|Birth name||Rufus Lackland Taylor|
St. Louis, Missouri
|Died||1978 (aged 67–68)|
|Service/branch||United States Navy|
Born in St. Louis, Missouri, Taylor graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1933. He became Director of Naval Intelligence for the years 1963 to 1966. In June 1966, he was made Vice Admiral and Deputy Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency. That September President Lyndon Baines Johnson appointed him Deputy Director of Central Intelligence at CIA; he was quickly confirmed by the United States Senate. He served at CIA under DCI Richard Helms. Taylor later resigned as DDCI effective February 1969.
In late 1967, Helms asked Taylor to oversee a difficult, intra-CIA dispute involving Yuri Nosenko, who defected from Soviet intelligence in 1974. CIA counterintelligence chief James Angleton had almost immediately accused Nosenko of being a double agent and provocateur sent by the Soviets to penetrate American intelligence. As a result of this dilemma Nosenko was held for several years by CIA pending resolution. Taylor conducted his "independent review" of the "immense files" and interviewed CIA officers concerned. He concluded that Nosenko was no double agent and that Helms should set him free.
Taylor had also relied on an internal CIA report by Bruce Solie of October 1968. Despite strong objections from CIA counterintelligence, eventually Nosenko was released in March 1969, and put on the CIA payroll as a consultant. Angleton, however, kept insisting Nosenko was a counterspy; but in 1974 Angleton resigned from CIA. A further internal CIA report by John Hart in late 1976 confirmed Nosenko's bona fides.
In May 1968, DCI Helms had appointed a three-man special review board regarding the case of Sam Adams, a mid-level analyst at CIA. The board was chaired by Taylor and included CIA general counsel, Lawrence Houston, and OSS and CIA veteran John Bross, assistant to the DCI. It was "as high level a [board] as could be found within the agency."
Adams, a "mid-level analyst" had challenged the prevailing view of the number of Viet Cong guerrillas. MACV had lower numbers and forcefully stuck by them. The conflict between the military in the field and analysts in Washington became a serious concern in the Johnson Administration. Helms considered the prevailing political views in the administration vis-à-vis the military, and finessed it. Adams cried foul at the compromise favoring the MACV numbers, and filed a formal complaint against Helms.
By August 1 the board determined that, although Adams' numbers were probably more accurate, his methodology could not provide certainty. While Adams himself had followed correct CIA procedure, the CIA had given him a fair opportunity to present his case. The board recommended another opportunity be granted Adams: a presentation to General Maxwell Taylor chairman of PFIAB. In November Adams discussed the situation with Helms. Eventually Adams resigned.
- John Ranelagh, The Agency: The Rise and Decline of the CIA (New York: Simon and Schuster 1978). p. 736.
- Richard Helms, With a Look over my Shoulder (New York: Random House 2003), Chapter on Nosenko: "A Bone in the Throat" pp. 238-244, Taylor at 244 (quotes).
- Tim Weiner, Legacy of Ashes. The History of the CIA (New York: Doubleday 2007), Nosenko pp. 230-235, 276, Taylor at 276.
- Richard J. Heuer, Jr., "Nosenko: Five Paths to Judgment" in Studies in Intelligence (1987) at 31/3: 71-101; reprinted in H. Bradford Westerfield, editor, Inside CIA's Private World (Yale Univ. 1995) pp. 379–414, Taylor at 383, 385, Solie at 384, Hart at 385-386. There were six CIA reports in all (p. 384).
- Edward Jay Epstein, Deception: The Invisible War between the KGB and the CIA (New York: Simon and Schuster 1989), Nosenko as seen by Angleton & counterintelligence: pp. 11–16, 18–21, 30, 43–64, 74–75, 93–95.
- Helms, With a Look over my Shoulder (2003), p. 327 (quote); Order of Battle dispute pp. 324-329, Sam Adams pp. 326-328.
- Ranelagh, The Agency (1986), "The politics of numbers" pp. 454–471, Taylor 470, Adams quote 469. Ranelagh opined that the CIA numbers became "vindicated" (pp. 465-468, 468 quote), but that Helms made the only workable choice (p. 469-471).
- Thomas Powers, The Man Who Kept the Secrets: Richard Helms and the CIA (New York: Alfred A. Knopt 1979), pp. 214-217, 221–223; Taylor 221-222. Powers tells a slightly different story.