. He had that when he was director of the CIA, he wanted to train Arab specialists but that Senator De Concini blocked it. Why did the Senator act so stupidly?

Miles Seeley comments on the feud between James Jesus Angleton and William Colby, described in a previous posting: "Yes, I knew Colby a little. He was the boss of the Far East stations before he rose to the top. Most of us working-level case officers thought he revealed far too much to congressional committees and hurt the Agency. I had resigned by then, however, since they wanted me to stay in Headquarters and I wanted only to return to an overseas post.

Colby's feud with Angleton was well known, but it was DCI Dick Helms who reined in Angleton first. By the early 1970s, Angleton's apparent paranoia had got so bad that probably any DCI would have been forced to fire him. Frankly, Colby struck me as more of a bureaucrat than an operative. I left the Far Eastern domain for new challenges in the Arab world, and never regretted it. I reject absolutely the idea that Colby was murdered by other CIA agents".

RH: Can James Woolsey or as an Arab specialist Miles Seeley throw light on a statement James Woolsey made on ABC news. He had that when he was director of the CIA, he wanted to train Arab specialists but that Senator De Concini blocked it. Why did the Senator act so stupidly?