Richard Helms
[[file:Richard M Helms|frameless|alt=]]
United States Ambassador to Iran
In office
April 5, 1973 – January 1, 1977
President Richard Nixon
Gerald Ford
Preceded by Joseph S. Farland
Succeeded by William H. Sullivan
8th Director of Central Intelligence
In office
June 30, 1966 – February 2, 1973
President Lyndon B. Johnson
Richard Nixon
Deputy Rufus Taylor
Robert E. Cushman, Jr.
Vernon A. Walters
Preceded by William Raborn
Succeeded by James R. Schlesinger
Deputy Director of Central Intelligence
In office
April 28, 1965 – June 30, 1966
President Lyndon Johnson
Director William Raborn
Preceded by Marshall Carter
Succeeded by Rufus Taylor
Personal details
Born (1913-03-30)March 30, 1913
St. Davids, Pennsylvania
Died October 22, 2002(2002-10-22) (aged 89)
Washington, D.C.
Resting place Arlington National Cemetery
Nationality United States
Alma mater Williams College

Richard McGarrah Helms (March 30, 1913 – October 22, 2002) was the Director of Central Intelligence (DCI), June 1966 to February 1973. He began intelligence work with the Office of Strategic Services during World War II. Following the 1947 creation of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) he rose in its ranks during the Truman, Eisenhower, and Kennedy administrations. Helms favored information gathering and its analysis, and counterintelligence, but remained a sceptic about covert operations. He might express strong opinions over a decision under review, yet he was a 'team player' and the President had the final say. While DCI Helms improved the management of the agency. As an indirect result of undercover operations in Chile, he was the only DCI to be convicted of lying to Congress. His career ended with service as Ambassador to Iran.[1]

Life up to World War IIEdit


Helms was born in St. Davids, Pennsylvania in 1913 to Marion Helms and Herman Helms, an executive for Alcoa. He grew up in South Orange, New Jersey and began high school there at Carteret Academy. Foreign language instruction was considered very important, and his family, father, mother, elder sister, and two younger brothers, all moved to Lausanne on Lac Léman. His next year of high school was spent nearby at the prestigious Swiss Institut Le Rosey where he advanced toward fluency in French. After a brief return to America, the family settled in Freiburg im Breisgau in southern Germany, where at the Realgymnasium he became conversant in German.[2]

During his years at Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts, he served as editor of The Williams Record which encouraged his interest in journalism. Following graduation, in 1935 he got a job at the United Press (UP) office in London, working in the News of the World building. The economic depression in London, however, caused Helms to look for work at the UP office in Berlin. There he translated and rewrote stories from the German language press. He also met well-known journalists, e.g., William L. Shirer and H. R. Knickerbocker, as well as Bennett Cerf, a publisher at Random House. Substituting for an ill UP colleague, Helms attended the annual NSDAP Parteitag in September 1936. There Helms heard Adolf Hitler speak to a massed party formation, and later with a small group of news reporters met and briefly questioned him in the Nuremberg Castle. Earlier he had covered the Berlin Olympic Games, conversing afterward to gold medalist Jesse Owens. In mid-1937 Helms left the Berlin UP office and returned home to America.[3]

Helms had determined on a career in print media, and wanted eventually to become a publisher and run a metropolitan daily newspaper. Accordingly he sought hands-on business experience in this line. He had heard it that "in the flinty eyes of owners, reporters were easy to find and a dime a dozen". He got a job on the retail advertising staff of the Indianapolis Times where he soon rose to be its national advertising manager.[4]

In 1939, Helms had married a "divorcée with two children" so that his home became a "whole family". With his wife Julia he entered a new life in local society. Three years later his son Dennis was born. Yet by then America had already entered World War II.[5]

War-time intelligenceEdit

Following the December 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor, Helms volunteered for the United States Navy and received officer training at Harvard. Then he was stationed in New York City, where he plotted the whereabouts of German submarines.[6] In 1943 he was ordered to be transferred to the Secret Intelligence Branch of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) in Washington, D.C. He chosen for this assignment because of: his ability to speak German and French, his journalism experience, and his time in Europe. His new training included some hand-to-hand combat. Also he was required to go out and get a job in a defense factory without any identification papers; this gave him "a slight, very slight, taste of the anxiety and stress that are endemic to espionage."[7]

File:Allen w dulles.jpg

After a period spent writing up fruitless "plans", Helms was pulled away and put into a small group under Ferdinand Meyers "responsible for coordinating intelligence collection on Germany". At the OSS office in Switzerland Allen Dulles had made working contact with Fritz Kolbe, "a disaffected member of the Nazi foreign office in Berlin". Kolbe had approached the British first but, suspicious, the British considered him a plant by Nazi counterintelligence. Under American guidance rendered by Dulles, however, Kolbe became a valuable source of quality information, e.g., on German secret weapons and war strategy. "Kolbe's information is now recognized as the very best produced by any Allied agent in World War II." The Meyers group facilitated this espionage file; Helms praised Fritz Kolbe as "an authentic hero of the German resistance to Hitler." He transmitted to the OSS some 1600 documents and cables, traveling between Berlin and Bern, "slipping through a half dozen Gestapo checkpoints while carrying his death-by-torture warrant in a shabby briefcase", Helms wrote.[8][9][10] Kolbe "who in his active days had never sought compensation" after the war retired in Switzerland on a modest CIA pension.[11]

In January 1945 Helms was sent to the German Branch in London. Housing was in short supply and Helms shared a flat with his OSS superior William J. Casey (who would later head the CIA during the Reagan administration).[12] Helms notes the similarity between Bill Casey and General William J. Donovan, the first and only leader of the OSS (June 1942-September 1945).[13] Both were charismatic, Irish Catholic lawyers, "furiouslly hardworking, impatient, demanding of everyone around them", public servants, and conservative Republicans. Both favored covert action; about "Wild Bill" Donovan an aura developed.[14] At the time Helms arrived in London, the recent German attack on the Ardennes front had surprised everyone including the OSS. Bill Casey considered it an "Allied intelligence failure". Already the OSS office had been discussing whether to attempt parachuting new agents into Germany (in addition to in place agents--like Fritz Kolbe).[15]

Casey assigned Helms to supervise the London office in preparing and dispatching OSS-trained German volunteers who were to be dropped, with false papers and portable radios (then awkward and heavy), into Nazi Germany to collect military information. They were provided with lethal pills in case of capture. Helms describes riding with one such agent at night, seeing him off at an unlit airfield.[16] Few survived.[17] His colleagues report that Helms reached conclusions derived from his wartime experience, and formed two general convictions: secret intelligence matters; but covert action dering-do seldom does.[18]

Truman presidencyEdit

In October of 1945 Allen Dulles turned the OSS 'Berlin office' over to Helms. Then in early 1946 Helms, at the age of 33, was put in charge of information gathering and counter-intelligence operations in Central Euorpe, i.e., Austria, Germany, Switzerland, Poland, Czechoslovakia, and Hungary. This new job was in Washington with the SSU/OSO unit of the then CIG.[19][20]

In March 1951 Helms was promoted, so that he was lifted from "the Central European Division to chief of the Foreign Intelligence (FI) Staff with responsibility for intelligence collection operations worldwide". In this role he was able to increase his understanding of the various CIA stations outside Europe and get to know CIA people serving there. The new position, also in the old OSO, was soon merged into the newly formed Directorate for Plans managed by Frank Wisner as DDP.[21]


File:Hoyt S Vandenberg.jpg

In the aftermath of the war, in September/October 1945, President Truman terminated the Office of Strategic Services (OSS). "[T]hose of us in Germany were taken completely by surprise," Helms later wrote.[22] Over the next few years, the entire intelligence activity of the United States government (USG) would be reformed. During this period many competing government departments (War, and State), agencies (FBI), and political alignments struggled to have their notions established in the regulations of the new intelligence institutions and to see their partisans in positions of influence. After the demise of the OSS, "Truman immediately commenced building a new intelligence system".[23] In early 1946 the Central Intelligence Group (CIG) was created, reporting directly to the National Intelligence Authority (NIA).[24]

While this complicated process unfolded, the group within the old OSS where Helms had labored was rescued from extinction.[25] Instead it continued as the newly formed Strategic Services Unit (SSU), located initially in the War Department.[26] Later this working group (with Helms in it), in the meantime renamed the Office of Special Operations (OSO), was then taken from the War Department and incorporated into the Central Intelligence Group (CIG). The CIG soon became transformed into the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).[27][28] Director of Central Intelligence (DCI) at CIG, General Hoyt Vandenberg had played an effective role in reassembling the pieces of the old OSS.[29][30]

Thus the OSS transitioned, via the War Department and the CIG, to the CIA. The SSU/OSO group which handled intelligence gathering and covert operations, formed only a part of the CIA's sphere of activity. Other agency duties included analysis of information gathered, e.g., the Office of Research and Estimates (ORE), and its dissemination. The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) was created by Truman's National Security Act of 1947, an act which also created the Department of Defense (DOD) with it Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS), as well as the National Security Council (NSC) to which the CIA's Director (DCI) reported.[31][32]

Helms and his coleagues worked with these organizational changes, which directly affected the institutional structures and chain of command where they worked. During these early years, Helms had observed the different positions taken, and the high-level maneuvering, about the political choices respecting responsibility limits and administrative contours of the emerging intelligence agency. Yet at this point in his career, Helms "hadn't played much role in the battle" over various strategies and choices; he had then considered himself "below the salt".[33][34]

Enhanced CIA powersEdit

Although the new CIA was set up to coordinate the USG's different intelligence groups, it was often left dependent and without sufficient discretionary choices. It started out hemmed in, e.g., the State Department's ambassador to a foreign country could veto the CIA's ability to use information collected there.[35] Yet soon the CIA's independence was greatly increased. The 1948 National Security Council Directive (NSCD) 10/2 empowered the agency to perform covert operations, and also provided that the USG be able to "plausibly disclaim any responsibility for them".[36][37]

Later the Central Intelligence Agency Act of 1949 provided a permanent and apparently legal method whereby the CIA could regularly exercise its newly enhanced covert operations power in the field. It was hurriedly passed by Congress, a supporter remarking at the time, "The less we say about this bill, the better off all of us will be".[38]


"Congress gave the agency the widest conceivable powers. ... [T]he CIA was barred only from behaving like a secret police force inside the United States. The act gave the agency the ability to do almost anything it wanted, as long as Congress provide the money in an annual package. Approval of the secret budget by a small armed services subcommittee was understood by those in the know to constitute a legal authorization for all secret operations. ... If it's secret, it's legal, Richard M. Nixon [later] said. [¶] The CIA now had free rein: unvouchered funds--untraceable money buried under falsified items in the Pentagon's budget--meant unlimited license."[39][40]

Nonetheless, Helms later wrote of his experience and understanding: it was the elected President of the United States who ultimately made the decision about CIA operations, which specific activity the agency undertook. The role of the Director of Central Intelligence (DCI) was to inform the President about the actual situation as it was understood, however imperfectly, and to advise the President about the known capabilities of the CIA as an instrument of USG policy. "The fact that significant areas of the Agency's activity must remain cloaked from public view magnifies the DCI's responsibility for keeping the President and appropriate congressional committees fully informed... ."[41] In practice the decision whether or not to embark on a course of action was then for the President to make. Thereafter, it became the DCI's duty to diligently carry out the President's instructions.[42][43][44] Yet serious problems may arise, e.g., if a President orders that the DCI direct the CIA to perform acts outside the scope of the its jurisdiction, i.e., forbidden to it.[45]

Cold War in EuropeEdit

The post-war occupation in central and eastern Europe by the Soviet Red Army had led to the formation of a half-dozen satellite states each run by a national Communist Party under general direction from Moscow. During the early years of the Cold War the optimal strategy of the NATO countries would have been to seek a "rollback" of such Soviet control. In fact, starting September, 1948, the CIA made a major operational effort, directed by Frank Wisner, "to roll the Soviets back to Russia's old boundaries and free Europe from communist control".[46] Eisenhower's 1952 campaign for President called for "the free world to liberate the Soviet satellites".[47][48]

File:Bundesarchiv Bild 183-R77767, Berlin, Rotarmisten Unter den Linden.jpg

Yet after years of directly experiencing the murderous effects of intense politico-military combat, many of these peoples recognized that forminable, post-war reconstruction projects loomed ahead, and that in economies destroyed by war their existence remained precarious. They also faced an occupying army both hardened and victorious. Moreover, the studied and thorough, and on occasion ruthless, methods employed by the communist regimes (under Soviet guidance) to control the exhausted, subject populations proved very effective. "CIA officers came to realize that the communist intelligence and security services were far bigger and significantly more sophisticated than the agency." The CIA's early attempts to recruit agents-in-place in the Soviet-controlled satellite countries were generally fruitless. Although difficult for some to relinquish, the roll-back proved to be an unworkable illusion.[49][50][51][52][53]

America's Marshall Plan, consisting of economic investments in western Europe, was a major response to the Soviet occupation in central Europe. This bi-partisan plan sought to energize positive social values and spur commercial growth, rather than voice anti-Soviet rhetoric. Under Truman, the successful Marshall Plan had accompanied a containment policy (often credited to George Kennan) as a Cold War strategy, meant to temporarily replace roll-back.[54] Helms called the Marshall Plan "a uniquely generous offer to fund the reconstruction of the European economies of both victors and vanquished".[55][56]

The CIA in the early 1950s did manage to set up Radio Free Europe and other media to broadcast or disseminate information to 'captured Europe'.[57][58] Helms, who directly managed CIG/CIA activity in central Europe, especially from 1945-1951, acquired great familiarity with how these different policy issues affected intelligence, e.g. Wisner's late-1940s covert operations in Europe were associated with the rollback strategy.[59]

Helms' assignmentsEdit

Following the war, Helms worked under Allen Dulles at the OSS station in Berlin. His duties included "tracking down die-hard Nazis... , searching for hundreds of war criminals... , seeking evidence of stolen treasures and looted artworks... , [to] monitor Russian military depredation... , [and find] German scientists... ."[60]

At the end of the war, Helms had shared a house in Wiesbaden, Germany, with Allen Dulles and Frank Wisner.[61] In late-1945 Europe, after Truman's termination of the OSS, Helms discussed at length the future of American intelligence with Wisner. Although they differed markedly (Helms favored espionage, Wisner covert action) they became long-standing "uneasy allies". They continued their discussion during an 18-hour flight back to Washington.[62] Helms later worked directly under Wisner when the latter served as the CIA's DDP from 1952 to 1956.

In 1946 Helms managed "228 overseas personnel" as head of the SSU's information gathering and counterintelligence group for central Europe. He quickly purged officers corrupted by the Berlin black market. He also searched for German scientists to send west.[63] Helms' duties involved significant liaison activity with foreign intelligence services, especially the British, regarding secret information gathering on the continent. The CIA participated in outstanding agreements with foreign governments to share data.[64][65]

The coming down of the "iron curtain" soon made the issue of Soviet political-military strength in Europe dominant (the American armed forces in Europe were being withdrawn). Rumors circulated that agile Soviet intelligence services already had infiltrated their western counterparts, including the OSS and the SSU.[66][67] "By war's end, the NKVD and GRU had established a baker's dozen agents and a fistful of enthusiastic contacts in the OSS Washington offices."[68] The DCI General Hoyt Vandenberg asked Helms to find out 'everything' about Soviet activity and occupying forces.[69] In chaotic, uprooted Europe, many refugees negotiated their way without papers, and Soviet counterintelligence agents were operating undercover. The dangerous task would be difficult; the USG was largely without eyes and ears in the Soviet camp. In his memoirs Helms wrote that in 1946 at the SSU he had "felt like an apprentice juggler trying to keep an inflated beach ball, an open milk bottle, and a loaded submachine gun in the air."[70]

File:Reinhard Gehlen 1945.jpg

On May 22, 1945, a German Major General named Reinhard Gehlen surrendered to the Counter Intelligence Corps (CIC) of the U.S. Army. Gehlen had for the previous three years been in charge of the German military's espionage on the eastern front.[71][72][73] Consequently he had acquired a large number of files on the character and deployment of the Soviet Red Army. He offered to negotiate for their use by the Americans. OSS officer Frank Wisner interviewed him.[74][75][76] Investigation and evaluation of the character of Gen. Gehlen, and of the provenance of the information he possessed, took over a year. Whether he was part of a sting operation by Soviet counterintelligence was a question to be addressed. In 1947 the Pentagon requested the CIA to take over the case. Although the DCI made the overall decisions on Gehlen and his organiztion, wrote Helms later, "the ongoing responsibility was very much mine".[77]

Gehlen then reestablished the prior network of contacts, and developed new agents. Significant amounts of substantive, quality information on the Soviets was brought in. Yet troubles followed. The SSU/CIA itself faced a shortage of people suitable for field work, the candidates being of a great variety of background and inclinations, e.g., some being suspected pro-communists.[78] In the Gehlen group were many suspect because of service in the Nazi regime. Too, Soviet espionage agents eventually managed to penetrate the Gehlen organization.[79][80] Due to the unsettled nature of late-1940s Europe, sorting out who was who involved careful scrutiny.[81] Regarding Gehlen's sources and information, the quality of the work product began to suffer. Helms learned how some opportunists would fabricate the information provided to stay on the payroll. There were reforms and prunings. A constant risk was the inclusion of Soviet-planted disinformation.[82][83] Helms notes that in 1956 the Gehlen organization became the basis of the intelligence service BND of the new Federal Republic of Germany.

File:Ambassador Walter Bedell Smith.jpg

When the Soviets exploded an atomic bomb in September, 1949, the USG augmented funding for espionage information--which increased effective demand and thus the price paid for its supply. Soon "a legion of political exiles, former intelligence officers, ex-agents, and sundry entrepreneurs" became brokers of "fabricated-to-order information". Some émigré organizations, with former high-level politicians, began to make an industry of fabrication, which peaked in 1952. The same phoney data might be packaged and sold to different agencies. In the effort to detect such fraud, the CIA found that study of the process used to create the offered information was more effective than attempting to evaluate the actual information itself. Experienced agents, however, were in short supply. At last the CIA, with Helms playing an major role, managed to assemble and educate other USG intelligence services and check the problem. Yet it was General Walter Bedell Smith, the new DCI (1950-1953), who provided Helms with the institutional access and thus the opportunity to finish his assignment against the 'fabrication factories'.[85][86]

Gen. Bedell Smith brought to the CIA substantial clout and force of will. Accordingly, Smith was able for the first time to achieve coordination under the CIA of other intelligence services (State and Defense).[87] The CIA now managed fifteen thousand people and more than fifty overseas stations. Smith was able to shape the CIA "into an organization that looked much the way it would for the next fifty years".[88]

Smith's other fundamental changes included creation of the Office of National Estimates (ONE),[89] and taking over complete supervision of CIA covert operations, part of which had been run semi-independently as the Office of Policy Coordination (OPC) headed by Helms' mentor Frank Wisner.[90][91] Helms wrote about his background before coming to the CIA, that General Smith "had earned his stars by furiously hard work, an iron self-discipline, and relentless attention to business".[92]

Formation of HelmsEdit

(under construction)

As a result of his experience, Helms usually disfavored the CIA's involvement in covert operations for pragmatic reasons. Not only did he think them generally ineffective in the long run, such efforts seldom performed as planned, got into the newspapers, and threatened in-place agents. "But the 1950s were the CIA's great age of clandestine operations" and thus Helms became known as something of an "anomaly at Dulles' CIA".[93]

Helms preferred the more "traditional" quiet work of espionage, counterintelligence, and analysis, which seldom left a trail yet on occasion yeilded key information, of high value to the political decision maker, e.g., the President. Making a gamble on a covert operation often proved messy and without the intended results, yet acquired unwanted publicity. Helms also had some business sense; his father was an industry executive and he himself had headed an advertising sales department. Helms could draw on his earlier journalist and newspaper experience in considereing a suggestion's likelihood of success, and chance its secrets would avoid media coverage. Also, his reporter's instinct assisted him in preparing the frequent briefings for the President.[94]

"Helms's attitude toward political violence was one of lucid caution. He did not so much argue that violence was wrong--he was, after all, something in the nature of a soldier--as that it was often crude, disruptive, and inefficient. His arguments against assassination were of the same sort.[95]

Professionally he was described as a "good soldier", one who may protest a policy under discussion, but once made would support a decision loyally. Throughout his career he favored intelligence gathering and secrecy, but was often a critic of covert operations.[96]

Eisenhower presidencyEdit

In January 1953, Helms was promoted as Chief of Operations (COPS). He replaced Lyman Kirkpatrick who was sidelined due to illness. Thus Helms entered into "responsibility for both intelligence collection and covert action operations" at the Agency. Helms served under his admired colleague Frank Wisner, who was then the Deputy Director for Plans (DDP).[97] Also at this time Allen Dulles, whom Helms had also known for many years, was appointed to the Agency's top position, Director of Central Intelligence (DCI).[98]

McCarthy eraEdit

(Under construction)

Iran: MossadeghEdit

File:Mossadegh US04.jpg

In August of 1953 the secular Prime Minister of Iran, Mohammad Mosaddeq, was forced out of power. The coup d'etat was considered for the most part a joint venture by American and British intelligence services. Largely engineered by the CIA's regional operation chief, Kermit 'Kim' Roosevelt (grandson of President Theodore Roosevelt), the coup seemed to involve trashing political party headquarters, burning newspaper offices, hired thugs and street demonstrators, bribed politicians and army officers, and one a difficult-to-persuade Shah. The previously nationalized (with "just compensation" to be negotiated) Anglo Iranian Oil Company (an oil monopoly) was returned to its former British owners. The Shah was returned to his throne, and the struggles of the fledgling representative democracy under the historic Constitution were replaced by his authoritarian rule. To the CIA the operation's code-name was Ajax, to the British it was Boot. Fear of communist influence was mentioned as a rationale.[99][100][101][102][103][104]

This action was viewed at the time by many in the west as an efficient and deft stroke of good fortune.[105][106] Yet soon there were American critics of the CIA's interventionism. Robert Lovett, a former Secretary of Defense (1951-1953) under Truman, and long an influential voice in USG affairs, sat on the President's Board of Consultants on Foreign Intelligence Activities. A 1956 report to President Eisenhower, written by Lovett and David Bruce, an American diplomat, criticized covert operations by the CIA under DCI Allen Dulles and called for the establishment of outside supervision.[107][108]

The report "sharply denounc[ed] 'King Making' by the CIA. It warned that all those bright young men being recruited by the CIA out of Yale were becoming freewheeling, well-financed buccaneers. Lovett and Bruce cautioned Eisenhower that the agency was out of control, that it needed formal oversight... ."[109]

File:Robert Lovett, photo portrait, 1951.jpg

Helms in his memoirs offers a subtler picture of the motivation and reasoning of 'Kim' Roosevelt, i.e., words of explanation and in his defense. The situation in Iran, Roosevelt argued, was suitable for this particular intervention because its result proved acceptable to the Iranian people and the army. 'Kim' Roosevelt reasoned that if such covert action had produced an unpopular government, then the resulting social tension, malfunctions, instability, unrest, and revolt, would nullify the positive objectives and hence indicate that the CIA had misjudged the political situation and its actions had been mistaken. Roosevelt spoke thus to the DCI Allen Dulles, who seemed unimpressed. Later, Helms observes, when Roosevelt was asked by the CIA to repeat the procedure in another country, Roosevelt declined for the above reasons. Helms refers to Roosevelt's 1979 book on the 1953 Iran coup.[110][111][112]

Yet by another view such explanations of the coup against Mosaddeq cannot be taken as being 'acceptable' to many Iranians, then or now. Without an ability to themselves make the political-economic choices determining their future, a foreigner's self-interested estimation of their opinions may be objectively challenged, presumptively.[113][114]

"A crucial turning point in the history of modern Iran, the coup had a stifling impact on Iranian civic-nationalist and democratic aspirations and derailed the constitutional development of the country. By restoring foreign domination over Iran and its oil resources, the coup also dealt a blow to Iranian national sovereignty. It adversely affected the Iranian political culture... . The coup would be ingrained in the collective memory of most politically discerning Iranians as... a stark reminder that Iranians were not in control of their own fortunes. [¶] The coup irrevocably alterred the character of... the Shah, driving him in an increasingly autocratic direction and toward greater dependence on foreign support."[115][116]

Helms in his memoirs and elsewhere, from time to time, gave his respect to the greater scope and deeper layers encountered by the CIA, and pondered the more inscrutible nuances of the intelligence craft. He mentions "unintended consequences" in terms of CIA covert operations. He offers his thoughts on how to contemplate the results of an action according to multiple values over the long run, and on the difficult probabilities of even a merely utilitarian evaluation, as well as on the institutional limits of the CIA.[117]

"Some observers consider Operation AJAX to have been a mistake. Had Mossadegh remained in office, they reason, he might have created an Iranian political system which would have headed off the revolution against the monarchy without bringing about the oppressive rule of the mullahs. ... [¶] However one may evaluate these speculations, it must be remembered that the Agency's role in Operation AJAX, as directed by the President, was to depose Mossadegh. ... After any such successful operation, the continuing responsibility for establishing and nurturing a sound new government is not, and should never be, the ongoing task of an intelligence agency. This sort of nation building is the proper province of the State Department and other governmenat and aid agencies. In some situations, the Department of Defense must lend a hand."[118]

After the coup the Shah declared three years of martial law. At the Shah's request the CIA and the American military assisted him in creating a new intelligence service, known as Savak. This new and feared Iranian secret police, "trained and equipped by the CIA, enforced his rule for more than twenty years."[119][120] "The short-term success of the coup, however, was heavily outweighed... . It was easy for the KGB [Soviet intelligence] to encourage the widespread Iranian belief that the CIA and SIS [British intelligence] continued to engage in sinister conspiracies behind the scenes."[121]

Guatemala: ArbenzEdit

(Under construction)

Jacobo Árbenz, President of the Republic of Guatemala, in June, 1954, was driven from power. Many of the maneuvers taken to obtain this result were covertly directed by the CIA. Helms thought the price had been too high, that "the CIA was more notorious than ever".[122]

Hungary and SuezEdit

Following Nasser's nationalization of the Suez Canal in 1956, the CIA was not able to forewarn about the subsequent military attack. Indeed Dulles the DCI, despite a several warnings, had previously called the idea of such an attack "absurd".[123] The ensuing conflict and its resolution constituted the Suez Crisis.

The surprise was bitter for some in the CIA. When the DDP Frank Wisner (Helms's immediate superior) appeared in London for a long-scheduled meeting with "Sir Patrick Dean, a senior British intelligence officer" and the Chair of Britain's Joint Intelligence Committee, Dean failed to show.

File:Time Man of the year 1957Hunagarianfreedom fighter.jpg

"The British spy had another engagement: he was in a villa outside Paris, putting the final touches on a coordinated military attack on Egypt by Britain, France, and Israel. They aimed to destroy Nasser's government and take the Suez canal back by force. ... The CIA knew none of this."[125][126]

The attack on Egypt arguably had an adverse impact on the situation in Hungary. The Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev was said to be hesitating, reluctant to order an armed assault on Budapest, and seemingly "on the verge of making important concessions". Yet the counter-example of the attack on Egypt persuaded him to invade Hungary.[127][128] All the while that Wisner was in Europe during this period, and later while Wisner was hospitalized, Helms served as the acting DDP.[129]

Novel events of 1956, e.g., Khrushchev's Secret Speech, and labor unrest in Poland, as well as the domestic political situation in Hungary, led to the tragic popular civil uprising in Budapest. Apparently the Soviet occupation forces were initially overwhelmed and a new government set up under Imre Nagy, but 200,000 Soviet-led reinforcements with 2500 tanks re-invaded, crushing the revolt and "killing tens of thousands".[130][131] The CIA could do little, and had no in-place agents. In fact, perhaps too much was done: Radio Free Europe urged Hungarians to risk all, to commit 'sabotage' and fight 'to the death', all but promising outside help.[132]

Afterwards Helms, as the CIA's acting DDP, reported on the flood of Hungarian refugees who were crossing into Austria, in his briefing of the Vice President before Nixon's official trip to Vienna.[133][134][135] Helms reports that in late summer a CIA policy advisors at Radio Free Europe (RFE) in Munich had "spotted a changing mood in Eastern Europe, and gave warning of a likely confrontation". But Dulles was not convinced.[136]

The violence in Hungary and in Suez both arose during late October and carried over into November. These events were concurrent with the last days of the presidential campaign, and voting in the presidential election of 1956, which Eisenhower won.[137]

Indonesia: SukarnoEdit

The Indonesian government of Sukarno was faced with a major threat to its legitimacy beginning in 1956, when several regional commanders began to demand autonomy from Jakarta. After mediation failed, Sukarno took action to remove the dissident commanders. In February 1958, dissident military commanders in Central Sumatera (Colonel Ahmad Hussein) and North Sulawesi (Colonel Ventje Sumual) declared the Revolutionary Government of the Republic of Indonesia-Permesta Movement aimed at overthrowing the Sukarno regime. They were joined by many civilian politicians from the Masyumi Party, such as Sjafruddin Prawiranegara, who were opposed to the growing influence of the communist Partai Komunis Indonesia party. Due to their anti-communist rhetoric, the rebels received arms, funding, and other covert aid from the CIA until Allen Lawrence Pope, an American pilot, was shot down after a bombing raid on government-held Ambon in April 1958. The central government responded by launching airborne and seaborne military invasions of rebel strongholds Padang and Manado. By the end of 1958, the rebels were militarily defeated, and the last remaining rebel guerilla bands surrendered by August 1961.[138] To make amends for CIA involvement in the rebellion, President Kennedy invited Sukarno to Washington, and provided Indonesia with billions of dollars in civilian and military aid.[139]

The U-2 and BissellEdit

File:Richard M. Bissell Jr.jpg

A great triumph of the CIA in the late 1950s became the high-altitude U-2 photo-reconnaissance planes, which overflew the Soviet Union from May 1956 to May 1960. Bissell had fought for these flights to continue despite the growing danger. Then the Russians shot one down, which increased Cold War tensions. The spy plane certainly could not be "plausibly denied" by President Eisenhower.[140] Thereafter, photo-reconnaissance of the Soviet Union was done by CIA satellite. Richard Bissell of the CIA had taken the lead in developing both these technical systems.[141]

Allen Dulles, Director of Central Intelligence 1953-1961, had appointed Bissell the new Deputy Director of Plans (DDP) in 1958, replacing Frank Wisner. The position many thought should have gone to Richard Helms, who was a proven, accomplished administrator. Bissell and Helms did not get along.[142] Yet Bissell as DDP turned out to be an "anarchic administrator". Then his leading role in the Bay of Pigs fiasco led to his resignation in 1962.[143] That then opened the way for Helms.

At the time of Bissell's appointment, Helms was "surprised and disappointed" at this "apparent vote of no confidence" by Dulles. As the long-standing and trusted associate of the former DDP Wisner, Helms had participated in the responsibilities of the DDP and had acted in Wisner's stead often. Helms for years had attended the DDP's daily conferences with Dulles and Wisner. In consequence, Helms then had considered resigning or taking a "step down" to a "less stressful" post as a CIA station chief overseas. Yet he reasoned that both Dulles and Bissell were well known as "covert action enthusiasts" and, if Helms left, others would figure it signaled the future direction of the CIA. Helms himself favored espionage, which was more manageable. Hence Helms decided to "soldier on" as Dulles had advised him.[144][145]

Congo: LumumbaEdit

(Under construction)

Kennedy presidencyEdit

During the second year of the Kennedy administration, in 1962, Helms became Deputy Director for Plans (Operations). Helms then served under Kennedy's new Director of Central Intelligence (DCI) John McCone (1961–1965).

Bay of Pigs, CubaEdit


Under the Eisenhower administration the CIA was given a prominent role in what became a covert plan to invade the island nation of Cuba with a landing force of exiled anti-Castro Cubans. It had the support of the CIA Director Allen Dulles and was directed by his DDP Richard Bissell. Although the Kennedys strongly and persistently favored regime change regarding the Cuban government under Fidel Castro, when the newly-elected President was first briefed on the covert CIA-led invasion plan, he only reluctantly agreed to it. Unfortunately the project's presence already during 1960 had become an 'open secret' mentioned in the press. Just before the mid-April invasion, Castro detained in makeshift camps 100,000 suspects.[146][147]

Helms, who highly valued secrecy and who was generally against covert actions, early saw a disjointed operation and soon distanced himself from the plan. Helms remained extremely sceptical of its chances, an opinion widely shared among CIA not working on the project. Yet such internal CIA opposition was not made public. In the event, the 1961 CIA-assisted invasion at the Bay of Pigs turned into a costly military defeat and a bitter political failure. In addition to other casualties, the DCI Dulles was respectfully required by the Kennedy administration to soon leave his position at CIA, and the DDP Bissell later resigned.[148][149]

Yet the Kennedy Administration continued the drive to remove the Castro regime, and the new DCI John McCone received orders for action by the CIA. In his first meeting with Helms, McCone "forcefully" told him of the Kennedys' "determination" and appointed Helms as his "man for Cuba". Helms later wrote that he quickly "established a task force under my command". Not only the CIA, but also State, Defense, Commerce, Treasury, and the FBI were included, among others, led from the top by Robert Kennedy the Attorney General and brother of the President. Its USG code name became Operation Mongoose. The CIA component under Helms grew to involve 600 CIA agents, 4,000 to 5,000 contract personnel, and a "secret CIA navy". Orders repeatedly referenced eliminating Castro. The entire multi-agency operation, however, made little progress toward regime change.[150][151][152]

Cuban Missile CrisisEdit

File:John McCone.jpg

The U-2 high-altitude spy plane, operated by the CIA,[153] was the instrument by which the USG first made its sightings of ballistic missiles being installed by Soviet forces at launch sites in Cuba. Aerial photographs were taken on Sunday, October 14, 1962, and quickly CIA analysts confirmed the missiles, which could deliver nuclear warheads. Under President Kennedy then commenced an intense week of secret strategy sessions, followed by the President's public address. The "gut-wrenching doomsday confrontation" with the leadership of the Soviet Union ensued. CIA sleuth had led to the Cuban Missile Crisis.[154][155]

Before on August 10, the DCI John McCone had voiced to Dean Rusk at State, Robert McNamara at Defense, and Robert Kennedy the Attorney General, his opinion based on 'gut instinct' that the Soviets would install nuclear-tipped missles in Cuba. His opinion was rejected. On August 29, a U-2 fly over revealed the presence of Soviet SAMs [Service to Air Missles] in Cuba. McCone figured these anti-aircraft batteries were in Cuba to protect something else: nuclear-armed ballistic missles. Yet the CIA's own Special National Intelligence Estimate of September 19, stated, "The establishment on Cuban soil of Soviet nuclear striking forces which could be used against the US would be incompatible with Soviet policy." The USG considered the SAMs nothing but defensive; McCone disagreed.[156][157]

When the mid-October U-2 flight eventually discovered the ballistic missiles in Cuba, according to Helms, the CIA confirmed it "by agent observations on the ground". Helms relates how the Agency employed a variety of different sources to check out the accuracy of the missiles' identification, in addition to the U-2's aerial photography, e.g., analyzed facts from public media and covert data from espionage and counterintelligence, here especially Oleg Penkovsky of Soviet Military Intelligence (GRU).[158]

During the crisis the CIA's McCone acted as administration insider, measuring out selected current developments and points of view to members of Congress and the press corps.[159] DCI McCone sat at the head table and participated in decision making at the highest level, i.e., the President's EXCOM committee meetings in the White House. As his DDP, Helms wrote in his memoirs:

"I was fully occupied with focusing the Agency's espionage operations on every possible aspect of the confrontation. This kept me a step away from those at the EXCOM level who had the lonely responsibility for dealing firsthand with the very real possibility of nuclear war. From October 16... to October 28" when Khrushchev blinked.[160]

File:EXCOMM meeting, Cuban Missile Crisis, 29 October 1962.jpg

During World War II, McCone had led a company that built many Liberty ships, which experience of "ships at sea" educated his focus on Cuba during the EXCOM strategy sessions. The perplexity of how to counter the Soviets was troubling, as too little did not show sufficient resolve, yet a bloody attack might provoke a nuclear exchange. It was McCone who first suggested the naval blockade of the island nation, styled as a 'quarantine on Soviet shipping', as the appropriate manner in which to apply USG force during the tense bargaining.[161][162]

Khrushchev finally offered to withdraw the Soviet missiles from Cuba, if the USG withdrew its similar missiles from Turkey. Nonetheless the Joint Chiefs then "strongly recommended a full-scale attack on Cuba" which McNamara warned would be "damned dangerous". But McCone cried out, "Make the trade then!" which was seconded by other voices. The deal was made, "provided it was never made public. The Kennedys could not be seen making a deal with Khrushchev."[163][164]

Vietnam: DiemEdit

[Under construction]

The Vietnam War had begun to draw increased participation by American forces. In August 1963 a proposed State Department cable advocated a coup to overthrow the Vietnamese President Ngo Dinh Diem; by circumstance Helms, DDP at the CIA, was asked to approve the cable; he responded, "It's about time we bit this bullet." Yet quickly the CIA Director McCone strongly voiced his long opposition to such action. Later the controversial November coup resulted in the killing of President Diem.[165]


"Helms and McCone were at headquarters, sharing a lunch of sandwiches in the director's suite" when "the terrible news broke." Decades later, Helms wrote in fundamental agreement with the Warren Commission. Oswald alone assassinated President Kennedy. "I know of no information whatsoever that might have any bearing on the assassination that has been concealed from the public."[166] Yet author Tim Weiner states that the CIA "concealed much of what it knew to be true from the [Warren] commission."[167]

The CIA had its own dosier on the former Soviet-defector Oswald, who recently had been to the Cuban embassy in Mexico City. This raised the spectre of the CIA's highly secret and formally covert operation against Castro.[168] The DCI McCone ordered a CIA internal investigation and Helms (head of CIA's Mongoose re Cuba) put John Whitten (CIA covert operations for Mexico) in charge of it. Quickly McCone informed the new President of this Oswald-Cuba-CIA link the next day the 23rd, then again on Sunday morning the 24th about how the CIA had been ordered to plot Castro's assassination. Oswald himself was killed that morning.[169][170]


After a week President Johnson "cajoled the reluctant chief justice of the Supreme Court, Earl Warren, to lead the investigation". President Johnson was worried about people concluding "that Khrushchev killed Kennedy, or Castro killed him."[171] Following Robert Kennedy's suggestion, President Johnson also called upon the CIA's former DCI Allen Dulles to serve as one of its seven members.[172] The Warren Commission, however, "posed a crushing moral dilemma" for Richard Helms at CIA.

"Helms realized that disclosing the assassination plots would reflect very poorly on the Agency and reflect very poorly on him, and it might turn out that the Cubans had undertaken this assassination in retaliation for our operations to assassinate Castro. This would have a disasterous affect on him and the Agency.[173]

Dulles and James Angleton, CIA chief of Counterintelligence (CI), were in close communication and, according to author Weiner, "controlled the flow of information from the CIA" to the Warren Commission. Angleton was a "bitter" rival of Whitten (who led the CIA investigation). Weiner finds fault because "Angleton and Helms agreed to tell the Warren Commission and the CIA's own investigators nothing about the plots to kill Castro."[174]

The author Thomas Powers provides a different view. "The first principle of a secret intelligence service is secrecy." Accordingly, there would be a great effort to cloak "any matter as explosive as assassination". The means of concealment could take the form of "the regular spiel" in which CIA officials, e.g., the DCIs Dulles, McCone, and Helms, categorically denied any possibility of Agency involvement in such acts. "Eisenhower and Kennedy went after two enemies in particular... Lumumba in the Congo and Castro in Cuba--but when they gave the job to the CIA they expected secrecy, and that is what they got."[175]

Two months after the assassination Yuri Ivanovich Nosenko "a mid-level KGB operative" defected to the west. Almost immediately he claimed he had read "the entire KGB file" on Oswald, which showed the Soviets had found him too "unstable" to employ. Following CIA interrogation, some CIA, e.g., Angleton, began to doubt his bona fides. Helms then met with Earl Warren the Chief Justice and explained the inability of the CIA to vouch for Nosenko's testimony. The difference of opinion at CIA about him continued to deepen. He was subjected to "strict solitary confinement" and "hostile interrogation" (challenging his responses), but "many obvious untruths" remained in his answers. DCI Helms was baffled by this case, and writes about it in a chapter called "A Bone in the Throat".[176] After five inconclusive years, he was released. "Nosenko received citizenship, assumed a different identity, married an American woman, and is now pursuing a new career" in America. He was retained on Agency contract.[177] After another twenty years, a final CIA report refurbished Nosenko as a valuable source of information on Soviet intelligence.[178]

File:Oliver Stone Cannes 2010.jpg

In his memoirs Helms specifically addresses two subjects pertinent to conspiracy theories about the Kennedy Assassination. In mid-October of 1963, a CIA veteran officer met a Cuban dissident in Paris.[179] In early 1967 Helms received a call from a district attorney in New Orleans named Jim Garrison, who later prosecuted Clay Shaw for murder. Helms describes "the Paese Sera, an obscure Italian newspaper with ties to the Italian Communist Party" and how it claimed that Clay Shaw was "a CIA operative". The Soviet media picked up the story and eventually there was a "press firestorm".[180] Oliver Stone later made the film JFK "[a]pparently intrigued by Garrison's absurd conglomeration of theories".[181] Helms opines:

"Somewhere along his path, Garrison realized that no matter how implausible an allegation might be, the fact that it had been made meant that every time the lies were refuted, the charges were perforce repeated. ... Rather than arguing, the demagogue ignores the points made... and attacks the motives of his critics."[182]

Helms cites articles critical of Garrison and Stone, and books by Edward Jay Epstein (1968), Patricia Lambert (1998), and Daniel Patrick Moynihan (1998). Yet he notes that "Garrison's scheming has taken on a life of its own".[183]

Johnson presidencyEdit

In June 1966 Helms was appointed Director of Central Intelligence.[184] He continued to hold this post until 1973, thus well into the Nixon administration. He followed the relatively short DCI tenure of Admiral Raborn (1965–1966), under whom Helms had served as Deputy Director.

Vietnam WarEdit

In 1965 Johnson decided to send in large number of American troops to South Vietnam and to bomb the North; yet the military put stiff pressure on him to escalate further. In the "paper wars" that followed, Helms at the CIA was regularly asked to report on the effectiveness of the military, e.g., the bombing of Hanoi. The military resented such review of its actions. Under Helms, such CIA reports were usually moderate, but often questioned whether the tactics used would result in compelling Hanoi to negotiate. Helms himself was evidently sceptical, yet Johnson never asked for his personal opinion. The CIA also organized an armed force of minority Meo in Laos, and minority Montagnards in the Vietnam highlands, as well as rural counterinsurgency forces. Further, the CIA became very involved in South Vietnamese politics. "One of the CIA's jobs was to coax a genuine South Vietnamese government into being."[185]

File:Richard Helms.jpg

According to one source, CIA Director Richard Helms "used his influence with Lyndon Johnson to warn about the growing dangers of U.S. involvement in Vietnam."[186] On the other hand, Stansfield Turner (DCI 1977-1981) describes Helms's relationship with Johnson as being overly loyal to the office of president, resulting in the CIA staff's honest opinions on Vietnam not reaching Johnson.[187][188] When a group of foreign policy elders known as The Wise Men confronted Johnson about the difficulty of winning in Vietnam, he was unprepared to accept their negative findings, yet their advice contributed to his decision to withdraw from the 1968 presidential election.

Israel: Six Day WarEdit

However there were successes during this era, such as the CIA analysis of the Six-Day War, which predicted that "the Israelis would win a war within a week to ten days."[189] Helms believed it had kept the U.S. (for the most part[190]) out of the conflict.[187] Four days before the sudden launch of that war, "a senior Israeli official" had privately visited Helms in his office and hinted that soon such a decision was likely. Helms then passed the information to President Johnson.[191]


(Under construction)

Long-term problemsEdit

Domestic intelligenceEdit

Under both Johnson and Nixon, the CIA was tasked with domestic surveillance of protest movements, particularly anti-war activities, which later became called Operation CHAOS. This involved investigations of various American groups on the theory that they were funded and/or influenced by the Soviet Union. The program investigated Ramparts magazine, anti-war groups, and others, eventually building thousands of files on American citizens. These activities were illegal, as the CIA was forbidden from domestic spying.[187]

Research re mind controlEdit

In 1972, Helms ordered the destruction of most records from the huge MKULTRA project, over 150 CIA-funded research projects, many illegal, designed to explore any possibilities of mind control.[192] The project became public knowledge two years later, after a New York Times report.[citation needed]

Nixon presidencyEdit

The relative ease of Helms's role under President Lyndon Johnson changed with the arrival of President Richard Nixon and Nixon's national security advisor Henry Kissinger. Turner describes Nixon as basically being hostile to the CIA and claiming it was full of "liberals". He quotes Brent Scowcroft saying that Nixon had an "inferiority complex" to all the Ivy League graduates at the agency. Nixon preferred to have intelligence come through Kissinger and his team, even excluding Helms from National Security Council meetings.[187]

Nixon and the CIAEdit

(Under construction)

Vietnam WarEdit

(Under construction)

Chile: AllendeEdit

Perhaps Helms's most controversial actions as CIA chief, Project Fubelt, concerned the subversion of the socialist government of Chile, actions done at Nixon's behest. The CIA's tactics, began in earnest during 1970, did not bring results until three years later: the September 11th Chilean coup of 1973 that overthrew that country's democratically elected president, Salvador Allende.[193]

File:Rene Schneider4.jpg

Helms states that on September 15, 1970, President Nixon secretly ordered the CIA to support an army coup to prevent an already elected Allende from being confirmed as president; "He wanted something done and he didn't care how."[194][195] Accordingly, the CIA took actions to badger a law-abiding Chilean army to seize power. Yet following the assassination of the "constitutionally minded" General René Schneider, the Army Commander-in-Chief, by rogue elements of the country's military in communication with CIA agents, the Chilean army's support swung firmly behind Allende, whom the Congress confirmed as President of Chile on November 3, 1970.[196][197]

Thereafter, the CIA funneled millions of dollars to opposition groups and striking truck drivers in a continuing, long-term effort to destabilize Chile's economy and so subvert the Allende administration. Nixon's initial, memorable word for such actions had been "to make the Chilean economy scream".[198] According to Helms, however, "In my remaining months in office, Allende continued his determined march to the left, but there was no further effort to instigate a coup in Chile." Helms here appears to parse between funds for political opposition versus support for a military overthrow.[199] Although in disagreement with Nixon, Helms assumed the role of the "good soldier" in following his instructions.[200] Helms left office at the CIA on February 2, 1973, seven months before the coup d'etat.[201]

Another account, however, states that—to the contrary—during this period 1970-1973 the CIA worked diligently to propagandize the military into countenancing a coup, e.g., the CIA supported and cultivated rightists in the formerly "constitutionally minded" army to start thinking 'outside the box', i.e., to consider a coup d'etat. Thus, while not per se orchestrating the 1973 coup, the CIA worked for years—employing its financial support—to seduce the army into doing so.[202] Further, the harsh economic sanctions set the stage for a successful coup.[203] Hence, Helms's careful parsing appears off the mark, yet views and opinions differ.[204]

After Helms's early 1973 departure, Nixon continued to work directly against the Allende regime. Although he was elected with 36.3% of the vote (to 34.9% in a three-way contest), during Allende's presidency he reportedly ignored the constitution in pursuit of socialist projects, policies which proved very unpopular and polarizing.[205][206] Yet the military junta's successful September 1973 coup d'etat was double-down unconstitutional, and very dirty. Apparently 3,200 citizens were killed and tens of thousands were held as political prisoners, many being tortured.[207][208][209][210]

Nixon had appointed Helms as Ambassador to Iran. During his confirmation hearings before the Senate in February, 1973, Helms was questioned concerning the CIA's role in Chilean affairs. Because the operations were still secret and the hearings were public events Helms, following government policy, denied that the CIA had ever aided Allende's opposition. After Nixon's 1974 resignation, information uncovered in 1975 by the Church Committee hearings showed that Helms's February 1973 statements were false. He was prosecuted, and convicted in 1977 of a misdemeanor, receiving a two-year suspended sentence and a $2,000 fine.[211][212]


During Watergate, Nixon asked Helms to interfere with the FBI investigation of the Watergate burglaries. By claiming state secrets privilege, Helms could have stopped the FBI investigation cold. Helms refused, which Turner calls a "courageous" move. Nixon was extremely displeased with Helms because of his refusal,[187] but Helms had succeeded in distancing the CIA as far as possible from the scandal.

Church CommitteeEdit

(Under construction)

Ambassador to IranEdit

After the debacle of Watergate, the Agency came under much tighter Congressional control. Nixon had never liked the CIA or Helms its Director. In January 1973, Nixon considered Helms to be better suited as the U.S. ambassador to Iran, due to his good relations with the ruling Shah, who was Helms' former schoolmate at Le Rosey. Helms was thought capable regarding scrutiny of the oil industry and issues relating to government stability.[213] Evidently Helms was approached about this position in late 1972. Thus he left the office of Director of Central Intelligence to serve as U.S. ambassador to Iran, 1973–1977, in Tehran.

Later yearsEdit

After returning from his ambassador post in Tehran, Iran, Helms was convicted of lying to Congress (see above: Chile under Nixon). Probably as a result, Helms allowed the journalist Thomas Powers to interview him over four "long mornings" about his years in the CIA. The interview transcript totals about 300 pages. Helms apparently was satisfied if not greatly pleased with the result, Powers' book: The Man who Kept the Secrets. Richard Helms and the CIA published in 1979 by Knopf.[214][215]

Helms later wrote his own memoirs, A Look over my Shoulder. A life in the Central Intelligence Agency, published in 2003 by Random House. William Hood, formerly of the OSS and CIA (chief of station), assisted Helms with the book.[216]

In 1983, President Ronald Reagan awarded Helms the National Security Medal.

After he died of bone cancer in 2002, Richard Helms was interred in Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia.


Historian Keith Melton describes Helms as a professional who was always impeccably dressed and had a "low tolerance for fools". Helms was an elusive man, laconic and reserved.

Although a reader of 'spy novels' for diversion, as was common in the intelligence field, Helms did not like one novel in particular. The cynicism, violence, betrayal, and despair in The Spy Who Came in from the Cold (1963) by John le Carré offended Helms, who considered "trust" as essential to intelligence work. So strong was his negative reaction that Helms's son said he "detested" this novel.[217]

Helms was married to a sculptress, six years his senior. They had two children. Helms played tennis. He was, of course, very non-committal politically. His wife apparently favored the Democratic Party.[218]

While serving as an OSS intelligence officer in Europe in May 1945, Helms wrote a letter to his son Dennis, then three years old, using stationery he had recovered from Adolf Hitler's office in the ruins of the Reich Chancellery in Berlin. He dated the letter "V-E Day" (May 8, 1945), the day Germany surrendered. Sixty-six years later, Dennis Helms delivered the letter to the CIA; it arrived on May 3, 2011, the day after the death of Osama bin Laden. It now resides at the private museum at CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia.[219]

In the mediaEdit

  • The character William Martin, portrayed by Cliff Robertson in the 1977 television miniseries Washington Behind Closed Doors (based on John Ehrlichman's novel The Company), was loosely based on Helms.
  • Helms was portrayed by actor Sam Waterston in a memorable scene in the 1995 film Nixon, deleted from the original release but included in the director's cut DVD.
  • The character Richard Hayes, portrayed by actor Lee Pace in the 2006 film The Good Shepherd, was loosely based on Helms.

Reference notesEdit

  1. See text below for the relevant references.
  2. Helms (2003) at 14-16.
  3. Helms (2003) at 17-26.
  4. Powers (1979) at 20-22.
  5. Helms (2003) at 29, 31.
  6. Powers (1979) at 22.
  7. Helms (2003) at 29-32.
  8. Helms (2003) at 33-37, Helms' quotes at 33, 33, 37, 36, 36n.
  9. Cf., Powers (1979) at 23.
  10. Cf., Peter Hoffmann, German Resistance to Hitler (Harvard University 1988) at 134-135.
  11. Helms (2003) at 37, 55.
  12. Weiner (2007) at 375, 411. As DCI, it went: Turner, Casey (1981-1987), Gates.
  13. Turner (2005) at 24, 39. Beforehand Donovan had held the post of Coordinator of Information (COI) for President Roosevelt from its creation in April 1941 until the position was folded into the newly-created OSS about a year later. Thereafter Donovan as OSS chief reported to military in the War Department. Turner (2005) at 15, 24.
  14. Weiner (2007) at 4. Donovan had served in World War I, being awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for heroism. During World War II, he conceived of the OSS as including a kind of special forces brigade. About planning new OSS paramilitary projects, Donovan's "imagination was unlimited," a close associate noted.
    "The bravest of the OSS, the ones who inspired legends, were the men who jumped behind lines, running guns, blowing up bridges, plotting against the Nazis with the French and the Balkan resistance movements."
  15. Helms (2003) at 38-44.
  16. Helms (2003) 45-48.
  17. Cf., Weiner (2007) at 4: of 21 two-man teams dropped into Nazi Germany by the OSS during the last year of the war, "only one was ever heard from again".
  18. Powers (1979) at 24. See below, section "Helms' formation".
  19. Helms (2003) at 63, 67-68.
  20. Powers (1979) at 29.
  21. Helms (2003) at 102; 359 (DDP Wisner).
  22. Helms (2003) at 61.
  23. Turner (2005) at 39-40.
  24. Helms (2003) at 70.
  25. "[T]he intelligence collection (SI) and counterintelligence (X-2) components" were placed as separate entities in the SSU "commanded by Brigadier General John Magruder". Helms (2003) at 66.
  26. Helms (2003) at 62: "[F]or the moment we had been subsumed into a carryover organization known as the Strategic Services Unit (SSU)".
  27. Powers (1979) at 29, 31.
  28. Weiner (2007) at 10.
  29. Helms (2003) at 79-80.
  30. General Vandenberg was the nephew of the Arthur H. Vandenberg, influential Republican Senator from Michigan (1928-1951). Weiner (2007) at 22.
  31. Helms (2003) at 80, 81
  32. Cf., John Ranelagh, "Central Intelligence Agency" at 122, in Oxford Companion to Politics of the World (2d ed., 2001), edited by Krieger.
  33. Cf., Helms (2003) at 79-81 (agency); 103 (quote re Helms' role), 100 (analogous quote).
  34. Weiner (2007) at 24-25.
  35. Turner (2005) at 56-57.
  36. Helms at (2003) at 104. The NSCDs were known orally as "nonskids". See also Helms (2003) at 113-115.
  37. Cf., Powers (2004) at 4 [1983].
  38. The supporter quoted: "Dewey Short of Missouri, the ranking Republican on the House Armed Services Committee." Weiner (2007) at 40.
  39. Weiner (2007) at 40-41.
  40. Cf., John Ranelagh, "Central Intelligence Agency" in Krieger, editor, Oxford Companion to Politics of the World (2d ed., 2001) at 122.
  41. Helms (2003) at 282.
  42. Helms (2003), e.g., Eisenhower's orders re Congo in 1960, at 167-168; Kennedy re Cuba in 1961, at 181; Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson at 349; Nixon's orders re Chile in 1970, at 403-405.
  43. Cf., Powers (1979) at 181 (& n.1 at 401); at 354-355.
  44. Cf., Powers (2004) at 55 [1994].
  45. Cf., Helms (2003) at 282-283.
  46. Weiner (2007) at 32.
  47. Eisenhower's rollback policy for Europe was crafted by John Foster Dulles, Eisenhower's Secretary of State, and brother of the CIA's then DCI Allen Dulles, who also advocated it. Weiner (2007) at 69.
  48. Powers (1979) at 50 (J. F. Dulles and "roll-back").
  49. Powers (1979) at 44-45 (efforts fruitless), 45-47 (in Poland, 'WIN' counter-espionage deceives CIA), 49-51 (Dulles closes down fruitless resistance-building in satellites), 52-53 (no quality CIA assets in satellites).
  50. Weiner (2007) at 65 (quote re 'communist intelligence'), at 183 (no quality CIA agents in satellites).
  51. The Soviets might be said to have 'inherited' the well-developed Czarist security culture. Helms (2003) at 219.
  52. Nonetheless, entirely local, spontaneous anti-Soviet movements arose in Germany (DDR) (1953, [1989]), Poland (1956, [1980]), Hungary (1956), Chechoslovakia (1968), and Rumania (1989). Among the earlier movements, the more radical were forceably crushed, while the more moderate politicians were coopted or accommodated. The persistance of these popular movements, however, resulted in eventual success and liberation. Cf.,Mark Mazower, Dark Continent. Europe's twentieth century (New York: Alfred A. Knopf 1998) at 361-386.
  53. Thereafter the anti-Soviet movement spread to Russia, and resulted in the Collapse of the Soviet Union itself. Cf., Conor O'Clery, Moscow, December 25, 1991. The last day of the Soviet Union (New York: Public Affairs 2011), e.g., at 88.
  54. Eric F. Goldman, Crucial Decade-and After. America 1945-1960 (New York: Alfred A. Knopf 1956, 1960; reprint Vintage 1960) at 62-81.
  55. Helms (2003) at 112.
  56. Weiner (2007) at 28-29 states that the CIA "siphoned off" money from the Marshall Plan, using it to finance various citizen groups, publishers, etc., to counter the similar "front" organizations run by communists. It followed the "organized political warfare" advocated by George Kennan.
  57. Helms (2003) at 354-366; cf., 370-371.
  58. Powers (1979) at 43, 91-92.
  59. Weiner (2007) at 10-11, 17, 30-34, 48.
  60. Helms (2003) at 60.
  61. Powers (1979) at 34.
  62. Weiner (2007) at 11-12. Weiner later notes that Wisner was a very aggressive cold warrior. In response to the Soviet Berlin blockade (June 1948 to May 1949) he recommended a hot war, that the U. S. Army "should battle its way into Berlin with tanks and artillery". His suggestion was declined. Weiner (2007) at 30.
  63. Weiner (2007) at 10 (black market, scientists), 17 (228 personnel).
  64. Powers (1979) at 29.
  65. Weiner (2007) at 17.
  66. Helms (2003) at 74-75, 76.
  67. Weiner (2007) at 520-521.
  68. Helms (2003) at 156.
  69. Weiner (2007) at 17.
  70. Helms (2003) at 70.
  71. Weiner (2007) at 42. Gehlen had been a leader in the Abwehr, the Nazi Germany's military intelligence service.
  72. Helms (2003) at 85. Yet the German Abwehr had little success in the west, and "the Russians had also been highly effective in deceiving German intelligence on the eastern front".
  73. The Pentagon's code name for their Gehlen operation was Rusty. Helms (2003) at 83.
  74. Powers (1979) at 25.
  75. Helms (2003) at 83-84. The Gehlen group possessed many strong assets (at 84-85), and Gehlen was never a member of the Nazi Party (at 88-89).
  76. Weiner (2007) at 42-43.
  77. Helms (2003) at 88. Fortunately Helms found in Colonel James Critchfield an effective CIA officer to locate in Germany to monitor Gehlen, serving there seven years. Helms (2003) at 89-90.
  78. Helms (2003) at 76. Helms states that he used caution to avoid an unwarranted negative entering a leftist's file.
  79. Weiner (2007) at 42: Soviet and East German "moles".
  80. Cf., Helms(2003) at 91, e.g., Soviet KGB agent Heinz Felfe (at 155, 193). Gehlen's organization expanded to roughly 4,000. Helms (2003) at 87.
  81. Helms heeded the warnings. Yet some other CIA concluded that exigencies of events demanded timely results, thus less than desirable means, i.e., agents. Weiner states that elsewhere CIA directlly employed even probable war criminals. Weiner (2007 at 41.
  82. Powers (1979) at 44-47, 53.
  83. Wiener (2007) 67-68.
  84. Weiner (2007) at 14-15, 49.
  85. Helms (2003) at 93, 95-96, 97-99; DCI Gen. Smith's instructions at 98-99. Walter Jessel of the CIA made a critical study of the 'invented' information problem that proved decisive. The most maligned fabricator was a group run by former Hungarian General Andras Zako. His group was put on the CIA's "burn list", i.e., designated untrustworthy.
  86. Cf., Powers (1979) at 46-47.
  87. Turner (2005) at 61, 62.
  88. Weiner (2007) at 68.
  89. Helms (2003) at 233-235.
  90. Helms (2003) at 114-116.
  91. Yet DCI Smith hired Allen Dulles who with Wisner then merged covert operations and information gathering into the new Directorate for Plans. Turner, DCI 1977-1981, praises the take-over of OPC, but refers to merger of covert operations and espionage as inviting the foxes into the hen house--a merger "against Smith's express wishes". Turner (2005) at 67; cf., 52-53.
  92. Helms (2003) at 101.
  93. Powers (1979) at 92-94, quotes at 93, 94. In Latin America the CIA became more resented than the Marines. Powers (1979) at 100.
  94. Turner (2005) at 115, 117.
  95. Powers (1979) at 140-141.
  96. Powers (1979) at 124 (good soldier), 39 (intelligence), 100, 121 (operations).
  97. Helms (2003) at 103.
  98. Weiner (2007) at 69.
  99. Weiner (2007) at 81-92. Anglo Iranian Oil Company had been caught "systematically cheat[ing]" Iran. Weiner (2007) at 82. The Aug. 19 coup d'etat (as described by Weiner) was started by DCI Dulles and DDP Wisner on Nov. 26 after the 1952 election, although not approved by any President until July 11 (at 83, 87). The coup was led by a handsomely-bribed retired general Fazlollah Zahedi, whom Mossadeq previously knew as a 'British-backed traitor' (at 85-86, 89, 91). The CIA recruited forty other army officers, and hired his twin sister to convince the Shah (at 87-88). Paid-for propaganda and mob action started, but Mosaddeq was prepared and the coup failed on Aug. 16; the Shah fled the country (at 88-89). By coincidence Dulles on vacation arrived in Rome at a hotel reception desk same time as the Shah (at 90). Then the CIA hired thugs to pose as 'communist goons' who the next day began to loot and burn Tehran. More army and street agitators were purchased: on Aug. 19 the coup won. 'Kim' Roosevelt was congradulated in person by Winston Churchill; the covert action became widely celebrated (at 91-92).
  100. Powers (2004) at 161-166 [1980].
  101. Turner (2005) at 84.
  102. Fakhreddin Azimi, The Quest for Democracy in Iran. A century of struggle against authoritarian rule (Harvard University 2008) at 144, 146-147, 150, 153.
  103. Abbas Mílaní, The Shah (London: Palgrave Macmillan 2011) at 171-202. Mílaní, however, states that what exactly happened on August 19, 1953, the date of the coup, is unclear. The narrative accounts published are colored by their allegiances; the event has not yet been "historicized". Not available are "the most important documents" from closed archival sources--Mílaní lists a half dozen institutions. The versions that make up his composite picture seem to discount heavily the CIA version, in favor of that given by the Shah's partisans, e.g., Fazlollah Zahedi. Mílaní (2011) at 172, 173.
  104. "[T]he support of the Ayatollahs Kashani and Behbehani... was as important as that of the CIA in staging the return of Mohammad Reza Shah." Said Amir Arjomand, The Turban for the Crown. The Islamic Revolution in Iran (Oxford University 1988) at 81.
  105. Weiner (2007) at 91-92, and 87.
  106. Cf., Powers (1979) at 391,n11.
  107. Walter Isaacson and Evan Thomas, The Wise Men. Six friends and the world they made (New York: Simon and Schuster 1986) at 574.
  108. Weiner (2007) at 133-135.
  109. Isaacson and Thomas, The Wise Men (1986) at 574.
  110. Helms (2003) at 117-118, 175.
  111. Cf., Kermit Roosevelt, Countercoup: The struggle for control of Iran (New York: Mcgraw-Hill 1979).
  112. Cf., Powers (2004) at 159-168 [1980] [review of Roosevelt's Countercoup].
  113. Cf., Ali Mirsepassi, Intellectual discourse and the politics of modernization. Negotiating modernity in Iran (Cambridge University 2000), e.g., at 12-13, 187.
  114. Cf., Mehrzad Boroujerdi, Iranian Intellectuals and the West: The tormented triumph of nativism (Syracuse University 1996) at 48, 178.
  115. Fakhreddin Azimi, The Quest for Democracy in Iran. A century of struggle against authoritarian rule (Harvard University 2008) at 157.
  116. Cf., Ali Mirsepassi, Intellectual discourse and the politics of modernization. Negotiating modernity in Iran (Cambridge University 2000) at 66, 70-71, 72-73.
  117. Cf., Powers (1979) at 342-344.
  118. Helms (2003) at 187.
  119. Weiner (2007) at 92.
  120. David Harris in his The Crisis. The President, the Prophet, and the Shah--1979 and the Coming of Militant Islam (Boston: Little, Brown 2004), about Savak [Sazman-e Ettela'at Va Amniyat-e Keshvar] notes how Americans assisted its origin and quotes a former Savak agent that "the CIA... went all out. It took charge and became deeply involved in every aspect of SAVAK's daily operations." It might use torture during interrogations. Savak once emloyed some 6,000 agents, with 100,000 secret informants, and during 1970-1975 conducted about 500,000 interviews of citizen suspects. Harris (2004) at 27-28. Savak caused the Shah image problems with the west, drawing human rights complaints from Amnesty International and the International Society of Jurists. By curbing Savak in late 1977 to impress the new President of the United States, Jimmy Carter, the Shah gave an initial opening to street demonstrations which progressed until the 1979 Islamic Revolution. Harris (2004) at 48, 68.
  121. Andrew and Mitrokhin (2005) at 170.
  122. In Latin America the CIA became more resented than the Marines. Powers (1979) at 97, 99, 100.
  123. Dulles had ignored contrary information, and instead chose to listen to James Angleton then head of CIA counterintelligence who had Israeli contacts. Weiner (2007) at 128.
  124. "Man of the Year, The Land and the People". Time. 1957-01-07.,9171,808898-1,00.html. Retrieved 2006-10-09. 
  125. Weiner (2007) at 126-128.
  126. Powers (1979) at 84-85. Back in Washington, Wisner collapsed and was hospitalized. Powers (1979) at 86.
  127. Andrew and Mitrokhin (2005) at 398.
  128. Powers (1979) at 85 (quote).
  129. Helms (2003) at 163.
  130. Weiner (2007) at 128-132, quote at 131.
  131. Helms (2003) at 162, 365-366.
  132. The DCI Dulles soon (incorrectly) denied that Radio Free Europe had encouraged the Hungarians in revolt, or had mentioned outside help. Evidently this long-awaited anti-Soviet revolt in Central Europe immediatley provoked in Dulles a strong and emotional elation, a "fever of the times", and he overreacted. Weiner (2007) at 128-132.
  133. Helms (2003) at 378.
  134. Powers (1979) at 229.
  135. Cf., James A. Michener, The Bridge at Andau (New York: Random House 1957, reprint Bantam 1957) at 173-175. The book, a contemporary report of the 1956 Hungarian revolt, was then widely read in the west.
  136. Helms (2003) at 163.
  137. Cf., Helms (2003) at 161-162.
  138. Roadnight, Andrew (2002). United States Policy towards Indonesia in the Truman and Eisenhower Years. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 0-333-79315-3. 
  139. "Chapter 1: January 1961–Winter 1962: Out from Inheritance". Retrieved 14 February 2011. 
  140. Wiener (2007) at 159-160.
  141. Powers (1979) at 107-110
  142. Wiener (2007) at 113, 157. "[Bissell] became increasingly contemptuous of espionage, and disdained Richard Helms and his intelligence officers. The two men became bureaucratic rivals and then bitter enemies. They personified the battle between spies and gadgets... ." Wiener (2007)at 113.
  143. Powers (1979) at 110 (DDP); 112-113 (anarchic); 134 (resignation).
  144. Cf., Helms (2003) at 163-165.
  145. Powers (1979) at 111.
  146. Powers (1979) at 117, 126 (Eisenhower); 115, 116, 121-126 (Bissell); 128-129 (Kennedy [and air cover: 129-131, 133]); 121-122, 124-125 (open secret, detained suspects).
  147. Weiner (2007) at 160-162, 164-167, 173-179.
  148. Helms (2003) 173-186: at 174-176, 178-179, 183-185 (Helms' comments).
  149. Powers (1979) at 115-116, 122-126 (Helms); 129, 132-133 (Dulles, Bissell). Helms did try to keep the project secret by suggesting the involvement of counterintelligence into Bissell's operation (at 124-125).
  150. Helms (2003) at 196, 197 (McCone and Helms); 197 (Mongoose); 181, 198 (Kennedy); 200 (agencies); 201 (Castro); 202 (CIA numbers).
  151. Weiner (2007) at 184-188, 199-209.
  152. Powers (1979) at 149-180.
  153. On the U-2, see section above under Eisenhower administration.
  154. Helms (2003) at 205-207.
  155. Powers (2004) at 171-184 [1997]. On Monday October 22, Kennedy gave "an unscheduled talk on prime-time television" which both told of the discovery of Soviet missiles in Cuba, and announced the America's response by the Navy. Powers (2004) at 172, 176-177 [1997].
  156. Weiner (2007) at 190-191, 194-195.
  157. Powers (1979) at 183.
  158. Helms (2003) at 208, 210 (confirmed by agent); 210-216 (variety of sources); 216-222 (Penkovsky at GRU).
  159. "Intensely alert to the political damage the director could cause them as the only man in Washington who had accurately forewarned them of the threat, the Kennedys put McCone on spin patrol, briefing members of Congress and columnists." Weiner (2007) at 203.
  160. Helms (2003) at 209 (EXCOM); 223 (Helms' role).
  161. Weiner (2007) at 201-207.
  162. Cf., Powers (1979) at 184-185.
  163. Weiner (2007) at 205-207. Khrushchev sent Kennedy a long letter including a discussion about the unacceptable horrors of a nuclear war.
  164. Powers (2004) at 174, 182-183 [1997]. Removal of American missiles from Turkey was added to the pledge not to invade Cuba.
  165. Powers (1979) at 187-188.
  166. Helms (2003) at 229 (his quote: no information).
  167. Weiner, Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA (2007) at 222 (quote: lunch), at 229 (quote: concealed much).
  168. See above: last paragraph of "Bay of Pigs".
  169. Weiner (2007) at 223-226. Wiener mentions another issue: whether a Cuban agent involved in the CIA plots, Rolando Cubala, was in fact a double agent. Weiner (2007) at 226.
  170. Turner (2005) at 98, states there were 32 plots against Castro's life in the early 1960s.
  171. Cf., Powers (1979) at 136 (Drew Pearson's January 1967 column pointing at Castro).
  172. Weiner (2007) at 227 (Johnson quote; Johnson and Warren, and Dulles).
  173. Whitten's testimony in 1976, cited by Weiner (2007) at 227 (source given at 604).
  174. Weiner (2007) at 229. John Whitten testified that the agreement between Angleton and Helms was "a morally reprehensible act" and charged that "Helms withheld the information because it would have cost him his job". Also, Angleton and Helms actions "may have shaped the Warren Commission's conclusions. Weiner (2007) at 229.
  175. Powers (1979) at 135-148; 136, 147 (quotes: secrecy, explosive); 144, 146, 147 ("spiel"); 148 (quote: "Eisenhower...").
  176. Weiner (2007) at 230-235, throws a different light on this case.
  177. Helms (2003) at 238-244.
  178. Weiner (2007) at 234-235.
  179. Helms (2003) at 229-231.
  180. In the 1950s Clay Shaw had "volunteered information" to a public service entity run overtly by the CIA. But Shaw apparently never worked for the CIA. Helms (2003) at 286, 287-288 (Paese Sera); 287-289 (Shaw).
  181. "[T]he unquestioned skill with which Stone presented his version of history" is acknowledged by Helms (2003) at 290-291.
  182. Helms (2003) at 291. Helms ends commenting that the Garrison matter was exploited by a "Soviet operation".
  183. Helms (2003) 286-291, at 291.
  184. Helms (2003) at 250-251.
  185. Powers (1979) at 198-200 (CIA reports), 203 (Helm's own views); 204-206 (Meo, Montagnard, and other forces); 209-212 (politics).
  186. John Ranelagh, "Central Intelligence Agency" at 122, in The Oxford Companion to Politics of the World (2d ed., 2001).
  187. 187.0 187.1 187.2 187.3 187.4 Turner (2005).
  188. Powers writes that the CIA at one point estimated enemy strength at 500,000, while the military insisted it was only 270,000. No amount of discussion could resolve the difference. Eventually, in September 1967, the CIA under Helms went along with the military's lower number for the Vietnamese Communist combat strength. Powers (1979) at 213-216.
  189. Powers (1979) at 202.
  190. See USS Liberty (AGTR-5), the National Security Agency ship destroyed by Israel during the conflict.
  191. Helms (2003) at 299-300.
  192. "CIA OKs MK-ULTRA Mind-Control Tests". Wired. April 13, 1953.
  193. Turner (2005) at 128-130.
  194. Helms (2003) at 403-407, quote at 404. Only Henry Kissinger, the Attorney General John Mitchell, and Helms were to know about Nixon's secret order to get the Chilean Army to stage a coup. Helms at 405. Thus Edward Korry the Ambassador to Chile remained out of the loop.
  195. Regarding Ambassador Korry, see Powers (1979) at 256-271.
  196. Andrew and Mitrokhin (2005) at 72-73. The Soviet KGB claimed some small credit for Allende's election, having sent him campaign contributions through the Chilean Communist Party.
  197. Powers (1979) at 273.
  198. Turner (2005) at 129.
  199. Helms (2003) at 407.
  200. Powers (1979) at 124, 270-271.
  201. Helms (2003) at 412.
  202. Allende was counselled by the Soviets to set up a new and separate security force independent of the army, yet Allende only mustered forces sufficient to antagonize the army but not enough to provide himself with protection. Cf., Andrew and Mitrokhin (2007) at 82.
  203. Weiner (2007) at 315. This reflects the American goal of having an Army coup overthrow Allende, which continued after 1970. During the next year, 1971, the new CIA station chief in Santiago "built a web of military men and political saboteurs who sought to shift the Chilean military off its constitutional foundation."
  204. Henry Kissinger, White House Years (Boston: Little, Brown 1979) at 652-683. "[I]t was not American economic pressure but Allende's own policies that brought him down," writes Kissinger about Allende's failures in managing the Chilean economy during 1970-1973 (at 682). Kissinger notes that USG foreign aid and assistance to Chile did not altogether stop during Allende's Presidency (at 681-682, cf. 1486-1487). About the 1970 "coup strategy", Kissinger understood Nixon's initial 'go ahead' to Helms differently (at 673-674), but states that after first contacting the Viaux group of assassins, the CIA had called them off five days before their killing of General René Schneider, Commander-in-Chief of the Army of Chile (at 676-677). Kissinger decades later wrote the "Forward" to Helms' memoirs, published in 2003.
  205. The Soviets apparently thought that "economic mismanagement by the Allende regime almost certainly did far more damage than the CIA." Andrew and Mitrokhin (2005) at 73-74.
  206. On August 22, 1973, a hostile congress passed (by 81 to 47) its resolution condemning Allende's extra-constitutional actions. In reply Allende coolly noted that they failed to get the two-thirds required for impeachment, and their own resolution seemed to invite a coup d'etat. Paul E. Sigmund, The overthrow of Allende and the politics of Chile, 1964-1976 (University of Pittsburgh 1980) at 232-234. In the weeks before the coup Chilean society seemed locked in an unsustainable polarization; also an immediate palpable tension gripped Chile, due to shortages and strikes. Sigmund (1980) at 238-239
  207. Weiner (2007) at 316.
  208. Cf., Christopher Hitchens, The Trial of Henry Kissinger (London: Verso 2001) at 67: a contemporary U.S.A. government cable put the number of summary executions during the coup's first 19 days at 320.
  209. Cf., Paul W. Drake, "Chile" at 126-128, in The Oxford Companion to Politics of the World (2d ed., 2001), edited by Joel Krieger.
  210. Air Force General Alberto Bachelet Martínez opposed the coup d'etat. He was arrested for treason and for months tortured; he died in prison. His wife and daughter Michelle Bachelet were blindfolded and tortured, and held for half a year. From 1975 to 1979 they went into exile, when they lived in the German Democratic Republic where she studied medicine. In 2005 she was elected President of Chile.
  211. Powers (1979) at 347-353.
  212. Helms (2003) at 441-446.
  213. Nixon White House Tapes January 1973, Nixon Presidential Library & Museum, released on 23 Jun 2009.
  214. Powers (1979), 'Introduction" at xii-xiii, 360,n6 (interviews).
  215. Helms (2003), "Preface" at v.
  216. Helms (2003). Henry Kissinger wrote the "Forward".
  217. (1979) at 63, 64, 66.
  218. Powers (1979) at 18-20.
  219. How a letter on Hitler's stationery, written to a boy in Jersey, reached the CIA - The Washington Post



  • Richard Helms with William Hood. A Look over My Shoulder: A Life in the Central Intelligence Agency. New York: Random House 2003.
  • Thomas Powers, The Man Who Kept the Secrets: Richard Helms and the CIA. New York: Alfred A. Knopf 1979.
  • Richard Helms as Director of the CIA (PDF)—Created by the CIA's History Staff, this 230 page book was released by the CIA in 2006. It offers an in-depth and detailed look into the working life and operations of Richard Helms.



See alsoEdit

External linksEdit

Government offices
Preceded by
Vice Adm. William Raborn
Director of Central Intelligence
June 30, 1966 – February 02, 1973
Succeeded by
James R. Schlesinger
be:Рычард Хелмс

de:Richard Helms fr:Richard Helms hr:Richard Helms it:Richard Helms pl:Richard Helms pt:Richard Helms ru:Хелмс, Ричард sh:Richard Helms

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