It’s probably not a good idea to take on an exalted title like that unless you have some real power to wield and as the director of counterintelligence, Angleton was responsible for a lot of the dirty tricks at CIA during his reign. He’s become the subject of dozens of books and movies, most recently The Good Shepherd, although his multiple connections to the JFK hit never seem to surface in the mainstream media.
Angleton got his powerful post after serving as the Vatican’s OSS liaison during WWII, working closely with Allen Dulles to shield important Nazis who were given new jobs working for US interests after the war. According to Angleton, before getting his promotion, he had to promise Dulles never to put him or any of his Wall Street-connected cronies on lie detectors in order to question them about financial relations with Germany during the war. You see, many US corporations employed neutral countries to trade with the enemy, including Standard Oil, a company owned by Dulles’ cousin by marriage David Rockefeller. If you want to get really rich during war, sell to both sides.
Not only did Angleton remain in charge of the important CIA-Vatican connection, he also became the strategic CIA link to Israel and their efficient Mossad, an intelligence agency not hampered by red tape.
The sad reality is that after he got his post, Angleton was swiftly compromised by British double agent Kim Philby, who gleaned many secrets before departing back to England. Philby had spent many nights plying the chain-smoking Angleton with liquor so they could talk shop. The main subject of conversation was the suspected mole inside British intelligence who kept the KGB one step ahead of Angleton, and who might that mole be? Before long, a nest of Soviet spies (the Cambridge 5) was uncovered and a few revealed, although Philby was exonerated and Victor Rothschild never seriously investigated. Philby began working as a journalist covering the Middle East, while secretly reporting to MI6. But in 1961, Anatoliy Golitsyn, a KGB major, defected to the West and established his bona fides by offering up Philby as KGB and part of the Cambridge ring that had been operating since before WWII.
CIA spook William Buckley would write the first major book on how Angleton went crazy after Philby was unmasked. Buckley is Skull & Bones and card carrying member of the oligarchy, just like Angleton, only maybe a little higher on the pecking order. But Golitsyn was a fake defector seeding disinfo. His major thrust was that many highly placed people in Western power were really KGB, just like Philby. Golitsyn even claimed British Prime Minister Harold Wilson was a KGB spy. And he also claimed there was another KGB spy was very high up in the US government as well. Obviously, these rabbit holes served mostly to amp up Angleton’s paranoia. He’d spend the next few years hunting for an imaginary highly-placed mole in Washington DC, and at one point accused just about everyone in power. Did Golitsuyn also finger JFK as well as Wilson? I think this seems pretty likely. Strangely, Golitsyn became an Honorary Commander of the British Empire. And what do you think would have happened if Angleton had written a report saying JFK was a Soviet spy? Would that have justified a national security project to remove JFK from power?
But after JFK was assassinated, along came a real Soviet defector name Yuri Nosenko, who arrived in 1964. Since Nosenko did not concur with much of anything Golitsyn had been saying, and, in fact, was more highly situated and knew more than Golitsyn, Nosenko was held prisoner for four years and tortured continuously and fed LSD and other drugs in an attempt to break him down. And the entire time Angleton kept telling everyone Nosenko was a fake whose only mission was to discredit Golitsyn.
In retrospect Angleton seems borderline incompetent since he’d been played by Philby and Golitsyn. One wonders how Angleton kept his job so long, although keep in mind his files were probably more explosive than J. Edgar Hoover’s. He had a vast archive of safes and locked cabinets, material never entered into a CIA database, but kept private by Angleton. Of greatest interest today were his Chaos projects undertaken to infiltrate and misdirect the antiwar movement under the guise of searching for KGB connections into the counterculture revolution. The group making active contact with Cuban and Russian intelligence, as well as terrorists in Ireland and the Middle East, was the Weather Underground, led by lawyer Michael Kennedy, who stole High Times magazine and led it into the ground while removing all political content.
Most likely Angleton was allowed to keep running his most prize assets even after forced retirement in 1974 up until his death in 1987. He also kept his connections with Israeli intelligence, who considered him a valuable asset and not the paranoid dupe often portrayed in the media.
Judging from their legacy, I theorize Angleton’s prize assets in New York City included Ron Rosenbaum, AJ Weberman, Chip Berlet and Michael Kennedy.
(Parts excerpted from Killing Kennedy: The Real Story.)