Miller Center

The Presidency and the Intelligence System

Speaker: Ambassador Richard Helms
Date: September 9, 1983

Richard Helms served in the Central Intelligence Agency from 1947 to 1972, becoming Director from 1965 to 1972 and later Ambassador to Iran between 1973 and 1976. In this Forum, held at Monticello, he mentions how intelligence has always been a responsibility of the presidents. Starting, as he explains, with the creation of the CIA through the National Security Act of 1947 under President Truman. Ambassador Helms also details the role of the Director of the CIA, the two concepts of how the Director should run the organization, and the role the CIA assumed upon its formation. He presents the Florida purchase initiated by Thomas Jefferson, the Lewis and Clark Expedition, the Cuban Missile Crisis, and the Six Day War as examples of intelligence operations. In addition, Ambassador Helms describes how Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon dealt with intelligence during their presidencies. Throughout his discussion and during the Q&A sections, he addresses the intentions of countries and leaders, compares Russian and U.S. intelligence agencies, including the KGB, espionage and covert action by the CIA, the Iran Hostage Crisis, and the Iran-Iraq War.


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