Document Type: 
Document Number (FOIA) /ESDN (CREST): 
Release Decision: 
Original Classification: 
Document Page Count: 
Document Creation Date: 
December 20, 2016
Sequence Number: 
Case Number: 
Content Type: 
PDF icon CIA-RDP99-00498R000100050066-7.pdf205.65 KB
Approved For Release 2007/06/21: CIA-RDP99-00498R000100050066-7 0?7 AP) 0_V P;iGR' T~ TIME 14 NOVEMBER 1977 STAT d Helms Makes a Deal The Nation Ex-CIA chiefs conviction shows shift in attitudes about spying 0 ne of the touchiest problems inherit- ed by the Carter Administration was the case of former CiA Director Richard M. Helms. It brought into play questions of national security, loyalty, perjury and, in some ways, the future of the intelligence agency and its directors. Last week the case was settled in a manner that did not completely satisfy anybody but seemed a thoroughly reasonable compromise. Helms' difficulties date back to 1973, when the Senate Foreign Relations Com- mittee was weighing his nomination as U.S. Ambassador to Iran. Twice the com- mittee quizzed him in closed sessions about covert U.S. efforts to prevent Sal- bargaining with Helms and his attorney, the celebrated Edward Bennett Williams. Helms' lawyer maintained that if his cli- ent went to trial on more serious charges, an adequate defense would require that national secrets be divulged. This was an ironic shift: throughout his long career Helms had taken many risks-even put- ting his life on the line when he had been a covert agent-to protect the nation's secrets. Bell took the threat seriously. He told Williams that if Helms would plead nolo contenders (no contest)-in reality an ad- mission of guilt-to the misdemeanors, the Justice Department would support Aftera scolding and a suspended sentence, Lawyer Williams and Helms leave court Seeking the line between a public accounting and an operational imperative. _ vador Allende Gossens from becoming Helms' insistence that his accumulated President of Chile in 1970. Twice Helms federal pension rights be protected, and in effect lied. - would recommend that he not be impris- Jimmy Carter's Justice Department oned. This bargain was intended to en- could have chosen not to prosecute the sure that no national secrets would be en- now retired ambassador at all or, at the dangered at a trial. At the same time, it opposite extreme, to charge him with two would demonstrate that the Carter Ad- felony counts of perjury, each carrying a ministration is in accord with Congress maxirnum five-year prison, sentence and that even cm chiefs are accountable to a $2,000 fine. The department took a mid- both the public and the law. dle course, charging the 64-year-old After Helms agreed to cop the plea C Helms with two misdemeanor counts of and all details were worked out, the Jus- failing to answer senatorial questions "ful- lice Department whisked him into the ly, completely and accurately." The pen- federal courtroom of Judge Barrington D. alty on each count is 30 days to a year in Parker in Washington without notice. As.. jailand afine of S 100 to $1,000. sistant Attorney General Benjamin R. C iviletti told the judge the misdemean- or no-contest plea was "fair and just." Bringing Helms to trial, he said, "would involve tremendous costs to the United States and might jeopardize national se- crets." Helms, moreover, had "performed outstanding services to the United States Government" during "a most distin- guished career." - - - On his lawyer's advice, Helms made a personal plea to Judge Parker. During his Senate testimony, he said, "I found myself in a position of conflict. I had sworn my oath to preserve certain secrets ... I didn't want to lie. I didn't want to mislead the committee. I was simply try- ing to find my way through a very dif- ficult situation in which I found myself." Helms said he nonetheless agreed with the charges against him, although he un- derstood "there is to be no jail sentence and I will be able to continue to get my pension from the U.S. Government." - Parker thereupon jolted Helms, Wil- liams and Civiletti by declining to wrap up the deal right then and there. When Williams demurred, Parker asked. "You had hoped that I would sentence him to- day?" Replied Williams: "Both the Gov- ernment and I had hoped that you would do that," The judge was not to be hur- ried. "Well, Mr. Williams, I am like a i ship without a rudder. I am a fish out of the sea. I do not have any report or any- thing to aid me in sentencing." - Four days later, Parker's courtroom was jammed with reporters and spectators as he made his decision. The judge came on like a tiger, scolding Helms. "You now stand before this court in disgrace and shame ... There are those employed in the intelligence-security community who feel that they have a license to operate freely outside the dictates of the law ... No one, whatever his position, is above the law." Then Parker turned pussycat. He meekly accepted the prearranged deal, fining Helms S2,000 and suspending a two-year sentence. Outside the court, Helms declared: "I don't feel disgraced at all." Added Williams: "He is going to wear this conviction like a badge of hon or. He'll wear it like a bnner_ - . Carter and Att0' Approved For Release 2007/06/21: CIA-RDP99-00498R000100050066-7 &Ie= _ ~'>