Donald F.B. Jameson; Handled Russian Defectors for CIA

By Adam Bernstein
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Donald F.B. "Jamie" Jameson, 82, a branch chief in the Central Intelligence Agency's directorate of operations who was highly regarded for his work handling Russian defectors and other Soviet covert operations, died Sept. 5 at Holy Cross Hospital. He had complications of a stroke in March.

Until retiring in 1973, Mr. Jameson spent more than 20 years working for the CIA. He was "one of the most experienced defector recruiters and handlers within the agency," according to journalist Tom Mangold's 1991 book, "Cold Warrior," about the CIA under James J. Angleton, the much-discredited chief of counterintelligence.

In Mangold's account, Mr. Jameson criticized Angleton's handling of KGB defector Anatoly M. Golitsin, who in the early 1960s was considered a major CIA asset. Golitsin eventually sent the agency on a highly destructive hunt for an alleged Soviet mole within its own ranks.

Mr. Jameson suggested Golitsin "needed to be stepped on," to rein in his requests for money and access to Washington's power elite. Angleton and his staff blocked that judgment and soon removed Mr. Jameson as Golitsin's case officer.

From 1962 to 1969, Mr. Jameson headed the branch in charge of Soviet bloc covert action. His branch encouraged dissidents behind the Iron Curtain and helped smuggle banned books to and from the Soviet Union and its satellite countries.

He also helped arrange for the defection of Svetlana Alliluyeva, daughter of former Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin, and the English-language publication of her book "Twenty Letters to a Friend" (1967).

Mr. Jameson retired as special adviser to the Soviet bloc division chief and became a writer and consultant on international finance and politics.

Donald Fenton Booth Jameson, whose great-uncle was Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Booth Tarkington, was an Indianapolis native. He graduated in 1945 from the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis and spent the end of World War II in the Pacific.

He received a master's degree in international relations from Columbia University, and, fluent in Russian, he was recruited to the CIA to enlist and train agents to infiltrate the Soviet Union.

In 1999, he told U.S. News & World Report that many of his recruits were used as observers to watch troop movements. Still others had assignments to collect leaves and frogs near plutonium processing centers so U.S. scientists could test the samples for chemicals.

Most of the agents failed to work at all, he said. Some were caught and sent to the gulag, and others disappeared. In retrospect, he told the magazine, "Ours was a very large effort that produced virtually no results useful to intelligence."

In 1955, Mr. Jameson interrogated an East German defector whom he later suspected of carrying the polio virus. Mr. Jameson received treatment at polio centers, but his limbs weakened substantially by the 1980s, and he was effectively a paraplegic.

He was an Ashburn resident, and his memberships included the Cosmos Club and the Army and Navy Club. He also belonged to Le Cercle, a foreign policy think tank established during the Cold War that reportedly included senior politicians, diplomats and intelligence agents worldwide.

His marriage to Barbara Nixon Jameson ended in divorce.

Survivors include his wife of 38 years, Lisa Rodman Jameson of Ashburn; a son from his first marriage, Jeremy Jameson of Houston; three children from his second marriage, Margaret Jameson and Thomas Jameson, both of New York City, and Alexander Jameson of Washington; and a sister.


© 2007 The Washington Post Company