Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Good Shepherd: CIA Secrets or Hollywood Sizzle?

Wilson's Best Friend: The
KGB Mole

*Wilson's Best Friend: While in London, Wilson is introduced to Arch Cummings (Billy Crudup), a dapper British MI-6 officer who reappears several times in the film, always as a close and trusted pal until a final scene where he is shown speaking to Wilson on the telephone from Moscow. Cummings has fled there after being identified as a KGB mole.

Actor Billy Crudup plays Arch Cummings
Actor Billy Crudup plays Arch Cummings

*Fact: Cummings is modeled after "Kim" Philby  who is believed to have done the most damage of all the Cambridge spies. The movie's fictional portrayal is deadly accurate, according to biographer, Mangold. "Kim became the only man Jim ever let into his house and into his heart." In London, Angleton was trained by Philby, who already was a Soviet mole. The two men then went their separate ways, but were reunited in 1949 when Philby became the First Secretary at the British Embassy in Washington DC and served as the MI-6 liaison with the CIA. "The logs at Langley (CIA headquarters) showed there were forty to fifty visits by Philby — so you can only imagine what Jim was letting him in on. When it turned out that Philby was a betrayer and was the biggest double agent of all time, Jim was absolutely devastated. He considered him a close friend and I'm sure you can date the beginning of his clinical paranoia to that betrayal." Philby escaped to Moscow in 1963 and died there at age 76 in May 1988. He outlived Angleton, who died at age 69, in May 1987.

*Spreading Disinformation: Wilson is shown in London getting the BBC to read a news bulletin that claimed Adolf Hitler had contracted syphilis.

*Fact: Angleton may or may not have penned disinformation in London, but he did prove to be an apt operative. In 1948, he obtain correspondence between Yugoslav leader Josip Broz Tito and Stalin that foreshadowed Yugoslavia's defection from Moscow, the first historic rift in the communist world. His talents and work ethic impressed Gen. William "Wild Bill" Donovan, the head of the OSS, who called him the OSS's "most professional counterintelligence officer."

William Joseph Donovan
William Joseph Donovan

*Protecting Nazis. After the war, Wilson moves to Berlin where he interviews Nazi scientists who the CIA secretly move into the US.

Fact: There is no evidence that Angleton played any role in helping Nazis enter the US. After London, he was sent to Italy where he took charge of counter-intelligence in the Army and developed a close-working relationship with the Israeli secret intelligence service. However, US intelligence was actively involved in extricating Nazi scientists from Germany in a secret project called Operation Paperclip that has spawned several books.

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