Helms, Richard McGarrah

Helms, Richard McGarrah,

1913–2002, U.S. government official, b. St. Davids, Pa. In 1942, Helms joined the U.S. navy where he engaged in intelligence work for the Office of Strategic ServicesOffice of Strategic Services
(OSS), U.S. agency created (1942) during World War II under the jurisdiction of the Joint Chiefs of Staff for the purpose of obtaining information about enemy nations and of sabotaging their war potential and morale. Headed by William J.
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 (OSS). He was one of the architects of the legislation creating (1947) the OSS's successor, the Central Intelligence AgencyCentral Intelligence Agency
(CIA), independent executive bureau of the U.S. government established by the National Security Act of 1947, replacing the wartime Office of Strategic Services (1942–45), the first U.S. espionage and covert operations agency.
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 (CIA), and he became its chief expert on espionage operations. Helms served as both CIA deputy director (1965–66) and director (1966–73). The most controversial events overseen by Helms during his directorship were the Watergate affairWatergate affair,
in U.S. history, series of scandals involving the administration of President Richard M. Nixon; more specifically, the burglarizing of the Democratic party national headquarters in the Watergate apartment complex in Washington, D.C.
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 and the U.S.-aided coup in Chile that overthrew Salvador AllendeAllende Gossens, Salvador
, 1908–73, president of Chile (1970–73). A physician, he helped found the Chilean Socialist party in 1933, was minister of health (1939–42) and president of the senate (1965–69).
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. Helms was later ambassador to Iran (1973–77). In 1977, Helms pleaded no contest to charges of failing to testify fully and accurately to a Senate committee about covert CIA activities.


See his autobiography (with W. Hood, 2003); biography by T. Powers (1979).

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