Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Good Shepherd: CIA Secrets or Hollywood Sizzle?

A Traitor

*Unmasking the Bay of Pigs traitor. At the conclusion of the movie, Wilson discovers the identity of the spy who tipped-off the Soviets about the location of the invading forces. It is his own son, Edward Wilson Jr. (Eddie Redmayne) who has fallen in love with a Soviet spy. The son refuses to believe his father and moves forward to marry his true love. While flying to the wedding, the bride is tossed out of an airplane to her death to prevent her from joining the Wilson family.

Actor Eddie Redmayne, plays Edward Wilson Jr.
Actor Eddie Redmayne, plays Edward Wilson Jr.

FACT: Roth said these scenes were written as part of his Godfather/family theme and not based on any actual persons. Angleton had three children, James Charles Angleton, Guru Sangat Kaur, and Lucy d'Autremont Angleton. None ever worked for the CIA.


*Face-to-Face meetings with his KGB Counterpart. In the movie, Wilson meets with his Soviet rival, Stas Siyanko, codename Ulysses, several times. During their last scene together, Wilson tells the Soviet that he will not be blackmailed into helping the KGB. (Ulysses was behind the seduction of Wilson's son and was responsible for sending Wilson the photographs and tape recording that proves the younger Wilson betrayed his country.)

Fact: While there are documented cases of the CIA and KGB both using "honey traps" to seduce officers and blackmail them, there is no evidence that Angleton ever was blackmailed. Roth admits that this was make-believe that he included in the script for dramatic reasons. Angleton was in charge of ferreting out moles inside the CIA and did not have any contact with KGB officers except those who had defected. Top CIA officials never met with any of their Russian counterparts until after the collapse of the Soviet Union.


*Helps Found the CIA. In the closing scenes, Wilson is called the heart and soul of the CIA and credited with helping found it.

James Jesus Angleton
James Jesus Angleton

Fact: While Angleton ran counterintelligence, he did not help found the CIA. The agency was created in 1947 with passage of the National Security Act of 1947 signed by President Harry S. Truman. It succeeded the OSS which had been dissolved in October 1945. Interestingly, the Pentagon, FBI and State Department all opposed creating the CIA. After the war, Angleton remained in the Army, attaining the rank of major while running intelligence operations in Italy. He did not join the CIA until a year after it was formed.

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