“Angleton was was a leading architect of America’s strategic relationship with Israel that endures and dominates the region to this day,” Jefferson Morley writes in The Ghost: The Secret Life of CIA Spymaster James Jesus Angleton. More than any other man, the longtime chief of U.S. counterintelligence made possible Israel’s shift “from an embattled settler state into a strategic ally of the world’s greatest superpower.”
“The Ghostis the compulsively readable, often bizarre true-life story of American spymaster James Jesus Angleton – the CIA’s poetry-loving, orchid-gardening mole-hunter for almost 20 years. Capturing the extent of Angleton’s eccentricity, duplicity and alcohol-fueled paranoia would have challenged the writing skills of a Le Carre or Ludlum, and Jefferson Morley has done it with flair. This important book depicts the trail of wreckage left behind by Angleton in a CIA career that involved him in virtually every major spy-versus-spy drama of the Cold War and drew him deeply into the mysteries of the Kennedy assassination and the murder of one of JFK’s mistresses.” —Philip Shenon, author of A Cruel and Shocking Act
Some would credit Angleton with good counterintelligence instincts. Others might see a witch hunt or the workings of the so-called “deep state.” In any case, it was vintage Angleton, as Alex Cockburn explains.
James Angleton, chief of the CIA’s Counterintelligence Staff.
At the Future of Freedom Foundation’s recent conference on “The National Security State and JFK,” I previewed one of the best stories from my forthcoming biography of James Angleton: How Lee Harvey Oswald became enmeshed in the Angleton’s legendary “mole hunt” in which he pursued a KGB spy in the ranks of the CIA.
If Oswald was a “lone nut,” as cliché would later have it, he was that rare isolated sociopath of interest to the CIA’s Counterintelligence Staff.
Robert DeNiro’s 2006 movie, “The Good Shepherd,” is one of the best films about the early days of the CIA, with Matt Damon playing a character loosely based on James Angleton. Joe Pesci has a brilliant cameo as mobster Meyer Lansky.
Q. “Is the first “true” biography (and I’m not doubting you) but is that because of the new information you’ve found or is it that you’re giving a more exhaustive rundown of his entire life which the other biographies lacked?”
While the story of Sven Christensen, the senior U.S. Air Force official who saw November 22 as ‘a military coup” remained popular, two stories about CIA Counterintelligence Staff and JFK’s assassination drew strong reader interest as well.