James Jesus Angleton

History of War - Spies




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James Jesus Angleton is someone who served his country well in the intelligence world although many would not know of him. James Jesus Angleton was a career intelligence officer who spent his life working in the Central Intelligence Agency and working hard on counter intelligence.

After World War II there was a great need for a brilliant mind in the CIA and this came in the form of James Jesus Angleton, today you will find out about this amazing man and the work he did for the United States.

Early Life of James Jesus Angleton

James Jesus Angleton was born to a Mexican mother and American father who met when his father was stationed in Mexico while serving in the United States Army. Angleton was born in Idaho on December the 19th 1917, but spent his young years in Italy as his father bought a business there.

When he was of age to go into education Angleton enjoyed a great education comprising of a live in status at Malvern College in Malvern, England prior to then going to Yale University in America.

Angleton in the Army

In 1943 aged 26 years of age, James Jesus Angleton joined the United States Army and was sent back to England where he served in the counter-intelligence branch (X-2) of the Office of Strategic Services. Initially Angleton was in charge of the Italian desk at the branch because of his knowledge of Italy and his language skills from spending his youth there.

By the end of 1944 Angleton had progressed in his role to commander of Secret Counterintelligence in Italy and by spring 1945 Angleton had been promoted to head of the X-2 counter-intelligence branch for Italy. At the end of the war Angleton stayed on in Italy and made important moves in the support of a new Italian government.

During his time in Italy, Angleton personally oversaw many looted German treasures returned to their rightful countries of origin across the world. This action alone really built his reputation.

Angleton in the CIA

Once back in the United States Angleton became a founding member of the CIA and quickly rose through the ranks to become Director of Central Intelligence within five years by 1954.

Over his career in the CIA Angleton covered foreign intelligence activities, counterintelligence, and domestic intelligence activities, but it was counterintelligence where he made the biggest impact.

During his career Angleton carried out many great things but the one part of his career most know well is his driven approach to finding moles in the organization (moles being spies working for other governments gaining American information).

Two Soviet Defectors that Angleton came to take notice of caused problems as some didn’t feel they were trustworthy. Either way, Angleton carried on listening to what Anatoliy Golitsyn and Yuri Nosenko had to say. When Anatoliy Golitsyn said the KGB had infiltrated the CIA it made Angleton start many mole hunts to find them.

The hunt for Soviet sympathizers saw Angleton commission a total of 10,000 reports on American Civilians during the Vietnam War. This action was deemed unlawful by many, but Angleton was never reprimanded over the issue.

Angleton actually started to then accuse foreign politicians and heads of state including the Canadian Prime Ministers Lester Pearson and Pierre Trudeau, Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palme, West German Chancellor Willy Brandt and British Prime Minister Harold Wilson of using information to help the Soviet Union.

Closer to home Angleton then started accusing American politicians of working for the Soviet Union, these included President Gerald Ford and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.

Angleton became so obsessed that he relentlessly searched for other Soviet supporters within the American intelligence field. In the end his actions cost him dear as Director of Central Intelligence, William Colby sacked him in 1975 thus finishing Angleton’s career.

In 1975 on Christmas Eve it was confirmed that Angleton had resigned from the CIA, although the truth was he had been removed.

While the start of his career was one of amazing work during World War II, the latter part ended with Angleton being paranoid about others which eventually cost him his job after 26 years with the service.





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