On This Day — Nixon Dismisses CIA Director Richard Helms (February 2 1973) [2020]

“The timing caught me by surprise. I had barely enough time to get my things out of the office and to assemble as many colleagues of all ranks as possible for a farewell. …  A few days later, I encountered Haldeman. ‘What happened to our understanding that my exit would be postponed for a few weeks?’ I asked. ‘Oh, I guess we forgot,’ he said with the faint trace of a smile. And so it was over.”

Former CIA Director Richard Helms 

February 2 2020 — Richard McGarrah Helms (March 30, 1913 – October 23, 2002) served as the United States Director of Central Intelligence (DCI) from June 30 1966 to February 2 1973. Helms began intelligence work with the Office of Strategic Services during World War II. Following the 1947 creation of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) he rose in its ranks during the Truman, Eisenhower, and Kennedy administrations. Helms then served as DCI under Presidents Johnson and Nixon. Follow us on Twitter: Intel_Today

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Immediately after his re-election in 1972, Nixon called for all appointed officials in his administration to resign.

Helms did not consider his position at CIA to be a political job, which was the traditional view within the Agency, and so did not resign as DCI.

On November 20 1972, Helms came to Camp David to an interview with Nixon about what he thought was a “budgetary matter”.

Nixon’s chief of staff, H. R. Haldeman also attended. Helms was then informed by Nixon that his services in the new administration would not be required.

On Helms’ dismissal William Colby (DCI Sept. 1973 to Jan. 1976) later commented that “Dick Helms paid the price for that ‘No’ [to the White House over Watergate].”

PS/ Nixon then offered him the ambassadorship to the Soviet Union. After shortly considering it, Helms declined, wary of the potential consequences of the offer, considering his career in intelligence.

“I’m not sure how the Russians might interpret my being sent across the lines as an ambassador,” Helms remembers telling Nixon.

Instead Helms proposed being sent to… Iran!

Nixon assented. Among other things Nixon perhaps figured Helms, after managing CIA’s long involvement in Iranian affairs, would be capable in addressing issues arising out of Nixon’s recent policy decision conferring on the Shah his new role as “policeman of the Gulf”.

Helms was confirmed by the Senate, in April 1973 and he served as the American representative until resigning effective January 1977.

CIA director Richard Helms testifies about Watergate

During these years, however, his presence was often required in Washington, where he testified before Congress in hearings about past CIA activities, including Watergate.

REFERENCES

Richard Helms — Wikipedia

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On This Day — Nixon Dismisses CIA Director Richard Helms (February 2 1973)

On This Day — Nixon Dismisses CIA Director Richard Helms (February 2 1973) [2020]

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