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Deconstructig Angleton

Was the CIA’s mole hunter just paranoid, or something else?

By Servando Gonzalez

(This article was originally published in Paranoia magazine, Winter 212-213.)

James Jesus Angleton, the CIA’s legendary chief of counterintelligence, is without a doubt one of the most colorful characters in the dark gray, paranoid netherworld of intelligence and espionage. His life and career has been the subject of many books and articles,1 as well as at least two spy novels.2 Angleton’s life was the classic mystery wrapped inside an enigma protected by a bodyguard of lies. It is known that privately Richard Helms called him a “strange, strange man.”3

According to the official legend, at the end of his long career Angleton became convinced that the Soviet intelligence services had infiltrated a mole4 in the CIA’s midst. His continuous efforts to find the mole paralyzed the CIA and almost destroyed it. Eventually, some people at the CIA, including one of Angleton’s Counterintelligence men, Clare Edward Petty, concluded that Angleton was the Soviet mole.5

With the benefit of hindsight, however, it seems that Petty was right, but just on one count: Angleton was a mole, that is, an enemy agent infiltrated at the highest levels of the CIA. But, as I will show below, he was not a Soviet mole.

Undoubtedly, James Jesus Angleton was an important character in the world of intelligence and espionage. But it seems that, despite such close scrutiny by so many bright minds, the Council on Foreign Relation’s secret agent James Jesus Angleton fooled everybody. Behind this deceitful façade of mystery, intellectualism and patriotism, Angleton was not only a traitor, but also a common criminal —one more among the many hit men the CFR conspirators have used to advance their secret treasonous agendas, foreign and domestic, against the American people.

In 1954, CIA Director Allen Dulles (CFR) appointed Angleton chief of the CIA’s counter-intelligence section. Two years later Angleton had the greatest success of his career when he obtained a transcript of Nikita Khrushchev’s 1956 speech to the Soviet Party Congress denouncing the Stalin’s atrocities. After that, Angleton faded into anonymity until the CIA “family jewels” scandal brought him to light.

Among the many things the “family jewels” brought to light was that the CIA, in violation of its charter that expressly prohibited the Agency to operate on American soil, had conducted in 1967 an extensive operation, codenamed Chaos, to spy on American citizens who protested against the war in Vietnam. The CIA officers in charge of Chaos were Angleton and his counterintelligence staff.6

This was not the first time Angleton had engaged in criminal activities on behalf of his CFR masters. In 1964, a few hours after Mary Pinchot, a Washington D.C. area artist was gunned down in Georgetown, Angleton broke into her house and stole her diary. Pinchot was one of President Kennedy’s secret lovers, and apparently she kept a diary of the affair. The CFR conspirators feared that it may contain evidence linking them to the president’s assassination, and they sent their trusted secret agent Angleton to accomplish the mission.

According to authors John Loftus and Mark Aarons, Angleton was not a hero but a villain. Among his many treacherous and criminal activities, Angleton “laundered Nazi money and built a Vatican escape route for the fugitives of the Third Reich.”7 Unfortunately, however, Loftus and Aarons see these treasonous, unethical activities as a result of Angleton’s personal criminal actions, ignoring that he was just following orders from his CFR masters.

Angleton’s fruitless search for the Soviet mole apparently bordered on paranoia. In his fixation to find the mole, he created an internal climate of suspicion that paralyzed the CIA’s information collection capabilities. At some point many senior people at the CIA began to think that Angletonian thinking was “too convoluted” —‘sick thinking’ they called it— and Angleton was fired.

Central to understanding Angleton’s fall, is the role played by Anatoly Golitsin, a KGB counterintelligence officer who defected to the West in 1961. Golitsin, who was handed over to Angleton to run the operation, claimed that the KGB had been successful in planting a mole at the highest levels of American intelligence. This marked the beginning of Angleton’s paranoid search for the mole.8

At some point, Golitsin warned Angleton that Soviet intelligence would attempt to prevent the CIA from discovering the mole by sending disinformation agents to obstruct the investigation. Soon after, as Golitsin had predicted, Yuri Nosenko, another KGB officer, defected to the West. Nosenko’s information seemed to question Golitsin’s bona fides.

From the very beginning, Angleton claimed he was convinced that Nosenko was the disinformation agent sent by the KGB to obstruct his search for the mole. But the fact is that, even after long periods of harsh interrogation bordering on torture, Nosenko never recanted, and the CIA was never able to prove that he was a Soviet plant.9

A joke told in the Soviet Union was about a factory guard who, every other Friday saw this worker coming out of the factory pushing a wheelbarrow packed with hay. The guard searched inside the hay, found nothing and let the guy go. This ritual repeated over several years until a time when the guard was about to retire. When the guy pushing the wheelbarrow appeared at the gate he told him: “I know you are stealing something. I am just about to retire and this is my last day here. I will not tell anybody, but, please, let me know what are you stealing.” The guy smiled and answered, “Oh, I am stealing the wheelbarrows.”

In the same fashion, Angleton fooled everybody with his life-long fight trying to discover a Soviet mole inside the CIA. That was the hay. But the wheelbarrow was that, as a result of his search for the mole, he paralyzed the intelligence activities of the true American patriots working in the clandestine10 service division of the CIA. And I have to confess that, after reading dozens of articles and books about Angleton, he also fooled me for a long time. But recently I found the key to his real work in Colby’s book Honorable Men.11

When William Colby was appointed head of the CIA’s Soviet and Eastern European Division in the late fifties, he discovered that the Agency’s intelligence and counterintelligence sections of CIA, mostly as a result of Angleton’s activities, had been divided into two schools of thought engaged in an almost total conflict.

On the one hand, Colby found that the CIA’s Clandestine Intelligence Division was devoted to working on developing sources behind the Iron Curtain, interrogating walk-in12 defectors, and running clandestine operations, specially about Soviet military matters. On the other hand, the Counterintelligence Division, led by Angleton, was carrying on an unrelenting campaign whose alleged goal was to reveal and frustrate the KGB’s operations against American intelligence, particularly its efforts to infiltrate a high-level mole inside the CIA.13 According to Angleton, Soviet defectors should not be trusted at all.

After realizing the damage Angleton was causing to the Clandestine Intelligence Division, Colby’s first step was to approach CIA Director James Schlesinger (CFR) and ask him to curtail Angleton’s power. But Angleton had a close relationship with Dulles, Helms and McCone,14 all of them senior CFR agents, and despite Colby’s strong arguments Schlesinger didn’t do anything. On the contrary, soon after Colby approached Schlesinger, Helms told Colby that they would like to transfer him to Vietnam.15 Soon after, Colby was appointed head of the CIA’s Far East Division and sent to Vietnam during the hottest period of the war.

Was Colby’s sudden transfer to Vietnam a way to put him away from the Angleton case? We can only guess, but in retrospect I think that it may have been one of the reasons for Colby’s transfer.

In order to understand why Angleton’s disinformation work was so important to the CFR conspirators we need to take a look at the Soviet Union itself. First and foremost, the Soviet Union was an artificial creation of the Wall Street bankers and oil magnates who wanted to eliminate Russia, a potential competitor, from the oil business. After the end of WWII, they used the Soviet Union as the all-powerful, dangerous enemy to justify the creation of the Cold War — which proved to be very beneficial to oil magnates, Wall Street bankers and the military-industrial complex.

But Communism is not a productive economic system, and the Soviet Union by itself alone would had never turned into the menacing enemy they needed. Therefore, due to the dismal state of the Soviet economy, the conspirators had to resort to clever schemes to artificially keep alive the bogeyman they had created. To this effect, they kept the Soviet threat active by giving the Soviets military materiel and advanced technology behind the backs of the American people,16 through programs like the Lend Lease and others.

Despite what American history books tell, the Soviets didn’t steal America’s atomic secrets: the conspirators infiltrated in the U.S. government gave them to the Russians.17 Moreover, the CFR conspirators sabotaged the Navy’s efforts to launch a missile with a satellite, which allowed the Russians to launch in October 1957 the first artificial Earth satellite, the Sputnik, before the Navy’s Viking rocket and Vanguard satellite.18 Then, the conspirators used the Sputnik as a way to scare the American public with the fear of the Soviets’ missile and nuclear capability to launch a devastating attack on the U.S.

Likewise, CFR agents infiltrated in the U.S. government authorized the export of U.S.-made specialized machinery to make mini ball bearings for use in accelerometers —essential for the ICBM’s guidance systems— to be exported to the Soviet Union thus making the Soviet ICBMs much more accurate.19 They also authorized Ford Motor Company to build a heavy truck factory in the Kama river, which later produced military trucks the Vietnamese used during the war against the U.S. military.20

Despite all this help, however, the Soviet military machine was never a real threat to the American one. So, the conspirators’ propaganda machine worked hard to inflate it.

Painting the Soviets as ten-feet tall gorillas was a full time job for the CFR agents at the Pentagon. But, honest CIA officers at the clandestine service division kept finding solid intelligence proving that the threatening Soviet military machine was a bluff. And the main source for this intelligence was Soviet defectors who accurately described the permanent economic crisis and the overall inefficiency and chaos of the Soviet system.

But the CIA’s counterintelligence Division, under Angleton’s control, maintained that those defectors were actually plants under KGB control that the Soviets deliberately were sending to the CIA to feed manipulated information as part of a massive deception program. Moreover, according to Angleton, most of this disinformation consisted in painting the Soviet Union as economically and militarily weak, when it actually was strong and warmongering.21

The bottom line is that, despite all his cleverness, dedication and alleged paranoia, Angleton never found the Soviet moles infiltrated at the CIA. What he did, however, was to practically sabotage and put in disarray the CIA’s clandestine service division.

A clear proof that Angleton was doing an important job on behalf of his CFR masters was that, when William Colby was back in Langley as CIA Director, he discovered to his utter surprise, that one of the few senior CIA officers who had escaped the purge as the result of the “family jewels” scandal, was none other than James Jesus Angleton.22 So, Colby began shearing Angleton’s long wings and not only removed from his control such functions as terrorism and CIA’s liaison with the FBI but also stopped his total control over the CIA’s relationship with Israel.23

In order to understand Colby’s behavior one must keep in mind, first, that despite the fact that he had become a CFR member, he was never accepted in its inner circles. Colby was a trusted man with impeccable OSS credentials, but he had humble origins and was not part of the Old Boys club. Secondly, and this is even more important, Colby had been unexpectedly propelled to the CIA directorship almost by accident, as a result of the chaos created at the CIA by the many resignations and firings from the troubled Nixon administration.

So, despite the fact that he had dedicated his whole career to advance the CFR conspirators’ plans, contrary to people like Dulles, Helms or Angleton, there is the possibility that Colby, like many honest CIA employees, had been recruited under a false flag. Consequently, he may have done his treasonous work unwittingly, under the false impression that he was a true American patriot working for the American people.

Showing his extreme naiveté, incredible for a man with his experience, Colby confessed that, after discovering the counterproductive results of Angleton’s Counterintelligence Division, and finding out that, despite all of his efforts, there were no tangible positive results in the counterintelligence field, he did not suspect Angleton and his staff of engaging in improper activities. He simply, “just could not figure out what they were doing.” But, “what really turned me off was the discovery that [Angleton’s] counterintelligence theories24 —Angleton cleverly disguised his treachery behind a cloud of deceptive and abstruse concepts like, “the more valuable the intelligence the greater the potential for deception,” and “the greater the truth, the bigger the lie.”25 —were actually hurting good clandestine operational officers.”26 Apparently, it never crossed Colby’s mind that Angleton and his men —most of them perhaps unwittingly— had been doing a very good job on behalf of Angleton’s treasonous CFR masters.

In 1948 the CIA sent Angleton to Italy on a secret operation to interfere in the Italian elections and prevent the Communists from being elected. One of the groups most interested in defeating the communists was, not surprisingly, the Vatican. Angleton both gave and received intelligence to and from the Vatican. Among Angleton’s most famous agents in Italy was Mons Giovanni Montini, who in 1963 became Pope Paul VI. As a way of payment, Angleton obtained access to the Ratlines the Vatican was using help Nazi war criminals to escape from justice. Angleton and others from the State Department used the Ratlines to ferry Nazis to South America, mostly to Argentina.27

Angleton’s counterintelligence empire employed over 200 people. Inside this large group was a small handful of Angleton’s most trusted associates, called the Special Investigations Group (SIG). In 1959, when Lee Harvey Oswald defected to the Soviet Union, only “about four or five” people were part of SIG, which was headed by Birch D. O’Neal. SIG members included Ann Egerter, Newton “Scotty” Miler, and very few others. According to Angleton, Miler was, as of 1955, “either the Deputy or one of the principle officers with O’Neal.”28

The SIG is a key element in the case of the Kennedy assassination because, for some unexplained reason, SIG held a 201 file (also known as a “personality” file) on Oswald prior to the assassination. Both the Church Committee and the United States House Select Committee on Assassinations’ investigators noticed the strange fact, and they found no plausible explanation for the CIA’s relationship with Oswald. What did SIG really do, and why would Oswald’s file have been there?

Why wasn’t this file opened in 1959 when Oswald (who had knowledge of the CIA’s top secret U-2 program) defected, after telling some embassy personnel he might have something of special interest to share with the Soviets? Why didn’t that set off alarm bells all over the place? Why was the 201 file on Oswald not opened for another year after that event? And why, when he returned to the States, did the CIA not debrief him? Or did they? These questions and more were raised by the HSCA’s, but were never adequately answered by the CIA.29

The answers to these questions, though, are as convoluted as Angleton’s own life and thinking.

As a member of the U.S. military, Oswald had worked for some time at the Atsugi Naval Air Force Base in Japan, used by some of the U-2 planes that flew spy missions over the Soviet Union. Most likely Oswald’s mission consisted in telling the Soviets that the U-2 was just a sophisticated glider, with a lightly built airframe with big wings. Just by exploding antiaircraft missiles 300 feet from the plane it would go down.

Apparently Oswald accomplisehd his secret mission, because on May 1st, 1960, just a few months after he defected, the Soviets shot down a U-2 plane the CIA had sent on an unauthorized flight deep inside Soviet territory. Proof that no missile actually hit the plane is that its pilot, was not killed, and the wreckage of the plane showed no signs of having being destroyed by explosives.30

Now, why did some Americans at the CIA want their enemies to shoot down an American plane? Simply because, as I explained above, the Cold War was a hoax, though a very profitable one, and the CFR conspirators who control the U.S. foreign policy and the CIA wanted to keep it hot. But Soviet Premier Khrushchev, with his new policy of peaceful coexistence, threatened to cool it off.

Just two weeks after the shoot down of the U-2, a summit meeting between Khrushchev and Eisenhower was scheduled to take place in Paris, and the Soviet Premier planned to convince the American President that peaceful coexistence was the right and only course to follow. But the Soviet hawks used the U-2 incident to force Khrushchev to cancel the meeting. It was also used by American hawks to justify the raising of war budgets, which directly benefited the military-industrial complex and the Wall Street bankers. And CFR secret agent Angleton played a key role in this despicable act of betrayal of the American people.



1. Ron Rosenbaum, “The Shadow of the Mole," Harper’s, October, 1983; Seymour Hersh, “Angleton: The Cult of Counterintelligence,” The New York Times Magazine, June 25, 1978; Edward Jay Epstein, Deception: The Invisible War Between the KGB and the CIA (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1989; David C. Martin, Wilderness of Mirrors (New York: Ballantine, 1980); Tom Mangold, Cold Warrior: James Jesus Angleton: The CIA’s Master Spy Hunter (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1991); William Hood, Mole (New York: Norton, 1982) and David Wise, Molehunt: The Secret Search for Traitors That Shattered the CIA (New York: Random House, 1992), just to mention a few.
2. Aaron Latham, Orchids for Mother (Boston: Little, Brown, 1977) and Robert Littell, The Company (New York: Penguin, 20020.
3. Martin, op. cit., p. 204.
4. Mole: A penetration agent. A mole is a spy who has dug his way deep into the organization of a rival intelligence service.
5. David Wise, Molehunt, pp. 255-237.
6. See, John Ranelagh, The Agency: The Rise and Decline of the CIA (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1987), p. 534.
7. The Secret War Against the Jews (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1994), p. 82.
8. The whole story is in Wise’s Molehunt.
9. Plant: an agent or intelligence officer sent to an enemy service posing as a defector, in order to pass false information.
10. The reader should not confuse “clandestine” with “covert.” Clandestine operations comprise all passive operations, like spying, whose goal is to obtain information from the enemy through illegal means. In contrast, the goal of covert operations (i.e., assassination, propaganda, sabotage) is to actively influence the enemy’s behavior.
11. William Colby, Honorable Men: My Life in the CIA (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1978).
12. Walk-in: an agent of a rival service who approaches another intelligence service by presenting himself physically.
13. Colby, p. 243.
14. Wise, op. cit., p. 240.
15. Colby, op. cit., pp. 245-246.
16. See Antony Sutton’s massive work Western Technology and Soviet Economic Development (Three volumes), also his Wall Street and the Bolshevik Revolution.
17. George Racey Jordan with Richard L. Stokes, From Major Jordan’s Diaries (New York: Harcourt Brace, 1952) The books is currently out of print, but you can read it online at:
18. See,
19. U.S. Senate, Proposed Export of Ball-Bearing Machines to U.S.S.R. (Washington, D.C., 1961) Also, Antony Sutton, The Best Enemy Money Can Buy (Billings, Montana: Liberty House, 1986), Chapter 7.
20. See, Sutton, Best Enemy, Chapter 2.
21. Colby, op. cit., pp. 243-244.
22. Ibid., p. 334.
23. Ibid., pp. 335, 364.
24. Ibid, p. 334.
25. Martin, Wilderness, p. 20.
26. Colby, op. cit., p. 364.
27. Mark Aarons and John Loftus, Unholy Trinity (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1991), p. 237.
28. Angleton 9/17/75 Church Committee Deposition, 9/17/75, p. 16.
29. Lisa Pease, “This Was One of Those Occassions,” Probe, July-August, 2000 (Vol. 7, No. 5),
30. The most complete information on Oswald working for the CIA is in John Newman, Oswald and the CIA (New York: Carroll and Graf, 1995). For information about how the CIA used Oswald as a patsy and fall man, see, Joan Millen, “Who Was Lee Harvey Oswald?”, a lecture given during the symposium Making Sense of the Sixties at the Hecht Institute, October 5, 2008,


Servando Gonzalez, is a Cuban-born American writer, historian, semiologist and intelligence analyst. He has written books, essays and articles on Latin American history, intelligence, espionage, and semiotics. Servando is the author of Historia herética de la revolución fidelista, Observando, The Secret Fidel Castro: Deconstructing the Symbol, The Nuclear Deception: Nikita Khrushchev and the Cuban Missile Crisis and La madre de todas las conspiraciones: Una novela de ideas subversivas, all available at

He also hosted the documentaries Treason in America: The Council on Foreign Relations and Partners in Treason: The CFR-CIA-Castro Connection, produced by Xzault Media Group of San Leandro, California, both available at the author's site at

His book, Psychological Warfare and the New World Order: The Secret War Against the American People is available at Or download a .pdf copy of the book you can read on your computer, iPad, Nook, Kindle or any other tablet. His book, OBAMANIA: The New Puppet and His Masters, is available at Servando's book (in Spanish) La CIA, Fidel Castro, el Bogotazo y el Nuevo Orden Mundial, appeared last year, and is available at and other bookstores online.

His most recent book, I Dare Call It treason: The Council on Foreign Relations and the Betrayal of the America, juste appeared and is available at and other bookstores online.





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