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 Richard McGarrah Helms

Richard McGarrah Helms

Birth
Saint Davids, Delaware County, Pennsylvania, USA
Death 22 Oct 2002 (aged 89)
Washington, District of Columbia, District Of Columbia, USA
Burial Arlington, Arlington County, Virginia, USA
Plot Section 7, Lot 8142-1
Memorial ID 6870538 · View Source
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US Diplomat, Government Official. Served as Director of the Central Intelligence Agency from 1966 until 1973, and as United States Ambassador to Iran from 1973 until 1977. He is most remembered for his refusal to then President Richard Nixon to use the CIA to stop an FBI Probe of the Watergate Scandal, for which President Nixon fired him. Born to an upper middle class family in a suburb of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where his father was a corporate executive, he grew up in South Orange, New Jersey. Spending two years in Europe, he learned to speak and write French and German fluently. He graduated with high honors from Williams College in 1935, where he was voted as "Most Likely to Succeed". From 1935 to 1937, while working as a reporter for United Press in Europe, he obtained an exclusive interview with Adolph Hitler, but returned to the United States in 1937 to work for the Indianapolis "Times". During World War II, his knowledge of French and German took him into the OSS (Office of Strategic Services), which ran spy and guerrilla operations inside France. When the OSS became the CIA in 1947, he remained with the agency, working at the highest levels, becoming Deputy Director of Intelligence in 1965. When selected as Director in 1966, replacing William F. Raborn, Jr, he was the first career spy to actually head the agency. A believer in the value of the intelligence work he was doing, and an ardent patriot, he led the agency into the Cold War against Communism, believing that the end of preserving Freedom justified any means. This lead the CIA to plotting assassinations of foreign leaders such as Fidel Castro, overthrowing the Marxist government of Chilean President Salvador Allende, and to spying on American citizens, all of which exceeded the CIA's charter. President Nixon fired him after he refused to direct the CIA to block an FBI probe into the Watergate Scandal, and he was replaced by James Schlesinger. In late 1973, he was appointed Ambassador to Iran, but was forced to resign when Congressional probes into the CIA revealed its excesses while he was Director. The Department of Justice threatened to take him to trial for lying to Congress, however, Richard Helms threatened to reveal matters that the government wanted to keep secret, and the Justice Department backed down. In a plea bargain, he agreed to plead no contest to "not answering Congress's questions fully and completely" for which he paid a $2,000 fine and was given a suspended sentence of two years in prison. He considered this conviction an honor, against a Congress that had gone anti-intelligence and did not value its work. In his later years, he worked as a business consultant in the Washington, DC area.

Bio by: Kit and Morgan Benson


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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Originally Created by: Erik Lander
  • Added: 23 Oct 2002
  • Find A Grave Memorial 6870538
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Richard McGarrah Helms (30 Mar 1913–22 Oct 2002), Find A Grave Memorial no. 6870538, citing Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Arlington County, Virginia, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .