Tag Archives: americanspy

James Jesus Angleton

James Jesus Angleton

James Jesus Angleton - spymuseum.comBorn 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.

Joined the CIA in 1947, one of its original officers. He also helped to establish the counterintelligence office of the CIA. He was designated to head up the Italian desk of the CIA. Helped to finance the defeat of the Communist Party in the 1948 Italian general election. Was considered obsessed with the KGB and the possibility that it had infiltrated the CIA. Russian defector Anatoli Golytsin had made this claim and Angleton followed up on it by searching for the mysterious mole from 1961 to 1974. During this time, he often dined with Kim Philby. Philby believed that Angleton was unaware that he was a Soviet spy. Angleton, however, had reported his suspicions to his superiors years before Philby was exposed.

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.

James Jesus Angleton - spymuseum.comColby 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.

James Jesus Angleton

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Morris Childs

Morris Childs

Morris Childs - spymuseum.comBorn Moishe Chilovsky in Kiev in 1902, grew up in Chicago, changing his name to Morris Childs and taking part in a growing left wing movement within the city. Became one of the charter members of the American Communist Party in 1919.

In 1929 was selected by the Soviet Communist Party to attend the prestigious Lenin School in Moscow where he learned about the concepts of developing revolution and the fundamental principles of Communism. Among his schoolmates were future Soviet premiers Nikita Khrushchev and Leonid Brezhnev and Morris Ponomarov who would go on to serve as a member of the politburo and as the international head of the Communist Party.

Childs headed the Illinois district of the American Communist Party, a key position and ran for the United States Senate seat under the political wing of the Communist Party. He gathered only 1,000 votes. Served as the editor of the Daily Worker, the leading communist publication in the United States. Was considered one of the leading figures in the he Communist movements in the United States. Was replaced in his position as editor of the Daily Worker due to political machinations between rival components of the American Communist Party. Was devastated by the movement and crumbled under the stress and strain, suffering a debilitating heart attack in 1947. Felt abandoned when no one from the Communist Party offered aid or comfort. A deep resentment over his ouster from his prominent position within the American Communist Party combined with his feelings of abandonment during his medical crisis caused an overwhelming sense of betrayal to brew within him.

After numerous raids on American Communist Party leaders in the United States by the FBI, the Justice Department sought to destroy the party from within by seeking disillusioned members of the group. Because of his ill health and his loss of his position, the FBI targeted Morris and his brother Jack as ideal candidates to work as informants. Morris was approached by FBI agent Carl Freyman who found that Morris was not only angry over his betrayal by the American Communist Party, but has also become disillusioned with the Communist mantra, especially in light of the egregious actions of Soviet dictator Josef Stalin. Morris agreed to work with the FBI to gather information about the Communist Party. The U.S. Government provided medical treatment for Morris and he soon regained his health. Was assigned the title Agent CG5824S but was referred to internally as “58.” Because the hope was that Morris would travel alone into the Soviet Union in a quest for information, the involvement was deemed “Operation Solo.”

Morris Childs Standing Next to Leonid Brezhnev - spymuseum.comAfter two years of working his way back into the American Communist fold, Morris was summoned to a meeting where he was instructed to travel to Russia to arrange for financing of the American Communist Party by the Soviets. Traveled to the Soviet Union in April 1958 and met with his old friend Morris Ponomarov who deemed Childs the real United States ambassador. The two devised a plan by which to smuggle Soviet funds into the United States, using Morris’ brother Jack as a courier. Over 30 years, the Childs brothers would facilitate the transfer of more than $30 million, which was then disbursed by Morris throughout the United States to different American communist causes (with the FBI, of course, monitoring the activity. The FBI took an inventory of the money and traced its origins, determining that a significant amount of it flowed in from Cuba).

In 1959, Childs Traveled back in to the Soviet Union to attend a meeting of all heads of state of communist nations. Serving as the U.S. delegate, he was elected recording secretary and was thereby privy to top secret documents. One night while filing away some of these documents in his safe, he slammed the door on his little finger, cutting the tip of it off. Fearful that under sedation he might reveal that he was working on behalf of the FBI, he refused an anesthetic and had the doctors stitch him up. The next day, Premier Khrushchev acknowledged the incident, boasting that Morris was so committed that he refused the anesthetic because he was so protective of the Soviet documents that he would endure the great pain rather than possibly betray the state secrets. Khrushchev called Childs to the podium before a crowded assembly and affectionately announced him to the “the last of the true Bolsheviks.” This solidified his role as a highly trusted member of Khrushchev’s inner circle and legitimized his position within the Kremlin. Because of the heights within which Childs had ascended within the Soviet power-base, Operation Solo was one of the most protected secrets within the Department of Justice. Only 12 people knew of Childs role and of the operation. In fact, not a single President of the United States knew about it until Gerald Ford was in office.

Morris Childs - spymuseum.comMarried Eva Lieb in 1962 and revealed his role as an agent of the FBI. Eva participated in the clandestine activities as well as providing moral support to Morris who often found himself under overwhelming stress. Morris Traveled back to Moscow in November 1963 and was visiting with Ponomarov when news arrived of the assassination of President John Kennedy. Childs, who understood Russian fluently (a fact that he kept from the Soviets) listened in to a conversation between Ponomarov and a KGB official. From this Childs learned that the Soviet Union had nothing to do with the assassination. While in Moscow, Childs would bring home sensitive files which he and Eva would copy in the dark of night. Eva then smuggled these copies inside her blouse back to the United States.

Chambers faded from the public eye and died in July 1961. In 1984, President Ronald Reagan awarded Chambers the Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor in the United States.



John Barron on Morris Childs: Operation Solo

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Oleg Penkovsky

Oleg Penkovsky

Oleg Penkovsky - spymuseum.comBorn in 1919 in Ordzhonikize, Russia, the son of a Czarist Army officer who fought against the Bolsheviks during the Russian Civil War.

Attended an artillery school and then entered the Red Army in 1939, seeing action one year later against Finland. Sent to Moscow where he acted as a political officer and then saw action against the Nazis in 1944 and 1945. Married the daughter of one of a Soviet General in 1945.

Returned to Moscow to attend the Frunze Military Academy, graduating in 1948, after which he was assigned to the GRU and sent to the Military-Diplomatic Academy for intelligence training. Learned English while attending Frunze, making him a valuable asset for intelligence work, but he was hindered by the fact that his father has served as an officer loyal to the czar.

Sent to Ankara in 1955 where he served as a military attaché in the Soviet Embassy. Distinguished himself as a brilliant and very meticulous agent, spying on Turkish and U.S. military installations in Turkey. Was again slighted by a superior regarding his father and is believed to have exposed that superior to members of the Turkish intelligence community. The life of a spy is not the thrilling life of a jet setter, but rather one who has to work long hours, staying in cheap hotels around the world, not what is portrayed in movies where film stars stay in Monte Carlo or hotels in Las Vegas.

Placed in the Dzerzhinsky Military Academy in 1958 where he was trained in rocketry and missile weaponry. Was prepared to take on a new assignment in India but was once again slighted because of his father’s past. Lingering frustration began to evolve into a serious disillusionment. Began to feel that the Soviet Union and Communism under Premier Nikita Khrushchev were mostly focused amass control of Europe and much of the world. Began considering making contact with Western agents shortly thereafter.

Was sent to London under the guise of heading up a trade delegation, but was actually supposed to setup and oversee a spy network. Had attempted to make contact with the West previously but had been unsuccessful. Before he left for London he gave a package to Greville Wynne, a British businessman, who delivered it to the British Embassy in Moscow. Indicating that he wanted to provide information to the Western powers (Britain and the U.S), Penkovsky was met with a receptive audience. He was debriefed by a joint MI6-CIA contingent and Penkovsky warned that the Soviet Union would likely send missiles to Cuba. The level of detail that Penkovsky provided as well as the nature of his disclosures shocked the incredulous Western agents.

Oleg Penkovsky - spymuseum.comWas made a double agent, pretending to pass classified information to the Soviet Union while actually passing it to the U.S., and Britain. Given the codenames “hero” buy the U.S. and “Yoga” by Britain.

While most information was gained during extensive debriefings (he would ultimately spend more than 140 hours being debriefed), Penkovsky also passed information to U.S. agents, including Wynne and also Janet Chisholm, a former MI6 secretary and wife of a MI6 intelligence officer.

Provided vital information about Soviet plans for East Berlin and evidence that the United States had a clear advantage in the number and sophistication of missile weaponry.

KGB officials became aware that many of their secrets were being received by the West. After an investigation, their focus centered on Penkovsky. Although he was monitored he was nit immediately arrested. Finally, on October 22, 1962, Penkovsky was arrested by KGB agents. Wynne was arrested a few weeks later and was subsequently sentenced to three years in prison and five years in a labor camp. Penkovsky, on the other hand, was tried in a highly publicized media circus. He was convicted and sentenced to death, executed in May 1963.

Penkovsky was one of the most valuable double agents ever to work with the West. Because of his efforts, more than 300 KGB and GRU agents were recalled back to the Soviet Union and the head of the GRU, Ivan Serov, was fired and reportedly killed himself.



Cold War Spies, CIA Agent Oleg Penkovsky


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