James Jesus Angleton

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James Jesus Angleton (1917-1987) was a famous and infamous U.S. intelligence officer, best known for heading the Counterintelligence Staff of the Central Intelligence Agency, but also for involvement with especially sensitive clandestine human-source intelligence. Some believe that he was American intelligence's best safeguard against the operations of Soviet intelligence, while others considered his theories of penetration so paranoid that they paralyzed much of the CIA.[1] A 2006 movie, "The Good Shepherd", is based on his life.

During World War II, he was a member of the Office of Strategic Services, trained, in part, by British Security Service (MI5) officers including Dick White and Kim Philby. He formed a friendship with Philby, who later was proven to be a major Soviet agent.

Angleton was one of the relatively few people retained, in the War Department's interim Strategic Service, after the OSS was shut down at the end of the war, continuing his OSS duties as a counterintelligence officer in Italy.

After the war Angleton worked for the War Department's Strategic Services Unit. He became the chief counter-intelligence officer for Italy but in 1947 he returned home to join the Central Intelligence Agency. From 1949, he worked with Philby, who had been assigned to Washington, D.C. as the liaison officer from British intelligence.

In 1951, he was assigned to Israel, to assist in establishing its Mossad intelligence service. Throughout much of his career, he was the liaison to Israeli intelligence, even when foreign liaison was the responsibility of other offices. In the same year, he was put on a project to investigate possible penetrations of British intelligence, and gave his opinion, not universally accepted, that Philby was loyal. The opposite opinion came from an equally polarizing CIA officer, William King Harvey, who came to the CIA from the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Enough suspicion fell on Philby, however, that he resigned his position, as chief of counterintelligence against the Soviets, in the Secret Intelligence Service. Philby later moved to the Soviet Union.


  1. David Wise, Molehunt: The Secret Search for Traitors that Shattered the CIA