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Context of '(1970): CIA Begins to Investigate Own Head of Counterintelligence'

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Edward Petty, an officer in the CIA’s counterintelligence section, produces a report saying that his boss, the controversial James Angleton, is probably a Soviet mole. The report cites 25 examples of suspicious behavior by Angleton, arguing that his disastrous impact on the CIA’s Soviet division demonstrates that he is under Kremlin control. Petty shows the report to several CIA managers, including Near East chief David Blee, and a full investigation is ordered. Angleton is cleared, but the investigation draws attention to his strange conduct and he will soon be replaced. [Guardian, 8/22/2000]

Entity Tags: Central Intelligence Agency, Clare Edward Petty, David Blee, James Angleton

Timeline Tags: Misc Entries

David Blee, a former Office of Strategic Services agent (see (1943-1944)) who joined the CIA in 1947 (see 1947), is appointed head of the agency’s Soviet Division. Thanks to his appointment, Blee replaces James Angleton as the biggest influence on Soviet policy. Angleton is an extremely controversial figure at the agency who has run counterintelligence for over two decades and views every Soviet defector as a plant. Therefore, the CIA has rebuffed many potential defectors and even imprisoned one defector under what the New York Times will call “brutal conditions.” Angleton’s theory of a “monster plot” by the Soviets against the US has also led to a witch hunt for Soviet moles at the agency, harming morale and effectiveness. For example, the agency was so blind that in 1968 it was unable to predict the Warsaw Pact’s invasion of Czechoslovakia. Blee rejects the “monster plot” theory and reverses Angleton’s policy. The CIA’s doors are thrown open to defectors and this greatly increases the number of spies the agency has in the Soviet bloc. This posting is the high point of Blee’s career and he will subsequently be regarded as one of the agency’s finest ever officers for it (see September 18, 1997). Former CIA officer Haviland Smith will comment, “He was the architect of the program that turned the clandestine service back on target against the Soviets after all the years of Angleton.” Former agency Deputy Director of Operations Clair George will add, “He had a greater intellectual command of overseas operational activity than any officer I ever knew.” [New York Times, 8/17/2000; Los Angeles Times, 8/18/2000; Guardian, 8/22/2000]

Entity Tags: David Blee, Clair George, James Angleton, Central Intelligence Agency, Haviland Smith

Timeline Tags: US International Relations, Misc Entries

David Blee, a former head of the CIA’s Soviet division (see 1971), is appointed head of counterintelligence at the agency. [New York Times, 8/17/2000; Los Angeles Times, 8/18/2000]

Entity Tags: Central Intelligence Agency, David Blee

Timeline Tags: Misc Entries

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