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Helms, Richard McGarrah

Richard McGarrah Helms, 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 Services (OSS). He was one of the architects of the legislation creating (1947) the OSS's successor, the Central Intelligence Agency (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 affair and the U.S.-aided coup in Chile that overthrew Salvador Allende. 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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