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An Interview with Richard Helms

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Possibly, and I don't have any reason to argue with your recital of the events. I left the Agency in February of 1973 and I don't remember any more the exact dates on which these things came out.
 
But I don't recall either any people from the Department of justice or any place else up until the 1972 election asking for any of this material.
 
The real investigation began in March 1973 and that was when the thing really started to move. The Ervin Committee was organized, etc. There were just small pieces of it being nibbled around the edges in February of 1973 when I was being confirmed as Ambassador to Iran. The first questions were being asked about it. Prior to that, I don't recall anybody asking about these things. If they did I have forgotten about it. I am not ducking here, I just don't recall it.
 
Your priority was that you felt the whole future of the Agency might be at stake here, in fact?
          
I did indeed.
          
And you told Gray right at the time of the break-in that there was a link between Hunt and Ehrlichman?
          
I did indeed.
          
It was a major lead?
          
I would have thought so.
          
Given that the CIA got quite a lot of "stick" for the fact that for 11 months General Cushman didn't name Ehrlichman as the man who called him about Hunt, as I mentioned, why didn't the CIA ever get credit for your call to L. Patrick Gray right after the break-in, when you said that it was Ehrlichman who had called Hunt?
          
I don't know to this day because at the time we were attempting to deal with all of these various factors. I didn't see Gray. I had asked to see him on one occasion, but he cancelled the appointment. I learned later he cancelled on instructions from the White House.
          
I think that he was in a most unfortunate position. He had taken over the Bureau at a most difficult time. I think he had a very tough time of it. And I have no interest in picking on Pat Gray. He doesn't deserve it.
          
Who was "Deep Throat," do you think?
          
I haven't the faintest idea.
          
Someone 1 talked with yesterday is convinced it was you. Was it?
 
No. I never even met Bob Woodward or Carl Bernstein. I think it is most unlikely that they would even have thought of me in this connection.
     
Wouldn't it be very good for your image if you had been?
          
I would prefer not to have that image. There would be no reason for a person in my position to sneak around in garages and so forth to keep a couple of reporters straight. If I had all of this information I should have walked out and said something about it, publicly, or before a properly authorized body.
          
Moving away to broader issues of Watergate, taking a broader philosophical view, in retrospect, is there any period when you wish that you had resigned because the demands made upon you were improper?
          
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Posted: May 08, 2007 08:59 AM
Last Updated: May 08, 2007 08:59 AM