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An Interview with Richard Helms

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Harvey Oswald and Nosenko cases and there won't be unless the KGB in Moscow or the Soviet leadership is going to tell the United States exactly what the facts were. I think that unlikely to happen and, therefore, these cases are going to remain untidy. They don't end up like novels; they end up with long Irish pendants.
  
What about the assertion that during his residence in the U.S.S.R. Oswald provided information on the U-2 to the Soviets?
  
I was totally unaware of that until I read Mr. Epstein's book, and I know nothing about the merits of the assertion. In other words, I have no way of verifying it. I don't call up the Agency about matters of this kind. After all, when I was DCI, I wasn't interested in having former Directors guide my hand.
  
In retrospect, do you think the Warren Commission should have known about AMLASH and those contacts?
  
This is a very confused area, as far as I am concerned. Allen Dulles, who had been Director of the Agency for many years, was on the Warren Commission. I don't know what he did or did not tell the Warren Commission about what the CIA was doing.
  
When one is running secret operations, there is a great reluctance to spread knowledge of them. In retrospect, I can't question the fact that it might have made for some clarity if these things had been laid on the table for the Warren Commission.
  
On the other hand, that is a hindsight judgment. I just don't know why Allen Dulles didn't make these things clear to them or john McCone go down and talk to the Warren Commission about these, or the Attorney General go down, or somebody go down.
  
But suppose they had known it, what different conclusion would they have come to? This is a question I simply raise. I am not making judgment; I am simply raising it, as if to say, what does it signify?
  
One of the Senate reports makes the point that you were on the horns of a dilemma because you were in contact with the Warren Commission and you knew about AMLASH.
  
It wouldn't have occurred to me .to go to the Warren Commission with information about on-going, covert operations without the clearance of the Director and maybe the clearance of the executive committee that passed on those things at the time. In those days I think it was known as the Special Group.
  
But the thing that seems to be quite forgotten, with respect to the Kennedy Administration and Castro, was the Missile Crisis. Nobody talks about that anymore. The Russians came along at Castro's invitation in 1962 and were about to score one of the great strategic coups of the century by placing medium range ballistic missiles in Cuba-missiles which could shoot right into the American heartland and hold us hostage in a way which their intercontinental ballistic missiles could not. We seem to have forgotten that Castro was a co-conspirator of Khrushchev's; he was making it possible. But that never seems to be mentioned anymore. We become snarled up in the question of whether CIA was running this or that operation against Cuba, as though that had everything to do with what later happened to President Kennedy; whereas the antipathy between Mr. Kennedy and Castro was manifest at the time of the Missile Crisis and for good and serious reasons.
  
The Missile Crisis happened in October 1962. In December 1962 when the Brigade that had landed at the Bay of Pigs, Brigade 2506, was repatriated as a result of
  
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Posted: May 08, 2007 08:59 AM
Last Updated: May 08, 2007 08:59 AM