25. Note From the Secretary of State’s Executive Assistant (Eagleburger) to Secretary of State Kissinger 1
Dick Helms came in today to make the following report:
1. Meeting with Colby
He says Colby is close to a basket case. He is “very up tight”; “not in good shape”; and moaned to Helms: “First I had Phoenix,2 then Watergate, and now this.”
Colby said that the President had indicated to him that he would prefer that he (Colby) not show the Colby report around, and therefore [Page 58]he could not let Helms see it. Helms did not indicate to Colby that he had already seen a copy here. Helms says that after a good bit of discussion Colby finally did discuss ITT 3 and the Family Jewels. Colby also told Helms that he had talked to Sy Hersh before the Hersh article came out in an attempt to put him straight. He also said that Angleton retired but only because he (Colby) took all his jobs away from him first.
At one point Helms said, “All right, Bill, what do you want to do, save the Agency?” Colby, flushing and pursing his lips, said, “Yes, but I will not do anything illegal or lie in order to do so.” Helms, in some agitation, replied that he never suggested that Colby should do this and that he did not appreciate the intimation from Colby that Helms had in fact so suggested.
Colby showed Helms the Family Jewels.
2. Talk with Angleton
Helms saw Angleton today and gave him your message.4 He says Angleton totally understood and was grateful for the message but stated that he had never said that he thought you had gotten him. He had no idea or reason to believe that you were responsible for his leaving. The press quote did not come from him.
3. Meeting with the Vice President
Because White House lawyers had told the Vice President that they should not have a formal meeting without lawyers present, Rockefeller suggested an informal meeting which Helms readily agreed to. He said they had a pleasant chat in a good atmosphere.
4. General Impressions
Helms has talked to a number of Agency retirees as well as reviewed with people in the Agency the domestic intelligence situation. He says that he is not at all certain that Colby knows what the facts are and that the Colby report, except in its most general sense, is based on no real facts. Files are not yet pulled together, people he (Helms) has talked to do not support the charges already made, etc. He says on the domestic intelligence operation, his own investigation thus far shows that it was based primarily on the “foreign angle” and therefore perfectly acceptable.
Apparently Colby, in an attempt to marshal his facts, has sent some of his Agency people to talk to retirees or people no longer on active duty. The Attorney General has told Colby that he should focus his investigation solely on those now on active duty in the Agency.[Page 59]
Finally, Dick asked me to tell you that he is now thinking about “doing something” with the press, perhaps at the end of the week. He is not sure yet what, if anything, he will do and will be in contact with me before he takes any final step.
Dick also asked whether you had yet talked to Acting Attorney General Silberman. I said I did not think so; Dick asked that I remind you since you may want to do so.
- Source: Department of State, Files of Lawrence S. Eagleburger: Lot 84 D 204, Chron—January 1975. Secret; Sensitive.↩
- Colby’s July 1971 Congressional testimony about his role in the Phoenix program, the joint U.S.-South Vietnamese operation designed to destroy the organizational infrastructure of the National Liberation Front (NLF), raised public and media controversy when he claimed the program had killed 20,000 NLF members between 1968 and 1971.↩
- See footnote 8, Document 22.↩
- Not further identified.↩