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Document Number (FOIA) /ESDN (CREST): 
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Document Creation Date: 
December 19, 2016
Document Release Date: 
September 23, 2005
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Publication Date: 
February 24, 1975
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PDF icon CIA-RDP91-00901R000700080066-4.pdf279.14 KB
Nl~ W S= 21i FEB 1975 Approved The Constant Witness It is hard to break free from the world of espionage, and no one knows that better these days than Richard Mc- Garrah Helms. Appointed U.S. ambassa- dor-to Iran nearly two years ago, former -CIA director Helms has been called J1ome at least half a dozen times to testify about the agency's involvement in Wa- tergate, domestic intelligence operations and the overthrow of Chile's Marxist President Salvador Allende Gossens. The simple inconvenience of this global shut- tling now seems the least of Helm's -problems. Last'week, sources in the De- partment of justice confirmed that it is picking through Helms's tangled testi- mnony of recent years to see if the one- time master spy had committed perjury an the course of protecting the CIA- -or himself. Perjury is a hard crime to prove. Jus- -ice officials emphasized privately that -heir investigation of Helms has not eached the "accusatory" stage, meaning -tat they have yet to find sufficient evi- 3ence to seek an indictment. Moreover, most of the testimony involved-in at =east a dozen appearances before various congressional committees and Washing- on grand juries-remains highly confiden- ial. Still, the portions that have become Dublic often seem to undercut the candid image that Helms has always sought to naintain. Full of gaps and contradictions, hey show the veteran CIA man both as an artful dodger and, astonishingly, a -orgetfuI naif-in his own words, "a boob." The Helms testimony on CIA activi- ies in Chile was confused by the fact ]gat his Congressional inquisitors were ?ften unclear about what period they sere discussing: 1964 or 1970 or 1973, when Allende finally fell. But Helms F~i1~crQ14re~f}~~.1-Q~i~l~ gro lations Committee in 1973. At that point, - Helms seemed to flatly deny that the CIA ever passed money to opponents of Allende. But last month he acknowl- edged that funds-about $11 million, ac- cording to the CIA-did gQ to "civic ac- tion groups ... newspapers, radios and so forth, in order to keep alive the [de- leted] and the sort of nationalist side of the ... social spectrum." That Helms did not understand these forces to be the core of opposition to Allende was hard to believe, and Helms himself seemed to realize the weakness of his position. "I should have probably asked either to go off the record or to have asked to discuss this matter in some other forum," he told the Senate com- mittee last January. "Because you will recall at that time Allende's government was in power and we did not need any more diplomatic incidents." Helms blamed a faulty memory for his strikingly incomplete answers on foreign associations. But as Helms ex- concerned about denying any agency connection with the Army intelligence operations mentioned by Case that "the first part of the question had simply gone out of my mind." Watergate seems to be the subject on which Helms may prove most vulnera- ble. There his testimony was contradict- ed not only by his own subsequent clarifications, but by other witnesses and documentary evidence. Before the Sen- ate Armed Services Committee in May 1973, for example, Helms said that Wa- tergate had not been mentioned in the crucial June 23, 1972, meeting he had with Nixon aides John Ehrlichman and H.R. Haldeman and CIA deputy director Vernon Walters. In fact, according to Walters's testimony and a supporting memo, Watergate was the main topic and Helms testifying before the Watergate commit- tee in 1973: Artful dodger, forgetful `boob'? questions about domestic intelligence- specifically the short-lived "Huston plan" for surveillance of antiwar dissidents. At the 1973 Senate hearings, New Jersey Sen. Clifford Case began the follow- ing exchange: CASE: "`It has been called to my atten- tion that in 1969 or 1970 the White House asked that all intelligence agen- cies join in an effort to learn as much as they could about the antiwar movement and [that] U.S. Army intelligence be- came involved and kept files on U.S. citizens. Do you know anything about any activity on the part of CIA in that connection? Was it asked to be involved?" HELMS: "I don't recall whether we were asked but we were not involved because it seemed to me that was a clear violation of what our charter was." Subsequently, it was confirmed by cur- rent CIA director William Colby, among it was agreed that Walters would try to block further FBI inquiries. "I didn't know what they were after," Helms told a House subcommittee later. "I realize in hindsight it makes me look like a boob." " Just how much cooperation Helms gave the Nixon White House on this and other matters still is not clear. Alter the 1972 election, Nixon planned to fire the CIA boss outright. But when the Water= gate investigations began in earnest, the President decided to keep him on the team in an ambassador's post. Even now, his friends maintain, Helms is determined to say as little as possible for as long as possible. But he has hinted that unset- tling disclosures will follow if the pres- sure on him gets too heavy. "If I ever do decide to talk," he told a friend in Wash- ington, "there are going to be some very embarrassed people in this town, you can bet on that." lid not help matters by selectively in- others, that the CIA did take part in -DAVID M. ALPERN with EVERT CLARK and erpreting questions at his cgop jptr AekeAgdlg Mtt tl2$a!lGl) j-RDM1-0090?'RDWOD OO66t hlneton