2012-01-12 13:12:36 UTC
Before the CIA was created, many in Congress feared that the creation
of a new intelligence agency would lead to a police state similar to
the one they had just defeated in Germany, and refused to back
Donovan’s efforts. But the loudest protest came from J. Edgar Hoover,
who feared a direct encroachment upon the FBI’s turf. One could argue
that the OSS people won because they made the better case. But there
is another possibility here.
In Tony Summers’ book about J. Edgar Hoover, Official and
Confidential, Summers showed that Meyer Lansky, a top Mob figure, had
blackmail power over Hoover through possession of photos that showed
Hoover and his lifelong friend and close associate Clyde Tolson
together sexually. In the paperback edition of the same book, Summers
introduced another figure who evidently had possession of such photos:
James Angleton. If Angleton had such photos, imagine how he could have
used them to force the FBI’s hand during the investigation of the
Summers names two sources for this allegation: former OSS officer John
Weitz, and the curious Gordon Novel. Weitz claimed he had been showed
the picture by the host of a dinner party in the fifties. "It was not
a good picture and was clearly taken from some distance away, but it
showed two men apparently engaged in homosexual activity. The host
said the men were Hoover and Tolson…." Summers added in the 1994
version, "Since first publication of this book, Weitz has revealed
that his host was James Angleton."11
Novel’s account is even more interesting. Novel said that Angleton had
shown him some photos of Hoover and Tolson in 1967, when Novel was
involved in New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison’s case against
Clay Shaw. "I asked him if they were fakes, " Novel recounted, "but he
said they were real, that they’d been taken with a special lens. They
looked authentic to me…." Novel’s explanation of why Angleton showed
him the pictures is even more interesting:
I was pursuing a lawsuit against Garrison, which Hoover wanted me to
drop but which my contacts in the Johnson administration and at CIA
wanted me to pursue. I’d been told I would incur Hoover’s wrath if I
went ahead, but Angleton was demonstrating that Hoover was not
invulnerable, that the Agency had enough power to make him come to
heel. I had the impression that this was not the first time the sex
pictures had been used. Angleton told me to go see Hoover and tell him
I’d seen the sex photographs. Later, I went to the Mayflower Hotel and
spoke to Hoover. He was with Tolson, sitting in the Rib Room. When I
mentioned that I had seen the sex photographs, and that Angleton had
sent me, Tolson nearly choked on his food."12
Now, Novel has been known to fell a few tall tales in his day. But he
has on other occasions been forthcoming with interesting and sometimes
self-incriminating material (such as his own participation in the
Houma raid and the association between David Phillips and Guy
Banister).13 Given Weitz’s corroboration, and given Angleton’s
enormous power over many in high places, Novel’s account rings true.
Novel added that Angleton claimed the photos had been taken around
1946.14 During the 1945-1947 timeframe, Hoover was battling hard to
prevent the creation of any other intelligence organization separate
from the FBI. And during this period, Angleton was involved with the
Mafia in the Italian campaign. It’s certainly possible under such
circumstances that Lansky or one of his associates may have shared the
photos with Angleton. And the reverse case can also be considered.
Miles Copeland adds additional credibility to this scenario in his
account of this period. "Penetration begins at home," Copeland has
Angleton/"Mother" saying, "and if we can’t find out what’s going on in
the offices where our future is being planned, we don’t deserve to be
in business."15 Copeland presented this scenario:
There are several stories in the CIA’s secret annals to explain how
the dispute was settled, but although they "make better history," as
Allen Dulles used to say, they are only half-truths and much less
consistent with the ways of government than the true ones. Old-timers
at the Agency swear that the anti-espionage people would almost
certainly have won out had it not been for the fact that an Army
colonel who had been assigned to the new management group charged with
the job of organizing the new Agency suborned secretaries in the FBI,
the State Department, and the Defense Department and organized them
into an espionage network which proved not only the superiority of
espionage over other forms of acquiring "humint" (i.e. intelligence on
what specific human beings think and do in privacy), but the necessity
for its being systemized and tightly controlled. The colonel was
fired, as were the secretaries, but by that time General John
Magruder, then head of the group that was organizing the CIA, had in
his hands a strong argument for creating a professional espionage
service and putting it under a single organization. Also, thanks to
the secretaries and their Army spymaster, he had enough material to
silence enemies of the new Agency—including even J. Edgar Hoover,
since Magruder was among the very few top bureaucrats in Washington on
whom Mr. Hoover didn’t have material for retaliation.16
Is he saying what he appears to be saying? Copeland added,
cryptically, "The success of the old SSU cadre (former OSS and future
CIA officers) in perpetuating itself has been due in part to an
extraordinary capacity for Byzantine intrigue…." And in a footnote to
this phrase, Copeland explains, still somewhat cryptically, "This
intrigue was mainly to keep ‘The Hill’ off its back." Copeland seems
to be insinuating that more people than Hoover were blackmailed to
ensure the creation and perpetuation of the CIA.
David Wise also lends credence to such a scenario with this episode.
Thomas Braden, a CIA media operative was confronted by Dulles over a
remark Braden had about one of Dulles’ professional relationships.
Wise recounted what followed:
"You’d better watch out," [Allen] Dulles warned him. "Jimmy’s got his
eye on you." Braden said he drew the obvious conclusion: James
Angleton had bugged his bedroom and was picking up pillow talk between
himself and his wife, Joan. But Braden said he was only mildly
surprised at the incident, because Angleton was known to have bugs all
Braden described how Angleton would enter Dulles’s office "first thing
in the morning" to report the take from the overnight taps:
"He used to delight Allen with stories of what happened at people’s
dinner parties … Jim used to come into Allen’s office and Allen would
say, ‘How’s the fishing? And Jim would say, ‘Well, I got a few nibbles
last night.’ It was all done in the guise of fishing talk."18
More to the point, Braden was upset because "some senator or
representative might say something that might be of use to the Agency.
I didn’t think that was right. I think Jim was amoral."19 It would not
be beyond belief that Angleton routinely used information gathered
through clearly illegal taps to blackmail people into supporting his
efforts. No wonder some of his Agency associates feared him.
Indeed, just about everyone in the Agency who knew Angleton came to
fear him and to avoid crossing his path. This extended from
subordinates to some of the highest officials to serve the agency,
including Allen Dulles and Richard Helms. Angleton was called "no-
knock" because he had unprecedented access to senior agency officials.
"He always came alone and had this aura of secrecy about him,
something that made him stand out—even among other secretive CIA
officers. In those days, there was a general CIA camaraderie, but Jim
made himself exempt from this. He was a loner who worked alone."20
Angleton knew that knowledge was power, so not only would he go to
extraordinary lengths to obtain such, he would also lord his knowledge
over others, especially incoming CIA directors. Said one Angleton
"He would put each new director through the embarrassment of having to
beg him to indoctrinate them in important CIA matters. Jim was
enormously clever, he relished his bureaucratic power and was expert
at using it. He was utterly contemptuous of the chain of command. He
had a keen sense of what the traffic would bear in relation to his own
interests. It worked like this: when a new director came in, Jim would
stay in his own office out of sight. If a top staff meeting were
requested, he simply wouldn’t attend and would offer endless delays.
He was a master at waiting to see the new director alone—on his own
terms and with his own agenda."21
Angleton’s most powerful patrons were Allen Dulles and Richard Helms.
As biographer Tom Mangold described it,
He was extended such trust by his supervisors that there was often a
significant failure of executive control over his activities. The
result was that his subsequent actions were performed without
bureaucratic interference. The simple fact is that if Angleton wanted
something done, it was done. He had the experience, the patronage, and
It wasn’t until William Colby, a longtime nemesis of Angleton’s,
became the Director of Central Intelligence (DCI) that Angleton’s
power was dimmed, and eventually extinguished. But it was a long time
Angleton and the CIA
Before examining Angleton’s relationship with Oswald, it would be
useful to understand Angleton’s relationship with the CIA. Angleton
ran the Counterintelligence unit. The primary role of
Counterintelligence is to protect agents from a foreign intelligence
organization from uncovering CIA assets and operations. Another
important role is the ability to disseminate disinformation to foreign
intelligence services in an effort to create for them a false picture
of reality, causing them to act in ways that may be ultimately against
their own interests. In other words, Counterintelligence was a unit
that conducted operations, not just research. For that reason, the CI
staff resided inside the Directorate of Plans (DDP) and not on the
analytical side of the agency.
In addition to owning counterintelligence, Angleton also had control
over the FBI’s relationship with the Agency (he owned the liaison
relationship between FBI and CIA), and sole control of the Israeli
desk, which included liaison with their intelligence service, the
In the early days of the agency, units were given single-letter
identifiers of (at least) A-D instead of names. Staff A later became
Foreign Intelligence; Staff B became Operations; Staff C became
Counterintelligence ; and Staff D, which dealt with NSA intercept
material, among other more notorious activities, apparently was never
called anything other than Staff D.23
From the agency’s inception until 1954, Staff C was run by William
Harvey, a former FBI man who was to one day be introduced to President
Kennedy as "America’s James Bond." During this same period, Staff A
was run by Angleton.
After the publication of the Doolittle Report in 195424, Staff C,
which then became simply Counterintelligence, was handed to Angleton.
Harvey was given the coveted Berlin station, a vortex point for
operations against the USSR.
CI/SIG and Oswald
Angleton’s complete counterintelligence empire employed over 200
people. Inside this large group was a small handful of Angleton’s most
trusted and closed-mouthed associates, called the Special
Investigations Group (SIG). According to Ann Egerter, in 1959, when
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.
Miler was, as of 1955, "either the Deputy or one of the principle
officers with O’Neal," according to Angleton.25 O’Neal, Egerter and
Miler all play interesting roles in this case.
SIG is all-important in the case of the Kennedy assassination because,
for whatever reason, SIG held a 201 file on Lee Oswald prior to the
assassination. Both the Church Committee and HSCA investigators
fixated quickly on this point, because it made no sense under the
CIA’s scenario of their relationship (or, as they professed, non-
relationship) with Oswald. What did SIG really do, and why would
Oswald’s file have been there? Why wasn’t it opened when this ex-
Marine (who had knowledge of the CIA’s top secret U-2 program)
defected in 1959, telling 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 a 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 adequately raised, to the HSCA’s credit, but not
adequately answered by CIA.
Let’s start with the first issue. What did SIG do? Angleton described
the primary task of SIG to the Church committee in this fashion:
The primary task was the penetration of the Agency and the government
and historical penetration cases are recruitment of U.S. officials in
positions, code clerks. It had a very tight filing system of its own,
and it was the only component in counterintelligence that had access
to the security files and the personnel maintained by the Office of
The Office of Security’s primary role was to protect the CIA from
harm. This involves monitoring the CIA’s own employees and assets to
ensure that no one leaks data about the CIA, or betrays the CIA in any
way. Because of the nature of what was done there, Office of Security
files were the most closely guarded in the Agency. It is significant,
therefore, that Angleton’s CI/SIG group had access to these files. It
is also significant that the Office of Security also had a file on
Oswald, and was running an operation against the FPCC at the time
Oswald was attaching himself visibly to that organization.
To the HSCA, Angleton gave a slightly enlarged definition:
…it had many duties that had to do with other categories of sensitive
cases involving Americans and other things which were not being
handled by anybody else or just falling between the stools and so on.
Asked whether SIG’s charter would elucidate its operational mandate,
It would probably be in fairly camoflauged terms, yes. It was not a
unit, however, whose duties were in other words, explained to people.
I mean, in training school and do on it was very much fuzzed over if
anyone was laying out the CI staff.28
According to Angleton’s close associate Raymond G. Rocca, SIG
…was set up to handle especially sensitive cases in the area of
security or personnel and in particular, cases involving security of
personnel who were also of operational interest, as operators.
In other words, it was an interface with the Office of Security.29
When asked what would cause CI/SIG to open a 201 file on someone,
Rocca gave this answer:
I would imagine that they would have had that occasion whenever a
question arose that concerned people that came within the purview of
the mission that I have described, namely, the penetration of our
operations or the advancement of our particular interests with respect
to the security of those operations…. I mean, there were many
sensitive areas that involved aspects, that involved sources and
access to materials that were of higher classification than what you
have shown me.30
When the conversation is brought around to Oswald in particular,
Rocca’s answer is even more interesting:
Rocca: Let me go back and open a little parenthesis about this. What I
regard now, in the light of what you said, is probably a too narrow
view of what SIG was interested in.
They were also concerned with Americans as a security threat in a
community-wide sense, and they dealt with FBI cases, with the Office
of Security cases, and with other cases on the same level, as they
dealt with our own, basically….It would be with respect to where and
what had happened to DDP materials with respect to a defection in any
of these places.
Goldsmith: Again, though, Oswald had nothing to do with the DDP at
this time, at least apparently.
Rocca: I’m not saying that. You said it. [Emphasis added.]31
Rocca’s answer hangs out there, teasing us with ambiguity. Did Oswald
have something to do with the Directorate of Plans, the DDP?
The rest of this article can be found in The Assassinations, edited by
Jim DiEugenio and Lisa Pease.
1. Tom Mangold, Cold Warrior / James Jesus Angleton: The CIA’s Master
Spy Hunter (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1991), p. 10.
2. Biographical data from Thomas Mangold, Cold Warrior, Chapter 2.
This particular quote appears on page 33.
3. Miles Copeland, The Real Spy War (London: First Sphere Books
edition, 1978), pp. 41-42.
4. Copeland, p. 42.
5. Mangold, p. 45.
6. Mangold, p. 44.
7. Thomas Powers, The Man Who Kept the Secrtes: Richard Helms and the
CIA (New York, Pocket Books ed., 1979), p. 35.
8. Mark Aarons and John Loftus, Unholy Trinity (New York: St. Martin’s
Press, 1991), p. 89. There are several long passages about Angleton’s
relationship with Montini, the ratlines, and the Vatican throughout
the book. Montini became Pope after the 1963 death of the very liberal
Pope John XXIII, about whom the movie The Shoes of the Fisherman was
9. Aarons and Loftus, p. 237.
10. Angleton, 10/5/78 HSCA deposition, p. 92.
11. Anthony Summers, Official and Confidential (New York: Pocket Books
ed., 1994), p. 280
12. Summers, pp. 280-281
13. Lisa Pease, "Novel & Company: Phillips, Banister, Arcacha and
Ferrie," Probe Vol. 4 No. 6 Sept-Oct 1997, p. 32.
14. Summers, p. 281
15. Copeland, p. 44.
16. Copeland, p. 41.
17. David Wise, Molehunt (New York: Avon Books ed., 1992), p. 31
18. Wise, p. 32.
19. Wise, p. 32.
20. Mangold, p. 51
21. Mangold, p. 52
22. Mangold, p. 52
23. Wise, p. 121.
24. The Doolittle report contained this famous instruction: "If the
United States is to survive, long-standing American concepts of ‘fiar
play’ must be reconsidered," and "We must develop effective espionage
and counterespionage services and must learn to subvert, sabotage and
destroy our enemies by more clever, more sophisticated and more
effective methods than those used against us." Quoted in David Martin,
Wilderness of Mirrors (New York: Harper and Row, 1980), p. 62.
25. Angleton 9/17/75 Church Committee Deposition (hereafter Angleton
9/17/75 Deposition), p. 16.
26. Angleton 9/17/75 Deposition, p. 17.
27. Angleton HSCA Deposition, p. 146.
28. Angleton HSCA Deposition, p. 146.
29. HSCA Deposition of Raymond G. Rocca (hereafter Rocca HSCA
Deposition), p. 206
30. Rocca HSCA Deposition, p. 207.
31. Rocca HSCA Deposition, p. 218
32. HSCA Deposition of Ann Elizabeth Goldsborough Egerter (hereafter
Egerter HSCA Deposition), p. 8.
33. Egerter HSCA Deposition, p. 9.
34. Egerter HSCA Deposition, pp. 9-10.
35. Egerter HSCA Deposition, p. 10.
36. Egerter HSCA Deposition, p. 25.
37. Egerter HSCA Deposition, pp. 22-24.
38. Egerter HSCA Deposition, pp. 43-44.
39. Angleton 2/6/75 Church Committee Deposition (hereafter Angleton
2/6/75 Deposition), p. 21. Schweiker says, "We had a CIA employee who
testified to us that he saw a contact report on Oswald over at
40. Angleton 2/6/75 Deposition, pp. 20-26
41. The Eldon Henson story is documented in John Newman’s Oswald and
the CIA (New York: Carroll & Graf, 1995). But a near identical episode
is also described by David Atlee Phillips in his memoir, The
Nightwatch (New York: Ballantine Books, 1977). Compare Phillips’
account, pp. 162-164 (paperback version), with Newman’s account, pp.
362-362. Then look at the document of this episode, published on page
507 of Newman’s book. Note that "[redacted] witnessed meeting from
nearby table." In his account, Phillips describes watching the trap
his agent was setting for Hensen from a nearby table in a restaurant.
According to the document, Hensen was speaking with Maria Luisa
Calderon, a woman who appeared to perhaps have some foreknowledge of
the assassination. (See Rocca HSCA Deposition, pp. 163-164.) Curiouser
42. Newman, p. 32.
43. Rocca HSCA deposition, p. 230.
44. Angleton 9/17/75 Deposition, p. 30.
45. Angleton 9/17/75 Deposition, p. 33.
46. Reproductions of these cards can be seen in Newman, p. 479.
47. Rocca HSCA deposition, pp. 226-227.
48. Newman, pp. 221-222.
49. Angleton 9/17/75 Deposition, p. 38 and p. 62. The project chief
was John Mertz, and evidently Birch O’Neal was involved as well, (pp.
62, 64) but in Angleton’s words, "Mr. Miler … had the day to day work"
and described Miler as the principal person to talk to about it. p.
50. Martin, p. 140.
51. Egerter HSCA Deposition, p. 15
52. Egerter HSCA Deposition, p. 30.
53. Egerter HSCA Deposition, pp. 31-38.
54. Rocca HSCA Deposition, p. 210.
55. Rocca HSCA Depostion, p. 212.
56. Philip Agee, Inside the Company: CIA Diary (New York: Bantam
Books, 1989 ed.), p. 49.
57. Letter from Sullivan to Belmont, dated May 13, 1964.
58. Angleton 2/6/75 Deposition, pp. 34-38
59. Joseph B. Smith, Portrait of a Cold Warrior (New York: G.P.
Putnam’s Sons, 1976), p. 397.
60. Smith, p. 397.
61. Harvey’s notes were uncovered by the Church Committee. Quotes here
come from Martin, pp. 121-123.
62. Wise, p. 121.
63. Wise, p. 176.
64. Powers, p. 107.
65. Agee, p. 358.
66. Bill Davy, Let Justice Be Done (Reston: Jordan Publishing, 1999),
pp. 88-89 and Davy, "File Update", Probe, Jan-Feb 2000, pp. 4-5.
67. Davy, Let Justice Be Done, p. 88.
68. For an example, read about the Loginov episode in Cold Warrior,
69. Wise, p. 69.
70. HSCA Deposition of Scelso (John Whitten), p. 71.
71. "Hunt says C.I.A. Had Assassin Unit," New York Times 12/26/75,
page 9, column 1.
72. Mark Lane, Plausible Denial (New York: Thunder’s Mouth Press,
1991), p. 164.
73. Martin, p. 34.
74. Martin, p. 144.
75. Angleton Deposition to the Church Committee, 6/19/75 (hereafter
Angleton 6/19/76 Deposition), p. 87.
76. Peter Wright, Spycatcher (New York: Dell, 1987), pp. 201-205.
77. Angleton 6/19/75 Deposition, p. 84.
78. Scelso/Whitten Deposition, p. 168-169.
79. Rocca HSCA Deposition, pp. 8-9.
80. Rocca HSCA Deposition, p. 9.
81. RIF 104-10086-10003, date not readable, cable apparently from
JMWAVE to the Mexico City Station.
82. Cable 57610, from DIRECTOR to Mexico [ ] JMWAVE, dated 12 Nov 65.
See p. 29 this issue.
83. Agee, p. 319.
84. Cable 58683, from DIRECTOR to MEXI, dated 16 Nov 65. See p. 29