What does it say about the state of US intelligence in the late nineteen-eighties and early ninety-nineties that two top counterintellgence officials-- Aldrich Ames in the CIA's anti-Soviet counterintelligence and Robert Phillip Hanssen in the FBI Soviet counterintelligence-- were moles for the Russian Intelligence Service? Under such circumstances, who controlled the recruitments the CIA and FBI were making during this period?


James Jesus Angleton, the chief of the CIA's counterintelligence staff from in 1953 to 1974, principal concern was not with "moles" per se, but with the inherent vulnerability of intelligence services to systematic deception. To him, "moles" were a means to this end if, and only if, they were in a position to provide timely feedback to an adversary about what channels his intelligence service were monitoring and how it is was interpreting the data it was intercepting. With such a feedback loop in place, he believed perfect deception was possible. Imagine, he suggested, a wife, attempting to deceiving her husband and using his psychiatrist as her feedback source. By bribing the psychiatrist to tell her on an ongoing basis how her husband was interpreting her lies and deceptions, she would be able to modify them, elaborating on those stories which he believed and discarding or altering those stories which he doubted. Through this trial and error process, she could continue to fit her deception perfectly to what her husband believed. "The deceived becomes his own deceiver" in Angleton's example. (You might recall Woody Allen used such a similar device to seduce Julia Roberts in the movie Everyone Says I Love You)

While manipulating a suspicious spouse might require only a bribed shrink, manipulating an entire intelligence service would require a feedback source capable of getting access to secret information that is both compartmentalized and restricted on a "need to know" basis. Angleton held that a penetration able to accomplish this feat would most probably located in the counterintelligence branch, which through its investigative function can access to multiple compartments. Even so, the access of a single mole would be limited by what cases he had been assigned. What would greatly expand the feedback would be two moles, each located in a different counterintelligence branch, for example, CIA counterintelligence and FBI counterintelligence. Such a combination, if efficiently managed, could cosmically expand their access, since each could produce leads for the other to investigate--- leads which would generate a legitimate need to know for each mole. For example, if such a combo existed, Mole A in CIA could inform the FBI through the CIA-FBI liaison that there was suspicion about X. The FBI, charged with investigating all espionage in the US, which turn the case over to its counterintelligence branch, which would give Mole B the access and need to know to delve into the concerning X. Angleton feared that such a dual penetration would allow the KGB to effectively control the assessment of American intelligence Others, including J. Edgar Hoover in the FBI and William Colby in the CIA, did not share Angleton's concern. Hoover threatened to sever its cooperation with Angleton~s staff and Colby characterized the likelihood of the Russian intelligence service recruiting moles simultaneously in both the CIA and FBI counterintelligence as preposterous and Angleton as paranoid. Angleton was fired.

Yet, the dual recruitment Angleton feared is precisely happened in the nineteen-eighties when both Aldrich Ames, heading the CIA's anti-Soviet counterintelligence, and Robert Phillip Hanssen, working in the FBI Soviet counterintelligence, both operated as moles for the Russian Intelligence Service.

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