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Cold Warrior: James Jesus Angleton - The CIA's Master Spyhunter.

Cold Warrior: James Jesus Angleton-The CIA's Master Spyhunter. Tom Mangold. Simon & Schuster $22.95. There he was, suddenly, in the middle of a meeting in the director's office, unbidden, unannounced. A tall, dark-suited, stooped, and very lean man-a man who seemed to slide rather than walk. There would be a pause, and the director would say to the others present, "Would you mind clearing out of here for just a minute? I want to have a word with Jim."

The late James J. Angleton, chief of counterintelligence for the CIA, was much feared, partly because the only thing his eyes revealed behind those thick glasses was a contempt for most other men, and partly because Angleton knew things about those other men that were, if not necessarily damning, personal and private.

For example, I said to my wife one Sunday evening as we were getting into bed, "You know, it's cruel the way Bedell Smith [Director, CIA] treats Allen [Dulles, Deputy Director, CIA], and it's demeaning. Here's a fine mind and a highly respected lawyer being treated like an office boy." And then I mimicked Bedell Smith with a roar: "Dulles, God damn you, get in here!"

Next morning Allen Dulles, whom I revered, greeted me without the customary, businesslike nod. He leaned back in his chair and reached for his pipe, gesturing to me to sit down. "Jim tells me you think Bedell and I don't get along."

He then repeated word for word what I had said to my wife in our bedroom.

There was another reason why James Angleton was feared. He knew better than anybody who the mole might be: which of your secretaries, your agents abroad, your couriers, your friends and colleagues, your "covert contacts" had been touched or might have been touched by the KGB.

He knew more than that. He knew the Soviet plan for the ultimate submission of the United States. He had all those files in his office dating back to the early twenties. He pored over them day and night. Nobody else had access, which made it useless to argue with him. "You don't know. What if I told you that the Polish military attache in Belgium had breakfast last Wednesday with the Chinese ambassador?" He peered through his glasses, point proven. To argue with Angleton on even general topics-Russian intentions, Chinese intentions, Tito's defection-might make you suspect. So there was no argument.

Now, four years after Angleton's death, the myth lies shattered into a thousand pieces of nonsense, and the fear has gone with the myth. There was no mole. There was no grand KGB plan for taking over. Those secret files have been opened and read. Suspicion no longer rules. We can go back now-and I think we are back-to the business of running an intelligence agency.

I put down this book by Tom Mangold, a veteran BBC reporter who has done an extraordinarily diligent job, with a sense of great relief-but not at the fact that James Angleton's reign is over. That came to an end when Bill Colby first removed Angleton from his powerful role as the CIA's sole contact with Israel's Mossad and later fired him as chief of counterintelligence. All of those other Angleton myths-that the ChineseRussian split was a fake, that the Yugoslav defection was a fake, that Averell Harriman, Harold Wilson, Olof Palme, Armand Hammer, Henry Kissinger, and Lester Pearson were Soviet agents-were laughed out of general credibility long ago. My sense of relief is that, thanks to Mangold's efforts, it's all out now, for everybody to read, particularly the men and women of the CIA who are dedicated to keeping their country informed, believing that information means safety and might also lead to wise policy. It's important for them to know what Angleton did to the CIA. But it's equally important that they understand how Angleton happened.

What led a young man of high intelligence, excellent education, and enormous capacity for hard work into a kind of paranoid insanity? Perhaps it was the work itself. Mangold argues that "the very qualities that make a good counterintelligence officer-a suspicious mind, a love of complexity and detail, and an ability to detect conspiracies-are also the qualities most likely to corrode natural intelligence and objective judgment." That seems sound. But Mangold suggests another, more intriguing possibility the Kim Philby connection.

The two agents met in London in 1943, when Philby was a rising star in the British MI6. Six years later, when Philby was assigned to Washington as a liaison to the CIA, Angleton, fresh from a successful career running down fascist stay-behind cells in Italy, had also become a rising star. The two men spent hours together in official meetings, dutifully summarized in Angleton's memoranda for the files, and they spent many more hours in long, frequent, bibulous luncheons. In 1951, when Philby was sent home under suspicion after Burgess and Maclean defected, Angleton simply refused to believe his old friend could be guilty of treason. He held to his opinion until, 12 years later, Moscow triumphantly announced Philby's defection. Angleton was shattered. The betrayal grew inside him, Mangold suggests, like a malignancy.

What had Angleton revealed to Philby during those many meetings and liquor-laden lunches? Did he tell Philby of the projected parachute drop into Albania and thus doom the parachutists to the hail of bullets that awaited them? Did he tell him of other operations and plans?

All that Mangold knows-and we now know-is that Angleton's Philby file has disappeared. All those carefully dictated memoranda of conversations, gone. So we are entitled to wonder how a man in charge of counterespionage might feel upon discovering that he had personally invited the fox into the coop. Might not such a man go over the edge?

I'm not going to list here the bona fide Russian defectors Angleton destroyed (or the colleagues who defended them whose careers he ruined) in the wake of Philby's betrayal. I won't even list the names of the naive bumblers who built their professional lives on the basis of his suspicions. Mangold has listed some of them already. You can read the list. And you should. But here's the lesson. No, an intelligence agency cannot exist without a counterintelligence chief. Yes, the job of counterintelligence chief is to be skeptical, to know details, to try to put those details together, always with suspicion. But the line between suspicion and paranoia is a fine one. Angleton crossed it many, many years ago.

-Tom Braden
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Author:Braden, Thomas
Publication:Washington Monthly
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Jun 1, 1991
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