Richard McGarrah Helms (March 30, 1913 – October 23, 2002) was an American intelligence officer who served as Director of Central Intelligence (DCI) from June 1966 to February 1973. Helms began intelligence work with the Office of Strategic Services during World War II. Following the 1947 creation of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) he rose in its ranks during the Truman, Eisenhower, and Kennedy administrations. Helms then served as DCI under Presidents Johnson and Nixon.
As a professional Helms highly valued information gathering (favoring the interpersonal, but including the technical, obtained by espionage or from published media) and its analysis. He also prized counterintelligence. Although a participant at planning such activities, he remained a skeptic about covert and paramilitary operations. Helms understood the bounds of his agency role as being able to express strong opinions over a decision under review, yet working as a team player once a course was set by the administration. He saw it as his duty to keep official secrets from press scrutiny. While DCI, Helms managed the agency following the lead of his predecessor John McCone. In 1977, as a result of earlier clandestine operations in Chile, he became the only DCI convicted of misleading Congress. His last post in government service was Ambassador to Iran, 1973–1977. Yet he was a key witness before the Senate during its investigation of the CIA by the Church Committee in the mid-1970s, 1975 being called the “Year of Intelligence”. This investigation was hampered severely by Helms having ordered the destruction of all files related to the CIA‘s mind control program in 1973.