Richard Helms
Richard McGarrah Helms was the Director of Central Intelligence
Director of Central Intelligence
The Office of United States Director of Central Intelligence was the head of the United States Central Intelligence Agency, the principal intelligence advisor to the President and the National Security Council, and the coordinator of intelligence activities among and between the various United...

 (DCI) from 1966 to 1973. He was the only director to have been convicted of lying to the United States Congress
United States Congress
The United States Congress is the bicameral legislature of the federal government of the United States, consisting of the Senate and the House of Representatives. The Congress meets in the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C....

 over Central Intelligence Agency
Central Intelligence Agency
The Central Intelligence Agency is a civilian intelligence agency of the United States government. It is an executive agency and reports directly to the Director of National Intelligence, responsible for providing national security intelligence assessment to senior United States policymakers...

 (CIA) undercover activities. In 1977, he was sentenced to the maximum fine and received a suspended two-year prison sentence. Professionally he was described as a "good soldier", one who may protest a policy under discussion, but once made would support a decision loyally. Throughout his career he favored intelligence gathering and secrecy, but was often a critic of covert operations.

Life up to World War II

Helms was born in Philadelphia in 1913 to Marion Helms and Herman Helms, an executive for Alcoa
Alcoa Inc. is the world's third largest producer of aluminum, behind Rio Tinto Alcan and Rusal. From its operational headquarters in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Alcoa conducts operations in 31 countries...

. He grew up in South Orange, New Jersey
South Orange, New Jersey
-Demographics:As of the census of 2000, there were 16,964 people, 5,522 households, and 3,766 families residing in the township. The population density was 5,945.3 people per square mile . There were 5,671 housing units at an average density of 1,987.5 per square mile...

 and began high school there. He then spent two of his high school years at the prestigious Institut Le Rosey
Institut Le Rosey
Institut Le Rosey, commonly referred to as Le Rosey or simply Rosey, is a school, in Gstaad, Switzerland. It is described as one of the most prestigious boarding schools in the world. The school was founded by Paul-Émile Carnal in 1880 on the site of the 14th-century Château du Rosey near the town...

 in Switzerland
Switzerland name of one of the Swiss cantons. ; ; ; or ), in its full name the Swiss Confederation , is a federal republic consisting of 26 cantons, with Bern as the seat of the federal authorities. The country is situated in Western Europe,Or Central Europe depending on the definition....

 where he learned to speak French
French language
French is a Romance language spoken as a first language in France, the Romandy region in Switzerland, Wallonia and Brussels in Belgium, Monaco, the regions of Quebec and Acadia in Canada, and by various communities elsewhere. Second-language speakers of French are distributed throughout many parts...

 and later Realgymnasium in Freiburg, where he became fluent in German
German language
German is a West Germanic language, related to and classified alongside English and Dutch. With an estimated 90 – 98 million native speakers, German is one of the world's major languages and is the most widely-spoken first language in the European Union....


In 1935, after he graduated from Williams College
Williams College
Williams College is a private liberal arts college located in Williamstown, Massachusetts, United States. It was established in 1793 with funds from the estate of Ephraim Williams. Originally a men's college, Williams became co-educational in 1970. Fraternities were also phased out during this...

 in Williamstown, Massachusetts
Williamstown, Massachusetts
Williamstown is a town in Berkshire County, in the northwest corner of Massachusetts. It shares a border with Vermont to the north and New York to the west. It is part of the Pittsfield, Massachusetts Metropolitan Statistical Area. The population was 7,754 at the 2010 census...

, he got a job at the United Press
United Press International
United Press International is a once-major international news agency, whose newswires, photo, news film and audio services provided news material to thousands of newspapers, magazines and radio and television stations for most of the twentieth century...

 (UP) in London. The depression in London, however forced Helms to find work in Germany, where he covered the Berlin Olympic Games
1936 Summer Olympics
The 1936 Summer Olympics, officially known as the Games of the XI Olympiad, was an international multi-sport event which was held in 1936 in Berlin, Germany. Berlin won the bid to host the Games over Barcelona, Spain on April 26, 1931, at the 29th IOC Session in Barcelona...

. Following an annual NSDAP Parteitag, Helms with a small group of news reporters heard Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler was an Austrian-born German politician and the leader of the National Socialist German Workers Party , commonly referred to as the Nazi Party). He was Chancellor of Germany from 1933 to 1945, and head of state from 1934 to 1945...

 speak in the Nuremberg Castle. In 1937 he left the UP and returned home for a job on the business side of the Indianapolis Times
Indianapolis Times
The Indianapolis Times was an evening newspaper that served the city of Indianapolis, Indiana, from the late 19th century to 1965 when the paper ceased publishing...

. He had risen to be its national advertising
Advertising is a form of communication used to persuade an audience to take some action with respect to products, ideas, or services. Most commonly, the desired result is to drive consumer behavior with respect to a commercial offering, although political and ideological advertising is also common...

 manager by December, 1941, when America entered World War II.

Early career in intelligence

During World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 Helms served in the United States Navy
United States Navy
The United States Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the seven uniformed services of the United States. The U.S. Navy is the largest in the world; its battle fleet tonnage is greater than that of the next 13 largest navies combined. The U.S...

. In 1943, he was posted to the Secret Intelligence Branch
Secret Intelligence Branch
The Secret Intelligence Branch of the United States' Office of Strategic Services was a wartime foreign intelligence service responsible for the collection of human intelligence from a network of field stations in Asia, Europe, and the Middle East....

 of the Office of Strategic Services
Office of Strategic Services
The Office of Strategic Services was a United States intelligence agency formed during World War II. It was the wartime intelligence agency, and it was a predecessor of the Central Intelligence Agency...

 (OSS) because of his ability to speak German. From his wartime experiences, Helms formed the conviction that "secret intelligence matters, and that paramilitary dering-do doesn't."

In the aftermath of the war, he was transferred to the newly formed Office of Special Operations (OSO), where at the age of 33 he was put in charge of intelligence
Intelligence (information gathering)
Intelligence assessment is the development of forecasts of behaviour or recommended courses of action to the leadership of an organization, based on a wide range of available information sources both overt and covert. Assessments are developed in response to requirements declared by the leadership...

 and counter-intelligence
Counterintelligence or counter-intelligence refers to efforts made by intelligence organizations to prevent hostile or enemy intelligence organizations from successfully gathering and collecting intelligence against them. National intelligence programs, and, by extension, the overall defenses of...

 operations in Austria
Austria , officially the Republic of Austria , is a landlocked country of roughly 8.4 million people in Central Europe. It is bordered by the Czech Republic and Germany to the north, Slovakia and Hungary to the east, Slovenia and Italy to the south, and Switzerland and Liechtenstein to the...

, Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

, and Switzerland
Switzerland name of one of the Swiss cantons. ; ; ; or ), in its full name the Swiss Confederation , is a federal republic consisting of 26 cantons, with Bern as the seat of the federal authorities. The country is situated in Western Europe,Or Central Europe depending on the definition....

. The OSO became a division of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) when that organization was created by the National Security Act of 1947
National Security Act of 1947
The National Security Act of 1947 was signed by United States President Harry S. Truman on July 26, 1947, and realigned and reorganized the U.S. Armed Forces, foreign policy, and Intelligence Community apparatus in the aftermath of World War II...


Iran and Guatemala

Generally Helms disliked the CIA's involvement in covert operations, thinking them ineffective in the long run. "But the 1950s were the CIA's great age of clandestine operations." Although failing at efforts to "roll-back" the Soviets from Eastern Europe, the CIA considered itself successful elsewhere. Mossadegh of Iran in August, 1953, and Arbenz of Guatemala in June, 1954, were both removed from office by CIA operations. Yet Helms thought the price had been too high, that "the CIA was more notorious than ever."

The U-2 and Bissell

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, when the Russians shot one down. Thereafter, photo-reconnaissance was done by satellite. Richard Bissell
Richard Bissell
Richard Bissell may refer to:*Richard M. Bissell Jr. , CIA Director for Plans*Richard Pike Bissell , author/playwright...

 of the CIA had taken the lead in developing both these technical systems. Allen Dulles, Director of Central Intelligence 1953-1961, appointed Bissell the new Deputy Director of Plans (DDP) in 1958. 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 turned out to be an "anarchic administrator" and his leading role in the Bay of Pigs
Bay of Pigs Invasion
The Bay of Pigs Invasion was an unsuccessful action by a CIA-trained force of Cuban exiles to invade southern Cuba, with support and encouragement from the US government, in an attempt to overthrow the Cuban government of Fidel Castro. The invasion was launched in April 1961, less than three months...

 fiasco led to his resignation in 1962. That then opened the way for Helms.


The Kennedys strongly and persistently favored regime change for Fidel Castro
Fidel Castro
Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz is a Cuban revolutionary and politician, having held the position of Prime Minister of Cuba from 1959 to 1976, and then President from 1976 to 2008. He also served as the First Secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba from the party's foundation in 1961 until 2011...

 in Cuba
The Republic of Cuba is an island nation in the Caribbean. The nation of Cuba consists of the main island of Cuba, the Isla de la Juventud, and several archipelagos. Havana is the largest city in Cuba and the country's capital. Santiago de Cuba is the second largest city...

. Already under Eisenhower the CIA was given a prominent role in what became a plan to invade the island nation, with a landing force of exiled anti-Castro Cubans. It had the support of the CIA Director Allen Dulles. The project, however, became an "open secret". Helms, who highly valued secrecy and who was generally against covert actions, quickly distanced himself from the plan, remaining extremely sceptical of its chances, an opinion widely shared among CIA professionals not working on the project. Yet such internal CIA opposition was not made public. Just before the invasion, Castro detained in makeshift camps 100,000 suspects. In the event, the 1961 CIA-assisted invasion turned into a bitter failure.

In 1962 Helms became Deputy Director of Plans
Director of the National Clandestine Service
The Director of the National Clandestine Service is a senior United States government official in the U.S...

 (Operations). Helms then served under John McCone
John McCone
John Alexander McCone was an American businessman and politician who served as Director of Central Intelligence during the height of the Cold War.- Background :...

, the new Director of Central Intelligence
Director of Central Intelligence
The Office of United States Director of Central Intelligence was the head of the United States Central Intelligence Agency, the principal intelligence advisor to the President and the National Security Council, and the coordinator of intelligence activities among and between the various United...



The Vietnam War
Vietnam War
The Vietnam War was a Cold War-era military conflict that occurred in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia from 1 November 1955 to the fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975. This war followed the First Indochina War and was fought between North Vietnam, supported by its communist allies, and the government of...

 had begun to draw increased participation by American forces. In August of 1963 a proposed State Department cable advocated a coup to overthrow the Vietnamese President Ngo Dinh Diem
Ngo Dinh Diem
Ngô Đình Diệm was the first president of South Vietnam . In the wake of the French withdrawal from Indochina as a result of the 1954 Geneva Accords, Diệm led the effort to create the Republic of Vietnam. Accruing considerable U.S. support due to his staunch anti-Communism, he achieved victory in a...

; by circumstance Helms, DDP at the CIA, was asked to approve the cable; he responded, "It's about time we bit this bullet." Yet quickly the CIA Director McCone strongly voiced his long opposition to such action. Later the controversial November coup
1963 South Vietnamese coup
In November 1963, President Ngô Đình Diệm of South Vietnam was deposed by a group of Army of the Republic of Vietnam officers who disagreed with his handling of the Buddhist crisis and, in general, his increasing oppression of national groups in the name of fighting the communist Vietcong.The...

 resulted in the killing of President Diem.

Johnson presidency

In 1966 Helms was appointed Director of Central Intelligence. He continued to hold this post until 1973, thus well into the Nixon administration. He followed the relatively short DCI tenure of Admiral Raborn
William Raborn
Vice Admiral William Francis Raborn, Jr., United States Navy was a United States Navy officer, the leader of the project to develop the Polaris missile system, and the 7th Director of Central Intelligence as well as the 5th Director of the Central Intelligence Agency.Born in Decatur, Texas on June...

 (1965-1966), under whom Helms had served as Deputy Director.

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

According to one source, CIA Director Richard Helms "used his influence with Lyndon Johnson to warn about the growing dangers of U.S. involvement in Vietnam." On the other hand, Stansfield Turner
Stansfield Turner
Stansfield M. Turner is a retired Admiral and former Director of Central Intelligence. He is currently a senior research scholar at the University of Maryland, College Park School of Public Policy....

 (DCI 1977-1981) describes Helms's relationship with Johnson as being overly loyal to the office of president, resulting in the CIA staff's honest opinions on Vietnam not reaching Johnson. When The Wise Men
The Wise Men
The Wise Men were a group of government officials and members of the East Coast foreign policy establishment who, beginning in the 1940s, developed the containment policy of dealing with the Communist bloc and crafted institutions and initiatives such as NATO, the World Bank, and the Marshall Plan...

 confronted Johnson about the difficulty of winning in Vietnam, he was unprepared to accept their negative findings, yet their advice contributed to his decision to withdraw from the 1968 presidential election
United States presidential election, 1968
The United States presidential election of 1968 was the 46th quadrennial United States presidential election. Coming four years after Democrat Lyndon B. Johnson won in a historic landslide, it saw Johnson forced out of the race and Republican Richard Nixon elected...


However there were successes during this era, such as the CIA analysis of the Six-Day War
Six-Day War
The Six-Day War , also known as the June War, 1967 Arab-Israeli War, or Third Arab-Israeli War, was fought between June 5 and 10, 1967, by Israel and the neighboring states of Egypt , Jordan, and Syria...

, which predicted that "the Israelis would win a war within a week to ten days." Helms believed it had kept the U.S. (for the most part) out of the conflict.

Domestic intelligence

Under both Johnson and Nixon, the CIA was tasked with dosmestic surveillance of protest movements, particularly anti-war activities, which later became called Operation CHAOS
Operation CHAOS
]Operation CHAOS or Operation MHCHAOS was the code name for a domestic espionage project conducted by the Central Intelligence Agency. A department within the CIA was established in 1967 on orders from President of the United States Lyndon B. Johnson and later expanded under President Richard Nixon...

. This involved investigations of various American groups on the theory that they were funded and/or influenced by the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

. The program investigated Ramparts magazine
Ramparts (magazine)
Ramparts was an American political and literary magazine, published from 1962 through 1975.-History:Founded by Edward M. Keating as a Catholic literary quarterly, the magazine became closely associated with the New Left after executive editor Warren Hinckle hired Robert Scheer as managing editor...

, anti-war groups, and others, eventually building thousands of files on American citizens. These activities were illegal, as the CIA was forbidden from domestic spying.

Nixon presidency

The relative ease of Helms's role under President Lyndon Johnson changed with the arrival of President Richard Nixon
Richard Nixon
Richard Milhous Nixon was the 37th President of the United States, serving from 1969 to 1974. The only president to resign the office, Nixon had previously served as a US representative and senator from California and as the 36th Vice President of the United States from 1953 to 1961 under...

 and Nixon's national security advisor
National Security Advisor (United States)
The Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs, commonly referred to as the National Security Advisor , serves as the chief advisor to the President of the United States on national security issues...

 Henry Kissinger
Henry Kissinger
Heinz Alfred "Henry" Kissinger is a German-born American academic, political scientist, diplomat, and businessman. He is a recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize. He served as National Security Advisor and later concurrently as Secretary of State in the administrations of Presidents Richard Nixon and...

. Turner describes Nixon as basically being hostile to the CIA and claiming it was full of "liberals". He quotes Brent Scowcroft
Brent Scowcroft
Brent Scowcroft, KBE was the United States National Security Advisor under Presidents Gerald Ford and George H. W. Bush and a Lieutenant General in the United States Air Force. He also served as Military Assistant to President Richard Nixon and as Deputy Assistant to the President for National...

 saying that Nixon had an "inferiority complex" to all the Ivy League
Ivy League
The Ivy League is an athletic conference comprising eight private institutions of higher education in the Northeastern United States. The conference name is also commonly used to refer to those eight schools as a group...

 graduates at the agency. Nixon preferred to have intelligence come through Kissinger and his team, even excluding Helms from National Security Council
National Security Council
A National Security Council is usually an executive branch governmental body responsible for coordinating policy on national security issues and advising chief executives on matters related to national security...


In 1972, Helms ordered the destruction of most records from the huge MKULTRA project
Project MKULTRA, or MK-ULTRA, was the code name for a covert, illegal CIA human experimentation program, run by the CIA's Office of Scientific Intelligence. This official U.S. government program began in the early 1950s, continued at least through the late 1960s, and used U.S...

, over 150 CIA-funded research projects, many illegal, designed to explore any possibilities of mind control
Mind control
Mind control refers to a process in which a group or individual "systematically uses unethically manipulative methods to persuade others to conform to the wishes of the manipulator, often to the detriment of the person being manipulated"...

. The project became public knowledge two years later, after a New York Times
The New York Times
The New York Times is an American daily newspaper founded and continuously published in New York City since 1851. The New York Times has won 106 Pulitzer Prizes, the most of any news organization...



Perhaps Helms's most controversial actions as CIA chief, Project FUBELT
Project FUBELT
Project FUBELT is the code name for the secret Central Intelligence Agency operations that were to prevent Salvador Allende rise to power before his confirmation, and promote a military coup in Chile....

, concerned the subversion of the socialist
Socialism is an economic system characterized by social ownership of the means of production and cooperative management of the economy; or a political philosophy advocating such a system. "Social ownership" may refer to any one of, or a combination of, the following: cooperative enterprises,...

 government of Chile
Chile ,officially the Republic of Chile , is a country in South America occupying a long, narrow coastal strip between the Andes mountains to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west. It borders Peru to the north, Bolivia to the northeast, Argentina to the east, and the Drake Passage in the far...

 and was done at Nixon's behest. Subsequently the Chilean coup of 1973
Chilean coup of 1973
The 1973 Chilean coup d'état was a watershed event of the Cold War and the history of Chile. Following an extended period of political unrest between the conservative-dominated Congress of Chile and the socialist-leaning President Salvador Allende, discontent culminated in the latter's downfall in...

 overthrew that country's democratically elected president, Salvador Allende
Salvador Allende
Salvador Allende Gossens was a Chilean physician and politician who is generally considered the first democratically elected Marxist to become president of a country in Latin America....

, on September 11, 1973. According to Helms, Nixon had ordered the CIA to support an army coup to prevent Allende from becoming president in 1970. However, following the assassination of Army Commander-in-Chief General René Schneider
René Schneider
General René Schneider Chereau was the commander-in-chief of the Chilean Army at the time of the 1970 Chilean presidential election, when he was assassinated during a botched kidnapping attempt. His murder virtually assured Salvador Allende's eventual overthrow and death in a coup three years later...

 by elements of the military, public support swung behind Allende, and he took office in October 1970. The CIA funneled millions of dollars to opposition groups and striking truck drivers in a continuing effort to destabilize the Allende government. Here Helms, although in disagreement, had assumed the role of a "good soldier" per Nixon's instructions.

Nixon continued to work against the Allende regime, including disruptive economic measures. Yet Allende had been elected with only 36% of the vote in a three-way contest, and during his presidency he was said to ignore the constitution in his socialist projects, policies which proved to be very unpopular and polarizing. Of course, the military junta's 1973 coup was more unconstitutional yet.

During his ambassadorial confirmation hearings before the Senate in 1973, Helms was questioned concerning the CIA's role in the Chilean affair. Because the operations were still secret and the hearings were public events, Helms denied that the CIA had ever aided Allende's opposition. However, later information uncovered by the Church Committee
Church Committee
The Church Committee is the common term referring to the United States Senate Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities, a U.S. Senate committee chaired by Senator Frank Church in 1975. A precursor to the U.S...

 hearings showed that Helms's statements were false, and he was prosecuted and convicted in 1977. He received a two-year suspended sentence
Suspended sentence
A suspended sentence is a legal term for a judge's delaying of a defendant's serving of a sentence after they have been found guilty, in order to allow the defendant to perform a period of probation...

 and a $2,000 fine.


During Watergate
Watergate scandal
The Watergate scandal was a political scandal during the 1970s in the United States resulting from the break-in of the Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Watergate office complex in Washington, D.C., and the Nixon administration's attempted cover-up of its involvement...

, Nixon asked Helms to interfere with the FBI investigation of the Watergate burglaries. By claiming state secrets privilege
State Secrets Privilege
The state secrets privilege is an evidentiary rule created by United States legal precedent. Application of the privilege results in exclusion of evidence from a legal case based solely on affidavits submitted by the government stating that court proceedings might disclose sensitive information...

, Helms could have stopped the FBI investigation cold. Helms refused, which Turner calls a "courageous" move. Nixon was extremely displeased with Helms because of his refusal, but Helms had succeeded in distancing the CIA as far as possible from the scandal.

Ambassador to Iran

After the debacle of Watergate, the Agency came under much tighter Congressional control. Nixon had never liked the CIA or Helms its Director. In January 1973, Nixon considered Helms to be better suited as the U.S. ambassador to Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

, due to his good relations with the ruling Shah, who was Helms' former schoolmate at Le Rosey). Helms was thought capable regarding scrutiny of the oil industry and issues relating to government stability. Evidently Helms was approached about this position in late 1972. Thus he left the office of Director of Central Intelligence to serve as U.S. ambassador to Iran, 1973-1977, in Tehran
Tehran , sometimes spelled Teheran, is the capital of Iran and Tehran Province. With an estimated population of 8,429,807; it is also Iran's largest urban area and city, one of the largest cities in Western Asia, and is the world's 19th largest city.In the 20th century, Tehran was subject to...


Later years and death

In 1983, President Ronald Reagan
Ronald Reagan
Ronald Wilson Reagan was the 40th President of the United States , the 33rd Governor of California and, prior to that, a radio, film and television actor....

 awarded Helms the National Security Medal
National Security Medal
The National Security Medal was a decoration of the United States of America officially established by President Harry S. Truman in Executive Order 10431 of January 19, 1953...


After he died of bone cancer in 2002, Richard Helms was interred in Arlington National Cemetery
Arlington National Cemetery
Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington County, Virginia, is a military cemetery in the United States of America, established during the American Civil War on the grounds of Arlington House, formerly the estate of the family of Confederate general Robert E. Lee's wife Mary Anna Lee, a great...

 in Arlington, Virginia.


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

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

While serving as an OSS intelligence officer in Europe in May 1945, Helms wrote a letter to his son Dennis, then three years old, using stationery he had recovered from Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler was an Austrian-born German politician and the leader of the National Socialist German Workers Party , commonly referred to as the Nazi Party). He was Chancellor of Germany from 1933 to 1945, and head of state from 1934 to 1945...

's office in the ruins of the Reich Chancellery
Reich Chancellery
The Reich Chancellery was the traditional name of the office of the Chancellor of Germany in the period of the German Reich from 1871 to 1945...

 in Berlin
Berlin is the capital city of Germany and is one of the 16 states of Germany. With a population of 3.45 million people, Berlin is Germany's largest city. It is the second most populous city proper and the seventh most populous urban area in the European Union...

. He dated the letter "V-E Day"
Victory in Europe Day
Victory in Europe Day commemorates 8 May 1945 , the date when the World War II Allies formally accepted the unconditional surrender of the armed forces of Nazi Germany and the end of Adolf Hitler's Third Reich. The formal surrender of the occupying German forces in the Channel Islands was not...

 (May 8, 1945), the day Germany surrendered. Sixty-six years later, Dennis Helms delivered the letter to the CIA; it arrived on May 3, 2011, the day after the death of Osama bin Laden
Death of Osama bin Laden
Osama bin Laden, then head of the Islamist militant group al-Qaeda, was killed in Pakistan on May 2, 2011, shortly after 1 a.m. local time by a United States special forces military unit....

. It now resides at the private museum at CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia.

In the media

  • The character William Martin, portrayed by Cliff Robertson
    Cliff Robertson
    Clifford Parker "Cliff" Robertson III was an American actor with a film and television career that spanned half of a century. Robertson portrayed a young John F. Kennedy in the 1963 film PT 109, and won the 1968 Academy Award for Best Actor for his role in the movie Charly...

     in the 1977 television miniseries Washington Behind Closed Doors (based on John Ehrlichman
    John Ehrlichman
    John Daniel Ehrlichman was counsel and Assistant to the President for Domestic Affairs under President Richard Nixon. He was a key figure in events leading to the Watergate first break-in and the ensuing Watergate scandal, for which he was convicted of conspiracy, obstruction of justice and perjury...

    's novel The Company
    The Company (Ehrlichman novel)
    The Company is a political fiction Roman à clef novel written by John Ehrlichman, a former close aide to President Richard Nixon and a figure in the Watergate scandal, first published in 1976 by Simon & Schuster. The title is an insider nicknkame for the Central Intelligence Agency...

    ), was loosely based on Helms.
  • Helms was portrayed by actor Sam Waterston
    Sam Waterston
    Samuel Atkinson "Sam" Waterston is an American actor and occasional producer and director. Among other roles, he is noted for his Academy Award-nominated portrayal of Sydney Schanberg in 1984's The Killing Fields, and his Golden Globe- and Screen Actors Guild Award-winning portrayal of Jack McCoy...

     in a memorable scene in the 1995 film Nixon
    Nixon (film)
    Nixon is a 1995 American biographical film directed by Oliver Stone for Cinergi Pictures that tells the story of the political and personal life of former US President Richard Nixon, played by Anthony Hopkins....

    , deleted from the original release but included in the director's cut DVD.
  • The character Richard Hayes, portrayed by actor Lee Pace
    Lee Pace
    Lee Grinner Pace is an American actor. Pace has been featured in film, stage and television. He is known best for his starring role as Ned in the ABC series Pushing Daisies for which he was nominated for a Golden Globe award and an Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series in 2008.-...

     in the 2006 film The Good Shepherd
    The Good Shepherd (film)
    The Good Shepherd is a 2006 spy film directed by Robert De Niro and starring Matt Damon and Angelina Jolie, with an extensive supporting cast. Although it is a fictional film loosely based on real events, it is advertised as telling the untold story of the birth of counter-intelligence in the...

    , was loosely based on Helms.

Further reading

  • Richard Helms with William Hood
    William Hood
    William Hood is an art historian and the Mildred C. Jay Professor of Art Emeritus at Oberlin College, where he taught from 1974 through 2007. Since January 2008 Professor Hood has been teaching this history of Italian Renaissance Art in Columbia University's Department of Art History and...

    . A Look over My Shoulder: A Life in the Central Intelligence Agency. New York: Random House, 2003.
  • Thomas Powers
    Thomas Powers
    Thomas Powers is an author, and an intelligence expert.He was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting in 1971 together with Lucinda Franks for his articles on Weatherman member Diana Oughton...

    , The Man Who Kept the Secrets: Richard Helms and the CIA. New York: Alfred A. Knopf
    Alfred A. Knopf
    Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. is a New York publishing house, founded by Alfred A. Knopf, Sr. in 1915. It was acquired by Random House in 1960 and is now part of the Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group at Random House. The publishing house is known for its borzoi trademark , which was designed by co-founder...

    , 1979.
  • Richard Helms as Director of the CIA (PDF)—Created by the CIA's History Staff, this 230 page book was released by the CIA in 2006. It offers an in-depth and detailed look into the life and operations of Richard Helms.

See also

  • Church Committee
    Church Committee
    The Church Committee is the common term referring to the United States Senate Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities, a U.S. Senate committee chaired by Senator Frank Church in 1975. A precursor to the U.S...

  • Family jewels (Central Intelligence Agency)
    Family Jewels (Central Intelligence Agency)
    The Family Jewels is the informal name used to refer to a set of reports that detail activities conducted by the United States Central Intelligence Agency. Considered illegal or inappropriate, these actions were conducted over the span of decades, from the 1950s to the mid-1970s...

  • Operation Mockingbird
    Operation Mockingbird
    Operation Mockingbird was a secret Central Intelligence Agency campaign to influence foreign media beginning in the 1950s.The activities, extent and even the existence of the CIA project remain in dispute: the operation was first called Mockingbird in Deborah Davis' 1979 book, Katharine the Great:...

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