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Entries in CIA (35)

Thursday
Jan032013

Senate Intel Committee Probes Bin Laden Movie Torture Scenes

COLUMBIA PICTURES(WASHINGTON) -- The Senate Intelligence Committee has launched a new probe to determine how much the CIA may have influenced the portrayal of torture scenes shown in Zero Dark Thirty, the Hollywood dramatization of the decade-long hunt for Osama bin Laden.

The probe, confirmed to ABC News by a spokesperson for the committee's chairman, will attempt to answer two questions: Did the CIA give filmmakers "inappropriate" access to secret material, and was the CIA responsible for the perceived suggestion that harsh interrogation techniques aided the hunt for America's most wanted man?

In a press release Thursday, Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Sen. Dianne Feinstein's office said Feinstein, Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin, D.-Mich., and former presidential candidate John McCain, R.-Ariz., –- the latter two are ex officio members of the Intelligence Committee – sent two letters to acting CIA Director Michael Morell in December asking just what the CIA might have told the filmmakers about the effectiveness of enhanced interrogation.

The first letter, dated Dec. 19, focused on the possibility that the CIA "misled" the filmmakers into showing torture as an effective tactic.

"As you know, the film depicts CIA officers repeatedly torturing detainees. The film then credits CIA detainees subjected to coercive interrogation techniques as providing critical lead information on the courier that led to the [bin Laden] compound," the letter says. "The CIA cannot be held accountable for how the Agency and its activities are portrayed in film, but we are nonetheless concerned, given the CIA's cooperation with the filmmakers and the narrative's consistency with past public misstatements by former senior CIA officials, that the filmmakers could have been misled by information they were provided by the CIA."

Two days after the letter was sent, Morell posted a statement on the CIA website explaining that the movie was "not a realistic portrayal of the facts" but said some information did come from detainees subjected to enhanced interrogation.

"...[T]he film creates the strong impression that the enhanced interrogation techniques that were part of our former detention and interrogation program were key to finding Bin Laden. That impression is false," Morell said. "As we have said before, the truth is that multiple streams of intelligence led CIA analysts to conclude that Bin Laden was hiding in Abbottabad. Some came from detainees subjected to enhanced techniques, but there were many other sources as well. And, importantly, whether enhanced interrogation techniques were the only timely and effective way to obtain information from those detainees, as the film suggests, is a matter of debate that cannot and never will be definitively resolved."

The trio of Feinstein, Levin and McCain wrote the second letter on New Year's Eve in apparent frustration with that statement and asked Morell to provide information on what exactly the CIA learned from detainees who underwent harsh interrogation – and if it was learned before, during or after the detainees' ordeals.

A CIA spokesperson told ABC News Thursday the agency had received the letters and "take[s] very seriously our responsibility to keep our oversight committees informed and value[s] our relationship with Congress."

Directed by Oscar-winner Kathryn Bigelow and hailed by critics since its limited release last month, Zero Dark Thirty has also become a lightning rod for the ongoing debate over the role torture may have played in the ultimately successful hunt for bin Laden. The movie features multiple scenes in which American interrogators oversee or take part in harsh techniques including simulated drowning, violent beating, and force feeding of alleged al Qaeda operatives or associates.

In his book The Finish, Black Hawk Down author Mark Bowden wrote that enhanced interrogation appeared to play a significant role in corroborating the identity of an al Qaeda courier who years later led U.S. officials to bin Laden. At least two detainees who underwent enhanced interrogation – one of them the former high-level al Qaeda operative Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who was waterboarded a reported 183 times – acknowledged the existence and the nom de guerre of the courier but failed to provide any more complete or accurate information about him, Bowden wrote.

In their letters, the senators said that based on the material they had been given by the CIA, no detainee reported the courier's full name or specific whereabouts and that the agency actually learned the vital information that led to bin Laden "through means unrelated to the CIA detention and interrogation program."

As to whether Bigelow and screenwriter Mark Boal were ever given inappropriate access to information, Boal told ABC News' Nightline in an exclusive interview in November that he never received classified documents.

"I certainly did a lot of homework, but I never asked for classified material," Boal said. "To my knowledge I never received any."

Judicial Watch, a conservative government watchdog group, is involved in ongoing litigation with the goverment over exactly what information was shared with the filmmakers. The group previously obtained documents that its president said "provide more backing to the serious charge that the Obama administration played fast and loose with national security information to help Hollywood filmmakers."

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Friday
Nov162012

CIA Investigating David Petraeus

KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The CIA has confirmed that the agency’s inspector general is investigating Gen. David Petraeus’ conduct in the wake of his admitted affair with his biographer, Paula Broadwell.  Petraeus resigned last week as CIA chief.

A CIA spokesman issued a statement saying, “At the CIA we are constantly reviewing our performance.  If there are lessons to be learned from this case we'll use them to improve.  But we're not getting ahead of ourselves; an investigation is exploratory and doesn’t presuppose any particular outcome.”

The FBI has been conducting its own investigation into Petraeus’ extramarital affair.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Nov122012

Petraeus’ Affair Happened During CIA Tenure, Friend Says

DoD photo by Cherie Cullen/Released(WASHINGTON) -- Retired Lt. Col. John Nagl, one of David Petreaus' friends and fellow servicemen, said the former general told him that his affair with biographer Paula Broadwell did not begin until after he became CIA director.

“The time to come fully clean is now -- he understands that and so I believe him,” Nagl told ABC’s Martha Raddatz. “He covered up his affair for some months; less than a year was the full course of this affair."

“Living conditions in Afghanistan are very close, sparse,” he continued. "It is perhaps conceivable, though it would have been very difficult to conduct an affair under those circumstances in that environment.”

Although Nagl said he knew Broadwell, he never saw her and Petreaus together because his trips to Afghanistan didn’t overlap with hers. However, Nagl said friends who were with the two of them in Afghanistan told him they were “worried” and “concerned” about Broadwell’s “extraordinary access.”

“She was a little too close, a little too friendly, she spoke too openly, in my eyes about her access, and she became a little bit too much of his voice,” Nagl said. "All of us that worked with him admire him, and I think that’s pretty universal. But none of us, other than Paula, would presume to speak for him that way.”

A veteran of the Iraq War, Nagl said he has known Petraeus for 25 years. Not only was the former general Nagl’s history professor at West Point, the two also co-authored the book, “The U.S. Army/Marine Corps Counterinsurgency Field Manual,” together. He was devastated by the news of his mentor’s affair.

“I’m really upset and hurt,” he said. "This is tarnishing the legacy of one of great American heroes of the last decade.”

Nagl said he had not spoken to Petraeus in person, but that the former CIA director apologized to him over email.

“He said that he felt that he had let the team down,” Nagl said. "He obviously wanted to make it and pull his family together and try to recover from this, but felt an enormous sense of guilt and regret.”

Despite Petreaus’ indiscretions, Nagl still supports him, but said he had doubts that the man he still admires will be able to fully come back from the scandal.

“I hope that we haven’t seen the end of him in government service, but I’m afraid that may be true,” he said. "What I do think -- that we’ll continue to see him contribute to the United States one way or another.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
May232012

CIA Identifies, Memorializes Fallen Covert Officers

SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images(LANGLEY, Va.) -- The CIA has revealed the identities of 15 of its fallen officers, some of whose secret ties to the spy agency are being made public for the first time in almost three decades.

Engraved on a memorial wall at the CIA’s headquarters building in Northern Virginia are 103 stars, each representing a CIA officer who perished in the line of duty since the agency’s founding in 1947. For some, the star is all the public recognition they have -- many names have still not been made public out of concern for secret operations.

At a memorial ceremony Monday, CIA Director David Petraeus praised their service, saying the “103 souls represented by the stars on the wall behind me all heard the same call to duty and answered it without hesitation -- never for acclaim, always for country.”

The latest of the 103 was added this year, honoring Jeff Patneau, who was killed in a 2008 car crash in Yemen. Petraeus described Patneau as having “boundless talent, courage, and innovativeness to offer our country in its fight against terrorism.”

A CIA statement released Tuesday said Patneau was among the 15 names inscribed in the CIA’s Book of Honor this year, which allows “agency officers to publicly acknowledge those who have been represented by stars and whom we have silently mourned for years.”

Some of the individuals whose service as CIA officers was publicly confirmed Tuesday have been the object of speculation in the past as having worked for the spy agency.

For example, Matthew K. Gannon died in the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland. Officially listed as a Foreign Service Officer for the State Department, Gannon’s links to the CIA appeared in press reports at the time of the crash.  However, the agency never officially confirmed that he was a CIA officer until this week.

Leslianne Shedd died in November 1996 in the high-profile crash of a hijacked plane off the Comoros Islands in the Indian Ocean.  Videotape of the plane’s fatal attempted water landing just off of a crowded tourist beach was seen around the world.  Shedd was also described as being a Foreign Service Officer.  According to the CIA statement, “Survivors of that flight tell us that Leslianne -- an outstanding young woman -- spent her final moments comforting those around her. ”

Another victim of terror was Molly N. Hardy, who was killed in the August 1998 bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi. According to the CIA, Hardy “used her keen situational awareness to warn colleagues to take cover. ”

A former intelligence official told ABC News the CIA takes “very seriously” the process of when to publicly release the names of its fallen officers and publicly acknowledge their ties to the agency.

According to the official, the agency conducts thorough reviews of a fallen officer’s work history and takes into account any security and operational considerations.  The official said another factor is “the possible impact that making public the officer’s name might have on current missions and overseas relationships. ”

The seriousness with which the CIA decides when to publicly acknowledge a fallen officer’s links to the agency may be a reason why five of the officers were not named until Wednesday, despite having been killed back in 1983 in a car bomb attack on the U.S. embassy in Beirut that killed 63.

The five who are listed as having worked for the agency are Phyliss Nancy Faraci, Deborah M. Hixon,  Frank J. Johnston, James F. Lewis and his wife Monique N. Lewis.

According to the CIA statement Faraci “was one of the last four Americans evacuated from the Mekong Delta when Saigon fell. She was an intensely devoted officer who volunteered to work in Beirut. ”

Monique Lewis “was only hours into her first day as an agency officer when the bomber struck that terrible day.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
May082012

Mission Impossible: Mole Infiltrated Al Qaeda, Posed as Suicide Bomber

SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The CIA, working with allied spy agencies in other countries, has apparently pulled off a real life "Mission Impossible." According to officials, a double agent disrupted al Qaeda's latest plane bomb plot by infiltrating the organization, posing as a suicide bomber, and then delivering the bomb to intelligence agents instead of carrying the device onto a U.S.-bound plane.

Details of the spy's identity are being closely held, but authorities tell ABC News he was able to actually infiltrate the bomb-making cell, learn of the plot, get his hands on a bomb, and get it out of Yemen through Saudi Arabia last week.

"It's quite an accomplishment to be able to pass yourself off as an al-Qaeda terrorist to the terrorists, when in fact you're working for a U.S. or allied intelligence agency," said Richard Clarke, an ABC News consultant and former White House counter-terrorism advisor.

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, al Qaeda's Yemeni affiliate, is known for its ideological purity and for carefully screening its recruits. Yet somehow, the spy agencies were able to get someone inside. The Obama administration confirmed Monday that the bomb plot, timed to the first anniversary of Osama bin Laden's death, had been disrupted last week.

Said John Brennan, current White House counter-terror advisor, "We had confidence that we had control, that the [bomb] was not a threat, it was not an active threat at that time."

The bomb is being described by U.S. officials as an upgrade to the underwear bomb used three years ago in a failed attempt to bring down a Detroit-bound jetliner.

Now being studied by the FBI, this new design is described as being made with a different chemical formula, with dual detonation systems to make it easier to set off.

Said Richard Clarke, "By having the bomb in its original state, before it goes off, U.S. experts are now able to figure out how the bomb works, how it might be detected. That's a heck of a lot easier when the bomb is still intact, than after it's exploded and you're picking up pieces."

Still, there is great concern that al Qaeda's chief bombmaker, 30-year old Ibrahim al-Asiri, is working on other bomb designs, including bombs surgically implanted in terrorists, even picture frames and radios, as shown in an al Qaeda video from 2009.

"They keep trying to devise more and more perverse and terrible ways to kill innocent people," said Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

In this case, the bomber was actually the source working for the U.S. and others and there was no threat. But American authorities said Tuesday that as long as Asiri is alive, making other bombs for real terrorists, there remains a grave threat to the U.S.

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Apr062012

Ex-CIA Officer Indicted for Alleged Leaks, False Statements

SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Former CIA officer John Kiriakou was charged in a five-count indictment Thursday for allegedly disclosing classified information to journalists and lying to the CIA about information he included in his book The Reluctant Spy: My Secret Life in the CIA's War on Terror.

The indictment charges Kiriakou, a one-time ABC News consultant, with one count of disclosing the identity of a covert CIA officer, three counts of disclosing sensitive national defense information, and one count of making false statements to the CIA's Publications Review Board in an effort to trick the board into allowing him to publish classified information in his book. The information was related to individuals allegedly involved in controversial CIA interrogation techniques that some have termed as torture.

Kiriakou, 47, was a CIA intelligence officer between 1990 and 2004, serving at headquarters and in various classified overseas assignments. In March 2002, Kiriakou participated in the CIA's capture of al Qaeda operative Abu Zubaydah in Pakistan.

According to the indictment, Kiriakou disclosed the name of a covert CIA operative, and classified information about that operative and another employee, to a reporter identified as Journalist A.

The indictment also alleges that Kiriakou confirmed the identity of a CIA employee to a New York Times journalist, who published the name of the officer in a June 2008 article that revealed the officer's role in the Abu Zubaydah interrogation. Kiriakou also allegedly told the journalist that Abu Zubaydah was interrogated using a "magic box," information that appeared in the same New York Times article.

Former CIA agents who write books about their operations must submit drafts of the books to a review board for approval before publication. According to the indictment, Kiriakou told his co-author Michael Ruby about the "magic box," but did not include discussion of the box in two early drafts of the book submitted for approval. Kiriakou then allegedly submitted a third draft of the book for approval that included a reference to the box, but told the review board that the box was fictional.

He allegedly told his co-author beforehand by email that he planned to lie to the review board about the box. "What I propose telling them is that we've fictionalized much of it (even if we haven't.)," Kiriakou is alleged to have written. After submitting the draft to the review board, he allegedly told his co-author, "I laid it on thick." The indictment alleges that Kiriakou told his co-author Michael Ruby that he told the CIA review board information in the book had been fictionalized in reference to details about how the CIA tracked al Qaeda operative Abu Zubaydah.

The investigation into Kiriakou was prompted when a January 2009 defense filing from lawyers representing detainees at Guantanamo Bay was found to include information that did not come from official government sources. In spring 2009, investigators also discovered photographs of CIA and U.S. government contractors in the possession of Guantanamo Bay detainees.

Attorney General Eric Holder appointed U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald in 2010 as a special prosecutor to oversee the investigation in order to avoid a conflict of interest, since officials at the Justice Department in Washington were working on the cases against the Guantanamo detainees.

Kiriakou is free on bond and is scheduled for arraignment on April 13.  His attorney, Robert Trout, declined to comment to ABC News. 

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Jan052012

Bin Laden Strike: Gov't Probes Possible Leaks of Classified Info for Movie

AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The Department of Defense and CIA are looking into the possible release of classified information to filmmakers on the killing of Osama bin Laden, according to a top Republican lawmaker.

Last August, Rep. Pete King, the chairman of the House committee on Homeland Security, called for an investigation into reports that the Obama administration granted Sony Pictures high-level access for a film on the mission that killed Osama bin Laden.

In a letter from DoD’s Inspector General’s office dated Dec. 23 and released by the committee Thursday, King is told “after an initial review of information, the Office of the Deputy Inspector General for Intelligence and Special Program Assessments has announced a project…to investigate the concerns raised” by his August 9 inquiry.

The CIA’s Office of Public Affairs also wrote King Nov. 8 that the CIA is “developing a written policy to create a single point of reference that will govern future interactions with the entertainment industry.”

“I am pleased that the Inspectors General at DoD and the CIA agree with me that potential leaks to filmmakers are something worth investigating and taking action to address,” King, R-New York, wrote in a statement Thursday. “The leaks that followed the successful bin Laden mission led to the arrests of Pakistanis and put in danger the mission’s heroes and their families.  Privately, individuals in the intelligence and special operations communities expressed support for my request for a probe.  I look forward to an update on the investigation and actions taken thus far.”

King wrote Aug. 9 that he was concerned, “regarding ongoing leaks of classified information regarding sensitive military operations” and he warned that close cooperation on the Hollywood action-thriller could lead to further leaks that could undermine the success of future operations.

“Further participation by JSOC and the Agency in making a film about the raid is bound to increase such leaks, and undermine these organizations’ hard-won reputations as “quiet professionals” -- reputations important for their continued operational success,” King, R-New York, wrote in a letter addressed to Defense Department Inspector General Gordon Heddell and CIA Inspector General David Buckley. “The success of these organizations is vital to our continued homeland security.”

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told ABC News’ Jake Tapper last summer that King’s allegations were “ridiculous” and “simply false” and he suggested the Homeland Security committee had more pressing concerns to investigate.

“We do not discuss classified information,” Carney said.  "I would hope that as we face the continued threat from terrorism, the House Committee on Homeland Security would have more important topics to discuss than a movie.”

The film is to be directed by director Kathryn Bigelow, who won an Oscar for directing The Hurt Locker – which won seven total Oscars in 2010, including best picture. Mark Boal, who worked with Bigelow on the blockbuster, has also signed on to produce the as-yet-untitled Bin Laden movie, which is in pre-production and will star Rooney Mara, Tom Hardy and Idris Elba.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Dec202011

American Held by Iran as CIA 'Spy' Had No Military Intel Training

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- The Arizona-born man accused by Iran of being a spy for the CIA never had any intelligence training while serving in the U.S. military, according to Marine Corps records, despite Iranian claims.

Service records provided to ABC News show Iranian-American Amir Hekmati enlisted in the Marines after graduating high school in Flint, Mich., in 2001 and joined the infantry, completing basic training at Camp Pendleton in California. The 28-year-old briefly attended the Defense Language Institute for the Marines in Monterey, Calif., and his father told ABC News he worked as a translator, but records show Hekmati was officially a rifleman only. A Marine spokesperson said it was possible he could have served as a translator for his Marine unit in a more informal capacity.

Hekmati was deployed abroad where he was awarded a Combat Action Ribbon, which is given to Marines that at some point were in direct combat with the enemy, the records say. He steadily rose as an enlisted man in the Marines until he completed his service in 2005 as a sergeant with a Good Conduct Medal, among other distinctions. Not a single time do the records mention any training in military intelligence.

Hekmati appeared on Iranian television on Sunday where he seemed to calmly confess to being a spy for the CIA, tasked with infiltrating the Iranian intelligence ministry after receiving a decade of military intelligence training. The Iranian program claimed he was a former soldier in the U.S. Army and then an Army contractor, and showed ID cards supposedly to back up the claim. An Army spokesperson told ABC News Monday that no one matching Hekmati's name has a service record there.

Ali Hekmati, Amir's father, told ABC News Monday the Iranian claims were "a bunch of lies" and he believes his son was forced to give a false confession. The elder Hekmati said his son, whose entire immediate family lives in America, had been arrested in Iran four months earlier while he was visiting his two Iranian grandmothers.

"My son is no spy. He is innocent. He's a good fellow, a good citizen, a good man," said Hekmati, a biology professor at Mott Community College in Michigan. "I am absolutely afraid to death... I don't know what they're going to do with him."

The elder Hekmati said his son did go to work for a contractor after his Marine service, but insisted he never had intelligence training there either.

The CIA declined to comment Monday, but one U.S. official said, "Whoever this young American is, he is obviously under duress and in the hands of an enemy. His safety is paramount."

Ali Hekmati said that since his son's arrest, he's had no direct contact and Amir was only allowed a couple visits by his Iranian grandmothers while in custody. He has not been provided a lawyer, Ali Hekmati said.

State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland said Monday the State Department has been providing consular assistance to Hekmati's family, who first reported his detention in September. Nuland declined to elaborate on Hekmati's wellbeing, citing privacy concerns. The U.S. has requested access to Hekmati but has yet to receive it, Nuland said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Nov042011

CIA and NSA Websites Encourage Childs' Play

Comstock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Worried about what your children are getting into while surfing the Web? Well, how about organizations involved in intelligence gathering and espionage?

Despite their very adult missions, both the Central Intelligence Agency and the National Security Agency have sections specifically for youngsters.

On the CIA’s site -- the same one that hosts definitions of cannabis, meningococcal meningitis and maternal mortality rate -- children and teens can visit the Kids’ Page where a cubist cartoon spy using her high heel as a phone presides over a “welcome” telling readers they can “learn more about the CIA, our employees, and what we do every day.”

The NSA page is called America’s CryptoKids and looks more like a B-level animated movie than a government organization PR campaign. The NSA has games, puzzles and a cast of animal security officers, including Rosetta Stone the multilingual fox, Crypto Cat, who learned code breaking from an elderly Navajo nanny, and Cy and Cyndi, the cybersecurity twins welcomed into the CryptoKids family last year.

So how do the CryptoKids fit into the NSA’s mission “to protect U.S. national security systems and to produce foreign signals intelligence information?” And why would the CIA offer a word find and coloring book?

Communication expert Joanne Cantor said having games indicates that an organization wants kids to have a positive image of them.

Cantor said companies that see children as a target audience, such as fast-food chains or sweetened cereal producers, “have all sorts of games on their websites to make the kids like them and to sort of recruit them at young ages, and that’s very controversial among people who consider marketing to kids as unfair.”

Cantor did not see the CIA’s and NSA’s websites’ messages as inherently harmful, but said they could be subtle recruiting tactics.

“I think, particularly with character biographies, they want you to feel like you identify with the people who work there. Like this is something you could do,” Cantor said.

But Vanee’ Vines of the NSA Public Affairs Office denied that the agency uses its site as a recruiting tool.

“We’re aiming to raise awareness about cybersecurity, our mission, and how STEM [Science, Technology, Engineering and Math] skills are needed in a global society that increasingly relies on information technology,” Vines wrote in an email.

“We realize the importance of helping to educate the nation’s youth and raise awareness about the National Security Agency’s core values, vision, and critical mission.”

All federal agencies are strongly encouraged to have kids’ sections on their websites, thanks to a memo former President Bill Clinton released in 1997, but few are as elaborate as the NSA’s efforts. The memo does not specify how detailed the website must be or how much money should be allocated to the project.

While Vines said the NSA kids’ page has been reviewed frequently since the new design opened in 2005, she would not say how much it costs to keep the page “fresh and relevant.”

Kids can see more from the NSA’s cadre of cartoon characters at the agency’s museum.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Nov012011

Intelligence Operative’s Letter, Sent to Son on Hitler’s Stationary

Central Intelligence Agency(MCLEAN, Va.) -- In what will likely go down as one of history’s mysteries, the CIA Museum in McLean, Va., has obtained a letter from former intelligence operative Richard Helms written in 1945 on Hitler’s stationary. Helms’ son, Dennis Helms, had received the letter when he was three years old and gave it to the museum this year.

“Dennis doesn’t know exactly how he came to have [the stationary],” said museum curator Toni Hiley. “And we don’t have any information in any of the publications on Helms where he’s referenced [to know] exactly how he obtained it.”

In the brief note, dated “V-E day,” meaning May 8, 1945, OSS operative Richard Helms tells his young son:

“The man who might have written on this card once controlled Europe -- three short years ago when you were born. Today he is dead, his memory despised, his country in ruins. He had a thirst for power, a low opinion of man as an individual, and a fear of intellectual honesty. He was a force for evil in the world. His passing, his defeat -- a boon to mankind. But thousands died that it might be so. The price for ridding society of bad is always high. Love, Daddy.”

When the museum received the letter from Dennis Helms on the Monday following Osama bin Laden’s assassination, Hiley said the staff was “stunned.”

“It seemed like he could have been writing it about bin Laden,” she said. “It seemed like there was no time between the two. Like 66 years had just evaporated.”

Aside from the timing, the letter itself -- with its heartfelt message from father to son -- was equally unique. “I was just struck that he would have a sense or sweep of history. From his perspective in 1945 as a young intelligence officer, he couldn’t have known he would be director of the CIA, he couldn’t have known that there would be another evil that intelligence would address 66 years later,” said Hiley. “It’s almost prescient that he would have a sense of his own perspective in history to create a historical artifact for his 3-year-old son.”

The museum, which is not open to the public, added the letter to their exhibit about the CIA’s precursor, the Office of Strategic Services.

Richard Helms joined the OSS in 1943, and stayed until it was disbanded in October of 1945. Eventually, he would become director of the CIA, a post he held from 1966 until 1973 when Nixon pushed him out and he became the United States ambassador to Iran. In the years following his departure from the CIA, he was questioned about the Castro assassination plots and the CIA’s role in overthrowing Chile’s government, for which he was eventually convicted of perjury.

His letter is now displayed alongside a dinner plate from Hitler’s chancellery obtained from Richard Helms’ widow, Cynthia Helms. "In September 1945 he was in Berlin and had an opportunity to go to Hitler’s bunker,” said Hiley of the museum’s third artifact from Helms’ career -- the first being a telegram obtained from his personnel file.

Dennis Helms told the Washington Post he and his father corresponded often by mail, but it was the sign-off in that initial letter, “Love, Daddy” that has always stayed with him.

“This letter was an opportunity to say what was on his mind,” Dennis Helms, 69, told the Washington Post. “I just wish there had been more such occasions.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







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