Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

James Jesus Angleton: CIA Spy Hunter

The Concrete House

The CIA kept Nosenko in the safe house for a year. His tiny room had no windows, and his bathroom didn't have a door. There was no heat or air conditioning. Reading, watching television, and listening to the radio were all forbidden. He was denied toothpaste and a toothbrush. A life-long smoker, he was deprived of cigarettes except when he was given ones that had been soaked in cologne to make them unpalatable.

Despite this unceasing torture, including marathon interrogations in which Nosenko could not leave his chair for 24 continuous hours, the prisoner stuck to his story, insisting that he was a genuine defector and that the information he was providing was all truth. From afar, Golitsyn reviewed the transcripts of these sessions and said that Nosenko was lying. But a CIA psychologist, John Gittinger, also reviewed these transcripts and concluded that Nosenko was for real. Gittinger conceded that Nosenko had told some lies when he had first approached the CIA, but they mainly concerned his KGB rank, which he had inflated to make him more appealing to his handlers.

The CIA had a concrete house built specially for Nosenko at Camp Peary, Virginia, where he was moved after his first year at the safe house. His cell was just 10 X 10 feet and contained a hard bed with no pillow. Again, he was deprived of heat and air conditioning, and the lights in his room were never turned off. He was given little to eat, but he could smell the food the guards prepared for themselves elsewhere in the house. After a while, the guards allowed him to go outside into a small enclosed yard with two high fences. Nosenko could not see the landscape around him, only the sky above.

To keep his sanity, he tried to make diversions for himself out of whatever materials he could find. He made a chess set out of threads and a calendar out of lint, but as soon as his guards discovered them, they were destroyed. When they finally allowed him to brush his teeth, he stole the small brochure that came with the box of toothpaste and read it voraciously over and over. That too was eventually taken away from him.

His handlers decided to give him a second polygraph test. This time they prefaced it with a physical examination that included a rough, ten-minute rectal exam. Nosenko was berated and belittled during the test, and again he was told that he had failed.

On a later occasion, an interrogator presented him with a confession and told him to sign it. Nosenko said no. Guards badgered him to sign it. The session went on for hours with Nosenko stubbornly refusing to sign. Finally, near exhaustion, he picked up the pen, turned the confession over, and scrawled on the back, "Not true."

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