Richard Helms was born in St Davids, Philadelphia, on 30th March, 1913. After graduating from Williams College, Massachusetts, he joined the United Press news agency and in 1936 was sent to Nazi Germany to cover the Berlin Olympic Games. On his return to the United States he joined the advertising department of the Indianapolis Times. Two years later he became national advertising manager.
After the bombing of Pearl Harbor Helms joined the United States Navy. In August, 1943, he was transferred to the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) that had made established by William Donovan. The OSS had responsibility for collecting and analyzing information about countries at war with the United States. It also helped to organize guerrilla fighting, sabotage and espionage.
After the surrender of Germany in 1945, Helms helped interview suspected Nazi war criminals. Helms remained in the OSS and in 1946 was put in charge of intelligence and counter-intelligence activities in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. The following year Helms joined the recently formed Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). His first task was to mount a mount a massive convert campaign against the Communist Party during the Italian General Election. This was highly successful and this encouraged President Harry S. Truman to establish the Office of Policy Coordination (OPC), an organization instructed to conduct covert anti-Communist operations around the world. In August, 1952, OPC and the Office of Special Operations (the espionage division) were merged to form the Directorate of Plans (DPP).
Frank Wisner was appointed head of the DPP and he appointed Helms as his chief of operations. In December, 1956, Wisner suffered a mental breakdown and was diagnosed as suffering from manic depression. During his absence Wisner's job was covered by Helms. The CIA sent Wisner to the Sheppard-Pratt Institute, a psychiatric hospital near Baltimore. He was prescribed psychoanalysis and shock therapy (electroconvulsive treatment). It was not successful and still suffering from depression, he was released from hospital in 1958.
Wisner was too ill to return to his post as head of the DDP. Allen W. Dulles therefore sent him to London to be CIA chief of station in England. Dulles decided that Richard Bissell rather than Helms should become the new head of the DPP. Helms was named as his deputy. Together they became responsible for what became known as the CIA's Black Operations. This involved a policy that was later to become known as Executive Action (a plan to remove unfriendly foreign leaders from power). This including a coup d'état that overthrew the Guatemalan government of Jacobo Arbenz in 1954 after he introduced land reforms and nationalized the United Fruit Company.
Other political leaders deposed by Executive Action included Patrice Lumumba of the Congo, the Dominican Republic dictator Rafael Trujillo, General Abd al-Karim Kassem of Iraq and Ngo Dinh Diem, the leader of South Vietnam. However, his main target was Fidel Castro who had established a socialist government in Cuba.
In March I960, President Dwight Eisenhower of the United States approved a CIA plan to overthrow Castro. The plan involved a budget of $13 million to train "a paramilitary force outside Cuba for guerrilla action." The strategy was organised by Bissell and Helms. An estimated 400 CIA officers were employed full-time to carry out what became known as Operation Mongoose.
Sidney Gottlieb of the CIA Technical Services Division was asked to come up with proposals that would undermine Castro's popularity with the Cuban people. Plans included a scheme to spray a television studio in which he was about to appear with an hallucinogenic drug and contaminating his shoes with thallium which they believed would cause the hair in his beard to fall out.
These schemes were rejected and instead Bissell and Helms decided to arrange the assassination of Fidel Castro. In September 1960, Bissell and Allen W. Dulles, the director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), initiated talks with two leading figures of the Mafia, Johnny Roselli and Sam Giancana. Later, other crime bosses such as Carlos Marcello, Santos Trafficante and Meyer Lansky became involved in this plot against Castro.
Robert Maheu, a veteran of CIA counter-espionage activities, was instructed to offer the Mafia $150,000 to kill Fidel Castro. The advantage of employing the Mafia for this work is that it provided CIA with a credible cover story. The Mafia were known to be angry with Castro for closing down their profitable brothels and casinos in Cuba. If the assassins were killed or captured the media would accept that the Mafia were working on their own.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation had to be brought into this plan as part of the deal involved protection against investigations against the Mafia in the United States. Castro was later to complain that there were twenty ClA-sponsered attempts on his life. Eventually Johnny Roselli and his friends became convinced that the Cuban revolution could not be reversed by simply removing its leader. However, they continued to play along with this CIA plot in order to prevent them being prosecuted for criminal offences committed in the United States.
When John F. Kennedy replaced Dwight Eisenhower as president of the United States he was told about the CIA plan to invade Cuba. Kennedy had doubts about the venture but he was afraid he would be seen as soft on communism if he refused permission for it to go ahead. Kennedy's advisers convinced him that Fidel Castro was an unpopular leader and that once the invasion started the Cuban people would support the ClA-trained forces.
On April 14, 1961, B-26 planes began bombing Cuba's airfields. After the raids Cuba was left with only eight planes and seven pilots. Two days later five merchant ships carrying 1,400 Cuban exiles arrived at the Bay of Pigs. The attack was a total failure. Two of the ships were sunk, including the ship that was carrying most of the supplies. Two of the planes that were attempting to give air-cover were also shot down. Within seventy-two hours all the invading troops had been killed, wounded or had surrendered.
After the CIA's internal inquiry into this fiasco, Allen W. Dulles was sacked by President John F. Kennedy and Richard Bissell was forced to resign. Helms now took over the Directorate for Plans. His deputy was Thomas H. Karamessines. Helms now introduced a campaign that involved covert attacks on the Cuban economy.
In 1962 Helms became increasingly involved in the Vietnam War. By this time President John F. Kennedy was convinced that Ngo Dinh Diem would never be able to unite the South Vietnamese against communism. Several attempts had already been made to overthrow Diem but Kennedy had always instructed the CIA and the US military forces in Vietnam to protect him. Eventually, in order to obtain a more popular leader of South Vietnam, Kennedy agreed that the role of the CIA should change. Lucien Conein, a CIA operative, provided a group of South Vietnamese generals with $40,000 to carry out the coup with the promise that US forces would make no attempt to protect Diem. At the beginning of November, 1963, President Diem was overthrown by a military coup. The generals had promised Diem that he would be allowed to leave the country they changed their mind and killed him.
When John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Helms was given the responsibility of investigating Lee Harvey Oswald and the CIA. Helms initially appointed John M. Whitten to undertake the agency's in-house investigation. After talking to Winston Scott, the CIA station chief in Mexico City, Whitten discovered that Oswald had been photographed at the Cuban consulate in early October, 1963. Nor had Scott told Whitten, his boss, that Oswald had also visited the Soviet Embassy in Mexico. In fact, Whitten had not been informed of the existence of Oswald, even though there was a 201 pre-assassination file on him that had been maintained by the Counterintelligence/Special Investigative Group.
John M. Whitten and his staff of 30 officers, were sent a large amount of information from the FBI. According to Gerald D. McKnight "the FBI deluged his branch with thousands of reports containing bits and fragments of witness testimony that required laborious and time-consuming name checks." Whitten later described most of this FBI material as "weirdo stuff". As a result of this initial investigation, Whitten told Richard Helms that he believed that Oswald had acted alone in the assassination of John F. Kennedy.
On 6th December, Nicholas Katzenbach invited John M. Whitten and Birch O'Neal, Angleton's trusted deputy and senior Special Investigative Group (SIG) officer to read Commission Document 1 (CD1), the report that the FBI had written on Lee Harvey Oswald. Whitten now realized that the FBI had been withholding important information on Oswald from him. He also discovered that Richard Helms had not been providing him all of the agency's available files on Oswald. This included Oswald's political activities in the months preceding the assassination.
Whitten had a meeting where he argued that Oswald's pro-Castro political activities needed closer examination, especially his attempt to shoot the right-wing General Edwin Walker, his relationship with anti-Castro exiles in New Orleans, and his public support for the pro-Castro Fair Play for Cuba Committee. Whitten added that has he had been denied this information, his initial conclusions on the assassination were "completely irrelevant."
Helms responded by taking Whitten off the case. James Jesus Angleton, chief of the CIA's Counterintelligence Branch, was now put in charge of the investigation. According to Gerald McKnight (Breach of Trust) Angleton "wrested the CIA's in-house investigation away from John Whitten because he either was convinced or pretended to believe that the purpose of Oswald's trip to Mexico City had been to meet with his KGB handlers to finalize plans to assassinate Kennedy."
President Lyndon B. Johnson appointed Admiral William Raborn, head of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). Helms became Raborn's deputy but became increasingly influential over decisions being made in Vietnam. This included the covert action in neighbouring Laos and the formation of South Vietnamese counter-terror teams.
The following year Johnson promoted Helms to become head of the CIA. He was the first director of the organization to have worked his way up from the ranks. His standing with Johnson improved when he successfully predicted a quick victory for Israel during the Six Day War in June, 1967. However, Helms information about the size of enemy forces in Vietnam was less accurate. Johnson was told in November, 1967, that the North Vietnamese and Viet Cong forces had fallen to 248,000. In reality the true figure was close to 500,000 and United States troops were totally unprepared for the Tet Offensive.
Under President Richard Nixon, Helms agreed to implement what became known as the Huston Plan. This was a proposal for all the country's security services to combine in a massive internal surveillance operation. In doing so, Helms became involved in a secret conspiracy as it was illegal for the Central Intelligence Agency to operate within the United States.
In 1970 it seemed that Salvador Allende and his Socialist Workers' Party would win the general election in Chile. Various multinational companies, including International Telephone and Telegraph (ITT), feared what would happen if Allende gained control of the country. Helms agreed to use funds supplied by these companies to help the right-wing party gain power. When this strategy ended in failure, Nixon ordered Helms to help the Chilean armed forces to overthrow Allende. On 11th September, 1973, a military coup removed Allende's government from power. Allende died in the fighting in the presidential palace in Santiago and General Augusto Pinochet replaced him as president.
During the Watergate Scandal President Richard Nixon became concerned about the activities of the Central Intelligence Agency. Three of those involved in the burglary, E. Howard Hunt, Eugenio Martinez and James W. McCord had close links with the CIA. Nixon and his aides attempted to force the CIA director, Richard Helms, and his deputy, Vernon Walters, to pay hush-money to Hunt, who was attempting to blackmail the government. Although it seemed Walters was willing to do this, Helms refused. In February, 1973, Nixon sacked Helms. His deputy, Thomas H. Karamessines, resigned in protest. The following month Helms became U.S. Ambassador to Iran.
James Schlesinger now became the new director of the CIA. Schlesinger was heard to say: “The clandestine service was Helms’s Praetorian Guard. It had too much influence in the Agency and was too powerful within the government. I am going to cut it down to size.” This he did and over the next three months over 7 per cent of CIA officers lost their jobs.
On 9th May, 1973, James Schlesinger issued a directive to all CIA employees: “I have ordered all senior operating officials of this Agency to report to me immediately on any activities now going on, or might have gone on in the past, which might be considered to be outside the legislative charter of this Agency. I hereby direct every person presently employed by CIA to report to me on any such activities of which he has knowledge. I invite all ex-employees to do the same. Anyone who has such information should call my secretary and say that he wishes to talk to me about “activities outside the CIA’s charter”.
There were several employees who had been trying to complain about the illegal CIA activities for some time. As Cord Meyer pointed out, this directive “was a hunting license for the resentful subordinate to dig back into the records of the past in order to come up with evidence that might destroy the career of a superior whom he long hated.”
In 1975 the Senate Foreign Relations Committee began investigating the CIA. Senator Stuart Symington asked Richard Helms if the agency had been involved in the removal of Salvador Allende. Helms replied no. He also insisted that he had not passed money to opponents of Allende.
Investigations by the CIA's Inspector General and by Frank Church and his Select Committee on Intelligence Activities showed that Helms had lied to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. They also discovered that Helms had been involved in illegal domestic surveillance and the murders of Patrice Lumumba, General Abd al-Karim Kassem and Ngo Dinh Diem. Helms was eventually found guilty of lying to Congress and received a suspended two-year prison sentence.
In its final report, issued in April 1976, the Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities concluded: “Domestic intelligence activity has threatened and undermined the Constitutional rights of Americans to free speech, association and privacy. It has done so primarily because the Constitutional system for checking abuse of power has not been applied.” The committee also revealed details for the first time of what the CIA called Operation Mockingbird.
The committee also reported that the Central Intelligence Agency had withheld from the Warren Commission, during its investigation of the assassination of John F. Kennedy, information about plots by the Government of the United States against Fidel Castro of Cuba; and that the Federal Bureau of Investigation had conducted a counter-intelligence program (COINTELPRO) against Martin Luther King and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.
On 16th May, 1978, John M. Whitten appeared before the House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA). He criticised Richard Helms for not making a full disclosure about the Rolando Cubela plot to the Warren Commission. He added " I think that was a morally highly reprehensible act, which he cannot possibly justify under his oath of office or any other standard of professional service."
Whitten also said that if he had been allowed to continue with the investigation he would have sought out what was going on at JM/WAVE. This would have involved the questioning of Ted Shackley, David Sanchez Morales, Carl E. Jenkins, Rip Robertson, George Joannides, Gordon Campbell and Thomas G. Clines. As Jefferson Morley has pointed out in The Good Spy: "Had Whitten been permitted to follow these leads to their logical conclusions, and had that information been included in the Warren Commission report, that report would have enjoyed more credibility with the public. Instead, Whitten's secret testimony strengthened the HSCA's scathing critique of the C.I.A.'s half-hearted investigation of Oswald. The HSCA concluded that Kennedy had been killed by Oswald and unidentifiable co-conspirators."
John M. Whitten also told the HSCA that James Jesus Angleton involvement in the investigation of the assassination of John F. Kennedy was "improper". Although he was placed in charge of the investigation by Richard Helms, Angleton "immediately went into action to do all the investigating". When Whitten complained to Helms about this he refused to act.
Whitten believes that Angleton's attempts to sabotage the investigation was linked to his relationship with the Mafia. Whitten claims that Angleton also prevented a CIA plan to trace mob money to numbered accounts in Panama. Angleton told Whitten that this investigation should be left to the FBI. When Whitten mentioned this to a senior CIA official, he replied: "Well, that's Angleton's excuse. The real reason is that Angleton himself has ties to the Mafia and he would not want to double-cross them."
Whitten also pointed out that as soon as Angleton took control of the investigation he concluded that Cuba was unimportant and focused his internal investigation on Oswald's life in the Soviet Union. If Whitten had remained in charge he would have "concentrated his attention on CIA's JM/WAVE station in Miami, Florida, to uncover what George Joannides, the station chief, and operatives from the SIG and SAS knew about Oswald."
When he appeared before the HSCA Whitten revealed that he had been unaware of the CIA's Executive Action program. He added that he thought it possible that Lee Harvey Oswald might have been involved in this assassination operation.
Richard Helms died on 22nd October, 2002. As one commentator pointed out at the time: "Helms had gone to his grave with the sole knowledge of what Congress did not manage to uncover." His autobiography, A Look Over My Shoulder: A Life in the CIA, was published in 2003.
The CIA is, of course, the biggest, most important and most influential branch of the Invisible Government. The agency is organized into four divisions: Intelligence, Plans, Research, Support, each headed by a deputy director.
The Support Division is the administrative arm of the CIA. It is in charge of equipment, logistics, security and communications. It devises the CIA's special codes, which cannot be read by other branches of the government.
The Research Division is in charge of technical intelligence. It provides expert assessments of foreign advances in science, technology and atomic weapons. It was responsible for analyzing the U-2 photographs brought back from the Soviet Union between 1956 and 1960. And it has continued to analyze subsequent U-2 and spy-satellite pictures. In this it works with the CIA in running the National Photo Intelligence Center.
Herbert "Pete" Scoville, who headed the Research Division for eight years, left in August of 1963 to become an assistant director of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency. He was replaced as the CIA's deputy director for research by Dr. Albert D. Wheelon.
The Plans Division is in charge of the CIA's cloak-and-dagger activities. It controls all foreign special operations, such as Guatemala and the Bay of Pigs, and it collects all of the agency's covert intelligence through spies and informers overseas.
Allen Dulles was the first deputy director for plans. He was succeeded as DDP by Frank Wisner, who was replaced in i958 by Bissell, who, in turn, was succeeded in 1962 by his deputy, Richard Helms.
A native of St. David's, Pennsylvania, Helms studied in Switzerland and Germany and was graduated from Williams College in 1935. He worked for the United Press and the Indianapolis Times, and then, during World War II, he served as a lieutenant commander in the Navy attached to the OSS. When the war ended and some OSS men were transferred to the CIA, he stayed on and rose through the ranks.
The man in charge of conducting the investigation of Oswald's activities abroad was Richard Helms. This seems odd since rather than being in charge of gathering intelligence, Helms was Deputy Director of Plans, a euphemism for head of the "dirty tricks" division, at the time. Helms was promoted to Director of the CIA by President Johnson and was serving in that capacity when Hunt obtained assistance from the Agency in conducting domestic operations including Watergate. Helms was eventually "kicked upstairs" by Nixon and is now the Ambassador to Iran. Before he left the Agency he ordered the destruction of all the tapes of his phone conversations dating back several years, including those with Nixon. He has been implicated in the recently exposed CIA domestic spying scandal."'
When evaluating the CIA reports on Oswald's activities in Mexico City, one must remember that Helms and his deputies Rocca and Karamessines put together the reports."' During the Watergate hearings Senator Baker asked Helms how well he knew Howard Hunt. Helms replied, "I knew him relatively well because he and I over many years worked for the same general section of the Agency."
The day before yesterday Dick Helms, Tom Karamessines and I met with Nixon, his new Secretary of State, Rogers, and Henry Kissinger, his aide for National Security Affairs, in the cabinet room of the White House. Nixon was very self-assured, quick to ask the relevant questions and put us at our ease in talking to him. The taut and withdrawn young man whom I first met at the junior Chamber of Commerce awards dinner in Chattanooga, Tenn., more than twenty years ago was replaced by a man who struck me as confidently in possession of the enormous power of that office. We shall see what successive crises do to him, but I suspect he will be a far better President than I or my liberal friends ever expected. We shall see.
In 1970, when it looked as if the Marxist Salvador Allende would win the Chilean presidential election, Nixon ordered the CIA to intervene, in a covert action, in an attempt to prevent Allende from winning. Ten years earlier the agency would have risen to the challenge with enthusiasm. Now it responded with long faces and a calculation of the risk. "One in 10 chance, perhaps, but save Chile!" read Helms's note of his meeting with Nixon on September 15 when he was given his orders. "Worth spending. Not concerned risks involved. No involvement of embassy, $10,000,000 available, more if necessary. Full-time job-best men we have. Game plan. Make the economy scream. 48 hours for plan of action." Henry
P Heckscher, the CIA station chief in Santiago, had to be ordered to cease cabling his doubts to Washington about the agency's ability to stop Allende. He was finally ordered by the DDP, Thomas Karamessines, to return to headquarters, where he was dressed down for not understanding that this was something the CIA had to do even though it did not want to. When Heckscher returned to Santiago he told his staff that they had no choice. "Nobody," said Karamessines, "was going to go into the Oval Office, bang his fist on the table, and say we won't do it."
So we had failed in our one previous attempt to obtain CIA co-operation, and now in Ehrlichman's office on June 23, 1972, the C.I.A. was stonewalling me again: 'Not connected.' 'No way.' Then I played Nixon's trump card. 'The President asked me to tell you this entire affair may be connected to the Bay of Pigs, and if it opens up, the Bay of Pigs may be blown....'
Turmoil in the room. Helms gripping the arms of his chair leaning forward and shouting, 'The Bay of Pigs had nothing to do with this. I have no concern about the Bay of Pigs.'
Silence. I just sat there. I was absolutely shocked by Helms' violent reaction. Again I wondered, what was such dynamite in the Bay of Pigs story? Finally, I said, 'I'm just following my instructions, Dick. This is what the President told me to relay to you.'
Helms was settling back. 'All right,' he said.
By refusing to participate in the Watergate cover-up, Helms preserved the institutional integrity of the CIA, but he also ensured the end of his career as director. Nixon waited until after his overwhelming election victory to deliver the coup de grace. Then, on November 20, he summoned Helms to Camp David. There were some serious budgetary issues to be resolved and, thinking these would be the subject of the meeting, Helms prepared himself to discuss these fiscal problems. Although, after the election, Nixon had asked his top officials to submit their resignations in order to start his new term with a clean slate, Helms had not offered his own resignation in the belief that the CIA directorship, in accordance with past tradition and precedent, should be kept separate from the election results and not become a political plum. He was therefore surprised when Nixon demanded his resignation at Camp David but subsequently accepted Nixon's offer of an ambassadorship, and chose Iran as a country where his past association with the Agency would not be likely to cause problems.
A few days later, James Schlesinger, then head of the Atomic Energy Commission, was called to Camp David and was offered the job of CIA director by Nixon.... In firing Helms so abruptly, Nixon was taking a chance that he might choose to retire from public life and use his newfound freedom to reveal the White House role in attempting to obstruct the FBI investigation of the Watergate affair and to bribe the participants. However, Nixon probably figured that Helms was too much the loyal public servant to damage the American presidency and its relation to the intelligence community by revealing this information....
In my dealings with Schlesinger, I quickly came to respect his capacity for sustained hard work and to realize that he was widely read and extremely intelligent. I never had any reason to complain in my own case of the personal rudeness that many others had cause to resent. However, I did quickly discover that he carried with him into his new job a firm conviction that the clandestine service which I temporarily headed exercised too dominant a role within the Agency, was out of phase with the intelligence requirements of the modern age, and was heavily overstaffed with aging veterans of past cold wars. Just where he had obtained these views I am not clear to this day, but Colby explains in his memoirs that he shared Schlesinger's convictions on this point and Colby's early briefings obviously must have had an influence. The resentment within the White House domestic staff against Helms and his close friends and associates may have also played some role. Whatever the reason, Schlesinger did not hide his distrust and dissatisfaction with the clandestine service, and reports reached me on a daily basis of derogatory remarks he had made - I'm sure some exaggerated in the telling and others purely apocryphal. For example, I received two separate accounts of a social occasion at which Schlesinger was reported to have stated, "The clandestine service was Helms's Praetorian Guard. I am going to cut it down to size." Whether true or not, these stories were widely believed, and they did not make my job any easier in trying simultaneously to win the confidence of the new director and to sustain the morale of the people down the line...
Schlesinger was determined to track down and identify every possible piece of evidence that might bear on the Watergate affair. Only by being completely forthcoming with the congressional committees on Watergate could the Agency hope to put to rest the suspicions that it was deeply implicated, and any new discovery of unrevealed involvement would only confirm the general belief that we must somehow have been party to the cover-up. For this reason, Schlesinger issued a directive to all CIA employees on May 9, 1973, in which he stressed his determination to "do everything in my power to confine CIA activities to those which fall within a strict interpretation of its legislative charter."
It required a retrospective confession of any perceived guilt by all current and past Agency employees going back to the inception of the CIA in 1947. It was not limited to activities directly or indirectly connected with the Watergate affair. Since the legislative charter of the Agency laid down in the language of the National Security Act of 1947 had been deliberately made general and ambiguous, the directive invited the penitential employee to come forward with his own definition of what might be construed as outside that vague charter. We were required to sit in judgment on all past activities as to which one of them might conceivably have been illegal, improper, or unjustified under the broad language of the 1947 Act. It was a hunting license for the resentful subordinate to dig back into the records of the past in order to come up with evidence that might destroy the career of a superior whom he had long hated. It was an invitation to the self-righteous and the moralistically inclined to resurrect "old unhappy, far-off things, And battles long ago" in an effort to prove in the perspective of the present that they had been right in the dimly remembered past. There are very few human institutions in this world, from the American Civil Liberties Union to the Boy Scouts, that could survive in good working order so broad an injunction to confess all past improprieties or mistakes in judgment, least of all an intelligence agency whose job it is to operate outside the law in foreign countries.
In his interview with me in October 1978, Schlesinger admitted that he had made a serious mistake in issuing a directive so sweeping in scope and so open-ended in time, and in retrospect he wished he had not done so. Schlesinger asserted that he had been primarily concerned with identifying any hidden involvement in Watergate and that he should have restricted his order to that subject. However, he explained that Colby had drafted the directive for his signature and that he had signed it as drafted without giving sufficient thought to its far-reaching implications. In fairness to both Schlesinger and Colby, it should be added that neither of them foresaw that the results of this confessional enterprise would eventually leak to the press; they believed instead that the findings could be used within the Agency to reform past practices and improve existing regulations. They were also motivated by an understandable desire to be fully informed on anything that might rise from the past in the course of the congressional investigations and to be in a position to assure the Congress that remedial action had already been taken.
In the event, the compilation of all possible past misdeeds that flowed from Schlesinger's directive was accomplished with less internal damage than might have been the case in a less disciplined organization. Colby was designated by Schlesinger to oversee the preparation of a report based on all available records and the testimony of those who came forward to confess. Employing the staff of the CIA inspector general, Colby pursued the project with penitential zeal and by May 21, 1973, had collected 693 pages describing all past instances in which the Agency's legislative charter might conceivably have been violated." Individual officers racked their memories for any activity they could recall that might be questionable, and dutifully submitted their reports. The process was certainly thorough, but the results were necessarily skewed by a number of factors. With the passage of time, memories had dulled, crucial witnesses had died or could not be found, and the written record was not always complete. The chain of approval up the line to the policymakers was sometimes deliberately obscure in order to protect the President. Most significant, activity undertaken at the height of the cold war and in a period of direct confrontation with the Soviets had a different aspect in the milder climate of detente. A retrospective severity of judgment tended to color the findings.
For example, Colby's early determination that the opening by the Agency of mail between American citizens and correspondents in the Soviet Union in the period between 1953 and 1973 was clearly illegal was later called into question by the Department of Justice. In his book, Colby makes the point that "opening first-class mail was a direct violation of a criminal statute; I looked it up in the law library to make sure." On the basis of this superficial finding, the mail opening program was cited by Colby as a particularly egregious example of an illegal violation of the Agency's legislative charter. When the story of the Agency's past misdeeds finally broke in the press in December 1974, this mail opening operation figured as a prime example of how the Agency had illegally violated the rights of American citizens, and with scare headlines across the country the American people were made to feel that the CIA had functioned as a domestic Gestapo in operating beyond the law.
Years later, former C.B.S. correspondent Dan Schorr called me. He was seeking information concerning the F.B.I. investigation Nixon had mounted against him in August, 1971.
Schorr later sent me his fascinating book Clearing the Air. In it I was interested to find that evidence he had gleaned while investigating the C.I.A. finally cleared up for me the mystery of the Bay of Pigs connection in those dealings between Nixon and Helms. 'It's intriguing when I put Schorr's facts together with mine. It seems that in all of those Nixon references to the Bay of Pigs, he was actually referring to the Kennedy assassination.
(Interestingly, an investigation of the Kennedy assassination was a project I suggested when I first entered the White House. I had always been intrigued with the conflicting theories of the assassination. Now I felt we would be in a position to get all the facts. But Nixon turned me down.)
According to Schorr, as an outgrowth of the Bay of Pigs, the CIA made several attempts on Fidel Castro's life. The Deputy Director of Plans at the CIA at the time was a man named Richard Helms.
Unfortunately, Castro knew of the assassination attempts all the time. On September 7, 1963, a few months before John Kennedy was assassinated, Castro made a speech in which he was quoted, 'Let Kennedy and his brother Robert take care of themselves, since they, too, can be the victims of an attempt which will cause their death.'
After Kennedy was killed, the CIA launched a fantastic cover-up. Many of the facts about Oswald unavoidably pointed to a Cuban connection.
1. Oswald had been arrested in New Orleans in August, 1963, while distributing pro-Castro pamphlets.
2. On a New Orleans radio programme he extolled Cuba and defended Castro.
3. Less than two months before the assassination Oswald visited the Cuban consulate in Mexico City and tried to obtain a visa.
In a chilling parallel to their cover-up at Watergate, the CIA literally erased any connection between. Kennedy's assassination and the CIA No mention of the Castro assassination attempt was made to the Warren Commission by CIA representatives. In fact, Counter-intelligence Chief James Angleton of the CIA called Bill Sullivan of the FBI and rehearsed the questions and answers they would give to the Warren Commission investigators, such as these samples:
Q. Was Oswald an agent of the C.I.A?
Q. Does the CIA have any evidence showing that a conspiracy existed to assassinate Kennedy?
And here's what I find most interesting: Bill Sullivan, the FBI man that the CIA called at the time, was Nixon's highest-ranking loyal friend at the FBI (in the Watergate crisis, he would risk J. Edgar Hoover's anger by taking the 1969 FBI wiretap transcripts ordered by Nixon and delivering them to, Robert Mardian, a Mitchell crony, for safekeeping).
It's possible that Nixon learned from Sullivan something about the earlier CIA cover-up by Helms. And when Nixon said, 'It's likely to blow the whole Bay of Pigs' he might have been reminding Helms, not so gently, of the cover-up of the CIA assassination attempts on the hero of the Bay of Pigs, Fidel Castro - a CIA operation that may have triggered the Kennedy tragedy and which Helms desperately wanted to hide.
After the war, he (Thomas Karamessines) joined the CIA at its inception and devoted his entire life to government service at far less monetary reward than he could have earned in private practice. He retired from the Agency after Helms was fired by Nixon, and died prematurely in the fall of 1978 of a heart attack. At his funeral in Washington, the church was crowded with his friends. His wife had chosen his favorite hymns, "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" and "America the Beautiful," and as we sang those familiar words they were lent such new meaning by the steadfast loyalty of his life and work that there were few dry eyes among us. There was no flamboyance in him, and he shunned publicity, so that few of the American people realized when he died what a true guardian of their interests they had lost.
The events concerning that every-so-sad day have all been laid bare and documented. I have only a few observations to make. First, all of the speculation and conspiratology notwithstanding. I have not seen anything, no matter how far-fetched or grossly imagined, that in any way changes my conviction that Lee Harvey Oswald assassinated Kennedy, and that there were no co-conspirators.
CIA The Secrets Of Mind Control
Based on Three Books by Top Mind Control Researchers | Bluebird by Colin Ross, MD | Mind Controllers by Dr. Armen Victorian | and A Nation Betrayed by mind control survivor Carol Rutz.
A Secret Agenda Leads to First Mind Control Programs
A declassified CIA document dated 7 January 1953 with a section heading “Outline of Special H Cases” describes the creation of multiple personality in two 19-year old girls.
“H” is shorthand for hypnotic, hypnotized, or hypnotism in these documents: 92% Of People Can’t Guess Who This Former Child Star Is?
“These subjects have clearly demonstrated that they can pass from a fully awake state to a deep H controlled state … by telephone, by receiving written matter, or by the use of code, signal, or words and that control of those hypnotized can be passed from one individual to another without great difficulty. It has also been shown by experimentation with these girls that they can act as unwilling couriers for information purposes.”
After the end of World War II, German scientists were being held in a variety of detainment camps by the allies.
In 1946, President Truman authorized Project Paperclip to exploit German scientists for American research, and to deny these intellectual resources to the Soviet Union. Some reports bluntly pointed out that they were “ardent Nazis.”
They were considered so vital to the “Cold War” effort, that they would be brought into the US and Canada. Some of these experts participated in murderous medical experiments on human subjects at concentration camps.
A 1999 report to the Senate and the House said “between 1945 and 1955, 765 scientists, engineers, and technicians were brought to the US under Paperclip and similar programs.”
According to the Central Intelligence Agency’s Fact Book, the NSC (National Security Council) and the CIA were established under the provisions of the National Security Act of 1947. In December 1947, the NSC held its first meeting. James Forrestal, the Secretary of Defense, pushed for the CIA to begin a ‘secret war’ against the Soviets.
Forrestal’s initiative led to the execution of psychological warfare operations (psy-ops) in Europe. CIA personnel were not opposed to working with Nazi doctors who had proven to be proficient in breaking the mind and rebuilding it. In some cases military bases were used to hide these covert activities. It was decided that the communist threat was an issue that took priority over constitutional rights.
The concept of running a secret ‘black’ project was no longer novel. In 1941, Roosevelt had decided, without consulting Congress, that the US should proceed with the utmost secrecy to develop an atomic bomb.
Secrecy shrouded the Manhattan Project (the atomic bomb program) to the extent that Vice President Harry Truman knew nothing about it. The project meant that by 1947, the US Government had already gained vast experience in the initiation of secret operations.
The existence of ‘black projects’ funded by ‘black budgets’ was withheld not only from the public, but also from Congress for reasons of national security.
A declassified CIA document “Hypnotic Experimentation and Research, 10 February 1954” describes a simulation of relevance to the creation of unsuspecting assassins:
“Miss [deleted] was instructed (having previously expressed a fear of firearms in any fashion) that she would use every method at her disposal to awaken Miss [deleted] (now in a deep hypnotic sleep) and failing this, she would pick up a pistol nearby and fire it at Miss [deleted].
She was instructed that her rage would be so great that she would not hesitate to “kill” [deleted] for failing to awaken.
Miss [deleted] carried out these suggestions to the letter including firing the (unloaded) gun at [deleted] and then proceeding to fall into a deep sleep.
Both were awakened and expressed complete amnesia for the entire sequence. Miss [deleted] was again handed the gun, which she refused (in an awakened state) to pick up or accept from the operator.
She expressed absolute denial that the foregoing sequence had happened.”
One of the areas to be investigated by the CIA was mind control. The CIA’s human behavior control program was chiefly motivated by perceived Soviet, Chinese, and North Korean use of mind control techniques. Under the protection of ‘national security,’ many other branches of the government also took part in the study of this area.
THE CIA LIE TO CONGRESS? IT'S HAPPENED BEFORE.
Over the years, the right has managed to make criticism of military operations from the left a mark of disloyalty, a perspective the press has only been happy to reproduce. That same immunity to criticism has now been extended to the CIA, which we can see in the reaction to Nancy Pelosi's suggestion that she was mislead by the CIA in their briefings on interrogation practices.
In fact, the CIA has lied to members of Congress a number of times, detailed in Tim Weiner's history of the CIA, Legacy of Ashes. Here are just a few prominent instances:
In the 1950s, Director of Central Intelligence Allen Dulles, after being told by Senator Joseph McCarthy that tha CIA was "neither sacrosanct nor immune from investigation," began waging a "down and dirty covert operation on McCarthy" which included attempting to bug his office and feeding his staff with disinformation "in order to discredit him."
Former CIA Director Richard Helms was convicted in 1977 of lying to Congress about the United States' role in overthrowing the democratically elected president of Chile, Salvador Allende. Allende was succeeded by brutal dictator Augusto Pinochet.
In 1982, Congress passed a law prohibiting the administration from ousting the leftist regime in Nicaragua. The CIA kept trying to overthrow the Sandanistas. CIA Director Bill Casey testified frequently before oversight committees Congress about the agency's covert action plans, during which he was often misleading. "Casey was guilty of Contempt of Congress from the day he was sworn in," Robert Gates, former head of the CIA and current Secretary of Defense, told Weiner. When the Iran Contra Scandal began to break, Casey lied to Congress, denying that they had traded arms for hostages with Iran.
On September 17, 2001, George Tenet told Congress that Iraq had provided al Qaeda with training in combat, bomb-making, and weapons of mass destruction. That information was based on a single source, the interrogation Ibn al-Shakh al Libi, who later recanted and whom we now know was tortured for that information. Tenet of course, hasn't recanted.
These are just some of the cases in which the CIA lied to Congress. In the context of a number of covert operations, the CIA has even lied to the President. This is part of the nature of what we, as a country ask them to do as an organization--the CIA is constantly being asked to engage in illegal behavior, punished when their analysis doesn't fit the preordained conclusions of whatever administration is in power, and then is exclusively blamed when the information comes out or the operations go sour. That's a regrettable state of affairs that says more about the hypocrisy of our leaders than it does about the committed men and women of the CIA.
It's possible that Pelosi isn't telling the whole truth about what she knew. But it wouldn't be unprecedented for the CIA to lie or withhold information from members of Congress. Leon Panetta's letter to CIA employees, obtained by Greg Sargent, is so completely ambiguous that it both asserts that the CIA briefed members of Congress "truthfully" about the interrogation of Abu Zubayda even as it says "Ultimately, it is up to Congress to evaluate all the evidence and reach its own conclusions about what happened." If it's "up to Congress," how can the CIA's version of events be relied upon?
-- A. Serwer
Who you going to believe on JFK?
Fidel Castro, tormenter of empire
On the perennial, perhaps boring, question of a JFK assassination conspiracy, the question may boil down to: who do you believe?
Fidel Castro, leader of Cuba in the 1960s, was a tireless Latin revolutionary. Charles de Gaulle, president of France, was a conservative continental statesman. They both came to the conclusion that President John F. Kennedy had been assassinated by right-wing enemies within his own government.
CIA Lies about Oswald, October 1963
In the redaction of this 201 file prepared for the Warren Commission the CIA removed the most sensitive and relevant portion of the original: a series of cables in and out of CIA Headquarters concerning Oswald, beginning just six weeks before the assassination. (It is clear from a much later CIA document that the original copies of these cables were located in Oswald’s Counterintelligence file, 201-289248). In their place was a sanitized and in some respects inaccurate description of these messages, supplied earlier as Warren CD 347 of January 31, 1964. In September 1992 a CIA Memo to the National Archives admitted that these cables were only “added [i.e. restored] to the ‘pre-assassination’ [CIA’s quotes] file (XAAZ 22592) after the file was prepared for the Warren Commission.”
(Helms’s memo described the January 1964 memo in the “prepared” file as covering “all substantive developments affecting CIA in the matter of Lee Harvey OSWALD from 9 October to 22 November 1963.” We shall have more to say about this contorted legal language below, when we come to discuss Helms’s perjury.
As most assassinations researchers know, the suppressed materials began with MEXI 6453, a cable from Mexico City on October 9, reporting that “an American male who… said his name [was] Lee Oswald” had spoken of meeting in the Soviet Embassy with the “Consul, whom he believed [to] be Valeriy… Kostikov.” (The source for this cable was LIENVOY, a CIA tap on the Soviet Embassy telephone, which produced the tape listened to on November 23 by FBI agents in Dallas.)
The news in this cable was, if true, important and indeed explosive information. Kostikov was a known KGB agent, and the FBI believed he was also an assassination agent. True or false, the news would become even more sensitive after the Kennedy assassination was blamed on Oswald, setting off what I have called the “Phase One” story that the KGB night have been responsible for the president’s murder. It is now firmly established that this Phase One story (later replaced by the more innocuous Phase Two story that the president was killed by a lone nut) was the story used by Johnson to persuade Chief Justice Ear Warren and others to serve on the Warren Commission.
CIA headquarters, in response to this report, sent out two cables on October 10, which transmitted more information about Oswald that was in places both false and mutually contradictory. The cable to CIA Mexico began with the claim “Lee Oswald who called Sovemb 1 Oct probably identical Lee Henry Oswald… born 18 Oct 1939,” even though the authors of the cable knew very well the real name of the man born in 1939 was Lee Harvey Oswald “Lee Henry Oswald” was a name invented in 1960 by one of the cable’s authors and used only in some CIA records.
Of the other falsehoods, one will deserve further attention: the claim that “Latest HDQS info was [State] report dated May 1962 saying [State] had determined Oswald is still US citizen and both he and his Soviet wife have exit permits and Dept State had given approval for their travel with their infant child to USA.” 
Oswalds departing Russia Photo credit: National Archives
This claim that CIA last heard of Oswald when he was still in Russia was not just absurdly false, it was a lie. The CIA had received many FBI reports since his return, and we know from their CIA Routing Sheets that some of those signing off on the October 10 cable had seen these reports. Just two weeks before the cable, the CIA had received an FBI report of September 24 on Oswald’s arrest in New Orleans and the Routing Sheet for that report shows that two of the CIA officers who signed off on the cable (John Whitten and Jane Roman) had read it.
(After the two falsified cables were released, CIA Counterintelligence officer Jane Roman was interviewed about them by John Newman and Jefferson Morley. Faced with the clear evidence of falsehood, Roman conceded, “Yeah, I mean I’m signing off on something that I know isn’t true.”)
Eisenhower presidency [ edit | edit source ]
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). ⏭] 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). ⏮]
McCarthy era [ edit | edit source ]
Iran: Mossadegh [ edit | edit source ]
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. ⏯] ] ] ] ] ]
This action was viewed at the time by many in the west as an efficient and deft stroke of good fortune. ] ] 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. ] ]
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. ." ]
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. ] ] ]
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. ] ]
"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." ] ]
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. ]
"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." ]
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." ] ] "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." ]
Guatemala: Arbenz [ edit | edit source ]
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". ]
Hungary and Suez [ edit | edit source ]
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". ] 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.
Time's "Man of the Year" for 1956 was the HUNGARIAN FREEDOM FIGHTER. ]
"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." ] ]
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. ] ] All the while that Wisner was in Europe during this period, and later while Wisner was hospitalized, Helms served as the acting DDP. ]
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". ] ] 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. ]
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. ] ] ] 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. ]
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. ]
Indonesia: Sukarno [ edit | edit source ]
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. ] 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. ]
The U-2 and Bissell [ edit | edit source ]
Richard M. Bissell, Jr., a rival of Helms at CIA
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. ] 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. ]
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. ] 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. ] 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. ] ]
Congo: Lumumba [ edit | edit source ]
From Confession to Corporate Memory: the Memoirs of CIA Director Richard M. Helms
This article seeks to challenge the orthodoxy about memoirs by retired spies. It does so by examining the making of A Look Over My Shoulder, the 2003 memoir of Richard Helms, the second longest serving Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Director. An exploration of the genesis of the Helms memoir is revealing of the motivations for autobiographical writing by intelligence veterans, as well as the procedures for the ‘vetting’ of texts by the CIA's Publications Review Board. In a departure from the existing literature on the subject of official memoir-writing, which suggests that secret organisations are hostile to former employees producing books, it is shown that the CIA did not hinder Helms, but assisted him. Drawing upon declassified materials and private papers, it is argued that the Agency aimed to mould the book as a quasi-official history for the purpose of improving public understanding about the CIA, intelligence, and US foreign policy. With journalists, renegade writers, and populist historians producing sensationalist and lopsided accounts, the CIA realised that there was more to gain by contributing to history than to remain silent while it was being compiled. To this end, they worked with Helms in turning a confessional into a piece of corporate memory.
This article would not have been possible without generous funding from both the AHRC and British Academy. I am grateful to various archival repositories in the United States for granting me permission to quote from their relevant holdings. I am also thankful to several interviewees for their expert testimony.
1. C.R. Moran and S. Willmetts, ‘Secrecy, Censorship and Beltway Books’, International Journal of Intelligence and Counter-Intelligence, xxiv, no. 2 (2011), 239–52.
2. G. Egerton, ‘The Lloyd George “War Memoirs”: A Study in the Politics of Memory’, The Journal of Modern History, lx, no. 1 (March 1988), 55–94.
3. G. Egerton, ‘The Politics of Memory: Form and Function in the History of Political Memoir From Antiquity to Modernity’ in Egerton (ed), Political Memoir: Essays on the Politics of Memory (London, 1994), 2.
4. For the British state's struggles with memoir writers see C. Moran, Classified: Secrecy and the State in Modern Britain (Cambridge, 2013).
5. For excellent recent overviews of the larger historiographical debate surrounding US foreign policy see M. Jones, ‘Between the Bear and the Dragon: Nixon, Kissinger, and US Foreign Policy in the Era of Détente’, English Historical Review, cxxviii, no. 504 (2008), 1272–83 K. Larres (ed), The US Secretaries of State and Transatlantic Relations (London, 2010).
6. Bernard Cohen cited in J. Van Ginneken, Understanding Global News: A Critical Introduction (London, 1998), 87. I am grateful to Professor Tony Shaw for pointing this text out to me.
7. W.K. Wark, ‘Struggle in the Spy House: Memoirs of US Intelligence’ in Egerton, Political Memoir, 302–29. The larger academic literature on the history of the CIA is vast, although useful overviews include: R. Jeffreys-Jones, Cloak and Dollar: A History of American Secret Intelligence (New Haven, 2002) R. Jeffreys-Jones, The CIA and American Diplomacy (New Haven, 1989).
8. D. Kahn, The Reader of Gentlemen's Mail: Herbert O. Yardley and the Birth of American Codebreaking (New Haven, 2004).
9. Wark, ‘Trouble in the Spy House’, 209.
10. F. Snepp, Irreparable Harm: A Firsthand Account of How One Agent Took on the CIA in an Epic Battle Over Free Speech (Kansas, 2001).
11. S. Hersh, ‘Ex-Intelligence Director Disputes Censorship of His Book on CIA’, The New York Times, 18 May 1983.
12. G. Carle, The Interrogator (New York, 2011).
13. D. Atlee Phillips, Undated Correspondence, [Washington D.C., The Library of Congress,] David Atlee Philips Papers, MMC 3579, box 4.
14. Scott Breckinridge to Fred Hitz, June 1991, [The University of Kentucky,] Scott D. Breckinridge Jr Collection, 2007MS063, box 34.
16. R. Helms, A Look Over My Shoulder (New York, 2003).
17. Interview with Cynthia Helms, Washington D.C., 12 June 2011.
18. J. Bamford, ‘Company Man’, Washington Post, 27 April 2003.
19. D. Robarge, ‘Richard Helms: The Intelligence Officer Personified’, Studies in Intelligence, xlvi, no. 4 (2002), 35–43.
20. Interview with John Hollister Hedley, former Chairman of the CIA Publications Review Board, Georgetown University, June 2009.
21. D. Reynolds, In Command of History: Churchill Fighting and Writing the Second World War (London, 2004). See also K. Larres, Churchill's Cold War: The Politics of Personal Diplomacy (New Haven, 2002).
22. ‘Task Force Report on Greater CIA Openness’, 20 Dec. 1991. http://www.disclosureproject.org/PDF-Documents/CIAMemo.pdf.
24. Egerton, ‘Lloyd George “War Memoirs”’, 55–94.
25. ‘The Cool Pro Who Runs the CIA’, Newsweek, 22 Nov. 1971.
26. Cover Story, ‘The Administration: The Silent Service’, Time, 24 Feb. 1967.
27. C. Sullivan to Richard Helms, 4 Dec. 1972, 8/34/442, G[eorgetown] U[niversity], [Richard] Helms Papers, Part 1.
28. For a critical review of the CIA's role in Chile see Z. Shiraz, ‘CIA Intervention in Chile and the Fall of the Allende Government’, Journal of American Studies, xlv, no. 3 (2011), 603–13.
29. R. Thorpe, Eden: The Life and Times of Anthony Eden (London, 2003), 602.
30. H. Rositzke, The CIA's Secret Operations: Espionage, Counterespionage and Covert Action (Boulder, 1977), 239.
31. R. Jeffreys-Jones, ‘The Historiography of the CIA’, The Historical Journal, xxiii, no. 2 (June 1980), 489–96.
32. T. Powers, The Man Who Kept the Secrets: Richard Helms and the CIA (London, 1979).
33. Interview with Cynthia Helms, Washington D.C., 12 June 2011.
34. Interview with Cameron LaClair, 6 June 2009.
36. Ken Knaus to Scott Breckinridge, Scott Breckinridge Jr Collection, 2007MS063, box 34.
37. For more information on the Assassination Report see F. Escalante, CIA Targets Fidel: The Secret Assassination Report (New York, 1996).
41. Scott Breckinridge to Ken Knaus, 15 June 1990, Scott Breckinridge Jr Collection, 2007MS063, box 34.
42. Interview with Cynthia Helms, Washington D.C., 12 June 2011.
43. R.J. Smith to Scott Breckinridge, 6 December 1993, Scott Breckinridge Jr Collection, 2007MS063, box 34.
44. Angus Thuermer to Richard Helms, 8 February 1998, Helms Papers, Part I, 9/20/464.
45. Helms, Look Over My Shoulder, Preface.
46. Interview with Cynthia Helms, Washington D.C., 12 June 2011.
48. S. Adams, War of Numbers: An Intelligence Memoir (Vermont, 1994).
49. E. Thomas, The Very Best of Men: The Early Years of the CIA (New York, 1996).
50. Robert Gates to Richard Helms, 1 Nov. 1995, Helms Papers, Part I, 9/17/461.
51. Interview with Cynthia Helms, Washington D.C., 12 June 2011.
52. W. Pforzheimer, ‘On the Intelligence Bookshelf: Thomas Powers’, 1979 William Hood Papers, Georgetown University, box 1, 4/7/104.
53. David Atlee Phillips, Miscellaneous Note, [Library of Congress, Washington D.C.] David Atlee Phillips Papers, MMC 3579, box 5.
55. Powers, Man Who Kept the Secrets, xi.
56. Interview with Cynthia Helms, Washington D.C., 12 June 2011.
57. W. Hood, Mole: The True Story of the First Russian Spy to Become an American Counterspy (New York, 1983) Interview with Cameron LaClair, 6 June 2009.
58. William Hood to Richard Helms, 26 Feb. 1996, Helms Papers, RH, Part 1, 10/31/575.
59. William Hood to Richard Helms, 9 June 1996, Ibid. P. Knightley, The Second Oldest Profession: Spies and Spying in the Twentieth Century (New York, 1987).
60. William Hood to Richard Helms, 14 June 1996, Helms Papers, Part I, 10/31/575 C. Andrew, For the President's Eyes Only: Secret Intelligence and the American Presidency from Washington to Bush (New York, 1996).
61. Richard Helms, ‘Book Proposal’, 20 Feb. 1996, Helms Papers, Part I, 10/70/554.
62. William Hood to Richard Helms, 28 April 1996, Helms Papers, Part I, 10/70/554.
63. William Hood to Richard Helms, 24 June 1996, Helms Papers, Part I, 10/31/575.
64. Helms, Look Over My Shoulder, 10.
65. William Hood to Richard Helms, 29 April 1996, Helms Papers, Part I, 10/70/554.
67. Richard Helms to William Hood, 16 March 1998, Helms Papers, Part I, 1/28/28.
68. William Hood to Richard Helms, 9 Oct. 1997, Helms Papers, Part I, 10/42/526.
69. Ibid. Helms, A Look Over My Shoulder, 109–10.
70. William Hood to Richard Helms, undated Draft Chapter 12.
71. Interview with Cynthia Helms, Washington D.C., 12 June 2011.
72. William Hood to Richard Helms, 4 Oct. 1997, Helms Papers, Part I, 10/43/527.
73. Robert Loomis to William Hood, 5 Jan. 1998, Helms Papers, Part I, 10.46.
74. Interview with John Hollister Hedley, former Chairman of the CIA Publications Review Board, Georgetown University, June 2009.
76. Interview with Cynthia Helms, Washington D.C., 12 June 2011.
78. Richard Helms to L. Strickland, 21 Jan. 1997, Helms Papers, Part I, 17/3/657.
79. John Hollister Hedley to Harry Middleton, 6 May 1998, Helms Papers, Part I, 18/4/714.
81. V. Marchetti and J.D. Marks, The Cult of Intelligence (New York, 1974).
82. A.M. Schulte to D. Obst, 15 May 1975, [Harry Ransom Center, Austin, Texas,] Alfred Knopf Papers, 942.3.
83. R. Wallace, Spycraft: The Secret History of the CIA's Spytechs, from Communism to Al-Qaeda (New York, 2008).
84. T. Allen-Mills, ‘Deep Secrets: Former Cold War Agent Gagged by the CIA’, The Sunday Times, 21 Feb. 2010.
85. S. Koch to Richard Helms, May 2000, Helms Papers, Part I, 10/59/543.
86. Chapter 30: ‘Six Days’, Helms Papers, Part II, 4/75/406.
87. Chapter 28: ‘Beyond X-2’, Helms Papers, Part II, 4/73/404.
88. William Hood to R. Helms, 27 October 1997, Helms Papers, Part I, 10/47/531.
89. Chapter: ‘Agency Families’, Helms Papers, Part I, 10/51/535.
90. George Tenet, ‘CIA Annuitant Mailing List’, 23 Oct. 2002, Helms Papers, Part I, 3/42/281.
91. G. Tenet, ‘Eulogy for Former DCI Richard McGarrah Helms’, Studies in Intelligence, xlvi, no. 4 (2002).
92. See P. Agee, On the Run (Secaucus, N.J., 1987) L. Cockburn, Out of Control: The Story of the Reagan Administration's Secret War in Nicaragua (New York, 1987) T. Higgins, The Perfect Failure: Kennedy, Eisenhower, and the CIA at the Bay of Pigs (New York, 1987) C. Simpson, Blowback: American Recruitment of Nazis and its Effect on the Cold War (London, 1988) D. Wise, The Spy Who Got Away: The Inside Story of Edward Lee Howard, the CIA Agent Who Betrayed His Country's Secrets and Escaped to Moscow (New York, 1988) S. Dillon, Commandos: The CIA and Nicaragua's Contra Rebels (New York, 1991) D. Wise, Molehunt: The Secret Search for Traitors that Shattered the CIA (New York, 1992).
93. ‘CIA and Openness: Speech by Dr. Robert M. Gates to the Oklahoma Press Association, 21 February 1992’, [Harry Ransom Center, The University of Texas, Austin,] Norman Mailer Papers, 706.2.
94. ‘Some Thoughts on Public Appearance and Debates’, Public Affairs Office, Scott D. Breckinridge Jr Collection, 2007MS063, box 1.
95. Scott Breckinridge, 31 Dec. 1993, Scott Breckinridge Collection, 2007MS063, box 34.
96. Interview with Cynthia Helms, Washington D.C., 12 June 2011.
98. Richard Helms, ‘Book Proposal’, 20 Feb. 1996, Helms Papers, Part I, 10/70/554.
99. L. Johnson, Secret Agencies: US Intelligence in a Hostile World (New Haven, 1996).
100. Scott Breckinridge Walter Pforzheimer, 27 March 1997, Scott Breckinridge Collections, 2007MS063, box 10.
101. C. Andrew, The Defence of the Realm: The Authorised History of MI5 (London, 2009) K. Jeffrey, MI6: The History of the Secret Intelligence Service (London, 2010). The most trenchant attack has been delivered by Professor Anthony Glees. See A. Glees, ‘The History of MI5 and a Laughing Matter’, The Times, 30 Oct. 2009 A. Glees, ‘Can the Spooks be Spooked?’, Times Higher Education Supplement, June 2005.
What Can We Do About JFK's Murder?
As November 22 comes around again, the memory of John F. Kennedy's assassination seems to be fading in America's collective consciousness, save among aging Baby Boomers like myself. Few people younger than me (I'm 54) have any memory of the day it actually happened. 9/11 has replaced 11/22 as the date stamp of catastrophic angst.
Yet that doesn't mean people have stopped looking for answers. There is of course still a broad cultural awareness of the assassination and the unanswered questions that surround it -- which has been amplified recently by the release of Jackie Kennedy's private conversations and the buzz surrounding the release of Tom Hanks' upcoming movie Parkland. Two years ago on this site, I tried to answer the question "What Do We Really Know About JFK?" With the 50th anniversary of JFK's assassination approaching next year, the time for conspiracy theories has passed and the time for accountability is coming. Now is the time to ask, "What can we do about JFK's assassination?"
For one thing, we can use the Internet. The Web has birthed many conspiracy theories (most of them easily debunked), but it has also made the historical record of JFK's murder available to millions of people outside of Washington and the federal government for the first time. I have to believe this diffusion of historical knowledge will slowly clarify the JFK story for everybody.
For now, though, American journalists and historians tend still to ignore the widely available facts. Earlier this year, in an exchange with sports columnist Bill Simmons, Malcolm Gladwell endorsed baseball statistician Bill James' theory that the fatal shot was fired by one of Kennedy's own Secret Service men. "When you have lots of trigger-happy people and lots of guns and lots of excitement all situated in the same place at the same time," Gladwell wrote, unburdened by evidence, "sometimes stupid and tragic accidents happen."
We can likewise treat with skepticism the CIA's latest interpretation of Kennedy's murder, proposed by Brian Latell, a former Cuba specialist at the Agency. In a new book, Latell has updated and modified the unconvincing "Fidel Castro did it" theory that was that was first put forward by the CIA within hours of JFK's death and is still believed by some.
Latell now argues that Castro knew (via his DGI intelligence service) that Oswald posed a threat to JFK, but he did nothing. The heartless Cuban communist, he says, played a "passive but knowing" role in JFK's murder. As I reported in Salon last spring, the most basic corroboration for these claims is lacking, as even an otherwise approving reviewer had to acknowledge in the CIA's Studies in Intelligence publication.
Latell is on firmer ground when he suggests that the media's obsession with "conspiracy" obscures other more nuanced explanations of JFK's death. But his allegations advertently highlight a truth that the CIA and my friends in the Washington press corps prefer not to acknowledge: There is a lot more evidence of CIA negligence in JFK's assassination than Cuban complicity.
The record available online confirms that Oswald was well known to the CIA shortly before JFK was killed -- so well known, in fact, that a group of senior officials collaborated on a security review of him in October 1963. And these officials assured colleagues and the FBI that Oswald, far from being a dangerous Castroite, was actually "maturing" and thus becoming less of a threat.
Read this CIA cable (not declassified until 1993) from beginning to end. You will see that Oswald's travels, politics, intentions, and state of mind were known to six senior CIA officers as of October 10, 1963. At that date, JFK and Jackie were just beginning to think about their upcoming political trip to Dallas.
Because the CIA is so often caricatured in JFK discussions, some background is helpful in understanding who wrote this document and why.
In the fall of 1963, Oswald, a 23-year old ex-Marine, traveled from his hometown of New Orleans to Mexico City. There he contacted the Cuban and Soviet Embassies, seeking a visa to travel to both countries. A CIA wiretap picked up his telephone calls, which indicated he had been referred to a Soviet consular officer suspected of being a KGB assassination specialist. Win Scott, the respected chief of the CIA station in Mexico, was concerned. He sent a query to headquarters: Who is this guy Oswald?
Scott's question was referred to the agency's counterintelligence (CI) staff. The CI staff was responsible for detecting threats to the secrecy of agency operations. Its senior members had been closely monitoring Oswald ever since he had defected to the Soviet Union in October 1959. Oswald had lived there two years, married a Russian woman, and then returned to the United States in June 1962.
Jane Roman a senior member of the CI staff retrieved the agency's fat file on Oswald. It included some three dozen documents, including family correspondence, State Department cables, and a recent FBI report stating said Oswald was an active pro-Castro leftist who had recently been arrested for fighting with anti-Castro exiles in New Orleans.
Roman and the CI staff drafted a response to the Mexico City station, which said, in effect, Don't worry. Ignoring the FBI report, the cable stated the "latest HQS info" on Oswald was a 16-month old message from a diplomat in Moscow concluding that Oswald's marriage and two year residence in the Soviet Union had a "maturing effect" on him. This inaccurate and optimistic message was reviewed and endorsed by five senior CIA officers, identified on the last page of the cable.
The CIA would kept the names of these highly-regarded officers -- Tom Karamessines, Bill Hood, John Whitten ("John Scelso"), Jane Roman, and Betty Egeter -- secret for thirty years. Why? Because the officers most knowledgeable about Oswald reported to two of the most powerful men in the CIA: Deputy Director Richard Helms and Counterintelligence Chief James Angleton.
These high-level aides could have -- and should have -- flagged Oswald for special attention. All five were anti-communists, well-versed in running covert operations and experienced in detecting threats to U.S. national security.
Karamessines, a trusted deputy to Helms, was a former beat cop who had served as a prosecutor in New York City before joining the CIA and becoming Athens station chief. Bill Hood was a former Berlin hand who oversaw all covert operations in the Western Hemisphere (and would later co-author Dick Helms' posthumous memoir). John Whitten, dogged and curmudgeonly, had built a reputation in the agency with his pioneering use of the polygraph.
Their complacent assessment of Oswald had real-world consequences.
In Mexico City, Win Scott never learned about Oswald's recent arrest or the fact that he gone public with his support for Castro. He stopped investigating Oswald. In Washington, a senior FBI official, Marvin Gheesling, responded to the CIA's benign assessment by taking Oswald off an "alert" list of people of special interest to the Bureau. When it came to the erratic and provocative Oswald, the CIA and the FBI were standing down.
Conspiracy or not, the CIA blew it. Oswald had been calling attention to himself. He had clashed with anti-Castro students in New Orleans, then contacted a suspected KGB operative to arrange an illegal trip to Cuba. By standard agency procedures of the day, he should have gotten closer attention. Instead, he got a pass from Helms and Angleton's staffers. Oswald returned from Mexico to Dallas where he rented a room in a boarding house under an assumed name.
Six weeks later JFK was shot dead, and the allegedly "maturing" Oswald was arrested.
After the assassination, Helms and Angleton stayed mum about their failure to identify Oswald as a threat. So did the agency hands who had vetted the accused assassin. The honorable exception was John Whitten, one of the few CIA operatives in the JFK assassination story who acted admirably. In 1963, Whitten served as chief of the Mexico Desk. He was a "good spy," specializing in counterespionage investigations to determine a suspect's ultimate allegiances. That was exactly the kind of information the U.S. government needed about Oswald after JFK was killed.
Whitten tried to mount an internal investigation of the accused assassin, drawing particularly on his contacts with pro-and anti-Castro Cubans in New Orleans and Miami. As Whitten later recounted in secret testimony to Congress, he was blocked by Angleton and then effectively fired by Helms.
His career over, Whitten retired and moved to Europe, telling his story only to those who had been cleared to hear it. He died in a Pennsylvania nursing home in 2001, his efforts to pursue the truth about Oswald concealed by his employer and forgotten by his country.
What did Helms and Angleton want to hide in 1963? Probably the same thing that the CIA and "Castro did it" conspiracy theorists hope to obscure today: U.S. intelligence failures contributed to JFK's wrongful death.
Neither Richard Helms or James Angleton was ever held accountable for their staff's faulty handling of intelligence about Oswald, and it is easy to see why. Both men were hard-line skeptics of JFK's liberal foreign policy who found President Lyndon Johnson a much more capable commander in chief. Both had friends and allies in high places. (Angleton was close to J. Edgar Hoover Helms was lionized by syndicated columnist Stewart Alsop.) .Both used official secrecy to prevent the Warren Commission from asking too many questions. After the Warren Report came out, they kept their jobs and enjoyed the respect of the Washington press corps, at least for a while.
President Lyndon Johnson named Helms to be CIA director in 1966 and he served until 1973, gaining a well-deserved reputation as The Man Who Kept the Secrets. Helms played an inscrutable role in the Watergate scandal that brought down President Richard Nixon and later pled guilty to lying to Congress. The "gentlemanly planner of assassinations," as one journalist dubbed him, died in 2002. His widow, Cynthia Helms, has just published a memoir defending his good name.
Jim Angleton remained chief of the Counterintelligence Staff until 1974, when he was disgraced by the revelation he had overseen a massive illegal spying program on Americans. He died in 1988. His espionage exploits have inspired many book and several Hollywood movies (most recently The Good Shepherd, starring Matt Damon). Angleton's close monitoring of Lee Harvey Oswald from October 1959 to October 1963 was first documented in historian John Newman's groundbreaking book, Oswald and the CIA.
So those Americans still seeking to understand the meaning of November 22, 1963, in American history, would do well to consider the legal culpability of two titans in the annals of the CIA, Richard Helms and James Angleton. Their negligence could spawn any number of new conspiracy theories: Were they (or other national security mandarins) using Oswald in a sinister maneuver against JFK? Or did their staffs use Oswald in service of a legitimate secret operation, only to realize too late that he was a lone psychopath?
Ultimately, what matters most is that these decorated CIA men were criminally negligent -- or, at the very least, clueless about a clever assassin. If we honor the memory of JFK, they should be held responsible. Their complacent and inaccurate reporting on Oswald before JFK's assassination, and their evasion of responsibility afterwards, are central to the confusion that sadly still clouds the case of the murdered president.
That much we know. Some day, we may also have access to deeper information - for instance, the records of George Joannides, a decorated Miami-based undercover officer (now deceased) who knew about Oswald's Cuban contacts and who reported to Dick Helms in 1963. (In 2003 I filed a Freedom of Information Action Act lawsuit for his files in 1963. Nine years later, my case is still pending.)
We can't do much about the JFK tragedy at this late date, but we can acknowledge that CIA negligence led directly to the president's death. The officers who obscured information about Oswald should be stripped of any medals or commendations they received for their job performance in 1963. Fifty years later, it's not too late for accountability.
The CIA’s Obstruction of Justice in 2015
Now let us compare the CIA’s lying performance in 1964 with its lying performance in 2015. In the wake of the Kennedy assassination, members of many U.S. agencies, including also the FBI, the Office of Naval Intelligence, the U.S. Air Force, and the Secret Service, withheld relevant information from those investigating the murder. But to my knowledge there is in 2015 only one U.S. agency that is still actively maintaining the cover-up – and that is the CIA.
I am referring to the CIA’s declassification and release of a previously classified CIA study by CIA historian David Robarge, “DCI John McCone and the Assassination of President John F. Kennedy.” The essay is worth reading, and it contains interesting information on such matters as McCone’s relationship with Robert Kennedy. It is also significantly selective: it does not mention for example that McCone only learned late on the night of November 22 that “the CIA had known beforehand of [the alleged] Oswald’s trip to the Soviet Embassy in Mexico City,” nor that as a result McCone “was enraged, ripping into his aides, furious at the way the agency was run.”
Buried within Robarge’s discussion of John McCone and the Commission – a pertinent but hardly central topic – are a more important thesis statement and conclusion about the CIA itself. In the light of what I have just said about Helms, I would charge that both of these statements are false – so false indeed as arguably to constitute, once again, obstruction of justice.
The thesis statement on page 8 is that “Under McCone’s and Helms’s direction, CIA supported the Warren Commission in a way that may best be described as passive, reactive, and selective.” This claims that the CIA’s deception of the Warren Commission was a sin of omission. But no, the CIA was not just passive. Helms perjured himself, just as he lied again in the 1970s.
Worse, the article focuses on the failure of the CIA to tell the Warren Commission about its plots to assassinate Castro, which may very well have been relevant but in so doing it deflects attention away from the CIA’s suppression of its own LCIMPROVE operation in October involving “Lee Oswald” (or “Lee Henry Oswald”), which unquestionably was of very great relevance.
Worst of all is the article’s conclusion:
Max Holland, one of the most fair-minded scholars of these events, has concluded that “if the word ‘conspiracy’ must be uttered in the same breath as ‘Kennedy assassination,’ the only one that existed was the conspiracy to kill Castro and then keep that effort secret after November 22 nd .”
Of the many things wrong with this sentence, the worst service to truth in my mind is the skillful effort to divert attention away from the Angleton operation involving Oswald, and to focus instead on plots to kill Castro. This is an old ploy dating back to 1965, following in the footsteps of old CIA veterans and friends like Brian Latell and Gus Russo. It allows a writer like Philip Shenon to quote from the Robarge study the old red herring question “Did Castro kill the president because the president had tried to kill Castro?”
This OSS Officer Penned A Letter On V-E Day Taken From Hitler’s Personal Stationary
Richard Helms was the Deputy Director of Central Intelligence (DCI) from 1966 to 1973, having served for two decades in predecessor units before leading the CIA. Helms’ career is a storied one that first began outside of intelligence. The well-read and well-educated student with a fluency in French and German studied at Williams College in Massachusetts. He was the editor of his college newspaper, and upon graduation he took a job as a foreign correspondent for the United Press International in Berlin.
He was 23 years old and fresh out of college when he took one of his first assignments covering the 1936 Summer Olympics, or “Hitler Games.” He even interviewed Hitler himself after a Nazi rally held in Nuremberg, a notable and poignant experience that he’d reflect back on nearly a decade later.
When the U.S. entered World War II, Helms joined the U.S. Naval Reserve and worked at the Eastern Sea Frontier Headquarters in New York where they studied movements of German U-boats in the Atlantic. Helms joined the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) in 1943 after a wire service colleague suggested he had the right intangibles for the Morale Branch (MO). The MO specialized in black propaganda campaigns against the Nazis.
He went through OSS training and learned advanced techniques in tradecraft and planning espionage operations. He worked out of the OSS Secret Intelligence Branch in Washington where he ran agents across Europe targeting German officials. Although he was stateside, he made considerable progress that earned him the confidence to be sent overseas to London to work under William Casey, an OSS trailblazer who later became a DCI.
It is not clear how Helms obtained a personal sheet of stationary from Hitler’s Bavarian mountaintop retreat, but he wrote a message to his 3-year-old son dated May 8, 1945, — V-E Day — that evidently describes the feelings of many as the war was coming to a close.
“Dear Dennis, The man who might have written on this card once controlled Europe—three short years ago when you were born. Today he is dead, his memory despised, his country in ruins.”
With experience in Berlin and a proficiency in German, Helms was an easy choice for an assignment there where he “tracked down die-hard Nazis” and “searched for war criminals.” His connection to Hitler didn’t stop with the letter — later that year he personally ransacked Hitler’s office compound where he acquired a plate. The souvenir features an inscription that translates to “The Chancellery of the Fuehrer.”
These two personal artifacts were donated to the CIA museum and are on display in the OSS Gallery. However, since the museum is located on the CIA compound, the museum is closed to the general public.