The CIA, UFOs, MJ-12, JFK & James Jesus Angleton
As the CIA's Counterintelligence Chief, James Jesus Angleton had access to the Agency's most closely guarded secrets, including MJ-12 files on UFOs.
Extracted from Nexus Magazine, Volume 7, Number 4 (June-July 2000).
© 2000 by Timothy S. Cooper
James Jesus Angleton was born on December 9, 1917 in Boise, Idaho, to NCR businessman/OSS Colonel James Hugh Angleton and Mexican-born Carmen Mercedes Moreno. Upon graduation from Yale in 1941, Angleton moved to Harvard Law School where he met his future wife, Cicely d'Autremont, of Duluth, Minnesota. Inducted into the US Army on March 19, 1943, Angleton was recruited into the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) in August through the efforts of Angleton's father and Norman Pearson, his old English professor from Yale who at that time was head of the OSS Counterintelligence division in London.1
OSS COUNTERINTELLIGENCE OPERATIONS DURING WW II
James Jesus Angleton was assigned the Rome desk after Italy's capitulation to the Allies, and was made an OSS Lieutenant who ran counterintelligence (CI) activities in such countries as Austria, Germany, Spain and Switzerland as well as the Mediterranean area. As part of OSS operations in the European theatre, Angleton mastered the arts of "black" propaganda and "playback" - that is, the method of reading the effectiveness of one's own disinformation on the enemy. In 1944, he was given charge of the OSS Special Counterintelligence Unit Z, made up of US and British agents, and was the youngest member of X-2 and the only American member allowed access to the top-secret British ULTRA code-breaking intelligence.
After the war, Angleton was promoted to Captain and was awarded the Legion of Merit from the US Army which cited him for successfully apprehending over a thousand enemy intelligence agents. He was also decorated by the Italian Government and was awarded the Order of the Crown of Italy, the Order of Malta/Cross of Malta and the Italian War Cross for Merit.
In October 1945, President Truman dissolved the OSS and had all research and analysis units moved to the State Department and operational units to the War Department, and redesignated it as the Strategic Services Unit (SSU). Angleton stayed on in the SSU in Rome and became the vital station chief in charge of the 2677 Regiment, which made Angleton the senior US intelligence officer in Italy until the SSU became the Central Intelligence Group (CIG) in 1946, forerunner of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).2
THE MAKING OF JAMES ANGLETON AS A MASTER SPY HUNTER
Angleton's war experience in counterintelligence operations had affected him to the extent that he became absorbed into the "hall of mirrors" world of intelligence and refused to leave the service, despite much insistence and disappointment from his father. James would pour over the many CI files he had amassed while in Italy and was forever changed by the intrigue and the possibilities of a career in the CIG.
In the summer of 1947, Angleton returned to the United States to live in Tucson, Arizona, to be with his wife and family, but his love for the service was overpowering. On December 30, 1947, he was hired by the CIA as a senior aide to the Director of the Office of Special Operations (OSO).3 It was during this period that Army G-2 and other intelligence agencies were trying to crack the Soviet Venona code, used by espionage agents operating in the United States to send back sensitive information regarding the Manhattan Project based at Los Alamos, New Mexico. It is possible that Angleton was on special assignment prior to officially reporting to the OSO, which had the responsibility of running counterespionage operations.4 Angleton's primary mission in the OSO included overseeing a classified component that operated espionage and counterespionage activities abroad, and reading all sensitive material coming across his desk and passing it to OSO operators in countries where the CIA had interests. In 1949, he moved up the chain of command within the OSO and held a GS-15 position.
Angleton developed the philosophy, "If you control counterintelligence, you control the intelligence service". He quickly realised the significance of the B-29 detection of Joe-1, the Soviet's first atomic weapon detonation in August 1949, and knew that the technology acquired by the Soviets was not home-grown but the product of espionage. He immediately set out to discover who the moles were who passed on America's most guarded secret to Moscow. As with all covert actions, counterintelligence operated without specific mention in the National Security Act of 1947, so Angleton set out to acquire information on the most guarded secret of all.
ANGLETON AS CHIEF OF COUNTERINTELLIGENCE
Aside from the theft of atomic secrets, the most guarded secret within the CIA was the scientific and technical information regarding new weapons developments, including the planned use of a new generation of thermonuclear weapons and high-altitude reconnaissance platforms for spying on countries hostile to US strategic interests. One of the technical secrets was the study and transfer of advanced electronics gleaned from US Air Force studies of unconventional aircraft and missile research carried on at several Atomic Energy Commission facilities and proving grounds.
The FBI and the CIA were aware of Soviet espionage rings operating in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom. The main task of these rings was to provide any and all technical and scientific information on advanced technologies which would give an advantage to the Soviet Union in the event of another world war breaking out.
By 1949, military intelligence authorities had classified the "flying saucer" phenomenon as Top Secret, and the Army Counter Intelligence Corps (CIC) had passed on information that the Soviets could have developed saucer-shaped aerial weapons, capable of delivering atomic bombs or dissipating radioactive materials over NATO countries, as a stopgap measure to make up for the nonexistent nuclear weapons arsenal. In early 1947, the nonexistent nuclear arsenal in the United States was a closely guarded secret as well; and no doubt this fact set in motion the nuclear arms race, which terrified Angleton. The OSO was probably aware of Soviet knowledge of the bomb gap existing within both superpowers. Moreover, the flying saucer invasion of the United States - reports of which crossed Angleton's desk - put a scare into Angleton's psyche which is reflected in a credo he shared with other OSO staff members: "You who believe or half believe, I can say this now, that I do believe in the spirit of Christ and the life everlasting, and in this turbulent social system which struggles sometimes blindly to preserve the right to freedom and expression of spirit. In the name of Jesus Christ, I leave you."
After General Walter B. Smith was appointed Director, Central Intelligence (DCI), Angleton continued on with OSO Staff A (foreign intelligence operations) inside the CIA's clandestine division. In 1951, he was assigned the all-important Israeli desk, which he held under tight control for 20 years because it was a vital source of Soviet information in the Middle East. As more and more UFO5 sighting reports made their way to CIA headquarters, unevaluated reports were forwarded to Counterintelligence when the locations were identified as coming from Soviet Bloc countries. During this period, Angleton established good links with FBI contacts who were equally concerned with protecting vital atomic research facilities, and no doubt he read many domestic reports as they came across his desk in the "L" Building across from the Lincoln Memorial.
When Smith was coaxed away from his power base as DCI, Allen Dulles - Angleton's friend from OSS days - became the new Director. In late 1954, he promoted Angleton to the position of Deputy Director and Chief of Counterintelligence, with direct access to Dulles and all foreign UFO intelligence from the Intelligence Advisory Committee (IAC) which had been established to look into national security implications involving the UFO phenomenon.6 In order to cement Angleton's counterintelligence charter, Dulles commissioned General James H. Doolittle to conduct an outside survey of CIA counterintelligence operations. Doolittle concluded that the CIA was losing ground to the KGB, and recommended that more stringent and ruthless measures be taken against Soviet penetration. Dulles endorsed the Doolittle Report by ordering a more powerful tool to stop and interdict the moles within the CIA, and he personally chose Angleton to head the CI Staff. Perhaps this is why foreign and domestic UFO sighting reports diminished in number shortly afterwards.
During Dulles's tenure as DCI from 1953 to 1961 (the longest in CIA history), Angleton enjoyed a privileged position not shared by other directors. This was despite the fact that Angleton reported to the Deputy Director of Operations (DDO), and on many occasions bugged the phones and residences of various high-ranking US Government officials and foreign dignitaries with Dulles's approval and over the objection of the DDO. If the situation called for it, Angleton could go around proper channels to acquire personal data on anyone within the CIA and other agencies, which was clearly outside the CIA charter and violated FBI jurisdiction.
As the new head of CI, Angleton had to organise a staff, write the rules and oversee all clandestine operations aimed at the Soviet Intelligence Service military and security organs, the GRU and KGB.7 The CI Staff was primarily tasked with preventing penetrations at home and abroad and protecting CIA operations through careful research and analysis of all incoming intelligence reports. By keeping the most vital and sensitive files to himself, Angleton became a storehouse of secrets, which helped him consolidate his power base. Officially, Angleton was allowed access to everyone's personnel, operational and communications files within the CIA, and he reviewed all proposed and active operations and approved the recruitment of agent assets. This did not engender trust or cooperation, but Angleton did not concern himself or his staff with such intrusions. One of Angleton's former Chief of Operations, "Scotty" Miller, described the environment in which CI Staff operated as that of a "watchdog" snooping around, sniffing out Soviet deception and manipulation.
ANGLETON AND THE MJ-12 DIRECTIVE
Among the controversial documents leaked to the public in the last 20 years regarding state secrets and the UFO phenomenon, are the CIA's unacknowledged Majestic Twelve/MJ-12 files which disclose the most guarded of all classified subjects: extraterrestrial life-forms and their technologies.8
In order to secure this knowledge and prevent foreign countries from learning this vital secret and getting an edge on the United States, President Harry S. Truman signed a directive that basically said that no one (including a chief executive) was to be in possession of or disclose the finding without a "need to know" clearance which was above Top Secret.9
The directive was secretly implemented without the knowledge or consent of Congress and was concealed by the wording of the National Security Act of 1947, which prohibits the disclosure of classified matters without presidential approval and prior agreement by the Department of Defense and the Central Intelligence Agency, as amended in later versions of the National Security Act.
Knowledge of the finding was limited to only a select few within the government's intelligence and scientific communities. As long as the secret remained unresolved, there would be no official acknowledgement. The only official study program, Project Blue Book, was taken over by the CIA in 1953 as a public experiment and used as a debunking tool to discount the extraterrestrial reality, and possibly to quash any attempts by the KGB and GRU to glean any technological or defence secrets from the study.
Like the Manhattan Project group, Majestic Twelve or MJ-12 (as used in some leaked documents) was a joint government/military/private-sector undertaking that encompassed every facet of national security functions. The CIA was the premier intelligence agency tasked with maintaining the first line of defence of the United States during the 55-year Cold War between the capitalist West and the communist East. When Angleton assumed his throne as Chief of Counterintelligence, no doubt Truman's directive was a most inviting instrument, allowing him to carry on his mole-hunting career within the CIA against the KGB and GRU.
Majestic Twelve enjoyed greater protection than did the hydrogen bomb program of the early 1950s. With that, the Soviets were driven to penetrate not only the secrets of the H-bomb program itself, but the ultimate prize that lay scattered throughout the US Government's maximum security research facilities located in the southwestern and eastern United States.
The shocking truth of the Soviet atomic weapons espionage program, Enormous, dealt a tremendous blow to US and British security when it was learned that British diplomats operating within the US State Department, as well as US Army technicians at Los Alamos National Laboratories, had not only supplied blueprints and materials for the atomic bomb to their KGB handlers in New York, but had stolen the proposed plans for the hydrogen bomb as well. Security officials were left guessing as at what else the Soviet spies had stolen from under their noses.10
As far as we know, there was no successful penetration by KGB or GRU agents into the CIA's UFO program - in large part, due to the disgraceful and unlawful actions taken by Angleton's CI Staff. After the fallout from the Burgess-MacLean-Philby defections and the execution of the Rosenbergs, Angleton tightened security and dedicated himself to safeguarding whatever secrets still eluded the Soviets. Thus he embarked on a vicious mole-hunt that would almost paralyse the CIA until his departure in 1974.
During the time of the Eisenhower administration (1953-1960), the CIA was at its apex in covert operations, piling up one success after another where cores of Soviet moles were detected and sent home to Moscow. However, comments from the White House were nil when it came to the UFO problem, although Eisenhower's supposed meeting with extraterrestrials in 1954 was given some publicity. While it was largely discounted by the Press, some did try to connect Eisenhower's heart attack with the meeting. The national media were downplaying the UFO sightings in the US and abroad as part of a Cold War hysteria that accompanied the "duck and cover" scare that seemed to grip the country. No real problems popped up until the 1960 presidential elections when Democratic candidate Senator John F. Kennedy accused the Republican incumbent President Eisenhower of allowing a "missile gap" to exist, and charged that the United States was getting too close to the Soviet Union through détente.
Soon after Kennedy became President, he began to needle the CIA for information on UFOs,11 which was unnerving at the outset to Allen Dulles after he was burned over the failed Bay of Pigs invasion of Castro's communist-enslaved Cuba in April 1961. The once cordial relationship that had existed fell apart, and Dulles knew his time as DCI was short - as evidenced in his 1961 draft directive to MJ-12.12 He knew that the explicit instructions contained in the September 24, 1947 Truman directive - prohibiting the DCI from making disclosures to a chief executive who obviously did not have a "need to know" clearance - would compromise the CIA, but also that the lengthy and costly UFO program, deemed so necessary to national security by all involved, simply could not be jeopardised for anyone - not even the President of the United States.
Knowing the character of Allen Dulles and James Angleton, I can only speculate as to what kind of response Kennedy got. The DCI Top Secret/ MJ-12 document leaves no doubt that Dulles was not going to cooperate with Kennedy's request of June 28, 1961, which he forwarded to Angleton for consideration and feedback.
Majestic Twelve/MJ-12 included spin-off projects that were obviously equally sensitive activities of the CIA, such as Parasite, Parhelion, Enviro, Psyop, Green, Spike and House Cleaning. Other sensitive and covert programs could be affected as well, such as MK-ULTRA, Artichoke and Domestic, which all appear to have been operational projects associated with Majestic Twelve. The full implications of the above are not clear at present, but it is obvious that the other projects were held in readiness for some kind of mass indoctrination and deception undertaking in a national crisis.
MARILYN MONROE AND MURDER, INC.
The pressure put on the CIA by Kennedy was reaching a flashpoint of wills; and with the Noresenko affair13 driving Angleton to obsession, a UFO leak crisis brought new strains on Angleton. He learned that Hollywood screen star Marilyn Monroe's phone conversation with a New York art dealer14 - in which she discussed Kennedy's secret visit to an undisclosed military base to see alien artifacts, and her disdain over her soured relationships with President Kennedy and his brother, the United States Attorney General - had been recorded by CIA domestic electronic surveillance experts. Since 1955, Monroe had been under surveillance by the CIA, and the FBI had maintained a security dossier on her because of her marriage to a well-known American writer suspected of having communist affiliations, and her trip to Russia and the Press coverage she received while she was there.15
The wire-tap report also mentions nationally recognised New York syndicated reporter Dorothy Kilgallen as having conversations with Monroe regarding the Roswell UFO crash of 1947 and President Kennedy's politically motivated NASA Apollo Moon program. Dorothy Kilgallen made headlines in 1955 when she disclosed a private conversation with a British Cabinet official who told her that UFOs are real and that the US and British authorities consider the matter as of the highest importance.
The significance of the wire-tap has to do with the fact that Monroe was murdered the following day in her Brentwood condo. According to Milo Speriglio, internationally recognised private investigator and director of the Nick Harris Detective Agency, Monroe was the victim of a national security management hit by the CIA and the Mob.16 The suggestion that somehow the CIA was involved in a domestic murder of an American citizen is not too far-fetched when considering the past abuses coming from Angleton's CI program with its "absolute security at any cost" philosophy. Whether Angleton authorised the hit is not known, but the modus operandi of the way her body was found and moved around, the fashion in which the autopsy records were changed to reflect suicide, and the theft of her secret red diary one day after her autopsy, all have similarities to the methods used by Angleton's covert CIA Counterintelligence operators.
JFK AND THE CIA'S UFO FILES
The final straw for Angleton came when President Kennedy fired off a Top Secret memorandum to him,17 outlining a previous discussion concerning a classification review of all CIA UFO files that could affect national security. It was dated November 12, 1963 - just 10 days before he would be gunned down in the streets of Dallas, Texas.
Kennedy informed Angleton that he was setting things in motion to share sensitive CIA UFO intelligence data with the Russians through the director of NASA, James Webb.18 This request was made on the same day he requested Webb19 to begin Kennedy's peace overture to the Russians via joint space exploration. Webb, being a board member of the intelligence community,19 most likely interpreted Kennedy's program to mean the sharing of classified UFO data, which was forbidden under the current directive.
In Kennedy's Top Secret memorandum,20 he outlined for Angleton the specific items he wished to have disclosed to Webb, such as "[to] have the high-threat cases reviewed with the purpose of identification of bona fide as opposed to the classified CIA and USAF sources", and "that we make a clear distinction between the known and unknowns in the event the Soviets try to mistake our extended cooperation as a cover for intelligence-gathering of their defense and space programs". Finally, Kennedy wanted Angleton to "arrange a program of data-sharing with NASA mission directors in their defensive responsibilities".
This was unprecedented and was totally unacceptable to Angleton and the CIA. Here, Kennedy was requesting the Central Intelligence Agency - the agency he swore he would "break into a thousand pieces" - just to hand over the most guarded secret ever! This memo was passed on to William Colby, who indicated to someone in Angleton's staff in a handwritten note, "Response from Colby: Angleton has MJ directive".21 The note is dated November 20, 1963 - just two days before Kennedy's assassination.
It seems that Kennedy's request was bounced to and from Angleton's desk; either consensus was being sought, or the buck was being passed back to Angleton. In any case, it was a hot potato that Angleton had to deal with. It is also significant that NSAM No. 271 was the last to come from Kennedy's desk, just before he left Washington for Dallas. Whatever the real significance, it was buried somewhere within the CIA, and Angleton spent many a day trying to figure out who ordered Kennedy's execution.
Was Angleton set up, or did he unintentionally supply the needed ingredient for the murder of the century? In either case, the secret remained safe.
NSA SPECIAL ACTIVITIES
One of the few former CIA officers to speak publicly on the Kennedy assassination and the UFO secret is Victor Marchetti, who at one time was Assistant to the Deputy for Plans and Operations under DCI William Colby. In a rare interview with Second Look magazine in 1979, Marchetti - author of the sensational book, Cult of Intelligence, which was vetted and censored by the CIA prior to publication (the only book to include the redacted portions within the text) - made some interesting observations regarding the CIA's UFO intelligence-gathering program and why the subject is not open for discussion.
Retired Air Force intelligence officer Robert Collins produced for his website an insightful foreword to an extract from the Marchetti interview, in which he quotes Marchetti as saying: "My theory is that we have, indeed, been contacted - perhaps even visited - by extraterrestrial beings, and that the US Government, in collusion with other national powers of the Earth, is determined to keep this information from the general public."
Marchetti alluded to "rumors" at the highest levels within the CIA that the NSA has information as well, and that this must be kept away from public viewing.
We know now that the National Security Agency does have sensitive COMINT files, which for reasons of national security it cannot disclose. One of these NSA files that Marchetti speaks of might be the NSA intercept of Kennedy's phone conversation with Khrushchev on November 12, 1963, in which Kennedy spoke of a "situation that affects both our countries and the world" and "a problem that we share in common".
It is believed that the UFO problem became a national security issue when President Truman authorised the covert establishment of the National Security Agency, whose primary responsibility bordered on "special activities" - perhaps as outlined in an alleged Intelligence Estimate prepared by national security officials on September 30, 1947, in which one of the concerns stated that "what we are up against is controlled by intelligent operators" and that "these objects are real and not illusionary".
It is not surprising that, in 1968, an NSA employee drafted a significant analysis of the intelligence community's ambivalence towards the UFO camouflage and warned of dire consequences unless the defence establishment woke up and recognised the danger these phenomena pose in the nuclear age.
On a final note, the legend of James Jesus Angleton and his "wilderness of mirrors", as he often referred to his daunting task of protecting vital state secrets, faded into obscurity on May 11, 1987. But the secret that went with him re-emerged almost precisely the day he died.
Perhaps Jim was not the real bad guy in the counterintelligence game. Maybe he was its victim.
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