Volume 51, No. 3 (September 2007)

DCIs Colby and Helms Reflections on the CIA's "Time of Troubles"

Edited by Nicholas Dujmovic

From the CIA Oral History Archives


On 26 June 2007 the CIA released a 700-page collection of documents known as the “Family Jewels,” compiled in 1973 under Director of Central Intelligence (DCI) James Schlesinger, who had asked Agency employees to report activities they thought might be inconsistent with the Agency’s charter. Schlesinger’s successor, William Colby, delivered the documents to Congress.

Given the release of the “Family Jewels” documents and continuing interest in this aspect of CIA history, the Studies in Intelligence Editorial Board elected to publish portions of transcripts of CIA Oral History Program interviews of William Colby and Richard Helms, Schlesinger’s predecessor, on this period of the Agency’s history.

Colby and Helms were interviewed on 15 March and 2 February 1988, respectively, as part of an effort by the Center for the Study of Intelligence to compile the perspectives of former Agency leaders on what has often been termed the CIA’s “Time of Troubles” in the 1970s. The perspectives of these two officials, different in several respects, illustrate the dilemmas a secret intelligence agency faces in serving a democracy.

The transcripts were edited by Nicholas Dujmovic, director of the CIA Oral History Program—Editor