james jesus angleton

music by James Jesus Angleton





ts eliot

words by T.S. Eliot






let my cry come unto thee

4:13 pm   James Jesus Angleton, back from lunch at La Niçoise, held in his hand two telephone messages, one from Lavinia Prío Gonzalez, Nassau, the Bahamas, 1:41 pm; the other from Cord Meyer, 1:56 pm. Had Lavinia called Cord after failing to contact Angleton? Had they spoken for 15 minutes, after which Cord put in a call to Angleton? Had Betty, his secretary noted the times correctly? Or had she transposed the times to confuse him? What if Cord had called at 1:41, Lavinia at 1:56? Would that mean that Cord, unable to reach Angleton, had called Lavinia, spoken for 15 minutes, after which Lavinia put in a call to Angleton to report the substance of Cord’s call to her? The two possibilities were not of equal weight, unless Cord had said something to Lavinia indicating he knew of, or was himself, a mole. If Betty reversed the times on the message slips, she was a mole, unless it was an accident. She had never placed incorrect times on telephone messages slips before, to his knowledge. There is always a first time. If this was the first time and Betty is a mole, something urgent would have motivated her. But why would reversing the times be so important for a mole to do at that moment? Yellow smoke rubbed its muzzle on the panes of his glasses, licked its tongue into the corners of his eyes, made him blink.

4:33 pm.   James Jesus Angleton dialed a secure line call to the Castle Bank & Trust, Nassau, the Bahamas.

“I called you, sir,” said Lavinia. “You were out.”

“I know you called. I know I was out. Did you call Cord?”

“Did Cord say I did?”

Too many martinis, James. Smoothed by their long fingers, the afternoon slept peacefully.

“That is not important, my dear.” James Jesus Angleton prepared for all the things to be said, or left unsaid, uncapped his Parker pen, slid the notepad toward him through the silence on the phone. “Only your information is important.”

“I have suspicion of a mole, an agent of Fidel, here in the bank.” Even Castro’s most rabid enemies referred to him by his first name. Angleton used to think it was a slip, a sign of unconscious support for the Cuban dictator, on which basis he had refused to recruit certain Cubans who turned out later to be trustworthy. Now he knew the act expressed intimate enemyhood. What other dictator in history was known to his enemies by his first name? Not Joe, Adolf, Benito, Francisco, Julius. Napoleon, that was different.

“The name?”

“Hubertus Smeg.”

“Smeg. What kind of name is that?”

“Not Spanish.”

“Is he a jew, spawned in some estaminet of Antwerp?”

“There is nothing in his file about Antwerp, sir. I can check on the estahmeenay if you tell me what it is.”

“A cafe where they allow smoking.”

“Not much to go on, but I’ll try. Smeg was with SOG in San Francisco 9/67 - 2/68, then Boston to 5/68. Transferred here.”

“On whose recommendation?”

“Cord Meyer.”

Angleton felt a slight sensation of being ill at ease.


“He, Smeg, asked me to set up an account, which I did, at Castle Bank.”

“This is tedious.”

“Yes, sir. Monthly checks to a Walter O’Shea in St. Louis, not in his name, made out to a Movement Liberation Front in San Francisco.”

“This O’Shea?”

“Former OSS, China, under—”

“Halliwell, I know.”

“From money left over when they rolled up—”

“Every one of Cord’s operations.”

“I’m sorry, sir, I’ll try to tell you what you don’t know.”

“What you do not know is the only thing you know, Lavinia. Shall I say it again? In order to arrive at what you are not you must go through the way in which you are not. In what way are these checks not payments to one of Cord’s anticommunist fronts?”

“They are not. Walter O’Shea is not anti-Castro. He is insufficiently not not anti-Castro, and is therefore pro-Castro, and his son, who receives the checks, is a violent Fidelista known to all. The Movement Liberation Front is a false front, a communist front, not a true front, an anti-communist front.”

“So you think this Smeg, Hubertus, diverts money intended for true fronts to false fronts?”

“They publish posters of la bestia Guevara smoking a cigar made by the company built by my father, who rests in the bosom of Our Savior, and nationalized by the satan Fidel.” She began to sob.

“Keep your countenance, Lavinia. Remain self-possessed. Is there more.”

“No, sir. But I have copies of the checks.”

“Send them by courier, Lavinia. And may I say, Lavinia, you do not know how much they mean to me, my friends, and how, how rare and strange it is, to find a friend who has these qualities, who has, and gives those qualities upon which friendship lives.”

“May Jesus bless you, sir.”

“And let my cry come unto Thee,” said J.J. Angleton.

the way that is ignorance

6:10 pm.   James Jesus Angleton went to no man at the CIA. They came to him. Cord Meyer peered into Angleton’s office at the violet hour, when the eyes and back turn upward from the desk, which Angleton’s back and eyes did, on the entry of, if his friend was not a mole, his friend.

“What is it?” asked Cord.

“Oh, do not ask, ‘What is it?’” said Angleton, “let us sit and make our visit.”

The two men sat briefly in a tobacco trance.

Ramparts has struck again,” said Cord, “only this time I’m afraid it’s in your department.” Schadenfreude O Schadenfreude... “Fortunately, Ramparts doesn’t know it yet and is not aware of what it has.”

“In order to arrive at what you do not know,” said Angleton, “you must go by a way which is the way of ignorance.”

“Which suggests, James, we prevent them from arriving. They have a memo, purporting to be from Dick Ober, mentioning SOG by name —”

“What other way is there to mention SOG but by name?”

“— authorizing payments to an asset in San Francisco. The little beast Krup called me to verify the existence of Ober et alles, which I did not. Whoever sent this memo and photocopies of the checks —”

“Have you seen them?”

“No, but the account number at the bank is one of mine. I called Halliwell, the checks are real.”


“The checks are drawn on Castle Bank.”

In counterintelligence, there are no coincidences; when coincidence appears, it appears as coincidence in order to mask the underlying cause.

“As I was about to say,” said Cord, “whoever sent the memo and the checks— ”

“Is a fool.”

“Or a mole.”

“Using a fool.”

“You see a fool in the works.”


“Don’t you want to know who the checks are made out to?”

“I have known them all already, known them all.”

“Then,” said Meyer, “there’s nothing more I need to tell you.” Veiled regret.

“Without your friendship,” said Angleton, aroused to intensity, “life, what cauchemar!”

“Seems ages since we’ve got together, James, since my promotion. We must make time to get together, knock back a few.”

“And indeed there will be time,” said James Jesus Angleton, “time for you and time for me. Right now I must prepare a face for the faces I will meet.”

“I understand,” said Cord Meyer.

a fool in the works

10:23 am. James Jesus Angleton had taught himself the meaninglessness of appearances by studying photographs of lawyers and their criminal clients; they were indistinguishable. There is no type but type of activity. Only in movies is there type of appearance. He was never surprised or misled therefore by the look of a man. Hubertus Smeg looked to Angleton only tired, having risen for the early morning Nassau-Miami flight and the first connection to Washington. Smeg followed Angleton’s directions down certain half-deserted streets to a one-night cheap hotel near Langley with a Hardees Lucky Boy next door.

Smeg was unctuous toward Angleton; he thought he was in for a promotion. “But what have I,” Angleton had said on the phone, “my friend, to give you, what can you receive from me?” That sounded promising to Smeg, and now over Lunch Special #3 with bottomless coffee, he was being congratulated.

“Cord Meyer’s been telling me all about you,” said Angleton. “Unauthorized ops are often the most brilliant. In OSS days, that’s almost all we did.”

OSS days being 25 years earlier, Smeg had no idea what he meant. Brilliant sounded good. Unauthorized did not.

“To fund an enemy, then expose him, is a classic. But you would not be so foolish as to work alone. You were based in San Francisco, which explains your target. Your advisor was not in Special Ops, of course. Much too clever.”

To have come to the attention of such a great man, O Smeg, you’re made.

“May I mention names, sir?” Smeg asked.

“That would be wise. Virtues are forced upon us by our impudent crimes.” A gaping hole of Smeg-mouth. “Credit must be given.”

“I don’t want to brag, sir. Me. I handled it. I charmed one of the secretaries. There’s a kind of woman that, well, you know —”

“I know.”

“They see the details but not the Big Picture.”

“Simple and faithless as a smile and shake of the hand. You trusted her.”

“Lavinia? She just aimed me at the account. You use a person like that for one isolated part of an, but you know.”

“And the memo from Ober to Halliwell?”

“It was laying out on her desk. Dumb luck. I just wrote a new message. Ramparts was sure to think it authentic, and Ober’s name added that little fillip of credibility.”

“You did not of course send the false Ober-Halliwell memo with the photocopies of the checks, which we will refer to as the packet, directly to Ramparts.”

“No, sir. Bad spycraft. The packet I sent to Bruer at Life. That’s to make the trail more —”

“I know.”

“Whether he sent the packet straight to Ramparts I do not know.”

“That goes without saying.”

“Then I shouldn’t say it, should I, sir?”


An easy tool, deferential, glad to be of use, at times, indeed, almost ridiculous. I have found the Fool.

“That’s why I love this work, sir, the way you can make dumb luck go your way, like the house at a casino. Didn’t Napoleon say good generals make their own luck?”

This is the way the world ends, thought James Jesus Angleton.