Abstract

James J. Angleton, who served as chief of counterintelligence for the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) from 1954 to 1974, was an important figure in the Cold War and, in a sense, the first line of defense against clandestine Soviet intelligence operations directed against the United States and its allies. In 1975 a U.S. Senate investigative committee—informally known as the Church Committee and led by Senator Frank Church—called Angleton to testify in public on his approach to counterintelligence, especially how he had become involved in illegal domestic operations in the United States. His testimony to committee staff investigators preceding the hearing, along with his public statements to senators during the hearing, displayed an extreme view of the global Communist threat. Amid ongoing revelations in the mid-1970s of illegal CIA actions, Angleton proved unable to mount an effective public defense of his approach.

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