Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Jeff Morley's "Ghost"

Bill Kelly’s review of Jefferson Morley’s Ghost – the biography of James Jesus Angleton (St. Martin’s Press, 2017)

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“A house has many rooms. I was not privy to who shot John.” – James J. Angleton

The spy was known as ARTIFICE – a fly fisherman and grower of champion orchids. 

I first took interest in him while reading David Martin’s “Wilderness of Mirrors,” that gave new insight into the secret mechanisms of the espionage game during the Cold War, which I am convinced, is at the heart of the assassination of President Kennedy, a still unresolved mystery. This book makes it less so.

Along with Bill Simpich’s “State Secret” and John Newman’s new series of books on the assassination, there should be great interest in Jeff Morley’s “Ghost – The Secret Life of CIA Spymaster James Jesus Angleton” (St. Martin’s Press, NY, 2017), especially after the official CIA historian’s objections, which make the book so much more glaringly brilliant. It reminds me of the attacks on Oliver Stone’s film “JFK” before it was released and exposes those who still defend those who got away with killing a president.

After working as a reporter and editor at the Washington Post in its glory days, Morley has written a few really good books – Our Man in Mexico – and Snow Storm in August – both of which sufficiently fit their roles in explaining important but previously ignored persons and incidents in American history.

Angleton hasn’t been that ignored, but until now we have not really understood his many roles in the OSS – Office of Strategic Services during World War II, CIA Counter-Intelligence chief during the Cold War, primary liaison to the Isralie’s Mossad, monitoring defectors, especially the accused assassin of President Kennedy, and his contributions to the Warren Commission and the cover-up of the true account of what happened at Dealey Plaza.

What Morley brings out clearly is the fact that Angleton’s primary OSS mentor at British Intelligence in the early days of World War II was Kim Philby, one of the most notorious double-agents of all time, and after the war, it was Angleton’s job as chief of Counter-intelligence to expose those double-agents. But he didn’t.

It was Philby who revealed in his book “My Silent War,” that Frank Wisner explained to him how the infant CIA was going to use ostensibly philanthropic non-profit foundations as cover for the disbursing of funds for covert intelligence operations – like the Catherwood Foundation. That was something the Russians knew from the beginning, but kept secret from the American people for years.

Philby wasn’t alone but was part of a Soviet intelligence network started at Cambridge University where also included Donald MacLean and Guy Burgess, among others, and they all got together again in Washington where Philby was posted as MI6 representative to the CIA. Philby and Angleton had daily three martini lunches, and it was at a party at Philby’s flat where Burgess had moved in, and where William Harvey began to unmask Philby as a double agent.

A notorious homosexual drunk, Burgess was his usual self at the January 1951 party at 5100 Nebraska Ave., when Burgess drew an unforgiving profile of Harvey’s wife, that almost resulted in a fist fight, and like the Twist Party in Mexico City and the other party with an assassin’s twist where Oswald was encouraged to kill General Walker, this party remains a classic as it was the end of Philby’s best role.

As Morley notes, “After the war Harvey had identified a network of supposedly loyal Americans including a handful from OSS – who were actually reporting to Moscow.”

After Harvey set his sights on Philby and his friends, Burgess and MacLean suddenly disappeared and surfaced in Moscow, followed shortly thereafter by Philby, Angleton’s mentor and friend.

Another good friend of Angleton, Cord Meyer, Jr., also fits into the Dealey Plaza story at different times and places, and Angleton’s possession of Mary Meyer’s diary has yet to be fully explained.
According to someone who worked with him, Angleton “had the ability to raise an operation discussion – not only to a higher level, but to another dimension,” and that dimension is something we must come to know before we can really understand what happened at Dealey Plaza and the continuing implications today.

As Angleton himself said, “I don’t think the Oswald case is dead. There are too many leads that were never followed. There’s too much information that has developed.”

Among the too much new information that has developed is the fact that Oswald’s file was kept by Angleton in the CI office at CIA, rather than the Soviet Division section where it rightfully belonged.
Angleton’s office kept close track of Oswald, from Moscow to Minsk, Fort Worth to New Orleans, Mexico City and Dallas, they knew where he was and what he was up to, if they didn’t actually control his movements, as they could if he was an agent, operative or asset, as many believe he was.
As Morley asks: “All of which begs the harder question: was Angleton running Oswald as an agent as part of a plot to assassinate president Kennedy? He certainly had the knowledge and ability to do so.”

Morley’s conclusion is inescapable: “Whether Angleton manipulated Oswald as part of an assassination plot is unknown. He certainly abetted those who did. Whoever killed JFK, Angleton protected them. He masterminded the JFK conspiracy cover-up.”

There are a few key books necessary for understanding what we now know about what happened at Dealey Plaza, and this book is one of them.

1 comment:

shanemcbryde said...

I haven't read the book yet, but I enjoyed your review, Bill.