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A Mole in the Firm

the CIA was breached, and James Jesus Angleton Knew It!! So........what?

This is Dark Cloud on Wednesday, February 23, 1994.

You've heard the news, of course, the CIA finally has had its worst nightmare come true: a mole in their counterintelligence section.

Actually, a mole and his wife. The mole that was James Jesus Angleton's fever blister for years, so much so that many of his people considered him crazy. Angleton headed up the counter intelligence section of the CIA for many key years of the Cold War. As it turns out, he may have been right all along, but the question arises: so what?

Really, is it likely any spy organization is totally safe? Even those united by race and religion have factions and secrets leak out. Really, in the history of spying, very little of worth has ever been obtained, obtained in time, recognized for the truth when it should have been. Its been pointed out that James Bond was fanned into icon hood because British intelligence seemed in reality to be composed almost entirely of Cambridge University homosexuals in the pay of the KGB, for which a strong case could be made. In the United States, the people who won the Battle of Midway and much of the Pacific War, allowing the top Japanese Admiral to be assassinated, were treated terribly by the nation, and hardly stand as a recruiting tool for other brilliant men unmoved by hatred for an enemy or greed for cash.

Like an aircraft carrier in a nuclear war, intelligence organizations have come to exist solely to protect themselves. There can be no way that one can trust information from human sources: it could be a long term plant, it could be partially true but essentially misinformation. By the time information is sifted through, it is altogether possible that it is no longer relevant.

The reaction here in the United States to this latest embarrassment has been most curious. Are we to believe that our government actually thought Russia would call in all its spies and not seek information about the world's one remaining superpower? A conversation in which Boris Yeltzin would say "And of course, your 31 year CIA veteran who has headed up counter intelligence against us is really working for us. What a shock, eh Bill?" Considering that Russians have been routinely coming to the West for years without prodding by the CIA and providing fairly damning information really speaks to the question of whether these agencies do much of anything except keep each other occupied at great expense. It was said that the only two people in the United States that considered the American communist party worthy of notice was Gus Hall and J. Edgar Hoover, and that the FBI's war against this ridiculous outfit absorbed more money than any other project in its career, legal and illegal. Now, the FBI has managed to capture a CIA agent in the act of spending illegally gotten gains from the Soviet Union, and nothing seems to be at risk. The theory is that since 1981, American agents in the Soviet Union have been arrested or neutralized with regularity. Since 1981 also, the Soviet Union collapsed, and supposedly this came as a shock to the CIA which had not predicted it. The implication here is that the mole caused the CIA to be embarrassed.

What nonsense. The fall of the Soviet Union was predicted by many observers once Mikhail Gorbechev came to power. You hardly needed trench coats in Moscow to see that.

It might be time to give the purpose of the CIA another close look, this time held to the harsh light of accomplishment. I myself think it would come pretty close to a wash, and that it would have known just as much if it were just a counterintelligence outfit. In any case, history has shown that the nation seems ironically to be doing better when the CIA is in disarray. Perhaps it serves us best as a security rattle we can shake when the outside world gets scary.