On This Day — William E Colby Becomes 10th Director of CIA [September 4 1973]

“We disbanded our intelligence [after both world wars] and then found we needed it. Let’s not go through that again. Redirect it, reduce the amount of money spent, but let’s not destroy it. Because you don’t know 10 years out what you’re going to face.”

William Egan Colby

William Egan Colby (January 4, 1920 – April 27, 1996) was an American intelligence officer who served as Director of Central Intelligence (DCI) from September 4 1973 to January 30 1976. Follow us on Twitter: @INTEL_TODAY

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In 1973, President Richard Nixon appointed Colby director of the CIA. Getting that job was the crowning achievement for a man whose life mission was fighting Nazis and communists.

His tenure as DCI was overshadowed by the Church and Pike congressional investigations into alleged U.S. intelligence malfeasance over the preceding 25 years.

“But two years later, it seemed to come crashing down around Colby when the Nixon administration was engulfed by the Watergate scandal and the CIA disclosed hundreds of examples of purported illegality (mind control and LSD experiments on unwitting humans, attempted assassinations, etc., now known as the “family jewels”) going back to the ’50s.

The press and Congress charged the CIA with widespread allegations of overall corruption and massive abuse of power.”

On April 27, 1996, Colby set out from his weekend home in Rock Point, Maryland on a solo canoe trip. His canoe was found the following day on a sandbar in the Wicomico River, a tributary of the Potomac, approximately a quarter-mile from his home.

On May 6, Colby’s body was found in a marshy riverbank lying facedown not far from where his canoe was found. After an autopsy, Maryland’s Chief Medical Examiner John E. Smialek ruled his death to be accidental.

Smialek’s report noted that Colby was predisposed to having a heart attack or stroke due to “severe calcified atherosclerosis” and that Colby likely “suffered a complication of this atherosclerosis which precipitated him into the cold water in a debilitated state and he succumbed to the effects of hypothermia and drowned”.

Colby’s death triggered conspiracy theories that his death was due to foul play. In his 2011 documentary The Man Nobody Knew, Colby’s son Carl suggested that his father suffered from guilt due to his actions in the CIA and committed suicide.

Talking With the Son of ‘The Man Nobody Knew’

Q – How did your father regard Nixon, who appointed him director of CIA?

A — He obeyed the President, and respected authority. Just before Nixon resigned, I remarked to him, “This president is a liar. He deserves to be thrown out.” Dad replied, “Watch what you say. You don’t call your president a liar.” Even though he probably knew more than anyone that Nixon had been lying, it was very difficult for him to accept that the President—the ultimate authority, the one who’s signing these findings authorizing CIA actions—was dishonest.

Q — What was life like for him after he left the CIA?

A — He never wanted an AARP card, or the senior discount. I remember calling to inform him that one of his Princeton roommates was found wandering under a bridge in Middlebury, Vermont, with advanced Alzheimer’s. “Oh, that will never happen to me,” he said. “Really?,” I asked. “Nope. One day you’ll hear that I was walking along a goat path on a Greek island and I fell into the sea.” I said, again, “Really?” And he replied, “Yep. That’s it.”

The Man Nobody Knew – In Search of My Father CIA Spymaster William Colby

The Man Nobody Knew: In Search of My Father, CIA Spymaster William Colby is a 2011 American documentary film exploring the life and career of former CIA director William Egan Colby.

REFERENCES

William Colby — WIKIPEDIA

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On This Day — William E Colby Becomes 10th Director of CIA [September 4 1973]

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