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December 20, 2016
Document Release Date: 
August 20, 2007
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November 9, 1977
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Approved For Release 2007/08/20: CIA-RDP99-00498R000100120072-2 THE WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE APPE.tRED 9 November 1977 1,, Y' r._GE 3 Rowland Evans and Robert Novak STAT T11:e Handling Qf. the Helms - Cass When a federal judge threatened to bringing federal charges against him dale. Indeed, the Helms case illustrates upset the government's plea-bargaining 'for not revealing to the Senate Foreign why Mondale is one Vice President agreement with Richard Helms, Justice Relations Committee covert operations who should be taken seriously. Department lawyers declared their in. in Chile by the CIA was started by No opposite. arguments came from tent to proceed with a 10count perjury President Ford's Attorney General, Ed- officials who might have been expected indictment against the former CIA di- ward Levi. to urge dropping the case (such as CIA rector-a final example of the Carter The inflexible Levi could not be con Director Stansfield Turner and Secre' administration's ambivalence in han- vinced that Helms was only following Lary of State Cyrus Vance). Thus it be- dling the Helms affair. his oath of secrecy. Griffin Bell, Levi's came clear during the summer that. Months of indecision over what to do successor in the Carter. admininstra- Helms would be prosecuted one way or about. Helms were followed by more tion, was considered a. more practical another, setting up the real struggle months of plea bargaining. Yet, when man. Bell, however, ran into three hard within the administration. ? the judge .threatened to upset the obstacles against dropping the case. Church's insistence on severe punish- agreement, the administration was pre- First, aggressive young lawyers In. ment of Helms, even I it led to an open pared to do what no great power - the Justice Department had been work-. trial, was backed quietly by we Vice has ever ? done: . Persecute . its own ing on the Helms case for 18montbs.To President. Influential friends of Helms,, chief of intelligence for doing his set aside their work would bring descending on the President and Attor- duty. - charges of "coverup," foulest of crimes. ney General with pleas for clemency, That only heightens the mystery of since Watergate. ? came to regard Mondale as their major President Carter's own attitude, toward Second, an implacable stand that problem. - - Helms in. particular and the intelli- . Helms must be prosecuted to set an ex- But three influential figures. argued gence service in general. Contrary to ample for the intelligence community resolutely that a trial. must be avoided his public statements, Carter was was taken by Sen. - Frank Church CD-:- at all costs: Bell, National Security Ad deeply involved in the decision to Idaho), author of the dubious theory, viser Zbigniew Brzezinski and Seere- prosecute and then to avoid a trial. Yet that the CIA has been a "rogue ele- tary of Energy James Schlesinger (a ., Carter never gave a hint of how he phant" out of control. Church was well former CIA director). They argued that truly regarded the case. "The President qualified to mobilize the liberal com- a nightmarish. Helms trial would ex " one insider told us. munity in protest against a "coverup." pose U.S. secrets that would make this was a Sphinx , The President is by no means wholly Third, and perhaps most important, country . the laughingstock of the - responsible for the humiliation visited was quiet support for Church from an world. . - . . ... =. ^: on Helms to conclude his distinguished erstwhile Senate colleague in harassing The President wanted no identifica- career in public service. The idea of the CIA. Vice President Walter.39on tion with any of _this, even to the_point of not- fully informing a press confer-: ence of his involvement.: Ultimately, bargaining was the only way to escape.: of the District of Columbia was as-, It was then that, purely. by. chance;. signed the case When Parker objected to the plea bargaining, the incredible: Intent to pursue a i3point indictment was revealed by government lawyers. With Edward Bennett Williams de-: fending him, Helms quite likely would have won acquittal. Consequently, that Parker finally acquiesced was more In = the interest of the nation than of Helms ~(u scheduled tonggueJashing of Helm .from the bench)... _ The outcome was assailed as a "dou- ble standard" of justice by Church and . other CIA critics and viewed as the hap- :. - pleat solution possible by high adman- Istration officials. But the low morale of career intelligence officers drooped even more at the indignities visited upon their former chief. How much .more depressed they would have been' had they. known how much worse it,. Approved For Release 2007/08/20: CIA-RDP99-00498R000100120072-2