RICHARD HELMS Biography - Polititians


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Name: Richard McGarrah Helms                                                             
Born: 30 March 1913 Philadelphia, Pennsylvania                                           
Died: 23 October 2002                                                                   
Richard McGarrah Helms (March 30, 1913 – October 23, 2002) was the Director of         
Central Intelligence (DCI) from 1966 to 1973. He was the only director to have           
been convicted of lying to Congress over Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)               
undercover activities. In 1977, he was sentenced to the maximum fine and                 
received a suspended two-year prison sentence. Despite this, Helms remained a           
revered figure in the intelligence profession. CIA Historian Keith Melton               
describes Helms as a professional who was always impeccably dressed and had a "low       
tolerance for fools."                                                                   
Helms was born in Philadelphia in 1913. In 1935, after he graduated from                 
Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts, he got a job at the United             
Press in London.. The depression in London, however forced Helms to find work in         
Germany, where he covered the Berlin Olympic Games; he had spent two of his high         
school years at the prestigious Institut Le Rosey in Switzerland where he               
learned to speak French and later Realgymnasium in Freiburg, where he became             
fluent in German. He joined the advertising department of the Indianapolis Times;       
within two years he was national advertising manager.                                   
During World War II Helms served in the United States Navy. In 1943, he was             
posted to the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) because of his ability to speak         
German. In the aftermath of the war, he was transferred to the newly formed             
Office of Special Operations (OSO), where at the age of 33 he was put in charge         
of intelligence and counter-intelligence operations in Austria, Germany, and             
The OSO became a division of the CIA when that organization was created by the           
National Security Act of July 1947. In 1962 Helms became Director of Plans after         
the CIA's disastrous role in the attempted invasion of Cuba. After falling out           
with the Kennedys, he was sent off to Vietnam where he oversaw                           
the coup to overthrow President Ngo Dinh Diem. Following the assassination of           
John F. Kennedy, Helms was made Deputy Director of the CIA under Admiral William         
Raborn. A year later, in 1966, he was appointed Director.                               
Richard Helms, in the White House Cabinet Room, March 27, 1968.                         
The 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.       
After the debacle of Watergate, from which Helms succeeded in distancing the CIA         
as far as possible, the Agency came under much tighter Congressional control.           
Nixon, however, considered Helms to be disloyal, and fired him as DCI in 1973.           
Helms then served from 1973 to 1976 as US ambassador to Iran in Tehran.                 
Helms's ultimate undoing was the CIA's role, at Nixon's behest, in the                   
subversion of Chile's socialist government (Project FUBELT), and the overthrow           
of that country's democratically elected president, Salvador Allende, on                 
September 11, 1973. According to Helms, Nixon had ordered the CIA to support a           
military coup to prevent Allende from becoming president in 1970. However,               
following the assassination of Army Conmmander-in-Chief General René Schneider         
by elements of the military, public support swung behind Allende, and he took           
office in October 1970. Subsequently, the CIA funneled millions of dollars to           
opposition groups and striking truck drivers in a continuing effort to                   
destabilize the Allende government.                                                     
During his ambassadorial confirmation hearings before the Senate, Helms was             
questioned concerning the CIA's role in the Chilean affair. Because the                 
operations were still secret and the hearings were public events, Helms denied           
that the CIA had ever aided Allende's opposition. However, later information             
uncovered by the Church Committee hearings showed that Helms's statements were           
false, and he was prosecuted and convicted in 1977. He received a two-year               
suspended sentence and a $2,000 fine. He wore the conviction as a badge of honor,       
and his fine was paid by friends from the CIA.                                           
In 1972, Helms ordered the destruction of most records from the huge MKULTRA             
project, over 150 CIA-funded research projects designed to explore any                   
possibilities of mind control. The project became public knowledge two years             
later, after a New York Times report. Its full extent may never be known.               
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.