Born in 1916 in Boise, Idaho, moved to Italy in 1933 when his father was transferred for business. Graduated from Yale University in 1941, when the Ivy League Schools were seen as military friendly colleges, and entered the U.S. Army in 1943, placed in the Office of Strategic Services.
While working in London, was transferred into X-2, OSS’ counter-intelligence division. Was later transferred to Italy to head up the Italian desk of X-2. During and after the war, cultivated friendships and contacts throughout Europe, including relationships with Kim Philby and a priest who would later become Pope Paul VI. More importantly, became friendly with members of the Jewish underground in Europe, the forerunners of Mossad, Israel’s chief intelligence service.
Enjoyed great autonomy and authority in his position, often reporting to the CIA chief at all hours. Had an enormous budget at his disposal with 300 employees working under him. Was relieved of most of his duties and power in 1974 by the new CIA chief William Colby, retained only as a consultant.
Colby and Angleton had had a strained relationship from the days when both worked for the OSS. Colby, in a final attempt to run Angleton out of the CIA, whispered accusations that Angleton was engaged in spying on CIA agents who were not active suspects.
After resigning from the CIA after 20 years heading up the counter-espionage division, Angleton retired to a life of fly-fishing. Was awarded the CIA’s highest honor, the Distinguished Intelligence Medal in 1975 and was called the “most professional counter-intelligence officer” in the OSS.
Angleton died in 1987.