Eulogy for Former DCI Richard McGarrah Helms
George J. Tenet
Former DCi Rirhard HeI!1m
As we marked the 50th anniversary At its best, that is what intelligence
of the Central Intelligence Agency does in service liberty. And, in
in 1997, Richard Helms spoke of Richard Helms, intelligence in 5cr-
those who had gone before, those vice to liberty found an
who had given so much of them unsurpassed champion.
selves to build and nourish a vital
institution of government that itself Asa~~o~ing reporter for the United
Press in the Germany of the 1930s,
has given so much to the treasured
he saw at first hand the menacing
cause of freedom.
machinery of totalitarianism, In a
few short years, though, he would
Each of us, he said, has his own
go from the recording of history to
heroes and heroines. He was right.
the making of it.
Here today, I join with you in this
tribute to one of our greatest With his knowledge of Europe, his
proficiency in languages, and his
gift for observation and analysis, he
A life such as his, rich in years and
was a natural for the fledgling intel
richer still in honor and achieve
George J. Tenet is the Director of ligence service of a nation plunged
Central Intelligence. He delivered ment, is not easily described. Over suddenly into global war.
these remarks at the memorial ser the many decades, in the decisions
for former DCI Helms the he made, in the actions he took, he And it there that the
vice at was military
Fort Meyer Officers Club on influenced countless other lives ultimately sent him, proving that
20 November 2002. This article is thousands, perhaps even millions the bureaucracy can get it right,
unclassified in its entirety. in ways both subtle and direct, sometimes anyway.
Richard Helms did more adjust
than the fruits of a hard-won peace. He His focusand his austeritynever
to this new WTOrld of intelligence stayed as our nation decided on the Left him. Nor, thankfully for all of
and espionage. He made it his kind of intelligence senice it would us, did his sense of identification
own In the ranks of the Office of need with the mission he knew so well
as a new superpower in a
Strategic Services, adazzling collec and with the men and women of
new and dangerous atomic age.
tion of talents thrown together for CIA. whom he loved so much.
the countiys urgent defense. Rich His faith, his patience, and his per
ard Helms found the calling of his sistence
In his nearly seven years as DCI. he
were not in vain
lifetime. set standards of leadershipand
When found standards of excellencethat
out country its answer
In its Secret Intelligence Branch, he in the Central Intelligence Agency,
endure to thisday. Though associ
mastered the delicate, demanding ated most closely \\ith our
Richard Helms was ready. I-hs
craft of agent operations He Clandestine Service, which he had
career at CIA, now the stuff of leg
excelled at both the meticulous guided with tremendous insight,
end, was a rise of profound skill
planning and the bold vision and Richard Helms is for all of us the
and of strength of character to
action that were thenand remain complete American intelligence
todaythe heart of our work to officer.
obtain information critical to the
In an organization where nsk and
security of the United Statesinfor For he not only understood the
pressure are as common as a cup
mation that can be gained only complicated mechanics of his busi
of coffee, he unflappable. In
through stealth and courage ness, he understood both its
an organization where exceptional and its limits.
He came to know, as few others dedication and extraordinary hours
ever would, the value of a stolen are the norm, he was, in the words He saw intelligence for what it truly
secret, and the advantage that of an admiring colleague. always is: an essential service to the Presi
comes to our democracy from the there. When you had to get Mr. dent of the United States. His goal,
fullest possible knowledge of those Helms, he was there. as he used to say, was to try to
abroad determined to destroy it. keep the game honestto stick
In the Agencys maze of rundown, to the facts and their interpretation,
In 1945, in the ruins of a fallen Ber
temporary buildings down along to he an impartial voice, and to
lin, amid the rubble of one conflict the Reflecting Pool, a place where, leave the policy decisions to others.
just over, Richard Helms saw the he fondly recalled, learned the
stirrings of another lust beginning: a He once remarked that God did
difference between perspiration
Cold War, destined to be fought not give prescience to human
and sweatI can see him saying
against a very different enemy in a beings. And he recognized that
ithe was almost as famous for his
very different way Now, the open perfection is impossible in a profes
disdain for the trappings of high
clash of arms would be replaced by sion devoted to the complexities
office as he was for his thorough
a fierce contest of wills and ideas and unknowns of the world. In
success in it.
pursuit of the tni th, he ii rged his
As a seasoned officer, he under officers to be bold and to take
His sound operational judgment,
stood the key role that espionage risks, He led from the front.
would have play to m divining the
his complete command of the facts,
his reputation as the best drafter of
strengths and weaknesses of the He gave them the authority to do
closed, predatory tyranny cables anywhereand his modest while
that was those things, keeping for
black Plymouth, decrepit enough to himself the
the Soviet Union. one thing that no real
be heard from a long way off leader can ever delegate: ultimate
And so. he stayed with the profes these are hut a few images of Rich responsibility for the actions of the
sion in an America eager to enjoy ard Helms men and women he leads.
These are sonic of the principles Intelligence Agency and far better teacher, no \\iser friend.
that Richard Helms stood for. And beyond. A lasting source of inspira Whatever the problem. I knew lie
he stood for them not in times of tion. A man who had reached the had faced it. Whatever the chal
quiet or ease, hut in turbulent top of his field, who had kept the lenge, I knew he had met it. And I
timestimes of grueling war in company of presidents, kings, and always knew he was in my corner.
Southeast Asia, of enormous ten prime ministers, but wh~to rhe
sion and conflict in the Middle East, end of his lifemade time to In the toughest of times, it was his
and of Cold \Var everywhere. inspire young people establishing voice on my answering machine,
their own careers in intelligence. To his notes in the mail, or the phone
He was shaped by the 20th cen them, and to so mans others, he call where he would simply say
tury, hut he was not hound by it. offered priceless counsel and keep your head upget on with
For the values he embodied are encouragement. italways get on with it, because
timeless: love of country, dignity there is so much at stake.
and discipline in its service, and a What others hoped to be, he was.
grace and elegance of style, paired His ~~as the most valuable advice,
with a restless desire not simply to He will he missed many. But he
by the advice of experience. He
know about the world, hut to help will he remembered and revered by was the voice of constant
change it for the better. many more. Wherever American encouragement.
intelligence officers strive to defend
In his life of accomplishment, Rich and extend freedom, Richard Helms I am going to miss the twinkle in
ard Helms had a great advantage will he there. By word, by deed. by his eves, his signature smile, the
the unfailing love and support of example, he taught them all. They knowing this giant of
his wonderful wife, Cynthia. Her are his legacy They will he his a man talking to my friend.
care, her affection added to his memorial. May God bless you always, Dick.
focus and his strength. May your memory be everlasting.
I was fortunate and indeed privi
Husband Father. Patriot. Friend. leged to have our paths cross. 1
Servant of liberty at the Central could have had no finer mentor, no