Did the CIA’s chief fall for in­fa­mous Bri­tish traitor Philby?

The Dominion Post - - World - JEF­FER­SON MOR­LEY

UNITED STATES/BRI­TAIN: Kim Philby and James Je­sus An­gle­ton first met at Bletch­ley Park in early 1944. A pre­co­ciously lit­er­ate 26-year-old Yale grad­u­ate, An­gle­ton had been spot­ted as a promis­ing spy by his pro­fes­sors and sent to the Bri­tish in­tel­li­gence cen­tre for es­pi­onage train­ing. There, Philby, chief of MI6 in­tel­li­gence op­er­a­tions in Spain and Por­tu­gal, taught him the black arts of coun­ter­in­tel­li­gence.

The two formed a friend­ship. Philby, then aged 32, pre­ferred An­gle­ton’s quiet good man­ners to the fawn­ing An­glophilia of his more provin­cial coun­try­men.

A year later, when An­gle­ton was as­signed to run the US coun­ter­in­tel­li­gence of­fice in Rome, Philby dropped in from his post­ing in Turkey. They com­pared notes on mar­riage and the grow­ing threat of the Soviet Union.

The pair re­newed their friend­ship in Washington in 1949, when Philby took over the MI6 sta­tion there. An­gle­ton, a ris­ing star at the newly created CIA who would go on to be­come its coun­ter­in­tel­li­gence chief, never guessed that his friend was a com­mu­nist spy, who was pass­ing on his ev­ery con­fi­dence to Moscow.

As a dou­ble agent, Philby not only be­trayed his home coun­try but the Amer­i­cans who placed so much trust in their more ex­pe­ri­enced Bri­tish coun­ter­parts. That is why I have writ­ten a bi­og­ra­phy of An­gle­ton - not only to cap­ture Kim Philby through Amer­i­can eyes, but to un­der­stand the im­pact his au­da­cious treach­ery had on the CIA in its for­ma­tive years.

These were times fraught with sex­ual ten­sion in in­tel­li­gence agen­cies on both sides of the Atlantic. Philby touched on ho­mo­erotic cur­rents as elec­tric and buried as the phone lines the spies rou­tinely wire­tapped. His be­trayal of An­gle­ton was ide­o­log­i­cal and emo­tional. Its im­pact was po­lit­i­cal and psy­cho­log­i­cal.

Philby and An­gle­ton’s friend­ship blos­somed in the spring of 1950, amid a moral panic in Washington. In a se­ries of sen­sa­tional speeches, Repub­li­can Se­na­tor Joe McCarthy had wo­ven to­gether the threats of com­mu­nism and ho­mo­sex­u­al­ity into twin fer­vors that his­to­ri­ans have dubbed the ‘‘Red Scare’’ and the ‘‘Laven­der Scare’’.

The two spies were cos­mopoli­tan men who dis­liked McCarthy’s dem­a­gogic style. An­gle­ton was mar­ried and a fa­ther of three. Philby was on the sec­ond of his four mar­riages and had four chil­dren, sev­eral mistresses, and many con­quests. His house­mate in Washington (and fel­low spy) was Guy Burgess, a Cam­bridge class­mate who had pre­vi­ously worked for the BBC and the Home Of­fice. Openly gay, he did not con­ceal his amused con­tempt for Amer­i­can moral­ity.

Philby’s af­fec­tion for Burgess bor­dered on the phys­i­cal. Wil­fred Mann, a sci­en­tist who worked in the Bri­tish Em­bassy, dropped by Philby’s house unan­nounced one morn­ing in early 1951 and found Philby and Burgess loung­ing to­gether in bed, sip­ping cham­pagne and dressed only in bathrobes.

An­gle­ton was half-amused, hal­fap­palled by Burgess’s ex­u­ber­ant style. When An­gle­ton in­vited both men to his house, his daugh­ter re­mem­bered how they frol­icked. ‘‘They’d start chasing each other through the house in this lit­tle choo-choo train,’’ Siri Hari An­gle­ton once re­marked. ‘‘These men in their Eton ties, scream­ing and laugh­ing!’’

Thanks to McCarthy’s in­sin­u­a­tions, ho­mo­sex­u­als were pre­sumed to be a se­cu­rity risk be­cause of the po­ten­tial for black­mail. For these spies, same-sex li­aisons were seen as an aber­ra­tion; an in­di­ca­tor of psy­cho­log­i­cal weak­ness (but not suf­fi­cient for dis­qual­i­fi­ca­tion from the in­tel­li­gence com­mu­nity).

In May 1951, the friend­ship of Philby and An­gle­ton was tested by ter­ri­ble news. While on home leave, Burgess had dis­ap­peared, along with Don­ald Maclean, an em­bassy of­fi­cial who GCHQ and Na­tional Se­cu­rity Agency code crack­ers had iden­ti­fied as a prob­a­ble Soviet spy. The two men soon turned up in Moscow.

Had some­one tipped off Burgess and Maclean that the net was clos­ing? Many sus­pected Philby, who in­sisted, with sheep­ish aplomb, that he had been fooled like ev­ery­one else.

An­gle­ton sided with his friend. Per­haps, some col­leagues later won­dered, he had been blinded by af­fec­tion. In a memo, he wrote: ‘‘Philby had con­sis­tently ‘sold’ [Burgess] as a most gifted in­di­vid­ual... In this re­spect, he has served as sub­ject’s apol­o­gist on sev­eral oc­ca­sions when sub­ject’s be­hav­iour has been a source of ex­treme em­bar­rass­ment in the Philby house­hold.’’

Bill Har­vey, a se­nior CIA Soviet ex­pert, scoffed. ‘‘Where’s the rest of the story?’’ he scrawled on An­gle­ton’s memo, con­fid­ing in one col­league that he thought there had been a ho­mo­sex­ual relationship be­tween the two friends.

Af­ter Maclean and Burgess de­fected, it be­came ap­par­ent that the Sovi­ets had agents deep in West­ern in­tel­li­gence. Still, An­gle­ton re­mained blind to any in­volve­ment on the part of Philby, in­sist­ing to James McCar­gar, a CIA col­league: ‘‘I still feel Philby some day will head the Bri­tish ser­vice.’’

Philby never es­caped the shadow of sus­pi­cion, but An­gle­ton sided with MI6 of­fi­cials who re­jected the charge that he was a spy.

By the time Philby moved to Beirut in 1956 to work as a jour­nal­ist, An­gle­ton had be­come chief of coun­ter­in­tel­li­gence at the CIA, with a staff of 200. Know­ing there were lin­ger­ing sus­pi­cions, he ar­ranged for Le­banese po­lice to watch his old friend. They re­ported that Philby had been spot­ted sneak­ing off to ren­dezvous with the wife of a friend, and An­gle­ton was sat­is­fied that Philby was a rogue, not a red.

So when Philby fi­nally de­fected to Moscow in Jan­uary 1963, An­gle­ton was shat­tered. For 19 years, his men­tor and dear com­pan­ion had played him for a fool, while steal­ing atomic secrets, US plans for the Korean War, and count­less secrets that had been read by Josef Stalin.

The re­al­i­sa­tion came as a ‘‘ter­ri­ble shock’’. An­gle­ton knew he had con­fided in Philby ‘‘far be­yond any rou­tine relationship be­tween the col­leagues of two friendly coun­tries’’, said Ni­cholas El­liott, Philby’s best friend in MI6. ‘‘The knowl­edge that he, the top ex­pert in the world on Soviet es­pi­onage, had been to­tally de­ceived had a cat­a­clysmic effect.’’

The pow­er­ful and now para­noid An­gle­ton re­dou­bled his search for a KGB mole in the up­per ranks of the CIA, certain that an­other Philby was lurk­ing. He in­ves­ti­gated 40 agency em­ploy­ees, and ef­fec­tively killed the ca­reers of about a third of them. Yet he never found a plau­si­ble sus­pect.

From Moscow, his former pal Philby tor­mented him. In his witty, ma­li­cious 1968 mem­oir, My Silent War, Philby de­picted An­gle­ton as a hapless dupe.

‘‘The key to Philby, if there is a sin­gle one,’’ wrote McCar­gar, who worked with both men, ‘‘is less likely to be found in the faults of the Es­tab­lish­ment, than it is in a com­pul­sion to be­tray and de­ceive, which un­der­lay all his re­la­tion­ships.’’

Ul­ti­mately, An­gle­ton knew that bet­ter than any­one. Near the end of his life, his CIA col­leagues threw him a farewell lun­cheon where he was asked if he wanted to say any­thing that he had pre­vi­ously never dis­closed about the Philby case.

‘‘There are some mat­ters I shall have to take to the grave with me,’’ he replied, heart­bro­ken to the end, ‘‘and Kim is one of them.’’

The Ghost: The Se­cret Life of CIA Spy­mas­ter James Je­sus An­gle­ton, by Jef­fer­son Mor­ley, is pub­lished by Scribe.

– Tele­graph Group

PHO­TOS: AP/GETTY IMAGES

A new book claims a spy ex­pert thought Kim Philby, above, had an af­fair with James Je­sus An­gle­ton, left.

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