Editor’s note: Edward Jay Epstein has been a superior writer on intelligence and espionage for decades. I strongly suggest that anyone interested in intelligence pick up this excellent new work.
James Jesus Angleton may have been the CIA’s most extraordinary intellect. His belief that the CIA was penetrated by KGB moles to the near paralysis of the CIA, and, when his mole hunt failed to produce evidence of KGB manipulation, he was forced to resign on Christmas Eve 1975 by his long-time adversary William Colby.
I knew about none of these machination when I met him. During our hundreds of hours of conversations, he described a many-layered universe of deception which made all intelligence services vulnerable to being infiltrated, misled, and converted into channels of disinformation. He asserted that the KGB could use the CIA’s false sense of invulnerability as a cloak to protect and advance its moles and to blind it to its disinformation. Such a view was scorned by case officers in the CIA, who depicted him to the media as a paranoid questing after non-existing moles. Or, as Colby described it, “sick think.”
After he died in May 1987, no evidence emerged that showed that he was far more in touch with the dark side of reality than those who got rid of him. The most astounding reveal came in 1992 in the CIA Inspector-General’s report. It concluded not only that the KGB controlled 6 or more agents passing disinformation to the CIA, but that even after the CIA found out that they were probably KGB agents, it continued to pass their information in its top secret blue-bordered briefings to the President, Secretary of Defense and Secretary of State for nearly 8 years.
Editor’s note: you can get Epstein’s superb new e-book book here
So Angleton was right that the CIA could be blind sided by its own arrogance and used as a channel by the KGB to the President. He was also proven right about the moles; to wit, the discovery of Aldrich Ames in the Soviet Russia Division in the CIA (for a decade) and Robert Hanssen in the FBI ( for 22 years). I submit its time to reconsider Angleton In light of this new evidence, hence my new book James Jesus Angleton: Was He Right?