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James Jesus Angleton: Was He Right? An EJE Original Kindle Edition
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Top Customer Reviews
Clancy’s fiction had nothing on James Jesus Angleton’s reality. Angleton was chief of the CIA’s Counterintelligence Staff from 1954 to 1975, in many ways the height of the Cold War. His job was to discern KGB disinformation and to ferret out Soviet moles within the CIA. By the end of his career, he was reviled by many and revered by some. Many felt that his anxieties about the bona fides of the CIA’s Soviet sources were paranoid and delusional. Others felt that the arrogance of CIA staff and their unwillingness to admit the possibility of Soviet penetration made them vulnerable to deception.
The most crucial question, obviously, was whether Angleton was right. At the time of his resignation in 1975, the answer was not obvious. But the convictions of CIA counterintelligence officer and analyst Aldrich Ames in 1994 and of FBI counterintelligence agent Robert Hanssen in 2001 demonstrated that Angleton’s greatest fear (the feedback loop of disinformation from the outside and a mole on the inside) was possible, even if neither Ames nor Hanssen were operative during the Ames years.
Edward Jay Epstein tells Angleton’s story in this little book, laying out in simple form the cause and reasonability of Angleton’s alarm. Evidently, this little book is identical to the opening chapters of the author’s book, Deception: The Invisible War Between the KGB and CIA, so if you want to read the longer book, don’t buy this one. Nonetheless, a gripping story expertly told.
This book takes a candid look at the above controversy and comes down solidly on the side of Angleton. Alrich Ames (of the CIA) and Robert Hanssen (of the FBI) were two moles that betrayed America's secrets for decades and allowed the KGB to do precisely what Angleton was worried about: negate the ability of the CIA to spy on Russia, and feed America disinformation. Ames was apparently able to pass the vaunted CIA lie detector "flutter" tests, and the FBI apparently did not "flutter" Hanssen at all. There is a fascinating sub-story within this work dealing with the famous Nosenko controversy. Was this Soviet defector a bona fide defector, or, as Angleton believed, was he a false defector, working for Russia? This book goes far to convince the reader that Nosenko was, in fact, a disinformation agent, contrary to what the CIA claims to this day.
This is a short, snappy, and very readable work. Highly recommended for anyone interested in the history of the CIA-KGB conflict. RJB.
American directness is a great asset, but any nation so dedicated to the forthright and clearly illuminated obviously needs a strong "subconscious" equally dedicated to the mirrored, Byzantine labyrinth... because, simply, not everyone is like that. Angleton was our Ariadne, and his final days at the CIA live down to Ariadne's fate in many of the Thesean myths.
The double loop theory of moles is quite fascinating. Angleton correctly saw that the intelligence loop for a mole is a double loop, both acting in two directions:
1. The foreign agency (KGB, here) provides disinformation to the domestic agency (CIA and FBI) through the mole. The mole, in turn provides information on how well the disinformation campaign is working (feedback).
2. The FA again provides chicken feed (Le Carre's term for low value intel) to the DA through or for the mole, to enhance his or her stature and immunity in the DA. The mole again provides feedback.
Not until Angleton's death would this theory be proven by events, but certainly, CIA had long been penetrated and Angleton left without the resources to prove it. (Or is that what they want us to think?)
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Undoubtedly, James Jesus Angleton was one of the most colorful figures in the world of intelligence and espionage.Read more
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