Sunday, November 12, 2006

" . . . America's Most Highly Classified Secrets . . . UFO Studies And Data On Extraterrestrial Life Forms"

Lookin' Back: OSS-CIA figure Angleton had the goods on those in power

The Tucson Citizen

     James Jesus Angleton, the most shadowy and enigmatic figure in the Central Intelligence Agency's history, was a periodic Tucson visitor for 40 years before he died in 1987. His widow, Cicely, maintains a home here.

Angleton joined his father as an operative in the the Office of Strategic Services, the CIA's predecessor, in 1943.

The younger Angleton, a very private man and insomniac, was a chain-smoker who died of lung cancer - undoubtedly an inspiration for the fictitious and sinister "cigarette-smoking man" character in the TV series "The X-Files."

In his private time, he enjoyed reading poetry and pursuing the patience- challenging hobby of raising orchids. In his work, he was the relentless hunter of "moles" - enemy double (or triple) agents he believed were embedded within America's intelligence-gathering organization.

He hoped to preclude such deep-cover agents from stealing additional nuclear weapons secrets and to safeguard what was said to be America's most highly classified secrets (more secret, even, than development of the hydrogen bomb) - UFO studies and data on extraterrestrial life forms.

From the time the CIA was formed in 1947 until his forced resignation in 1974 by longtime adversary and CIA Director William Colby, Angleton was a feared individual. As a favorite of the first civilian director of the CIA, Allen Dulles (1953-1961), he was given virtual free rein, and an accusation from him spelled the end of an agent's career.

The CIA was formed in part to quietly handle a delicate situation: securing for the United States the services of thousands of former members of the German intelligence force - despite the fact that many of them, recent enemies of the United States, had committed war crimes.

The uneasy relationship between the Soviets and the United States during and after World War II meant intelligence information about them that the Germans had amassed was of intense interest. However, the Germans' recruitment and hiring was kept hidden from the American public, which would have found the idea repugnant.

Angleton was said to have maintained his position much the way that J. Edgar Hoover retained control of the Federal Bureau of Investigation: by learning the "dirty little secrets" of others in power, and using the threat of divulging those secrets as leverage.

Some claimed Angleton assured his place in the agency by agreeing not to demand close background checks or polygraph tests of Dulles and some 60 of his closest associates.

Angleton was born Dec. 9, 1917, in Boise, Idaho, son of National Cash Register franchise owner James Hugh Angleton and his Mexican wife, Carmen Mercedes Moreno.

In 1933, the family moved to Europe, and young James was educated in Italy and England before earning a degree at Yale University and enrolling in law school at Harvard University.

When OSS was organized in 1942, the elder Angleton became a colonel. The next year, after his son had been inducted into the Army, he arranged for him to be assigned to OSS duty, as well.

The younger Angleton was sent to London for instruction in counterintelligence by British spymaster Kim Philby and others - who, ironically, later were exposed as double-agents for the Soviet Union. Training completed, he was assigned as an OSS Army lieutenant involved in counterintelligence in Italy.

It was during his time at Harvard that he met his future wife, Cicely d'Autremont, a Tucson banker's daughter enrolled at Vassar College. They were married in 1943. (She declined to be interviewed for this column.)

In addition to trying to ferret out "moles," Angleton was involved in other facets of the "spook" business, including disinformation and personally overseeing formation and ongoing liaison with the Israeli foreign intelligence arm, Mossad. His early work in Italy is thought to have laid the groundwork for later cooperative associations with Mafia figures when their particular "talents" and connections were required.

Conspiracy theorists believe there is evidence to link Angleton, directly or indirectly, with involvement in the John F. Kennedy assassination; the slaying of a JFK mistress, Mary Pinchot Meyer; and the suspicious "suicide" of a senior CIA official by carbon monoxide poisoning, among others.

Angleton was considered by some to have become increasingly paranoid - perhaps clinically so - by the 1970s, believing several leaders of other nations, including Canadian prime ministers Lester Pearson and Pierre Trudeau, Swedish prime minister Olof Palme, West German chancellor Willy Brandt and British prime minister Harold Wilson to be Soviet agents.

After Angleton left the CIA in 1974, three of his senior assistants were forced into retirement and his counter- intelligence division reduced from 300 people to 80 at Colby's direction.

After his death - May 12, 1987, at Washington's Sibley Hospital at age 69 - Angleton was buried at Morris Hill Cemetery in Boise, Idaho. A son, two daughters and his widow survived.

More . . .

See Also: "Don't You Have a Right To Know?"


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